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The Blessing of Breathing Room

Posted in Encouragement, Overcoming difficulties, and Self-care

“Kick, paddle, paddle, kick.” The rhythm of my swim instructor’s voice hummed in my 8-year-old head. And yet, the atmosphere for learning almost became the atmosphere of my demise. It wasn’t the water’s fault.

I still recall the instructor pointing to the beaded rope strung across the pool. With a stern voice she said, “Stay on the shallow side of the beads.”  The bead guardians bobbed with each movement of the water in agreement with her instructions.

I loved their bright colors but I didn’t heed their warning. Moments later, I plunged underwater and began to “kick, paddle, paddle, kick.”  Delighted with my new ability to hold my breath, I didn’t realize I’d left the safety zone.

breathing room beach scene quote1Eventually, my 8-year-old feet stopped kicking and searched for the surface beneath me. It was not there. Panic pulled me down and my arms began to flail.

I wanted nothing more than to be on the safe side of those beads. I wondered if anyone could hear my gurgles for help. Was my instructor only focused on the children who were doing what they were told?

Just as these thoughts gave way to grimmer conclusions my rescue came. Realizing I couldn’t see him or the pole he extended to me, a lifeguard steered the pole into my hands. I climbed on the pole and he pulled me to safety. But the lesson of my mischief stayed with me.

I can drown in my decisions if I don’t delight in God’s instructions.

Are you in a situation way over your head?  Perhaps you’ve said or done too much or done or said too little in response to God’s grace. For me, there’s an unmistakable restlessness and an undeniable frustration.

That’s what I felt before my recent blogging hiatus. I love sharing thoughts and discovering truths with you, but I’d taken on other commitments that pulled me beyond the beads of where I needed to be.

My knee jerk reaction to help others hindered my ability to function well.

Helping, of course, is a good thing — particularly when I’m prompted by God. I thought I was. But as I sunk deeper into my excuses, I felt like this verse from Daniel 10:17 (NLT).

“How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” 

Thankfully, my heavy sighs and heartfelt prayers had God’s attention. But like my mishap in the pool, I didn’t see the rescue He was extending to me.

breathing room overflowEventually, the need to regroup was “the pole” He guided to my hands. It was time to leave the waters of overwhelm. You may know those waters too.

When we take hold of the rescue God offers, we discover the blessing of breathing room. It’s the place where we gain greater focus on Him and hindrances lose their grip on us. It can happen at any moment. Mine happened as my husband and I spent a few days at the beach.

As I took time to inhale new perspectives and exhale old ones, I rediscovered a liberating truth:

Spending time in God’s presence takes me from overwhelm to overflow.

I received an abundance of reminders of His love and plan for me. It’s good to be back. But it’s even better to be realigned with God’s grace. If you’re looking for some breathing room, I pray you’ll experience the space and grace He has just for you. It’s a real life saver for bringing hope to the heart and joy to the soul.

“How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. – Daniel 10:17-18 NLT


  1. Crystal Dawn Murphy
    Crystal Dawn Murphy

    Oh Joy, what a timely word. My husband and I are going to the beach this weekend. Although I planned to be with God, I will now look at this time with Him as a blessing of breathing room. Thanks and welcome back

    August 16, 2016
    • Joy

      Thanks Crystal – enjoy the beach (I mean your breathing room 🙂 )!

      August 16, 2016

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