Funny how breathing is so automatic that it is taken for granted until suddenly it takes effort. My recent experience with pneumonia has given me a new perspective on the luxury of a deep breath.
Scripture says that God breathed life into the first humans. The breath of God is a common concept related to nature and life, both physical and spiritual. Breathing is as essential to physical life as God is to spiritual life, yet both are so easy to overlook and ignore.
Waking up with a tight chest and shoulder pain was not pleasant. “God, I don’t have time to be sick. You know I have a very full schedule this week.” It makes me smile now at just how self-important I considered myself to be. Me, a tiny speck of dust created into a daughter of the God of the universe, so totally focused on the work tasks before me that I was telling God how things were going to be without a second thought. Obviously, God has a sense of humor in addition to being indulgent and very tolerant. “Just breathe.” was God’s response.
“I breathe all the time.” was mine as I rushed around getting ready for work.
“How’s that breathing assignment going?” God asked an hour later.
“Not so good.” I decided to go to the doctor’s office before going to work. I had that all planned out too. The receptionist would work me in. The Doctor would say it was nothing and magically I would be on my way to the office and all my important work. The doctor’s nurse is a friend of mine. We chatted as she took my vital signs and she asked about my symptoms. If you ever want to stop a conversation with a nurse cold just mention how tight your chest feels! One minute we were talking and the next minute she was out the door. The third minute I found myself facing the EKG tech who scooted me off to get a chest x-ray as soon as she finished.
The doctor was supposed to say there was nothing wrong. Instead he had me look at my chest x-rays. It was a “very cloudy day” for both lungs. The cause of all the symptoms I had tried so hard to ignore were apparent. Pneumonia was my official diagnosis. Antibiotic, fluids, and rest were my orders. My thoughts? “No worries” I told myself, “I can work at home just as easily as at the office.”
Funny thing about pneumonia; it strips you of all your energy and causes your brain to become as foggy as your lungs. I couldn’t think and walking from one room to another took effort, but I was determined to keep up with my “very important work.” Just breathe were God’s orders, but I ignored them because I had work to do! I amaze myself with my stubbornness sometimes. I even tried to go to the office…not a good idea. My follow-up chest x-ray was worse. This time I was prescribed two antibiotics and told to go home and rest. “Just breathe” echoed in my mind and aching chest.
I have come to realize that sitting in my recliner just breathing, while not my activity of choice, was a huge blessing. The need to breathe has caused me to stop my business. It has given me time to think and reflect and most definitely catch up on my sleep! Most importantly, I have rediscovered how to be still and just breathe before God. To just breathe and acknowledge the generous gift of my existence. An existence not earned by all my hard work, but a gift from the creator of the universe. I understand literally now what a privilege it is to live and breathe. My work is important, and I am uniquely gifted to do what I was created to do, but this experience has reminded me that my “being” and my time in God’s presence is just as important as my work. I woke up with this song playing in my head. Enjoy