Sometimes, I wonder how many times I said or heard, “Just breathe.” It is a simple instruction, but not always easy.
When I was young, we lived in the country and had many cats and dogs. I remember saying those words many times to newborns animals. Some as we watched them being born and sighed with relief when we saw that first breath. Others we found after a cold night and tried to warm with hands and hot towels willing life back into them. We prayed, “Just breathe.”
When I was older, dressed in white and walking down a church aisle on my father’s arm to greet my soon to be husband those words came back.
Hopes, joys, fears of the future, doubts if I were ready all filled my soul. “Just breathe,” it will soon be over and life can begin.
A few years later it was a doctor saying, “Just breathe; it will not be much longer I can see the head.” My son came a month early, lungs not fully developed, weighting 4 lb. and 2 oz. and with a cord wrapped around his neck and I held my breath as I prayed, “Just breathe.”
My husband lay in recovery after surgery, his breathing so slight he kept setting off the alarms every few minutes. I prayed, “Just breathe normal. I need you.”
The first time the cops show up at your door with your son. Your heart stops and you tell yourself, “Just breathe.” When he tells you your son is okay, just a little shaken up, but you car was totaled. You sigh relieve and start breathing again. You can always kill him later.
I receive a call from my daughter; I need to run her to the emergency clinic. She calmly said, "Someone was cutting a board, a piece kicked back, knocking over a paper tree, which in turn knocked over the twelve foot theater paint shelf down, covering me head to toe in paint. My elbow was dislocated, but TJ popped it back. I just need to have it looked at." It all right Mom, “Just breathe.”
My daughter’s alarm goes off and keeps ringing. I call her a few times before going upstairs to find my daughter unconscious; lips, and fingers blue. I grab a phone, call for help, start CPR, and pray. “Just breathe.” I watch helplessly as the doctors say they don’t know what is wrong, but they have to put her on life support. A week later when they are ready to try to take her off, I am still praying that same prayer. “Just breathe, honey. Please.”
I walk into house that once was filled with life but now seems empty. How did the “I love You’s” change into divorce? My heart weeps and mourns the loss and asks how will I it come through it. I said, “Just breathe, somehow you will make it.”
I struggle with kids and parents going in and out hospitals. I lose my job, a house, and my savings. I wondered how I will feed the kids or where we will sleep. I hear, “Just breathe, this too will pass.”
I stand at my mother’s grave. Tears rolling down my eyes, as I weep for the loss. My heart aching, surprised at the love; despite all the abuse. I’m confused by all the conflicting emotions. A friend hugs me and says, “Just breathe, it will be better soon.”
I stand and watch as children once small, now leave the nest and start new lives of their own. No longer do I hold the place that I once did, for they have found new loves. It fills me with joy and pain, and so I say again; “Just breathe this is how it is meant to be.”
I now stand unsure of the future and what other trails I face. God says gently in my ear and heart, “Wait. It will be well. I am still here and I will give you strength to get through the fires of life. Just breathe.” He calls to me to breathe in His spirit, His word and rest quietly in His peace. He pleads with me to be still, let go of my fears and worries. “Just breathe and know that I am God.” It is the hardest thing to do and the only thing to do.
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