Breathe in deeply. Let the air gently fill your lungs. Pause, then release. Feel the tension in your shoulders drift away. Inhale again, then exhale.
This is the give and take of breath. This is a deliberate slowing of the cadence of our breath. This is discovering a new, unforced rhythm.
Breathe was the theme of the retreat I attended in June for the writers of (in)courage. After a wildly busy Maycember, this was exactly what we all needed. Thirty-one writers and staff traveled to Estes Park, Colorado for three days at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park to just breathe.
The goal: to exhale the rush of responsibilities and inhale the presence of God through fellowship with sisters.
Although we spent some time in meetings and creating new content, the leaders carved out lots of space for us to breathe. We were encouraged to take a nap, go shopping or hiking, participate in rooftop yoga, or spend time with God in the mountains — to just breathe.
The Hebrew name for God is Yahweh. It is said when the Hebrew letters YHWH are pronounced, they sound like a deep breath. This connection is no coincidence in my mind, for God Himself fashioned Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed life into his lungs.
Here’s one thing I learned about breathing that weekend in Colorado: sometimes the air feels thin at higher altitudes.
One morning, I went for a five-mile run on a path not far from our cabin. My chest pulled tight as I tried to fill my lungs. I slowed down and took shorter breaths. I had to give myself grace that my pace was not as fast as it might be at home, where I live in a valley.
In life, sometimes the same is true. We find ourselves at an unfamiliar altitude, and we need to take shorter breaths. We need to slow our rhythm to breathe deeply.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve experienced some trauma in your past or you are presently walking through a crisis, and it feels hard to breathe.
These are the times when it is a gift to sit shoulder to shoulder with others. It’s so easy to default into isolation when we feel overwhelmed. When we share our stories, when we bear witness to truth and pain, we offer each other breath.
Breathing then comes a little easier. Inhale long. Breathe out.
I experienced this in Colorado with my (in)courage sisters. Writing and speaking can be lonely work. I don’t have many people in my everyday life who understand what I do and its challenges. These women, who live all over the country and minister in many different ways through words, are my colleagues, my co-laborers.
As I listened to the stories and experiences of other writer-mama-sisters from diverse backgrounds, I felt breath fill my lungs. I was bolstered for the task ahead – to continue to share the gospel message and to help people discover God’s glory through my words.
In Ezekiel 37, the prophet talks about a valley of dry bones – a symbol of lifelessness. God says to these bones:
I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
Ezekiel 37:5-6 (NIV)
Then He breathes into them, and the dry bones miraculously rattle and snap to life. These bones were once dry and dead, but now they are alive and moving.
God breathes – sometimes through the stories and encouragement of others – and we come to life.
May we also look for opportunities daily to breathe new life into each other. As a mama, I want to consider ways I can breathe life into my children. This may mean softening my tone when I’m irritated. This may mean encouraging my daughters to try new things or to persevere through challenges.
I desire for my words to be life-giving to my friends. This may mean calling out talents my friends have or speaking truth to them when they are struggling with self-doubt.
One of my favorite songs is “Great Are You, Lord” by All Sons & Daughters. This song became especially meaningful to me in 2014 when my beloved husband was battling cancer. A couple of friends from the worship band at our church visited our home to sing with my husband. He was too weak at that point to go to church.
As they sang and played guitar, my husband sat on our big red couch and listened with a look of heavenly contentment on his face. Our three daughters danced as these worshipful words filled our home:
“It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise . . . ”
Ironically, the cancer was spreading during that time to my husband’s lungs. His breathing was labored. Little did we know that soon he would soar to meet the One who first breathed life into him. He would exhale this earth and breathe in Yahweh face-to-face.
Whenever I hear this song, I can’t help but think of that moment. I reach for gratitude even when breathing feels hard like on my Colorado run. I thank God for my lungs, for this daily cadence of borrowed breaths, and for the privilege of living one more day to reflect His glory.
Dorina and her new husband Shawn love connecting with Christian runners. Check out their Glory Chasers running group on Facebook where they offer up courage, community and coaching for runners at all levels.
When we share our stories, when we bear witness to truth and pain, we offer each other breath. -@DorinaGilmore: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
Your words make me grateful for “borrowed breaths” and for the oxygen of grace that keeps me running.
Joining you! I’m grateful every day!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
The concept of “borrowed breaths” that you mentioned at the close of your post really struck me. We all are on borrowed breath; borrowed time; borrowed strength, patience, perseverance, peace, love. Everything we are and do is from the Lord…apart from Him we can do nothing. I write and I head up a non-profit ministry from home. Some days the only breath I feel is my beagle’s hot breath on my leg when it’s mealtime lol. I KNOW I need others to breathe life into me when my breaths are short and staccato-like. It’s kind of like “Sister-CPR”. Too often I let myself get dangerously close to spiritually, emotionally, and mentally expiring. Perhaps that’s why I hold close the friendships that I do have. Without them I’m a gonner. Praise that you were all able to meet up for some time of rest, refreshment, and opportunities to breathe in the Lord together. I needed this reminder that I can’t always run full throttle…I need to stop, pause, and just breathe. Great post!
Sister-CPR! I love that!!!
Jeanne Gabrielle Bowser says
A beautiful post of breath. I recall the time God instructed me to breathe into my husband’s nostrils to keep him alive for about 30 min. My whole mouth and cheeks felt like they had been blown up; while the Holy Spirit encouraged me to continue. I called it Holy Ghost CPR. My beloved went on to heaven in April, but God is so faithful and wonderful to me. He breathes His life into me everyday when I wake up. I am much more aware of His presence in my life, and eternity has more meaning than it’s ever had before. I am thankful for a great support system through friends, especially in my local church. With His breath in my lungs, each day I will press on to continue my race. His grace is perfected in my weakness. Thank you all for letting me share through the pain and being vulnerable.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
I’m grateful you shared your story with us here, and you trust His breath in your lungs today as you move forward. God be with you in the joy and pain and all things, my friend.
Our days are to breathe in Him and reflect His glory. Thank you for this beautiful post today.
Thank you, Lynn! All for His glory!
Dorina: Thank you so much for this. As I read your post, I remember times last year when I was running a lot and lost 37 pounds. However, January of l this year, something clicked with me and I lost that drive. I miss it so much. I gained back 28 pounds. I have in the past 2 weeks begun a Couch25k program to start all over. I am finding I need to find my breathe again in running. But I know my true breathe is found in Christ. I seek Him daily, but Satan is grabbing at me constantly. I rebuke him Lord in your name. Nothing is impossible with God. Thank you Incourage ladies for your words and devotionals.
Thank you sharing your story with us. Praying for strength and courage to run from the lies of the Enemy and replace them with truth, my friend!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
We all should be thank full to God we are alive and breath. When we stop and think of the person in our Hospital struggling too breath. Because of an illness. Or that especially new born baby born weeks early. With a machine doing the breathing for it. That poor Mother breaking her heart her own breathing with panic not good with worry wondering will my baby make it. We have to thank full on to God we have good lungs filled with Good oxygen he filled them with for us. Pray for people like that. Be thank full God has given us another day to live and breath to enjoy his beautiful world. Stop grumbling. Give our Father above more praise. We are alive we have a heart that works Lungs that are working. That he woke us up to enjoy another day in his world no matter where we live in it. So we have so Much to Thank our God for. Fill our lungs with his good fresh air. Look out at the beauty of all this World what he has given us. And say Thank you GOD as even me myself. We don’t do it enough. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little Excellent reading once again.
It’s His breath in our lungs! Thank-full every day!
Thank you for your story…. It brought me to tears as I lay today in my bed trying to unwind & catch my breath…
Jesus reminded us that when we are tired, it’s ok to take nap. He did it in a middle of a storm. It refreshes us to know that he’s got this. He has our back.
Matthew 11:28-30 New International Version (NIV)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Yes, He gives us permission to rest, to breathe, to abide in Him!
Nancy Ruegg says
“Breathing borrowed breaths to live one more day and reflect God’s glory”– Now there’s a thought to keep our priorities straight and our focus on the next right thing! Thank you, Dorina!
Sandi Walker says
I breathe borrowed breaths from my oxygen concentrator “Ari” so I may live one more day to praise the Lord
for his goodness and steadfast love. He has given me 70 wonderful years. I just started Hospice and the
people are a gift from God!! No matter how we breathe we need to thank God for his lovingkindness and
for giving us His Son!!! We are Blessed!!
Breathing with you both!
Nancy Ruegg says
Sandi, your testimony of positivity and gratitude–in spite of your circumstance–speaks volumes for God’s lovingkindess, carrying you through these difficult days! God bless you, Sister!
Beth Williams says
Such a powerful post. This world is so fast paced. We run around doing so much for everyone that we occasionally forget to breath. We run ourselves ragged & find our tanks empty. Everyone needs to slow down & take some really deep breaths. Just pause & relax for a minute. Refill your soul with some God’s love & care. Lysa Terkeurst said it best in her book The Best Yes: “Saying yes to everyone & everything won’t make you wonder woman. It will make you a worn out woman”. Worn out women have nothing to give anyone. Bonnie Gray in her book Whispers of Rest talks about doing breath prayers. Breathe in & say Jesus. Breathe out & say help me. It is a way to stay in communion with God. God made us for community. He wants us to be with others. I find being around some people & sharing our lives gives me & them strength we need to carry on. As Bev said above we need Sister-CPR. It works wonders for me.
Yes!!! Those are two of my favorite books! We have to learn the rhythm of rest, of breathing and thanking Him!