Breathing room for my soul

Breathing room for my soul – Where does that come from? Certainly not from trying harder, good intentions and daily tasks, rushing to meetings or practice, raises and promotions, badges or awards, or another day turned on the calendar. We can live our whole lives without breathing room for our souls, can’t we? The harder we try, the harder it is to inflate our lungs. In Western culture, we run our oxygen-starved bodies on adrenaline. What feeds our glory-starved souls?

In the apart-ness of grief, the enforced time alone, my vision, often blurred with tears, clears to a fresh reality. Raw grief strips attachments and resets priorities — richness in relationships and memories.

As I sort through my mother’s belongings, bits and pieces of my life are exposed. I recall how many times God worked, spoke, protected, provided, healed and nurtured me.

How precious the ability to recall!

Grandmother's Clock
Grandmother’s Clock

And for the first time in my life, I see there isn’t time to learn all the things I’ve wanted to learn or do all I’d planned to do.

“Teach us to number our days.”

I never would have guessed I would find breathing room for my soul in sensing my own mortality.

Rather than sadness or panic, numbering my days is setting me free.

I don’t have to become.

I simply chose to live now, love well and share as I am able.

Ahhhh. Big breath.

“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Phil 4:11-13
The Message

Letting go of trying-so-hard releases me. It is enough to be me. ‘Who I am’ is the only thing that I will take into eternity.

And ‘who I am’ is good enough because I am a child of the King, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Relationship with Him undergirds my life, and promises my future, forever.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 NIV

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Under Construction

Continuing The Healing Path with two of my grown daughters, at every turn of the page I run headlong into my failures. All the times I journeyed poorly. Became blind-leading-the-blind for my children.

I really tried, most of the time, when my own wounds didn’t shout louder. To give my children a “so much more” life than I grew up with.

Neglect. Betrayal. Failure to act.

It’s a punch to the solar plexus as I recognize how my weaknesses betrayed my children, my needs took precedence over theirs.

Janie 4th grade
Janie 4th grade

Clearly, I haven’t been the person I yearned to be when I was ten, writing in the margins of my little white New Testament. My life did not take the track I planned.

But that’s not all there is.

When Jesus stretched out his hands and called me across the water, he began to work in me, sometimes breaking down and building anew, at times pulling up from my past to create an unknown strength.

It’s been a long pathway, full of twists and turns. I’m a work in progress.

Winding path in Switzerland © Jack H Thompson
Winding path in Switzerland © Jack H Thompson

At times, I jump in and try to help out. That never works out well. I’m still flawed, unable to make myself who I really want to be.

More and more, I sense that am being healed. Clay being reshaped by the Master Potter. Set free to be the person I was created to be.

I am fashioned by Love, to love. Created to create.

Whether you are in the “I’ve made too many mistakes” crowd or the “wait for me to get it all together” boat, I’m stretching a hand your way, inviting you to the dance of the “make-overs”. (HGTV doesn’t even come close!)

You are welcome to join the Under Construction Crew.

Come on in. The water’s fine!

Scripture leaves no doubt about it: There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys. . . .
The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. . . .
This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. . . What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.

Romans 3:9,14,28 The Message (YouVersion)

Where are you in the journey?

Forty days?

This week, many Christians begin observing forty days of Lent. Forty days marked many significant events in the Biblical narrative: Noah floating in the ark, Moses on the mountain with God, the Hebrews scouting the Promised Land, Goliath taunting Saul’s army until David picks up his slingshot, Jesus fasting in the wilderness before he begins his ministry on earth.

And, like Jesus, we are being called to forty days in the desert.

© Jane Foard Thompson
crown of thorns

Rather than Lent, perhaps life itself has called you into the desert. Illness, disability, dementia, losing a dream, job, home, loved one or a relationship . . . the desert places are open to all of us.

© Jane Foard Thompson
succulent in desert

And whether we come out on the other side at all, or haggard and bitter, or lean and ready to really live, depends on how we respond in our desert time.

© Jane Foard Thompson
In silence of the desert

In truth, we don’t want the desert. In our culture, pain is an enemy to be avoided at all costs, from the ever-present ibuprofen bottle, to drug or alcohol abuse, and even assisted suicide. Others of us are running ahead, doing the right things, working very hard to keep it all together.

However, in The Healing Path, Dan Allender says,

“God promises us redemption, but his sacred path leads us away from safety, predictability, and comfort. Any attempt to fly over the dangerous terrain or make a detour to safe ground is doomed because it will not take us to God. Instead, it leads to a host of other idols that can’t provide us with the confidence of faith, the dynamic of hope, or the passion of love we so deeply crave.”

The Healing Path

Only in the desert, we become the people we were created to be, living the life we were meant to live.

“It is in the poverty of the desert that we see clearly our attachments to the trinkets and baubles we cling to for security and pleasure. The desert shatters the soul’s arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert, we trust God or we die.”

The Healing Path

Trust God or die.

When Eve didn’t trust God, and ate the fruit instead, she died to all her life could have been in the garden, including evening walks with God.

God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden, into the desert were they would learn how much they needed him.

And every time we chose our own way, in place of God’s pathway, we eat that fruit again.

© Jane Foard Thompson
thorny desert plant

“The healing path must pass through the desert or else our healing will be the product of our own will and wisdom.”

The Healing Path

So, where are you heading for your forty days?

Recommendations for study: The Healing Path, Dan B Allender, Ph.D., WaterBrook Press, 2002
YouVersion Lenten studies
My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, Barbour and Company, Inc., original copyright 1935