Just breathe.

It’s my favorite line in the whole movie.

She is as prepared as she knows how to be to step into the unknown.  She has a hope for all the possibilities, a heart to do the right thing, and an understanding that she has no real control over the outcome.  She hesitates.  Fear strikes and she is tempted to choose the familiar rather than the uncertain, tempted to accept the pain of the past to define her rather than become something she has never been. Her chest tightens as she wonders if she will be accepted.  She lifts her head and whispers to herself,

“Just breathe.”

Ever After was a 1998 remake of the Cinderella story and while fairy tales are not at the top of my list of favorite types of movies, this one I enjoyed very much.  The creators of this film took the familiar story and retold it with their own unique twists and turns, one of which is this scene.  I’ve never visualized myself at any level as a princess, but I get this moment.  I can relate to the fear that strikes when I have done all I can do to prepare and it’s time to step out into the unknown.  I know the temptation to run back to what was familiar, even when the familiar was painful and wrong.  I’ve heard the voices that screamed I would never be anything more and that my past defined who I was.  I’ve felt the suffocating fear of rejection.

I wasn’t standing beautifully dressed in a ball gown before a crowd of guests in a palace.  I was sitting on my very small balcony in a very small town in the middle of nowhere, with no friends or family near.  My world seemed to be falling apart under my feet and I was lost as to what to do and where to go from there. I vented my anger toward God, cried more than I ever thought possible, and sat in silence once emptied of all emotion.  And He spoke,

“I love you.”

It was is if I had never really heard those words.  My resistance was strong, but He was relentless.  This magnificent love He had for me finally broke through and I decided to take it.  I was ready to step out into the unknown with Him, but the enemy didn’t give up that easily.  The voices were there every day when I opened my eyes, whispering that nothing had changed.  Fear was threatening to return with a vengeance, when I heard Him say,

“Breathe in My love.  Breathe in My peace.  Breathe in My acceptance of you.  Breathe in my approval of you.  Breathe in My life.”

I began a discipline through that period of literally getting up every day, raising my face toward heaven, taking a deep breath and saying,

“I breathe in Your love, Your peace, Your acceptance, Your approval, Your life.”

That balcony experience was many years ago, and I’ve begun many a day with arms outstretched, face lifted, drawing a deep breath and saying “I breathe You in.”  This week I am reminded that it’s been a while since I’ve done that….

Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.  Genesis 2:7

God not only gave man the ability to process air through his physical body, He made us able to house Himself.  We can draw deep breaths of His love, mercy, goodness, peace, acceptance, and much, much more every day.  Just as we can slow our heartbeats and calm our bodies by deep breathing, we can slow down our minds and calm our souls by taking these deep breaths of Him.

Are you standing there facing the unknown, afraid the bonds of the past will never be broken, identifying with your mistakes more than His redemption, suffocating in the fear of rejection, tempted to run back to the familiar?

“Just breathe.”

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