The Trouble With Breathing

“How are you?”

“Not ok. “

Today I’m not ok.  I realized while driving that I had not been breathing- maybe for a few hours or days. So I breathed in and it hurt to breathe in. 

And when I did breathe in – deeply making up for lost time – I by accident breathed God’s view of the world around me. 

When I remember to breathe (which is not always) I will typically just breathe what is in my very close vicinity: my happy children, lunch that today is tacos, my oldest‘s need for new shorts. 

There are times, however, when other, bigger, life things sneak into my breathe. There are times when I breathe in the big picture on my son’s illness, of my family’s fractured attempts at being family, the fear in my 13 year old daughter’s eyes when she happens to catch the fear in mine. 

And then sometimes, if I’m not careful, I breathe in the whole picture. God’s view of life, suffering, and hope. I see children living and dying from the same stuff my baby has. I see our nurse but also, behind her smile, the professional trauma that comes from holding babies as they take their last breath.

And then I cry. Because this view is impossibly beautiful and impossibly painful and just impossible all at the same time.   It’s too much for anyone but God to receive.  And so the body does what it was created to do under such extreme circumstances and breaks just a little. 

Today, after realizing that it has been some time since I had last breathed, I take a deep breath. And in doing so I breathe in God’s view. Or maybe I breathe in God God’s self. A breath my human body was never meant to take.

And so today I am not ok.  And also I am with God.  And God is within me.  

Today I breathe. 

Published by Cheryl Kerr

I'm a UCC minister and mom to three unique and amazing kids. I'm curious about the divided state of the world and am convinced that hope for unity and peace lies within each of our divinely blessed hearts. Also, my nine year old son was diagnosed with cancer this year which has simultaneously widened my perspective and made it oddly narrow. This blog contains my wonderings on life, cancer, and how vulnerable courage can bring us together.

One thought on “The Trouble With Breathing

  1. Love this post. I was having a hard time too tht day and I told my colleagues – please remind me to just breathe. My inability to breathe is from working with so many teenagers with so many needs and my inability to solve issues until I breathe and realize I am not in charge… The pain and trauma is both excrutiating and beautiful as we atch God’s work.


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