“It’s time,” she said. The soon-to-be mother carefully makes her way to the passenger seat of the car. Breathe in, breathe out, she tells herself. Her husband rushes the car towards the hospital, ready to see new life in the flesh. Several hours and pushes and prayers later, the tiny newborn takes her first breath in the world as we know it. Mom and Dad may not realize it, but baby’s first intake of air will be one of the strongest breaths she will take in her entire life.
In the womb, her lungs remained still, save only to grow and develop from embryo to infant. They were not required to labor until now. But newly separated from her mother’s perfect haven, baby’s lungs must awaken. To do this, she’ll take a breath that is at least three times greater than any other breath she will know. The surface tension across the formerly dormant lung tissue is broken. And baby receives more than a double portion of the only life force available on this earth.
What is heard in the delivery room as a cry of shock is heard in heaven as a cry of blessing. In both places, it is heard as a cry of life. God gives life. God gives breath. They are one in the same. Baby knows she only has to receive one to have the other.
She will grow older. She might forget that the creator of the universe sustains her life with His very breath. The world will tell her that she has to work for it. The world will try to convince her that she must pile more on top of more doing to fulfill her destiny. The world will warn in the night that tomorrow will only bring pain. The world will twist the truth until she believes that she does not matter. The world wants her to forget.
But the world doesn’t know that she cannot flee from that which surrounds her. And that the lover of her soul pursues her relentlessly.
He whispers. She bends her ear towards His voice.
And she turns the pages of hope to find that He was there all along. From her first breath to her last, He is sustaining her every need.
She inhales. And it changes her.
Not just because the simple act of an inhalation has healing qualities. Not just because it triggers a relaxation response in the body. Not just because it drives oxygen to her brain. Not just because it stimulates the vagus nerve to release neurotransmitters that increase calm and decrease anxiety. Not just because it lowers her heart rate and blood pressure. Not just because it alters the expression of genes to improve immune function and her body’s response to stress.
It changes her because now she knows. She knows that her life is in the hands of the One who created her. Her first breath was of His love and her last will be into His arms.
So she breathes deeply again and again. And with every breath she repeats these words: my life matters. Because now she remembers. And now she knows. Her life was not an accident. And her future is not held by chance.
Breath. Life. Value. These three things intertwine among the pages of the gospel to remind us that there is another way. That anxiety is a burden our God will gladly bear if we are brave enough to give it to Him.
Join me tomorrow as I share the one thing I learned in my yoga teacher training that forever changed the way I viewed the simple act of breathing. I’ll also share a specific breathing technique that I turn to every time I feel anxiety creeping in.
Until then, breathe deeply warriors.