Take a Deep Breath

 I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. 2 I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy: 3 Join me in spreading the news; together let’s get the word out. 4 God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears. 5 Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. 6 When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot. 7 God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. 8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is.

Psalm 34:1-8 The Message

OK Everybody – breathe.

The events of this past week have left many of us breathless.  The staggering and disturbing news, the racist rhetoric, the angry litany, the talk of war, the lament of natural and unnatural destruction – it is exhausting – and it comes SO fast.

Every news cycle is “out-newsed” by the next.

In this Twitter-fed world, this world of news bites, exit polls, snap chats, and Facebook pages (insert your favorite and most used social media tool here) the buzz is constant and unrelenting.

Not only that, I believe it is dangerous.

A lot of people are very, very angry.  They are outraged.  No wonder, there are a lot of outrageous things going on, and we hear about them every thirty seconds or so.  Complicated issues are being boiled down to a simple, too simple, explanation.  Frustration is at an all time high.

Just this past week I was loading some groceries into the car when there was a blaring of a horn.  Two drivers were suddenly within feet of me, screaming obscenities at each other, over each one’s “clear” offense.  In the blink of an eye, I found myself pondering whether or not I might need to take cover lest one, or both, of the drivers pull out a firearm or a knife or an axe and finish the argument once and for all.  I actually pondered an escape route for my wife’s elderly uncle and me should we need to suddenly take it.  Then, as quickly as it began, it was over and it was back to business as usual.  Still, it was unnerving.

So, I think we all need to take a deep breath.  We need to take to heart the advice of the Scripture passage at the head of this page.  Life – the world – people – are complicated.  It can’t all be boiled down to a simple “I am always right and you are always wrong” equation. 

Yes, some things are simple.  Racism, hatred, white supremacy, people in cars mowing other people down – that’s all wrong – that’s always wrong.  Do we even need to argue that?

Still, how we got to this point isn’t simple and if we want to find solutions I would suggest we begin by stopping and taking a big, much needed, breath.

Breathe, pray, let the Spirit of God move, take a moment before you act – if you act.

Sometimes the problem is we are apathetic and refuse to act against evil.  I understand.

Sometimes, though, we best pause and breathe first.

Breathe,  before the world explodes and it is too late to breathe, ever again.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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