Breathing with the heart


Sometimes I look for exit doors. I panic and I want out. Not just any ordinary out but the dramatic kind. The kind where I’m suffocating and banging on the doors to open. The times when I can’t do this world. When it is just too complicated for me. I should be on another planet where it’s okay to ask each other how we are and answer truthfully. Where breathing is full and it means something.

Yes, sometimes I struggle being human.

It’s the deep lack of faith and doubt that comes to nest inside of me, waging a battle with the faith that already lives there. I find myself caught up in the middle of this raging war and I am convinced I cannot survive it. There is just no way.

The battle scenes are filled with old bones and old wounds that come back to life – peeling off the flesh. There is hostility, the natural kind that human hearts harbour. It refuses to let me bow. The emotions also sweep in at this point to make it absolutely clear – that being human is indeed a hard, messy business. Guilt and shame take the liberty to outgrow their posts. Jealousies and insecurities find a corner together while fear and helplessness pound their drums so loud. And the pain…it just comes to sit with me and holds me tightly.

These moments are hard for me. They reveal all the parts of me that do not work well. It’s like exposing your heart to air – that first contact of air and raw flesh. Crisp and crystal clear pain.

This kind of breathing is raw and uncovering – your shame spills out right into the open.

It’s easier to use breathing aids (a.k.a the things we use to numb our heart). It’s easier to hide behind these breathing aids. To not have to face the worst version of ourselves and the mess that appears when we really just look at what we are. Breathing aids will protect us from having to confront this. They will keep you in a dream – an illusion of denial that the world is not ready for your answer to the question – how are you today?

But I won’t lie to you either – most of the world is not ready to hear your answer. Because most of the world is breathing the same way – the way that is not meant to touch the heart’s flesh. That is too excruciating. It requires too much work. The world just wants you to find your spot in its assembly line and get to work. It would very much prefer that than you learning how to breathe with your heart.

This learning how to breathe with the heart means owning up to the mess we create as humans all on our own, inside of us and outside of us. It means facing this and still showing up with our hearts exposed to the air. It will hurt but that is nothing compared to the fruits that come at the doorsteps of breathing wholly and fully. Authenticity and trueness shows up to back us. Joy and peace feel happy to dwell with us.

The thing about being a human being is that often the joy comes after the sorrow and the meaningful life is born after periods of doing the work of choosing the right thing over and over again. Life is not easy simply because we are human. We err. All the time. But instead of hiding, we are made to come out and read the map we create with our errors and then go a different direction.

If we are not doing this, we are failing to love with our hands full, grasping the abundance of life and ourselves.

I have learned to listen to those moments when I’m struggling to be human; to those moments I want the world to stop so I can get off. I sit with the rawness and the nakedness that comes to the surface. I weep and pound doors. But I also kneel and beseech my Maker for grace. The grace to understand that one day everyone will be committed to being the best version of themselves…and that everyone will breath with their hearts.

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