Breath. There are times when I’m holding my breath and don’t realize it.
I need to let go, exhale the day’s stress, and inhale perfect peace infused with grace.
Here in Belize, my husband and I counsel victims of abuse and exploitation and that work can take its toll on the heart and on the soul. Envisioning life abroad is often more romantic or adventurous than the reality of adapting to a new culture.
I was forced to undergo a “baptism” of awakening to reality on a jungle walk with friends. We got too close to a mama howler monkey and she declared her outrage by throwing poo at us. She got me right in the middle of my forehead. I gave thanks that my mouth was closed when I looked up.
Ann Voskamp says, “Calm is a superpower. Ask Christ for it.” I stayed calm but decided that it would be best to move away from that mother protecting her babies.
Vowing to be more vigilant, I breathe. I watch. I listen. I give thanks.
On a hot day, I wait for my neighbor’s dog to come out from underneath the car before safely driving away. There are mornings we awaken to the sound of lizards running across the rooftop. Or the battering of a woodpecker on a house nearby. Or a chorus of barking dogs protesting a stranger’s right to walk down the lane unnoticed.
I breathe. I watch for His signs. I listen. I give thanks.
My patience, stretched like an old pair of leggings, wears thin if I go too long without breathing in grace. At this moment I’m waiting. Waiting to give blood. It’s been a frustrating wait.
Tepid air mixed with body odor and industrial cleaner is giving me a headache. After enduring an interrogation about my health I notice there’s a sign demanding that blood donors be honest. I’m curious as to why anyone would choose deception so they could give blood.
I’m tired. I’m irritated. I was told to come back later. It’s later, I’m back, and I’m still waiting.
I want to give the phlebotomist some grace. But, I’ve used all that I left the house with that morning and have nothing to pass on. I’m struggling to find something to be grateful for about this experience.
I breathe. I watch the people around me. I listen to conversations taking place in five different languages. Spanish, German, Ketchi, Kriol, and English. As a new person arrives we all chime in to confirm the order of the disorderly line formed by those of us who are waiting. Finally, it’s my turn to go in and complete the donation process. I give thanks.
As I squeeze the tennis ball my gaze shifts to a sign declaring, “Blood Connects Us All.” I hear God’s voice as I slowly, silently, and repeatedly read these words. Blood connects us all. I begin to weep.
My guiding word for this year is “Connection.” And here I am, with my blood flowing into a plastic bag for someone I’ve never met and yet will be connected to through this act. Life is in the blood.
Gratitude washes away the light and momentary affliction of frustration. I rejoice that my life has been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. My heart beats in tune with His grace.
I recall joking with my husband that I’ve literally given blood, sweat, and tears to help others in my efforts to connect. But, I dare not pat myself on the back. I have to acknowledge my deception and confess I’ve not done it all with a pure heart. Being needed equals having value to this empty nester. However, helping out of my wounds of neediness and desire for recognition is neither spiritually nor emotionally healthy.
I crave an infusion of His grace to correct my mindset and change my heart.
Vowing to be more vigilant in prayer that I might serve Him and connect with a pure heart, I breathe in His grace. I watch for signs, I listen for His voice, and I give thanks for another day to check my motives, learn from my mistakes, and try again.