You have to breathe out before you can breathe in.

"You're holding your breath," I said to my vocal student, "Be sure to release that breath before you breathe in again."

Why can't I take my own advice?

 

I'm kind of a control freak.

It may not seem like it if you look at my desk or my house, but I need to know where things are, even if they're disorganized. In my own personal struggles, I'm even worse. My tendency is to grasp tightly to any control I may have over a situation and never relinquish that control unless that becomes absolutely necessary. I strive for perfection.

Over the course of my lifetime, this has led to bouts with anxiety and depression, a mental illness that runs in both sides of my family, and for which I'm currently seeking help (praise the Lord!). Most days, I struggle with the unknown. It is always best for me to have some idea what I'm getting into with projects, events, or mass so I can feel confident enough to flow with any last minute changes.

It's been a consistent challenge for me to put myself "out there" for fear of rejection (the Litany of Humility really helps with that). A battle of my own pride and hopes versus reality. Now does this mean we stop striving? Of course not, but we come to understand that we have much less control over outcomes than we likely desire. 

 

During the vocal lesson I referenced above, I could tell that my student was holding on tightly. He wanted this song to sound good; wanted to feel accomplished in what he had learned. However, I noticed that he wasn't letting his breath go before trying to take in another. It's a lesson many vocalists have dealt with, so we practiced breathing properly for a few minutes. Letting go is definitely a process. Breathe with me?

 

Breathe the stress out.

Breathe in fully, allowing the air deep into your belly.

Breathe out your own expectations of who you want to be.

Breathe in, knowing that the Lord made you a certain way. He designed you with these characteristics in mind.

Breathe out whatever else it is that you're holding on to.

Breathe in - renewed and confident in what it is that you're capable of accomplishing with Him.

 

How many times do I hold on to my own expectations, my own preconceived notions of what I should be accomplishing, my failures to be the best possible version of myself. Instead of holding on to this so tightly, our Lord simply asks us to let go - to release a little bit. Just enough for him to help you hold whatever it is. He wants to lessen your burden. He wants to eventually carry that burden with you - we just have to let him.

It's incredible the things that God can do in us if we only allow him in.

But first - Breathe out.