Breathe, just breathe. Have you heard those words, maybe spoken them to someone caught up in fear, worry, anxiety, tragedy?

Why do we say such a thing? We all breathe, whether we realize it or not.

We breathe in. We breathe out . . . or we die.

Yet sometimes things happen that throw us out of our natural rhythm. Constrict our muscles in such a way that makes filling our lungs seem almost impossible. Strange though, to have to be reminded of what, along with our heartbeat, is the most base natural function of our bodies.

Average breaths in a day for human beings number between 17,000-35,000. Have you tried to count your breaths? Then realized how hard it is to breathe with the same rhythm as you do when it is an involuntary process?

Thousands of time daily, we don’t think about it. We breathe in.

We take oxygen into our lungs which send it to our heart where it is dispersed by capillaries throughout our body, providing life-giving sustenance to every facet of life.

The same system then works in reverse, carrying potentially fatal carbon dioxide back to our lungs where it is exhaled . . . and immediately, the process starts again.

We breathe in. We breathe out, whether we are awake or sleeping, resting or running, eating or working, reading or playing.

We breathe in spiritually too, whether we realize it or not. We breathe in God. Or we breathe in something else.

Spiritual disciplines can provide framework to develop life-giving processes for our souls. The longer we practice them, the more they become part of our natural rhythm of life.

If we could make it a habit to inhale God’s presence each moment of every day, perhaps we then could discipline ourselves to exhale everything else. Especially those things that keep us from God, prevent us from being all God intends for us to be.

Breathe in . . . breathe out . . .

Maybe instead of expecting God to produce the fruit of the spirit as if by osmosis, maybe we need to take part in the process. Draw near to God, confess, seek . . .  breathe?

Breathe in the love of God. Breathe out self centeredness, need, hurt, hatred.

Breathe in joy. Breathe out despair, concern, injustice, problems.

Breathe in peace. Breathe out anxiety, worry, pain, sorrow, burdens.

Breathe in patience. Breathe out impatience, edginess, annoyance, irritation, rush.

Breathe in kindness. Breathe out frustration, short temperedness, selfishness.

Breathe in goodness. Breathe out meanness, anger, criticism, pride.

Breathe in faithfulness. Breathe out uncertainty, weakness, lack of trust and confidence in God.

Breathe in gentleness. Breathe out brashness, overbearing thoughts and actions, lack of mercy.

Breathe in self-control. Breathe out impulse, procrastination, anger, pride, addiction, sin.

Breathe in God . . . breathe in hope.