Seems simple, right? Yet, it can also be very difficult.
As someone who has struggled off and on with anxiety and depression, the mindful act of breathing has become very valuable to me.
There are days when I feel like I can’t catch my breath. When the weight of the world is on my shoulders, and I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest. There are days when my heart races or my mind races, or both. In those moments, I have to remind myself to breathe. To take a step back, press pause, and just breathe. To be still and know that God is in control. (Psalm 46:10)
The past year— or COVID-era, as some like to call it— has been a difficult time for many. I have heard several people tell me they “can’t breathe” while wearing a mask. And that’s just a physical observation. On an emotional level, many people have experienced anxiety and uncertainty over numerous stressors, directly and indirectly related to or affected by the pandemic.
I personally have been blessed with good health and stable employment, praise be to God, but I have still experienced feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed, especially as a working parent with stay-at-home (virtual schooling) children.
No one on earth has been unaffected by the past year’s circumstances. The pandemic has affected everyone, everywhere, in one way or another. We all could benefit from relief and taking time to breathe.
But, what are we breathing in?
Are we choosing to breathe in what the world wants us to breathe in? Which, truth be told, can sometimes be “toxic” and filled with lies and negativity. Or, are we choosing to breathe in God’s truths, grace, and goodness?
It matters what we breathe in.
There are days when I feel like I need an internal spiritual mask to protect my mind and heart. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” And Ezekiel 37:6 says, “[God] will put breath in you, and you will come to life.” Yes! I want to always breathe in God. I want to continually and consistently breathe in Scripture. Not the distractions and idols of the world. “Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.” (Habakkuk 2:19) There is no breath in idols. Only God can breathe life.
If I’m being honest with myself, choosing what I breathe in is easier said than done. Sometimes I let my guard— or spiritual mask— down, and the sinful nature takes over. Sometimes I let the worry, fear, and lies creep in. Sometimes I turn to other “worldly” coping methods instead of prayer or Scripture.
I’m reminded of the song (Come Alive) Dry Bones by Lauren Daigle. An excerpt of the lyrics are as follows:
As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive.
We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive.
Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise.
We call out to dry bones, come alive.
Breathe, oh breath of God.
Now breathe, oh breath of God.
Breathe, oh breath of God, now breathe.
We know that You are God, Yours is the victory.
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see.
So with the faith You’ve given us,
We’ll step into the valley unafraid, yeah.
Are you feeling weary? Are you feeling dry, like the song says? God can breathe NEW LIFE in us. He can help us rise from the ashes. He has already claimed victory over COVID. He has claimed victory over the world!
That’s the victory I want to claim. That’s the kind of breath I want to breathe in. And that’s the kind of breath I want to breathe back out to others.
Paul says in Galatians 6:7-9, “A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Don’t give up. Keep on breathing in God and His Word. Keep on trusting Him. Focus your attention and desires towards Him and not towards the things of this world. His breath gives LIFE!
Let us breathe in God together. I hope this helps serve as a gentle reminder to keep breathing Him in. Because I need the reminders too.
Breathing along with you,
More songs to listen to:
(This Is the Air I Breathe) Breathe (sung by Hillsong)
(Just) Breathe (sung by Jonny Diaz)
Rise Up (Lazarus) (sung by CAIN)