Whoa, baby. Let’s all start breathing again.
Oh, it was just me who had stopped? Well, don’t worry. I’m inhaling and exhaling like my life depends on it. But for a few minutes there, I wasn’t sure if that was the case. Has it been stressful for you? Word on the street is that it was midterm week last week. I don’t know if that’s true, but I did have one sinking scary test to contend with and one annoyingly persistent group project to coordinate and one long magazine proof to edit for the second time and
one two very sick friends about whom to fret and pray, and so it went. No way could I come here and tell you, “Hey, that was an awesome time! Let me jump back on that roller coaster!” But still, it wasn’t bad (okay, there was that one time that I hid under the covers, but other than that it was of the I-can-handle-this variety.) So, without further ado, I give you a few ways to stop on top of things (things being joy and peace and humor) if one of these weeks comes and threatens to bend you a little too far.
First, and foremost, you’ve got to have a little perspective. See, tests and papers and words and work and racing to and fro are all fine and good things. But they’re not worth losing your goose over, am I right? I learned a valuable lesson last semester that a test is just a test; don’t mind if I do remember that from time to time. So, study and breathe and take a walk and eat a cookie and call it a night. Do your best, then get some rest and take that test, and let it be OK. Because it’s OK, no matter what.
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.” —Isaiah 43:2
After that, things get a lot easier, and you start to bask in the sunshine/smell the flowers/listen to the birds/ whatever it is you do that makes your heart flutter. And of course, those are the things that soothe your soul, are they not? Can you tell me that standing on the Quad under a cornflower blue sky in the midst of a soft breeze doesn’t make you want to sing, dance, and/or play your saxophone? Get real, joker. See, it’s just hard to feel stressed out in the sunshine. It’s hard to think the end of the world is coming tomorrow when you find yourself surrounded by frisbee-players who seem to feel that playing frisbee is the best use of their minutes. It makes you second guess using your own to worry, now doesn’t it? I found myself, this week, caught up in moments—usually on my way to work or to Starbucks or to class—that seems to whisper, “Hey, slow down; see? There. That feels better, doesn’t it?” And then there are the moments I took back, the ones where I realized I had to toss aside the media law textbook for just a moment and have a break (Kit-Kat bar not included with purchase) and a moment with Jesus.
Then, of course, there are the people. You gotta find your people. And people, I know some incredible people. People who find me under the covers, convince me to come out, and calm my frantic heart. People who reach out and hold my hand when I feel all alone. People who send me messages that say, “Who’s awesome? You are!” People who sit with me under a tree as we wade through NYT v. Sullivan again and again. People who check on me and give me hugs and pray for me. People who bake me chocolate chip pound cakes and welcome me with open arms. And it seems like maybe these are nice warm and fuzzies, but each one of these things happened to me this week, and I’m not sure I’d still be breathing if they hadn’t. See, I am the luckiest.
There are other things that need no explanation, the little lovelies that stream sanity right back into you:
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.” —Sylvia Plath
And so I am. Restored, for sure, and without a doubt still breathing.
And then, what do you know! Friday comes and the weekend offers this little refuge where you can curl up until you fall back into that steady, rhythmic breathing. And, on Monday, as you go out into this world…