“When I thought I lost me, You knew where I’d left me. You reintroduced me to Your love. You picked up all my pieces, put me back together. You are the Defender of my heart.”

~ Defender

The Day 4 devotion in 40 Days Lighter reminds us to breathe again. That reminder sounds simple until we think of all of the times or situations that cause us to hold our breath or feel like we literally can’t breathe. Times like when we are anticipating bad news, or maybe you’ve taken a hard fall that knocked the wind out of you, or when something traumatic has happened leaving us gasping for air. Or maybe you had an experience like mine – falling into a body of water at the age of 5, unable to swim, frightened, inhaling water, and feeling the terror of believing that you were going to drown.

I often think back to that moment, and remember that paralyzing fear I experienced after losing my footing and slipping off the edge of the walkway where I had been standing admiring the ducks swimming by just moments before. And this was certainly not the last time I felt that feeling. From experiencing heartbreak to the gut wrenching realization that I made a horrible decision, I know all too well the paralyzing feeling that necessitates that reminder to “just breathe”. 

Over the last year, many of us have been holding our breath figuratively, even as many have literally struggled to breathe as a result of this pandemic. We’ve been waiting to see how our employment situation would work out as layoffs and closures increased. We’ve been watching our children do the best they can to learn virtually or in person in masks. We’re on edge, hoping that small businesses will survive these unusual and dire circumstances. And we’re still waiting the borders of many countries to reopen or for restrictions on travel to be lifted. We’ve been waiting to see family, waiting to take vacations, waiting to feel like we can really “live” again.

In the midst of all of this waiting, when it felt like it was one disappointment or loss after the other, I lost myself. Or so I thought, from my perspective. Within a short period into the pandemic, I had been stripped of just about all of the roles and activities that I had unknowingly and erroneously used to define my life and subconsciously determine my worth. I found myself responding to life in ways that didn’t align with the “figure it out” Andrea that everyone knew. And if I’m honest, I felt like that was the only version of me that could be loved, that would be accepted, that would fit in. So I tried to hide my struggle even as I became more and more lost in a momentary pity party turned ongoing aimless wandering. I thought I was lost without hope of being found and I was holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And then I had a moment, where I almost fell into worship, and God reminded me to just breathe. God reminded me that while I may have felt lost, He’s never lost track of me. He reminded me of David’s words in Psalm 103:14 – “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” God wasn’t caught off guard by my missteps or loss of perspective. Instead, He was right there in the tension with me, waiting and ready for me to turn to Him for deliverance, for the strength to live free.

I’m grateful to serve the One who meets us right in the middle of our mess, Who is present right in the tension, right in the struggle with us. We simply need to become more aware of His Presence. 

“I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.”

Psalm 30:1-2 (NIV)
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