Let it Breathe

Every morning I receive a handful of emails from sites I’ve subscribed to. I get my morning news from the Skimm, I get a thought about the Enneagram and I get a “truthbomb” from Danielle LaPointe. Yeah, I know, some of you are thinking “cheesy, self help, mumbo jumbo.” And you’re right. Most of the time.

But occasionally, one slips through my cynicism filter, and I find myself thinking about it hours, sometimes days, after. Like this one from a couple weeks ago:

Truthbomb_996

I’ve only drunk really good bottles of wine a couple times in my life.  I mostly drink the $10 stuff, and I’m not enough of a connoisseur to really know the difference. But if you drink a really good wine, they tell you that you’re supposed to decant the wine. Let it come into contact with the air. Let it breathe. (Especially if it’s an older bordeaux or cote du rhone with heavy tannins. Whatever that means!)

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Is this a season of heavy lifting? Have you been thinking hard about complicated issues? Have you been reading, studying, leaning into difficult conversations? Is there hard relational stuff you’ve been facing?

This isn’t normal life. Growth and change nearly always come in fits and spurts. We grow intensely for awhile, in response to crisis or because we got inspired by an idea, or someone we love pushes us to think or live differently. And, if you’re anything like me, it tends to consume you for awhile. This thing is all you think about, it’s all you talk about, you feel consumed with it.

But then, after we’ve done the work, we sometimes need to stop and “let it breathe.” We need to go on hiatus, refuse to talk about the thing. We need to go back to enjoying life as it is, to be with people we’ve been in intense discussion with and not talk about the thing that we’ve been talking about for the last several months.

Sometimes we need to take our new idea, new way of being in the world and let it breathe to see if it even works. And in this time, we don’t make big decisions, we don’t react to what’s going on around us, we just let our thing sit and be what it is for a little while. What we need is a period of normal life, doing normal things with the people we love.

(Yes, I’m looking at you, Imago Dei Church. Some of us need to “let it breathe” for a bit. Amen?)

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In May, Jennifer and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. And by “celebrate,” I mean our two youngest have baseball games that night and I have a meeting at church. It should be hot.

20 years have been very good to Jennifer and me, and I hope to write about how much we’re still in love and growing into each other after 20 years in May. But sometimes, in the course of a 20-year marriage, you find yourselves at loggerheads. There are times when you feel like you just aren’t connecting, and no matter what you do to try to repair things, everything is misunderstood and hurtful.

In Addie Zierman’s new book, Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark, she describes her own 11-year marriage like this: “It had turned out to be about becoming comfortable with each other’s silences — about the paradoxical way that pulling back and giving each other pockets of space draws us closer.”

By my nature, I want to keep pushing through these times. I want to make it better. I hate it when my closest relationships are “off.” But I’ve learned in 20 years, that sometimes you have to let it breathe, you have to give things a “pocket of space” so you can draw closer. Sometimes, even in the midst of tough relationship stuff, you need to do fun things and promise not to bring up whatever is you’re struggling with. You need a cease fire.

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No, you shouldn’t run away from your problems. I’m not talking about quitting. With the people we love and in the hard situations we find ourselves in, we will only be better by pushing through, learning what we need to learn, becoming what we need to become.

But sometimes in the middle of the struggle, we need to stop and let it breathe.

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