I was sitting at the kitchen table, reading over some precious comments on my post from January 2nd and thanking God for each of you. I began to let your words really sink into my spirit as I sat there, ruminating over the encouragement I received from a couple of you. I was reminded that it’s ok not to have it all together. You said things that told my soul to rest and allowed me to really listen to the voice of God for a while: the voice of Grace and Peace.
My stomach had been in knots, worried about my little boy and fearing I might catch the flu, preventing me from working. I took a deep breath, with tears in my eyes and exhaled, hearing Jesus say, “Let it go”. The knot in my stomach began to loosen and my shoulders dropped a bit, as I was given permission by the One who loves me so much, to let go.
I remember being a little boy and staying at a motel on the outskirts of Nashville with my family, while my Dad visited his best friend from high school. I was standing on the stairs at the shallow end of the pool, mesmerized as I watched my Dad take a deep breath and disappear under the water. Dad has always been in fantastic shape, and I knew he could do anything. I stood there, anxiously watching and waiting for him to return from the other side of the pool. It seemed like he was gone forever and might never return.
For the first few seconds, it was so cool, but to a five or six-year-old, staying under past the count of ten seemed either impossible or superhuman. Dad would finally return and I would celebrate with applause, saying, “Whoa! Dad! That was awesome! I counted all the way to 100 while you were under water!” As incredible as it was, I always felt better when Dad was near me. The water was an uncertain thing to me and I didn’t like feeling alone.
It’s interesting to note that children can’t hold their breath as long as adults, but the older we become, the longer we teach ourselves to hold it in. There are many people in this world, holding their breath and holding their fears, just waiting to exhale. Everyday, we have an opportunity to exhale all the pain, anxiety, anger, and everything else we have been holding on to and breathe-in the peace and grace of God.
When I was much older than the little boy in the shallow end, I became very aware that my Dad had been holding his breath for years, angry at his past, himself, and God. I can barely write this through the tears because I will never forget when my Dad finally returned from the deep end, fell to his knees, and exhaled. No matter how superhuman someone may seem, we all have a spirit that desires nearness with Our Father.
“…creation itself will be set free from its bondage and will obtain freedom. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in pain until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, groan inwardly while we wait for redemption.” (paraphrased from Romans 8:21-23)
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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