Breathing Lessons for a New Year

Last night I attended a wedding for a young man I watched grow up.

Surrounded by dear friends on New Year’s Eve and young people who, only yesterday, we were supervising at play, I was pierced with the spear of the forward movement of time.

In that room were friends I have known a long time, some for over thirty years.

Laughter and joy has passed ‘neath the bridge of our friendships but so has injury and sorrow. We’ve exchanged tears and angry words sometimes as often as compliments and cards.

Some were missing but not forgotten. Loved ones we’ve already lost wafted through the room like milkweed silk on our love and our dear recollections. Friends far away were mentioned as if by saying their names we could invoke their presence with us.

There were many long marriages in that room – marriages that have endured, not through sentiment and Hallmark cards but through grit, duct tape, empty tissue boxes and determination. The new couples in the crowd didn’t receive hollow sentiments from this crowd but sage and tested counsel from veteran soldiers who have been to battle and survived.

If someone pooled the past sins, bad choices, stupid decisions and hurtful exchanges we in that room have all made, it would be an iceberg than could sink the Titanic a few times over. But because we are believers, the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ has built a dance floor on the grave of our past behavior and we boogie now to the tune of redemption, restoration, and healing.

Today makes me think about how God has built into our calendar, our clocks, our seasons, the very turning of the orb on which we ride this message: “There is no going back.” We’re on a set trajectory from our first heartbeat in the womb to our last turn on the dance floor. We must move on.

The popular song, Just Breathe, rolls around in my mind quite often “’Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table No one can find the rewind button girl, So cradle your head in your hands And breathe, just breathe, Whoa breathe, just breathe”

Too often, we waste vital energy we could be using on today, trying to travel back and change the past.

When my son was fourteen, he had the flu and passed out briefly, falling against our hot iron radiator. I heard the thud. He received second and third degree burns on his back and the memory of that sight stays with me. For days after the accident, I kept hearing that thud in my mind until I realized that on some level, I was trying to get back to that moment and change it.

I had to let it go.

My son needed me present in the moment of his pain and his healing not emotionally time travelling in a futile effort to undo what could not be undone.

God tells those of us who love Him to do the same.

The past is done. We are humans and, for now, we live inside of time. Frame by frame we move forward like an old filmstrip – this is His plan for us until we pass over into eternity.

And we need this forward movement just as every student needs a deadline. Because we are sinful, we need the persistent tick-tock of our impending demise to inspire us to breathe deeply of what is good and to resist rolling around in what is not.

The good news for us is that our God lives outside of time.

He was there, He is here and He will be there ahead.

If we turn it over to Him, all that has transpired in the past– even our sins and the sinful choices of others – all this can be used as mortar to build a more glorious future. He is that good.

Someone once wrote that forgiveness is not letting a person off the hook but it’s putting them on God’s hook.

Today is a good day to acknowledge what events from the past continue to thud in your mind – some bad choice you made? Some hurtful thing done to you or a loved one by someone else? Take whatever time you need to acknowledge it but then let it go.

Forgive someone today – put them on God’s hook and trust that He will take care of them for you. Forgive yourself today – place yourself on God’s hook and know that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him.

Don’t be tethered to yesterday. You aren’t there anymore. You’re here. Be here. Here is good.

Travel forward in the freedom of our inheritance in Christ that includes the promise of healing, restoration, redemption, and recreation. Dance on the grave of your past knowing you serve a God who can restore the years! (Joel 2:25)

The apostle Paul said it this way: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

May 2011 be a year of pressing on. Spend a few moments today letting go of the weight you’re dragging around from the past and then breathe, loved ones, just breathe.

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video comes from  It is Bob Ayala, To the Ancient of Days

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    The Conversation

  1. Karin says:

    Just breathing here – quietly, gently, knowing He has everything under His control!

  2. WhiteStone says:

    Thanks, Lori. Good words for us all.
    I awoke this morning with Joy. I am here. Not back there. And I look forward to the future There.

  3. Hello, there! I’m new to your blog and this is the first post I read. What a wonderful way you have with words! These are great words and really speak to where I’m at right now! I got a really profound message from, of all places, a kid’s movie: “Meet the Robinsons”. The theme was “keep moving forward”, and let go of the past. I have that same Scripture from Phil 3:13 in one of my latest blog posts!

  4. Tamara says:

    Lori, your words have reached into my heart and lodged there. The story of your son falling against the radiator got me and the words that followed were like salve to my soul. I, too, have a thud moment in my past and when you wrote of it being your attempt to go back and undo it, I realized that’s why I haven’t been able to let go. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Praise God, Tamara! God knew what you needed to hear.

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  7. Dorothy P says:

    You have a beautiful blog, Lori, and you fill it with inspiring words. Thank you for this post: there are several ‘thuds’ I can get past now.