Breathe Deeply

Bessel van der Kolk is a famous name among trauma researchers. His brilliant work The Body Keeps the Score evaluates how when we experience trauma, our mind and our body record the memories separately. Sometimes when we repress the memories in our brains, our bodies still react viscerally to triggers that remind us of previous pains. I know this from my own experience as well as working with students over the years. Honestly, living alongside people. We all have a story to tell.

Some of our stories end up on the internet.

Some of mine don’t.

For today, the story is of me learning to breathe again. This whole weird world we’re in requires us to breathe through masks in Germany and Switzerland, but for the first time in a year and a half, I was able to gather in the same room as several of my church friends over the border and keep a mask on while breathing deeply the same air. There was even a thunderstorm during the service to remind me that God loves me. The forecast is unpredictable, but I am hoping for a good dump tonight after a beautiful stargazing clear night last night. I love it all. I love to sit and breath in the thick air, soak up the petrichor after a downpour, smell the colors in the dark.

Several years ago when I went on that wild adventure to Denmark, I discovered that I’d spent years breathing shallowly. So long that I had forgotten what it was like to take a deep breath. When dozens of brothers and sisters in Christ surrounded me and prayed fervently for my healing, the Lord showed up, and I could breathe again for the first time post accident. It was also the first time I cried after my accident – two and a half years later. While most people were hung up on the tears that came – and they were significant – I want to focus today on the deep breaths that were made possible when the Lord spoke the truth to me, “Your sins are forgiven.” I recount in that post at the time about how Jess and Judah drove me literally across Germany south to north to the northern tip of Denmark to bring me to Jesus loving people who would lay hands on me and beg the Lord for my healing – like that paralyzed man in the Bible who has four friends carry him to the feet of Jesus.

Jesus is intentional to tell him that his sins are forgiven before the physical healing is done, which, btw, is for the benefit of the Pharisees.

Jesus has spoken words of truth to me through the past seven and a half years of recovery in the wheelchair, and I’m praying fervently for the others who need to breathe deeply and remember, “Your sins are forgiven.” Today is a new day where I get to celebrate my healing by breathing deeply. This weird pandemic makes me put on a mask to breath near others, but by the grace of God, we can still gather and share community. In just a few minutes, people will start to trickle by my picnic table to say goodbye to my friend Emily as she prepares to move to England in a couple days. Emily has been an important part of my community for the past several years. She still will be, but it’ll look different as we won’t be at the same picnic table looking at the stars. Instead, we’ll be separated by a channel and international borders looking at the same stars, breathing deeply, knowing the Lord is still healing deeply.

Our bodies and minds have different stories, but I’m so grateful for the time we’ve overlapped in the same town. I know we’ll have more memories to make in the future. Goodbyes are hard, and living cross culturally means they are more frequent in my life. I wouldn’t trade the beautiful memories, the deep breath satisfaction, the picnic table theology conversations, the Moana moments for anything at all. I’m sad by the friends who’ve left this year, but I already really like the new upstairs neighbors (and not just because they might read my blog). The hard goodbyes make room for new people to come in to my life. This means there will be even more people to celebrate physical progress with me when my body makes more miraculous gains.

Take a deep breath with me, and let’s ask God for new miracles this week.

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