I’m no scientist or doctor, but when you’re doing pretty much anything in life, I think it’s important to breathe.
In high school, my friend Holly and I cheered together. I’ll never forget the day she moved from flier (the one on top of the pyramid) to base (the one holding the flier in the air). She is a tiny person — her heart is the only big thing about her — so the day she decided to be the muscles of the group shocked us all. I remember helping her, coaching her through the process. Bend at the knees, don’t arch your back.
After every dismount Holly would let out the biggest gush of air from her mouth. Guuuuuuhhh. I couldn’t figure out how such a loud noise could come from such a small person.
Then came time to add the cheers to the stunts. Yelling for our football team and throwing human bodies into the air — at the same time.
No words came from Holly’s mouth. Her grand exhales came after holding her breath for the entire stunt sequence. Ready, one, two, inhale… no exhale. No breath until the stunt ended and her flier landed safely on the floor.
“Don’t forget to breathe, Holly!” our coach would remind her during practice. “You have to keep breathing!”
Today, I need someone reminding me of the same thing.
A couple weekends ago, two of my best friends became one in marriage — and I couldn’t be happier. On the drive home from Austin, I spent time reflecting, praying, and thanking God for the people in my life.
Then Gungor’s This Is Not The End came on my car stereo. At the words, “This is not our last, this is not our last breath,” the tears began streaming down my cheeks.
Why that song? Why those words? I had heard them a dozen times before. What was it about the reassurance of breath — a job I typically leave up to my lungs and brain to work out — that broke me?
2013 has been one tough year. In desperation, I had gasped for air, taking in all my lungs could hold. I became lightheaded and dizzy, and lost sight of all truth. Instead, I started believing lies of inadequacy and disappointment. I have been holding my breath for jobs, for relationships, for provision, for heartaches, for health, for the way it should be.
Stale air continued to cycle and recycle. I couldn’t exhale because what if those last breaths were all I had.
Eventually, my face turned purple and I could not even see the life right in front of me.
I never let that last breath go to invite the fresh breath in.
There on Highway 290, I sat puffy-eyed and splotchy while this song reminded me of something I had forgotten along the way: there is another breath after this one. There is always one more breath.
Even in death there is never a last breath; life continues in the heavenly realm. Life started when Adam first drew in the breath of God, the inhale, and it continued when he exhaled the kingdom breath out into the garden.
There will be another inhale, but we have to let go of the breath we’re holding onto first.
There is always one more breath.
This is not the end, this is not the end of this. We will open our eyes wide, wider.
This is not our last, this is not our breath. We will open our mouths wide, wider.
This is not the end, this is not the end of us. We will shine like the stars: bright, brighter.