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Exhale: Pause

“Take My yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 (ESV)

Inhale… Exhale… Breathing is amazing. Not only is it the most important function that keeps us alive, but we do it without even thinking. Our bodies have us on autopilot to keep us moving, feeling, and living.

The summer is quickly approaching again, and I am on my second year in The Bay. Before I made the big move, I was trying to finish up my degree, plan a wedding, find housing in our new location, find a job, and wrap up all the pieces of my life before embarking on a new adventure. Whenever someone would say, “This is the most exciting time of your life!” I would just politely smile and cringe inside. I was stressed to my breaking point with all the moving parts. Just one of those life changes felt too big to handle. At one point, I couldn’t even find the motivation to get out of bed because my heart (and my feet) felt so heavy. Why wasn’t I moving through this time with bliss and happiness? Why was I pushing everyone away from me? Why couldn’t I just handle everything? I truly thought something was wrong with me, until about a year later when I started looking back. I realized that during that time, I placed burdens on myself that weren’t meant to be carried alone. In fact, I wasn’t even meant to feel their full weight. I had done what most of us do in times of serious stress: I inhaled, held my breath, picked up my burdens, and forged ahead far longer than I should have.

Do you know what the most important part about inhaling is? The exhale. In life, I like to call this exhale the pause. It is the moment when you purposefully stop the movement forward to look around and appreciate where you came from and how the Lord is working. As humans in this busy world, we love to keep the pace and carry weights without stepping aside and letting God help. In my case, I never let God carry me—honestly, I didn’t even realize I needed it! But when we let Him pick up our heaviness, only then can we exhale and see the beauty of where He’s brought us from and where He’s bringing us to.

So, how can we get to a moment of exhale in our lives?

  1. Let Him carry the burden. Jesus’ journey to death is the ultimate proof of His love. He carried the cross and sin for us, so we don’t have to. And, whether we like to admit it or not, that weight is beyond our ability to bear. We need Him to be everything we are not. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
  2. Glance back, move ahead. Moving forward is truly what God called us to do. Once in Christ, we are a new creation, and we are not to dwell on the past. However, we all need a moment of exhale to reflect on how radically Jesus transformed us. On the cross, Jesus exhaled and said “It is finished,” but really, it had only begun.

I want to encourage you to unload your burdens, pause with Jesus, and experience the gift of exhaling under His yoke. We were never meant to do this life alone, and with His grace we don’t have to. Our souls were meant to find rest. We were meant to breathe.