"Some people have a hard time finding their strength. Others have a hard time finding the ability to soften."
Immediately, I know which category I fall in as my yoga teacher's words hit my heart. Looking back, I think I've used sheer brute force to achieve goals and manage my life more often than I would care to admit. Even in ministry, when I've been tired and broken, I've thought the best thing to do was the quintessential pulling up of boot straps.
Keep working. Bare down.
We've been building towards the elephant trunk's pose. We've been inhaling and exhaling, stretching and priming, gently willing our muscles to bend and lengthen. But when she shows us the culminating pose of all our hard work, all of this has gone out the window for me. Instead, I find myself strong-arming my way into it. My old habits of forcing myself to do what I view as required have overtaken my body.
As such, I collapse in a giant heap.
She shows us again and reminds us to scoot our bottoms back before we try to lift up. I do this and find I have much easier access to the lift, but the pose is still sustainable only for a short while. Pretty soon my arms start shaking and again, I collapse, not so gracefully.
As she sees me straining she reminds me that brute force is not the only way to manage this pose. In fact, there is another viable resource I have completely forgotten.
She shows us again, inhaling and exhaling at every part of the move.
Your breath can help you. Your breath gives you power so you don't have to work as hard. The breath works for you.
And all I can think is Yahweh. YHWY, the Hebrew word for God, when spoken, sounds like our very own breath. It sounds like life inside us. And without it, we will cease to live.
I know God is why I live. I know He sustains me. I've learned to call on Him when my strength is depleted. But not before.
What would life look like if I allowed Him to flow through every moment, every movement, all that is mundane and miraculous?
She tells us to try again, this time breathing, inhaling and exhaling through each part, "trying to find grace and agility when you feel heavy, like an elephant," she says.
Lord, have I felt heavy.
And so I breathe. And I am astounded. Though I still am unable to complete the pinnacle pose in fullness, I somehow release the brute strength, embrace the breath, and everything seems so much easier. So much more sustainable.
This is the power of breath, the power of Yahweh. This is God, in His infinite love and grace, who cares enough to show up at my yoga class, to teach me that I could choose to live my whole life like this...
Not on brute strength, but on His breath. Instead of muscling and forcing, I can make room for the miraculous. I can find grace and agility when I feel heavy like an elephant.
Life can feel so heavy.
I leave yoga, but God's voice still speaks, and He's talking to me about my book and the launch that has me filled with anxiety.
Do it with my breath, not the world's muscle, not on your own brute strength. Let me show you, for my burden is easy. My burden is light.
I don't know how a book launch can feel light, but I drive to my next meeting, a friend whose marriage was almost destroyed by porn, much like mine. We meet for three hours and she tells me she wants to prayerfully consider helping me launch my book. She knows nothing about launching books, but she knows how porn wrecks. And she knows Jesus saves.
The world would tell me this is a risk, two girls knowing nothing about taking a book and offering it to the world. But when some conventional tools don't seem to fit the job, when I haven't gotten peace about any of the other things I've thought of on my own strength, it's time to pay attention to the breath.
And let it help. Even if it doesn't seem possible.
Even if it initially feels like an elephant trying to float.
Linking up with Emily for Imperfect Prose, Jennifer Lee for #tellHisstory, Sharita for Everyday Jesus, Lyli for Thought Provoking Thursday, Laura for Quitting Thursday, and Amy for #RiskRejection.
photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via photopin cc (text added by Jen)