When my sister and I were younger and we would go on family vacations to the beach from Ohio, we had an exciting experience of traveling through at least 2 tunnels. (Being from Ohio—this was very exciting as it was the only time we had ever seen a tunnel like this.) As we approached the tunnel, we would get ready and as soon as we entered—we held our breath. Did you ever play this? We tried to hold our breath for the entire length of the tunnel. We never made it until I figured out (being the older sister and all) how to breathe through my nose while acting like I was holding my breath. Then I finally won!
It’s a silly story and fun memory, but I hadn’t realized until recently how often I hold my breath in my everyday life. I doubt this is an uncommon practice for us either. Waiting is part of life, and in waiting we find ourselves holding our breath—waiting to make a decision until something else happens.
I realized about a year and a half ago that I was struggling with my health. I was eating a bit too much, eating when I was stressed and not engaging in any physical activity. I held my breath—waiting until the perfect moment to make the decision to do something different. Maybe once the kids are in school, maybe once the weather is nicer…the list goes on and on. And you know what happened—my health continued to suffer, while I was waiting for a sign that it was time to start.
I was allowing the unknown future to dictate how I lived today.
In the summer months, our back porch gets direct sunlight from about 1:00 until 5:30. Summer is about the only time the sun shines on a regular basis in Western Pennsylvania, so that back porch would be the harshest place to sit and watch my kids play in the afternoons. Yet, I didn’t buy an umbrella for the first two summers we were here. I was holding my breath—I couldn’t trust how long we would be here. (This of course is merely a side effect or symptom of being in itinerant ministry.) But I struggled through those first two summers—just sitting in the sun, not buying an umbrella, literally moving my chair inch by inch to save myself from the sun.
Again, it’s a silly story, but I think it points to a deeper issue we have as a people. We live life for the future and not for today. We hold our breath, waiting to make decisions based on what might happen in the future—and in turn we are miserable in the present. We don’t allow ourselves to be fully present TODAY.
There must come a moment when we make the hard decision to exhale. To breathe deeply the power of the Holy Spirit, surrender to God’s plan and will for our lives and live for today. To breathe deeply of the courage God gives us to make decisions today that will impact our future.
We bought that umbrella this Summer.
I invested in my health this past March.
I decided the “what if’s” weren’t worth waiting for any longer. It was time to be fully present today—to embrace the journey now.
It was time to exhale and breath deeply.
What I am listening to today. https://youtu.be/pw8IgPHRBr4