Warning: Don’t Forget to Breathe

Gina Butz anxiety, dependence on God, faith, grace, prayer, rest 0 Comments

warning: don't forget to breathe

photo by Jake Givens

In the quiet of a dimly lit room, standing unsteadily on a foam mat, wondering if everyone behind me was judging my form (they weren’t), I tried to focus. Arms up, down to prayer, bend over. Lift halfway, down again, now back up and reach . . . and oh yeah, don’t forget to breathe.

It seems like the lamest command one human could give another, “Don’t forget to breathe.” We breathe on average 17,000+ times per day involuntarily. I have done it for over 40 years. That’s, . . . (I don’t do math) a lot of breathing. I should be practiced by now.

And yet.

Every time our sweet yoga guide said it, I realized I was not breathing. So focused on the action I forgot to inhale and exhale.

When I did breathe, my body relaxed. I sank deeper, and became more aware of everything I was doing. The places that were tight, needing more attention, spoke to me.

Our instructor pointed out that the Jewish name for God-Yahweh-was meant to be breathed. It’s the only consonants in the Hebrew alphabet not articulated with the lips and tongue. So as you breathe in and out, you can say the name of Yahweh. That is what we practiced. Yah-weh. Yah-weh.

A way of breathing that reminds us who is with us and what He offers. It calls us to slow down, lean in, be aware that the very breath of God is in us.

So, in the moments when life feels a little rushed, too overwhelming, too hard, I’ve been trying to practice this.

We must remember to breathe.
Don’t forget . . .

. . . when that guy in front of you is driving 40 in a 55 and there’s no possibility of passing . . . Yah-weh . . . We breathe in patience, peace and the knowledge that we will get there eventually. Then we breathe out grace toward those who slow us down when we want to be fast.

Don’t forget . . . 

. . . when we ask our children to do something and we can see the objections forming in their heads before they’re even words . . . Yah-weh . . . We breathe in time to speak to the heart. Then we breathe out words that love and invite.

Don’t forget . . .

. . . when one more person presents one more need for us to meet . . . Yah-weh . . . We breathe in the space we need to question if this yes is for us or not. Then we breathe out an honest, humble answer that offers the best for everyone.

Don’t forget . . .

. . . when our best-laid plans fall to pieces . . . Yah-weh . . . We breathe in the grace we need. Then we breathe out a good laugh at the idea that we were ever in control in the first place.

Don’t forget . . .

. . . when anxiety grips our hearts and warns us to step away from the brave paths God’s calling us to take . . . Yah-weh . . .We breathe in his peace, his promise that He’s the one who brought us this far and He won’t let go now. Then we breathe out the determination that says we will keep walking this way because He is with us.

Don’t forget . . .

. . . when the pressure to be all things to everyone threatens to weigh us down . . . Yah-weh . . . We breathe in our humanity and let ourselves off the hook. Then we breathe out the tension as we remember that we are not the Saviors of the world.

Don’t forget . . .

. . . at the end of the day when we realize we’ve made it . . . Yah-weh . . . We breathe in the joy and the blessings. Then we breathe out gratitude and worship to the One who gives it all to us. He is always with us, closer than our own breath.

Practice this Yah-weh breath with me. It slows us down, makes us conscious of the areas in our lives that need our attention, and brings a consciousness of His presence in our lives.

Don’t forget to breathe today, friends.

Related posts:

Keeping a Sabbath Heart

Lean In

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