Growing up my family read the Bible regularly. From a very young age I remember hearing the stories full of violence – and it’s not always violence done by the bad guys. Some stories felt horrible and tragically heavy – like all the boy babies of the Children of Israel being killed when they were enslaved in Egypt. But they kind of made sense to me because the actions are ordered or done by selfish, evil people. But sometimes the violence is done by the “good” people.
There are many stories as the Children of Israel go out and conquer the lands that involve them being told to kill whole towns, cities, and even whole groups of people. And it’s often quite specific that they not even leave one infant or woman alive. As a kid a part of me loved hearing the stories of the Word, and I took pride in knowing the facts and the progression of many of these stories. But along with that I also really hated the violence. And I couldn’t make sense of why so many people were entirely wiped out. It felt unsettling how cruel and angry it all seemed.
As an adult I have benefitted hugely from Bible studies, journey groups and sermons that dig into spiritual meanings of some of these more violent stories. I remember one class in particular talking about one of those stories where the whole group of people was to be wiped out – not any tiny remnant left. But how when you understand it from a spiritual level it is about the fact that to “conquer” an evil within our own individual selves we really have to stamp out every speck of that evil. We can’t pick and choose and think that some parts of it are okay to leave alive. In order to actually do the work of repentance the whole kit and caboodle needs to be wiped out.
How often do you think about your breath? Unless you have a reason too, you probably don’t think about it that much. Our breath is instinctive. Babies breathe. No one taught them how. I used to hate thinking about my breath. It made me feel claustrophobic. I mostly got over that though because I realized the great peace which can come by paying attention to the breath.
Why do we start with the breath? Why do we return to it often?
“Jehovah God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of lives, and man was made a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).
The Lord started with breath. He breathed into man and made him a living soul. “A living soul” Such a beautiful phrase. Breath is how the Lord created us and breath is the very first thing a baby does. But it’s not a one time thing. We keep returning to focus on our breath.
It makes sense that this happens at the beginning. We need the perception of good and truth right from the start. But it’s not something that we get once and are done. We keep breathing. We return to our breath over and over, re-focus. We can focus our breathing for things like yoga, meditation, or even singing. Breath is connected to everything, not just because it is active at all times, but because of how our emotions can change our breath. We think about our breathing when we are out of breath after exertion. Or we can be light of breath with excitement.
When I was little, I told my mom, “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be just like you: nothing.” Some people scoff at these words, but I think moms get it, I think moms understand. Those simple words didn’t mean that my mom was a nobody, that I didn’t respect her or that I wanted to grow up just to stay home and watch soaps and eat bonbons all day (goodness knows, my mom didn’t!). I was expressing the desires of my heart: not be be a career woman, but to be a MOM, just like her.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to bear children and be a mom. I’ve always loved babies. I’ve had other career goals along the way – archeologist, architect, nurse (baby nurse!), doctor (baby doctor!), graphic designer, midwife – but what it all ever came down to was that I wanted to be a mom. You can imagine my EXCITEMENT when my husband and I decided we were ready to start trying to conceive!!!…..
…..Then you can perhaps imagine my utter devastation when my period came, month after month after bloomin’ month. [Who ever expects to deal with infertility, growing up?! I sure didn’t.] We were fortunate to have the means to eventually attempt IVF, and we were gloriously blessed with success on the very first try!! Our son is now 13 years old, and I try to remind myself how so very, very blessed we are to have him.