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Breathe in…

Breathe out. Maybe it sounds silly, but with everything going on in our world right now, I’ve found myself literally forgetting to breathe.

You, too?

Obviously these are stressful times unlike what many of us have seen before – at least in a new way with how foreign this feels and how long it’s lasting. It’s like we’re learning to live with this heightened sense of stress, anxiety, worry, grief that just stays at this elevated place, holding our breath up high and never letting us go in for a deep relief.

I caught myself this weekend – holding my breath.

Running around, busying myself inside, playing with Olivia, baking cookies to feel comfort and working out to feel sane – and holding my breath.

We’re holding our breaths because we’re bottling up feelings in the hopes of creating “normal” life at home with our families. We’re not calling our feelings anything close to trauma since maybe that feels so much bigger + badder in our brains than being stuck at home for the foreseeable future – but for many of us, it’s not that simple (or easy). We’ve got loved ones on the frontlines of a global pandemic, or hell, WE are on the frontlines, and we don’t know if or when we’ll unknowingly cross paths with someone who tested positive. And while we can maybe temporarily mask the hardships with Disney+ and Betty Crocker, at the end of the day, life is really freaking scary and really freaking hard right about now.

We’re holding our breaths for better days – days of hugging our loved ones and going to the grocery store without worrying about catching a deadly disease. When it didn’t look like a war zone in the toilet paper aisle or like a scene out of the movie Contagion.

We’re holding our breaths because we literally don’t want to breathe in these potentially-deadly germs that are sending folks into ICU’s left and right, that are short on supplies AND staff.

So we’re holding our breaths.

But especially since we automatically breathe about 19,000 times a day without thinking twice, we might not even be REALIZING when we’re holding our breaths – our bodies just take the silent toll as our heart beats a little faster and chest gets a little tighter.

Breathe in…breathe out…

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When so much feels (and is) so totally completely out of control, it’s all the more important to be intentional about the things we CAN – even if it’s as seemingly simple as BREATHING deeply, fully, wholly to clear our minds and reset our hearts for a hot sec.

In times such as these, it’s more important than ever to set a few things straight.

  1. We aren’t in control.
  2. We can’t let that define or defeat us.
  3. We can let the little things be the big things (at least for now) and get by with grace.

We aren’t in control of what happens next. But we ARE in control of what we choose to do right now. Do we choose to listen to safety regulations, take appropriate precautions and stay home to stay safe? Or do we throw caution to the wind and ignore the needs of our neighbors (and ourselves) because we “feel” like doing someting else? Do we choose to do whatever we can to keep peace in the storm? Or do we allow panic to creep in and fuel the mental fear fire? (Stop the panic!). Choose to control the one thing you can right about now: your perspective. Keep counting the bless in the mess – like how much more appreciative we are for family time and a fresh, home-cooked meal on the table.

Breathe in…breathe out…

We can’t let NOT being in control of what happens next define or defeat us. Anyone else in da house an admitted control freak? (Hello! It me!). We ~struggle~ when we don’t have the ability to make it happen somehow, or at least don’t feel SOME say in a situation. So this sorta thing feels…unnerving. Like we’re at the mercy of everyone else and their mother, and we don’t KNOW everyone else and their mother, let alone whether or not they’re doing their part, following guidelines, etc. So we struggle. And maybe, we fall down a few times from the stress of it all – but we can’t stay down. We aren’t defeated – we’re tested. It’s time to get back up, and KEEP getting back up, staying disciplined to get through this thing together.

Breathe in…breathe out…

We can let the little things be the big things and get by with grace. Maybe it’s safe to say by now that we won’t be saying no to a happy hour with girlfriends or passing on a group game night for the foreseeable future once it’s safe to get together again. We’ll hug our loved ones tighter, stay a little longer and let just being together be enough. Until then, little things like FaceTime coffee dates or happy snail mail to show someone you’re thinking of them is what gets us by – and it’s all we’ve got, so make it count.

Breathe in…breathe out…

These times are so freaking weird right now, and they’ll never be the same. We’ll never be going back to a Before-Quarantine “normal” (“BQ” as J dubbed it on the podcast last week) – instead we’ll have a “new normal” altogether.

As much as it hurts and sucks to have so much change and so much pain happening to so many people, we can’t keep holding our breaths for it go “go back to normal” – because that normal is gone forever. This thing will stay in the world to some degree – at least for the foreseeable future.

I heard it said once that the opposite of holding your breath isn’t inhaling – it’s letting go.

Let go of the want to control every detail. We can be the best listener of laws, the most cautious cleaner with Clorox and the most disciplined social-distancer and STILL end up catching a bug. (Just like we can do everything “right” in life and still get a horrible diagnosis or lose a job or see a loved one die). Controlling all of our outcomes is just impossible – so let that thought go and just do what you can where you’re at with whatever you’ve got.

Let go of panic, fear, and anxiety of the unknown. We don’t know what we might personally face from all of this – the same way we don’t know what we might personally face from any other future medical ailment, or accident, or hardship or tragedy. We can’t let Fear drive our car. She might be a passenger, but she ain’t in the driver’s seat – don’t let her be a backseat driver.

Let go of doubt that God is good. I know this one sucks to admit, but I think it’s something we all battle from time to time – especially in the hardest times. We see so much bad sh*t happening around us and to us and to the people we care about most, and we cry to heaven asking WHY. And when we don’t get an immediate or clear answer back (because wouldn’t it be nice to get that sometimes via a lightning bolt or little note from Jesus? Ha!), we worry that we’re being hung out to dry alone.

That God doesn’t have our backs.

That God maybe isn’t really all that good.

And that just couldn’t be farther from the truth. Maybe that’s a whole other post for a whole other day, but it bears mentioning here because I know it’s something that’s crossed my minds when I’m being attacked by anxieties – and sometimes a good, deep breath is all it takes to stop the downward spiral and refocus on truth.

So in case you need the reminder today, too…

Breathe in…breathe out.

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WEEKEND READING, Vol. 76 - on Coming Up Roses
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