In the second summer of my illustrious swimming career, my parents signed us up for a skills workshop with Coach Sarah. We stood along the wall of the free swimming area and followed the instructions Coach gave us. After one of my drills, I returned to the wall and she crouched down and asked me, "Don't you know how to breathe?"
I'm certain I giggled and probably thought inside my head, "duh, of course I do." She continued a brief lecture about how important it is to breathe and that I need to do it more. And then, exasperated, she said this, "Even right now as I'm standing here talking to you, you're not breathing. Not through your mouth at least, you're just calmly breathing through your nose." She must have gone on to say that in exercise it is important to fully oxygenate our bodies by breathing through our mouths, because, well, that's what stuck with me 20-something years later.
The thing is, I still hold my breath. All. The. Time.
When we were first married, I spooked my husband more than once because he thought I'd died in my sleep. Turns out I just breathe very slowly and quietly while sleeping. Supposedly this kind of breathing has something to do with being a swimmer as my dad, a former swim coach, used to scare my mom with the same inconspicuous breathing.
I wish I could tell you that this is just a physical anomaly, something I can't really control. But I don't think it is. I think I hold my breath because I'm preoccupied, too busy or just waiting for something. I catch myself not breathing a lot. And then,I breathe out in heavy, labored, usually loud sighs.
Even as I write this now, I have to remind myself to breathe.
And so, as I ended 2015, I started thinking about my word for 2016. I prayed and asked God to reveal to me the word that encapsulated the one thing I could do in 2016 to change my life. And very quickly, breathe entered my mind. And as if it were a gasp of fresh air itself, I inhaled and felt at peace.
See, I'm not good at slowing down. And I often rush through tasks, events and even life. All the while I'm holding my breath. And in doing so, I miss out on so much living, and essentially on thriving. Breathing is, of course, a top priority of thriving. One cannot thrive if one cannot breathe. Friends, I haven't thrived in years. Nor have I truly breathed.
It's not easy to find Scripture that fully embraces what this word breathe means to me. But here's what I've gotten so far, tell me what you think:
He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life Gen 2:7 ...
...Breath came into them and they lived and stood upon their feet. Ezekiel 37:10
See how those go together so well? God gave us breath of life and when His breath came into them, they lived. Of course that second part has hidden meaning to me because it says they stood upon their feet. Well, if you remember, back in 2014,standing was a bit of a challenge.
I don't know exactly where breathe will take me in 2016. But I'm starting at the beginning. I can't fully breathe, I can't fully live, I can't thrive unless I let the Creator breathe life into me. And for now, that's enough.