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Just Breathe

Biopsy. Fear. Humiliation. Pain. Is God with you, even then? Yes, but you may still need help from human hands and a reminder to just breathe.


"Just breathe, Kimberly. BREATHE."


I looked up at the dark-haired nurse rubbing my arm, her masked face inches from mine, her kind eyes pleading with me to remember this basic function of my body. The words rang a bell of familiarity. What was it? Oh, yes. My mother's favorite words to me. Always Mom, whispering into my tension and angst, "Kimberly, just breathe."


"You sound like my mom," I whispered. Her eyes smiled at me.


Intentionally, I breathed gingerly, in and out. In and out. I hadn't realized I'd stopped. I recognized the tension in my body. Every muscle tight, shoulders drawn up around my neck, hands in fists. Well, how was I supposed to feel? I was told not to move while a doctor bored holes into my body, and although it wasn't exactly painful, I could feel his needle and hear the noise that sounded like a drill bit whirring around inside me. For Pete's sake, who could remember to breathe?


"Kimberly, please breathe. Just breathe." I couldn't believe she had to say it again.


It had only been moments, but the tension I'd just purposefully relaxed had come right back. In and out, in and out, I made the conscious effort to breathe (without moving) and release my tense muscles.


He finally finished, but I wasn't yet allowed to move. I remembered how he'd said the actual biopsy would take about 20 seconds. Liar. Surely that had been at least two minutes. He had to take his tissue samples across the room, x-ray them, and make sure he had what he needed. My nurse, still rubbing my arm gently, said, "You're going to be sore from all the tension you're feeling right now. I hope you can take a few days to relax."


Relax? How was I going to relax while I waited days for the results of this invasive and humiliating test? A typically modest person, I couldn't stand sitting there in an open gown that covered nothing but back and shoulders. One breast in a vice in front of me, examined by doctors and nurses and x-ray technologists, I was twisted and positioned awkwardly. Yeah, I should relax and breathe.


And guess what? The doctor didn't get what he needed, so I got to stay in that crazy position, breathe but not move, and get another "20 second" hole drilled into me.


In the days that followed, my body ached and bruises showed up in strange places. Wrists and shoulders, sensitive to touch and turning bluish yellow; ribs aching; blood flowing from the 1/4" cut they told me was "a small nick". I couldn't lift, hold my children, or even sweep the floor, and not just for the 48 hours they wrote on that after-care paper. The ache, occassionally giving way to searing pain, felt like I was having a heart attack. It was a constant reminder that my life was on hold while I waited for the results of the test.


In that biopsy room with all the disinfected torture devices hung neatly on the wall, waiting to be chosen for the next miserable patient, I knew I was surrounded by an army of angels. It didn't help me to remember to breathe though. The praise and worship music playing in my earbuds didn't make the pain go away when my body stubbornly refused to be numbed. Hearing the words, "I speak the name of Jesus over you," and knowing Jesus was with me through it all wasn't enough. As the doctor said, "This is just a tiny prick and it'll burn a little," over and over until it finally worked, God's presence didn't supernaturally cause me not to be terrified. He didn't keep each prick from actually burning.


And all that forgetting to breathe? It happened while I was on an anti-anxiety medication given before the procedure to help me relax.


In some situations, fear is a normal response. Loving God, trusting Him, believing that no matter the outcome, you will be okay - none of that makes it any less scary to go through it. It's okay to be afraid, to need to be reminded to just breathe. It's okay to need help from human hands to make it through. Without that kind nurse who reminded me of my mother, I probably would've passed out. I really appreciated her. She reminded me that it would be really weird to sit through a procedure like that, whistling a happy tune, saying something like, "God hasn't given me a spirit of fear."


I don't know what you're going through today, but if you're afraid, don't forget to breathe. Just breathe. Put one foot in front of the other and keep your eyes on Jesus. Take the next logical step. Try really hard not to get worked up about what's five or 10 steps ahead. Focus on the step you're on, and possibly the next one. Ask God to let you feel His presence all around you, and remember that He's given us each other for a reason. If your circumstances are scary, reach out for help. Allow human hands to hold you up when you're afraid.


Just breathe.



spa stones and flower
Just Breathe

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