In this life I never learnt to breathe. I learnt to please and all the pleasing crushed the air out of me instead of letting it in. I had bronchitis and asthma often as a child and still there are many days when a stifling lack of breath, a wheeze, has me reaching for an inhaler.
I understand it now, this not having learnt breath. It’s about the moments I couldn’t bear. I could never stop to be in the moments of my life. I was always scurrying to the next one, I was always afraid to stop moving, to stop pleasing and appeasing. My joyous instants were fraught with the fear of the one that may follow it. I never grew up learning to just inhale, exhale through the painful times, the scary instants and as I grew I learnt to chase them down with booze or anger or running away into the next ‘adventure’.
Humility, to me, feels like learning to breathe. It is finding space to feel, to allow the entire me to be present. And in this allowing me, it suddenly seems like there is room to breathe, to breathe into the moments that hurt. This new breathing makes space for me, in spite of the pressures to conform to others. It is breathing in and out through the put- downs and the push-arounds that once made me shrink myself. And as I do this there is a growing softness that feels like the rigidity is gradually draining out of me through a slow leak in my shoe.
God knows how hard this place has been for me to find. Like a caged animal I have fought myself, fought to keep running, to keep from feeling. I have screamed a silent scream of anguish caused only by my rebellion. How could I have known that this space, this living humbly, is the most precious and expansive awakening? I could not have guessed that it feels so gently nurturing and beautifully consuming.
Humility to me is not bashing a pillow, or sobbing my heart out. It is a state, a way of living
, that I may embody.
Humility commences with my willingness to feel and results in me embracing everything and somewhere in the vital space in between there comes a birthing of true love and compassion.
This new filling of my lungs has also expanded how I see myself, how I see others. God has shown me our brokenness and our beauty simultaneously. There is new space in my heart; the dust covers are being tossed off disused and neglected furnishings, such as patience, giving and kindness.
I find myself surrounded suddenly by brothers and sisters, not strangers or friends. I feel a tender (and still tentative) unfurling of innocent desire towards my mate. I catch myself crying at the bright blue sky bursting with pure white cotton ball clouds. I find joy in the little things and am overwhelmed by gratitude for the great gifts God showers on my every day. I know now that humility is the soil in which our connection to all others must germinate. It is the fertile ground to which God may come and cultivate a place in our hearts.
And while I know I am still so imperfectly proud so often, this yielding to humility is like a new trend in my heart that I never want to go out of fashion.
In my stutters and starts, in this learning to breathe, I have glimpsed God. And I find myself laughing, because He’s been here all along. He’s there at every breath – it’s only me that kept running, running, running from myself, the labour of it crushing my chest and stifling every gasp for air. I left no space to know Him, to let Him fill me up, to have Him patch up all those gaping wounds I smothered and stifled and suffocated, denying them air to breathe.
All that trying to live in the ‘now’ was wasted while I, myself, stifled the very intake of air that would ground me in it. And all the old meditation, the reframing, the “its all good”s seem cheap in the face of what I feel now. The minutes are longer and richer. I am present for the first time in so long. My gratitude grows not through making the best of things, or minimising the pains of my life. It springs forth as I begin to welcome all emotions,
resting in the knowledge that they help me remember my own story
, my own self once squashed and discarded. My heart swells in thankfulness as I see that God is teaching me Truth and Love again. How can I not be grateful to a God who has designed laws that engineer every experience
, so that I may have an opportunity in each moment to grow towards Him, to become whole again? How can I not appreciate a universe designed to teach me everything about Love once I submit to the simplest thing – my fully feeling self
something so vital and simple that once I stop fighting it seems just like breathing
As I learn again to breathe and I make space for God to fill my lungs, to enter deep into me. And often now, as I exhale, a sweet new scent, that whispers something of love, liberation and contentment, wafts under my nostrils. Possibility and promise smell like nectar from an exotic fruit.
I give thanks for all things; I give thanks for every God gifted breath.
A Note to Those Reading:
I still have so much to learn and I know that sometime soon, I will realise that where I am now, this new type of breath, is only a glimmer of the humility I will need to truly know my Father. This offering stems only from my desire to share with you the deeper peace I am finding through staying with my emotions, through desiring to know myself and see myself, not through the eyes of the world, but through the eyes of the One who loves the most. He loves me, its true, and in the light of His Grace I am so humbled by how much I still have to learn and grow. Thank-you today for reading my simple words. I am blessed to share this journey with you.