Pausing for Breath

It is something I have to do more often these days when confronted with a flight of stairs or a steep slope (I have sarcoidosis, which means my lungs don’t work as well as they should). At first, I was irate. Why would my lungs no longer obey me? Why should I have to huff and puff and come to an ignominious stop every now and then? I found a dozen different ways of pretending I was stopping to admire something or other (a bit unconvincing half-way up a flight of office stairs). Finally I decided to be honest and just admit that I needed to pause for breath. Now I let people rush past or stare at me wondering whether to offer help and don’t feel embarrassed. Pausing for breath has taught me to take nothing for granted; to wonder at the simple act of breathing; to find joy in the ability of others to run and jump and do all the things I can’t. In an odd kind of way, I think pausing for breath has helped me grow up a little. What has helped you?


17 thoughts on “Pausing for Breath”

  1. A couple of things have helped me, though I am still working on them.
    First is realising that how people react to me is often very little to do with me; it can be more to do with the scripts that they are unconsciously running. Stepping back and trying to see that helps.
    Second is the realisation that while being sensitive feels like a curse at times, it can bring great beauty and insight.
    Third is being with the natural world and atuning to its rhythms more, though living in a built up area brings challenges for this.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Oh yes, I do understand exactly as I also have a lung condition which affects how I can manage stairs and slopes. I used to “pretend” to admire the view, and try and conceal how I was fighting to breathe. Now, I properly take time to stop and stare and absorb the details of where I find myself when I need to stop and just breathe for a bit.
    Accepting and being grateful for what I CAN do was difficult, but we are promised “abundant life”, and I have learned that “this is a true saying, and worthy to be received” – as we heard every Sunday in the old prayer book, before Communion. There is so much that I can still do. When, or if, I find myself severely affected in the future, I hope I can still cling to this promise, and find that my life is still full of this abundance.

  3. A heart attack which made me acknowledge that I tire very quickly. Instead of trying to tough it out,, as I had been doing for a long time, I adjusted my life considerably, accepted the truth and now, after two years fell that at last I have begun to embrace that how I am is all right for God who wants me as I am, not as how I would like to be.

  4. I have begun to be grateful for being able to move freely. I had (grumpily) begun to major on the bits that ache when I move. But when I swung my legs out of bed today and made my own way to the bathroom, I remembered that many people would love to be able to do this.
    I had planned to grow older (dis)gracefully. It is harder than I realised. As an elderly lady at church commented when she had temporarily lost the use of her hands, “Growing older is not for softies.”

  5. I grew up a little bit with the words of a child, told to me by her Granny.

    Little Anneka asked he mum, Angela, why thay had pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and wat was Lent. Mum although not too religious tried to explain as best she could. She told Anneka about using up food ingredients to make pancakes at the start of Lent and about Jesus fasting in the desert for 40 days.

    After this was explained, Anneca exclaimed that Jesus could have half her pancake, and that they could make sandwiches for him to take into the desert so that he wouldn’t get hungry.

    It was the words, and kindness of a child that reminded me that Lent doesn’t have to be just about giving up, but it can be about giving.

  6. Finding the Holy Trinity Monastery Web Site and reading the blog on a frequent basis has helped me grow and has been and continues to be a blessing for me. Thank you.

  7. Burnout as a social worker and the continuing surfacing or depression and anxiety when I try to act as if I can do everything has helped me to grow up, and also to accept ‘growing down’ into childlike vulnerability and trust in God.

    • This reply is not related to your reflection, which is very sensible.
      I would like to know if you are or were a social worker in the social services in UK, I imagine. In such a case I have some questions for you about social services in UK. If you wish you can contact me at the following email:

      Thank you to Digitalnun for the use of her space.

      Cinzia, Italia

  8. I have just come through a health scare myself which, if it had gone the wrong way, would have greatly restricted my life and future. I can understand being grateful to be able to pause for breath. While waiting for the diagnosis I tried to be grateful that I could see that day, but it was so hard when I thought I would lose that ability and with it the the ability to work and to leave the house alone. It is clear now that my eyesight is not in immediate danger and, human that I am, I now find it so much easier to be able to say “I am grateful I can see today”. I ran into this video this morning with, perhaps, a message meant for me:

  9. Oddly enough, this morning I had decided I needed to start using the nebuliser again for my asthma. As I was getting it going, I saw the title and first line of your post. I was having a “growing up” moment when I realised that if I don’t want my asthma to affect me at work, I couldn’t do it by pretending it wasn’t there.

  10. For me, the moment when the nurse placed my newborn daughter into my arms. My first thought was, “My God! What have I done?” as the enormity of the responsibility sank in: there was now someone in my life who was more important than I was. I had to grow up in a hurry that day. My daughter is in her thirties now, and mother of three; but I will never forget that first moment.

  11. Have so enjoyed reading these comments. My first growing up point was on holiday in Spain, when due to my husband’s first bout of serious back trouble, we could not stride off with others on the beautiful mountain paths that awaited at the end of the chair lift ride. Instead, we walked a little way and then stopped to rest by a bank of the most beautiful and varied alpine flowers. We spent time looking as others strode past.

  12. I have been diagnosed with four chronic diseases and am not yet 30—the first at 18, and it has changed my life completely. I look “normal” and if you passed me you might never know I carry these things. Getting sick young has transformed my view of community: I need other people and they need me. I cannot do this one my own. It has also made me realize that all that I accomplish is by the grace of God, no matter how hard “I” worked at it.

  13. Thank you all very much. I have been greatly moved by your comments. You have shown why blogging is worthwhile: each of you has contributed an insight which has opened up fresh vistas. Bless you!

  14. It is also wonderful that you share here your own physical challenge. It makes us love you even more and feel we share one more thing with someone we admire a lot 🙂

  15. Well I have recently found (by ‘accident’) that my BP is raised & it looks likely I’ll have to go on meds :o(

    For someone who is rarely ill & still under the big 5-0 it’s a bit of a blow, although not totally a surprise as my Dad had this …

    Dr says treatment will be preventive, so really I must accept what I don’t want … must say though there has been a teeny bit of pride at not having any ‘ailments’ & so it’s probably good for me in the long run, plus we are ALL wearing out really aren’t we!!!

    As Amy Carmichael says: ‘In acceptance lieth peace’

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