Do you ever forget to breath? It's impossible to forget altogether, but I know for certain that I don't inhale lavishly, not nearly as wide and deep as my body might like. Once in a while, I'll catch myself in an attempt to stretch and fill, only to find some days that my lungs protest the expansion. Over time, the shoulders hunch and headaches ensue. Stress. It's like I've been fitted with a 20lb. lead vest that tightens with every problem I'm unable to fix and each task left undone.
We forget the importance of oxygen because the act of breathing rests far from our conscious. The average adult breathes in and out 16-20 times each waking minute. When we sleep, the in and exhales naturally slow and become deeper, dropping down to 12-18 per minute. The simple practice of paying attention to our breath actually lowers our blood pressure. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a terrible student of "slow down" and I've never been stellar at science, so God sent me somebody wearing skin to force a pause this week.
When I was small, I was painfully quiet and an intense observer of everything happening around me. I was the last person to want attention and I did anything I could to avoid it. If I got good grades and stayed out of trouble, maybe I could even become invisible! My parents usually had to look no further for me than in my "reading nook" where I could easily lose myself in a book for hours on end. Just as in any imperfect family, there were parts of my growing up that were chaotic and lacking answers. For me, books calmed and words provided solace. I guess you could say, they were my oxygen.
Have you ever felt completely crushed or raised so high you could touch heaven by a simple word spoken over you?
This week, the air became plentiful and a couple pounds of insecurity were lifted from my chest, by a few thoughtful words splattered onto a computer screen and sent over state lines. Tears dotted my desk as I read that note and it seemed as though the oxygen mask had dropped from the ceiling of the plane and given life once again. The writer of Proverbs didn't mince words when he penned, "the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."
The power of life and death rests in us. It rests in our reliance on God and our ability to lift one another up in hard times. It rests in "taking every thought captive", before they tumble out of the mouth unintentionally and in knee-jerk fashion. Like the fragrant trail of a thunder storm, our words can be refreshing and electric, or they can plant despair in the hearts of all who hear.
I'm thanking God today for the sweet friend whose encouragement will linger through my week as the revitalizing perfume after my storm. May our words have that effect on every soul who crosses our paths this week!
"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." Proverbs 16:24
"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless." James 1:26
"But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart..." Matthew 15:18
1. Remember a time that you were desperate for a kind word or pick me up. What did it look like when it came? How did your body respond? How about your spirit?
2. Have there been times you've wanted to take something back that you've said? How has God helped you to tame your tongue since the incident?
3. Who might you encourage this week?
Photo Credit: Zugr and Jessica Polar, Unsplash
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.