Don’t Forget to Breathe

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

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 looking at my form (they probably 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 humans breathe on average 17,000+ times per day involuntarily. I’ve done it for almost 44 years. That’s, like . . . ok I’m not even going to pretend I do math, but it’s a lot of breathing, right? I should have the hang of it by now.

And yet. And yet every time our sweet yoga guide said it, I realized I wasn’t breathing. So focused on the action that I forgot to inhale and exhale.

When I did breathe, my body would relax. I could sink deeper. I became more aware of everything I was doing. I felt the places that were tight, that needed more attention.

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 that are not articulated with the lips and tongue. So as you breathe in and out, you can say that name of Yahweh. So that is what we practiced. Yah-weh.

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

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

Don’t forget to breathe . . . 
when that guy in front of us is driving 40 in a 55 and there’s no possibility of passing . . . Yah-weh . . . we breathe in patience and 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 to breathe . . .
when we ask our children to do something and we can see from their faces the objections forming in their heads before they’re even words . . . Yah-weh . . . we breathe in time to speak to the heart, not that face. Then we breathe out words that love and invite.

Don’t forget to breathe . . .
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 to breathe . . .
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 to breathe . . .
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 determination that says we will keep walking this way because He is with us.

Don’t forget to breathe . . .
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 to breathe . . .
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 can slow us down, make us conscious of the areas in our lives that need our attention, and bring consciousness of His presence in our lives.

Don’t forget to breathe today, friends.


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