How to Breathe Again, How to Come Alive

November 11, 2013 | 35 comments

You’re out there, friend, somewhere on the other side of this screen.

I feel like I can sort of see you. Like maybe we’re mirror images, like we’re both wearing the careworn expression of people feeling a bit bent down by the heavy weight of worry. Like we both know where we’re supposed to take this burden — straight to Jesus — but we got a little lost on the way there.

Friend, I get you.

I was on the way home from church yesterday, looking out on these fresh-shaven farmfields. I felt so heavy in my soul.

Earlier, in the sanctuary, the gospel was spread open on my lap. I had read every word with my own two eyes — four times — and I willed myself to feel peace, but I felt anxiety. I had a pile of stuff crowding on my heart, and the gospel wasn’t touching any of it.

And not only did I feel sad, I felt guilty. And very un-Christian-y.

I wanted to breathe again.

And then I headed home. Out there on the open road from church to farm, I remembered that June day in 2004, in the delivery room, when Anna was making her entrance into the world fast, like she was destined to be a sprinter. There was no time for the guy to show up with the epidural.

I felt weighed down with pain, red-faced, and I didn’t think I was going to make it. But a nurse named Hope went nose-to-nose with me: “Breathe. Remember to breathe. You know how to breathe. So breathe.”

And then she reminded me how. She breathed with me, as Anna sprinted her way into the world.

Whatever we’re birthing? Whatever we’re carrying?

Hope is a midwife, telling us to breathe.

Out with the pain.
In with the Spirit.

Repeat, as often as necessary. And again and again. There’s no shortage of oxygen, no shortage of God.

And watch what happens, watch what beauty will be birthed when you breathe the steady rhythm of heaven.

God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

~ Ezekiel 37:5-6 (MSG)

come alive, ezekiel

by | November 11, 2013 | 35 comments

35 Comments

  1. lvjyfaith

    Gosh..this is exactly how I feel to the point that I sit there and doubt my Salvation because I feel so guilty that I feel this way.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I am praying, right now as I tap out these words, that you will never doubt your salvation, or the enormity of His love for you. We need to remind each other that our salvation does not depend on how we feel. This side of heaven, we are going to have those soul-dry moments, periods in the wilderness, moments that wring us out. And the enemy — opportunist that he is — is going to pounce all over you to make you think that your soul-cracked feeling is evidence that God is done with you. But God shouts louder, straight down through the universe, through the lens of Calvary: I am not done with you. I made you. You are mine. Sealed, signed, and delivered by My Son.

      Praying, praying right now, friend…

      Reply
  2. Cynthia Winston-ford

    if i could only tell you how timely this is and how much appreciated…bless you for being so real. i

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you for receiving my vulnerable words with such care. I appreciate you, Cynthia.

      Reply
  3. Mick Silva

    This was wonderful, Jennifer. Keep it up!

    “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice…. Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Ps. 51:8,12)

    “Close your eyes. Breathe. Begin again. I’m sorry, I wish that there were a sharper, slicker way to do this, but this seems to be the only solution.” -Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Mick … Thank you friend. That means a lot. And I’m breathing in these good words you’ve shared in the comment box.

      Thanks for your message over the weekend. I’m behind on my correspondence. And I am having some trouble moving on my project. Paralysis of analysis. Trying to “be still and know.”

      Reply
  4. Joyce Lee

    You know I love your words, Jennifer, and you always seem to send something straight to my heart. “Out with the pain, worry, stress, In with the SPIRIT.” Just breathing. I have never heard it put quite like that. Loved it.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Joyce! So good to see you in the comment box here. 🙂 … Praying that we can exhale the bad stuff, and inhale the good. Only the good.

      Reply
  5. Ginny Jaques

    This is so where I was this morning. It’s not just me, or you, either. I feel like the world is sitting on the cusp of something big. Holding its breath. And not in a good way. The heavenlies are pregnant and in hard labor!

    But God’s triumph is being birthed. He comes in victory, each day, right now, even when it looks like the enemy is winning all the battles. And one day he will come in victory for good, and for all eternity.

    Meanwhile, I will breathe, as you’ve instructed. And stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

    Thank you for your word of exhortation and encouragement.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Ginny,

      I appreciate your encouragement here, a good reminder of how the story ends, and how it truly begins again.

      Reply
  6. Karrilee Aggett

    Mirror images… kindred hearts… so much amen here, sweet friend!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thank you, Karrilee. I like seeing you on the other side of the mirror, friend. Miss you.

      Reply
  7. Deb Anderson Weaver

    “Hope is a midwife telling us to breathe.” SO true!

    Deb Weaver

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thanks, Deb. Let’s keep breathin’. More than enough oxygen; more than enough God.

      Reply
  8. Sheri Dacon

    Well, I needed that today so thank you! I’ve struggled with anxiety for a few years & it’s always worse when I forget to breathe. Love this post.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Praying, Sheri, as I write. For God to continue to release you from your anxiety, and that He might always remind you to breathe…

      Reply
  9. Joy Lenton

    Jennifer, these burdens we bear, those cares we caress closer, that pain we punish ourselves with? Oh, yes..I know them all. How often we forget to even draw breath, never mind inhale the oxygen of His Presence. I have turned my desire (and reluctance, truth be told) to lay it all down at Jesus’ feet into poetry that may be appearing soon once courage comes to share it. Maybe God IS birthing a new thing in His people and we are feeling the pangs of labour. Whatever it might be, being able to breathe easy throughout it all is a wise thing to do. Thank you so much for baring your soul and in the process helping to release ours. Blessings 🙂 x

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Glad you’re here. Breathing in His goodness together, friend.

      Reply
  10. Nancy Ruegg

    A mid-wife named Hope? What an appropriate visual for the Spirit who comes alongside and reminds us to breathe in his wisdom and power. What a privilege we have, to breathe in steadily, day in and day out, the rhythm of heaven–and birth BEAUTY! Another insightful post, Jennifer!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      When the girls are stressed about something at school, something with a friend, whatever it is, we close our eyes and breathe like this. Out with worry; in with God.

      Reply
      • Nancy Ruegg

        What a powerful habit to instill in your girls!

        Reply
  11. Megan Willome

    Just breathing has been hard lately. I like the childbirth illustration.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I have no doubt that it has been very, very hard, Megan. You’re always close to my heart.

      Reply
  12. ro elliott

    Yes..Hope is a midwife…breath in and breath out…one breath at a time…and can’t we just come alongside one another and midwife one another…blessings

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      So true, Ro. We can help each other as midwives … as spiritual-respiratory therapists. 🙂

      Reply
  13. ThandiweW

    Good grief! Me, who is always reminding people to “breathe” just couldn’t get over this…”Whatever we’re birthing? Whatever we’re carrying? Hope is a midwife, telling us to breathe.
    Out with the pain. In with the Spirit.” Good grief, woman, what powerful words. This mantra, this prayer, this rhythm is a balm to my weary soul. Thank you Lord, for pouring these words into this woman, who shared them with the world.

    Amen

    Chelle

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Chelle… Your words here mean so much. Praying it with you. Praying it especially tonight for two friends who are having a very hard time with the pain in their lives.

      Reply
  14. Lisa Engle

    Lovely and powerful! I often use birthing metaphors in the work I do with mothers…as a mother of 5 and daughter of a midwife, this post resonates deeply. Blessings to you.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Hi Lisa! I’m so glad you dropped by and shared here in the comment box. You could probably take this metaphor and really run with it. You’ve got a lot of material to work with. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Linda Gibbs

    I love this. I often think about breathing in the spirit and releasing out worries. Thanks

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You’re welcome, Linda. And thank you for stopping by.

      Reply
  16. Amy Hunt

    Just to “Be” . . . just as we are . . . it begins here, “Just breathe”.

    I am with you, sister.

    Amen.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh, Amy… Always love to see your beautiful smile in the comment box. So glad to have you breathing in the goodness of God. … Always enough oxygen, always enough God.

      Reply
  17. Summer

    Can I just say I adore the encouragement voice that you have? It’s just so filled with Jesus, Jennifer. I remember learning this with Intervarsity. Great teaching. Breathe in the Spirit’s life, breathe out all that is not of God (sin, anxiety, pain, guilt!). Simple spiritual disciplines are so GOOD for our complicated lives. Later I learned about Centering Prayer and creating a daily practice of breathing (for 10, 15, 20 minutes) with a short scripture or truth. The repetition transforms the anxiety reaching brain cells to God-soaked truths. By the way, you’ve got beautiful feet (Isaiah 52:7)!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I love the power of repetition, like a hammer that secures the truth. I repeat Scripture, repeat creeds, repeat simple prayers, like: “You are good… You are good, God … You are good. … So good, God.” And when I’m feel especially burdened, I sing on repeat: “How Great Thou Art.”

      Reply

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