Holding My Breath

Music playing: Worn by Tenth North Avenue

I hold my breath.

The other day I was watching this yoga video and the instructor was showing the proper way of inhaling and exhaling. I was trying it out for myself and I realized that when I exhale, I didn’t exhale fully. I stopped and monitored how I breathed in and out, and it’s true. I hold my breath to a certain degree, never fully exhaling.

I realized it says a lot about me. I’m almost always on guard. On the first days of having my new phone, I already downloaded an alert app that will send an emergency message with my exact location on Google map to certain loved ones and has an SOS alarm. When I meet someone for the very first time, I profile them — I listen to the words they say, the jokes they crack and the kind of topics they tackle and then I decide what kind of relationship we will have. When I travel, I often take photos of the taxis I ride, save it in my email until I get home. When someone new opens up to me, I think it through over and over again how much I would open up about my life, if I ever do at all.

I hold my breath.

Somewhere, at the back of my mind, I am preparing myself for an attack. I am steeling myself for a betrayal. I am guarding myself from loss.

What my mind has been programmed to do, my body has adapted to.

The yoga instructor said, “Exhaling is the act of letting go. Let go. Let go of all that troubles you. Let it go. Clear your mind. Whatever it is grasping onto, release it.”

I looked back on my past years and found no evidence that being on guard has benefited me at all. No matter how cynical my mind became or how paranoid I turned out, I was not spared from pain.

So how do I live? Do I live like a prey for everyone to devour? Or do I continue living in a cave of fear?

The answer came to me clearly on a Sunday morning. I have seen it you know. All too often in the many years I’ve been attending worship services. The Passion of Christ. It’s a movie I never want to watch again (that and the Titanic) but I have had to, on several occasions and even if it were just selected clips, I would always cry.

I braced myself for it, for the scenes that would make me cringe, and look away.

But I didn’t end up doing that. Instead, I looked at the screen, and Jim Caviezel’s (actor playing Jesus) eyes staring back at me. Those tear and blood stained eyes telling me, My child, I’ve got this. Give it to me, I’ve got this. I’ve got you. Do you not see how much I love you? I felt a stirring in my heart. I couldn’t tear my eyes off the screen. I was holding my breath and then slowly, but surely, I exhaled. Fully.

I hold my breath. But it holds me back. From truly living.

How do I live? I just do. One day at a time, with the best of I am, hoping for the best to happen and carrying the best things of life with me to make it through.

I finally remembered what it was like not to be holding my breath. I felt free. I do not have to second guess people’s motives. I can rest believing that God sees. I do not have to struggle about how to protect myself. God’s wisdom will guide me. And if I do make wrong choices, God’s grace will find me.

God’s love. It makes all the difference. His love does not let go, it is ever constant. It is steadfast. That kind of love keeps me in focus, hopeful despite all the trials. It is because of it that I can have the strength to be vulnerable again and know… that if pain, betrayal, and loss comes…God’s got me. And I know, like He always have — will catch me if I fall or teach me how to fly.

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