The Breath of Life; The Posture of A Child

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Sometimes being a mom feels like pushing an enormous, dirty tire up an insufferably steep hill. The weeks churn along as you fight to keep the tire above you, repeatedly losing ground and then gaining it back with each mighty heave forward, which lets you catch your breath until you are on the brink of being trampled again. Then one day you realize that the wheel has really been tumbling downward all along, and you suddenly turn around to chase after it - frantically. Time is a sentimental mama’s worst enemy, and motherhood is a series of emotions that are perpetually contradicting one another. The stresses pile high over a present struggle that always passes so soon and then too soon. The hours, even the minutes, of filling a child's afternoon can tick slower than the clock in an eighth grader's schoolroom, and yet each stage of my tiny son's life has vanished as a vapor. In the green days of our existence together, my world was consumed with milk - pumping it, leaking it, squeezing it, even silently cursing it, until one day our nursing communion ended, and all that remained were phantom pins and needles in my chest. And the recent notion of possibly trying to add a second baby to our family has made it seem as though I’ll never catch up to my toddler happily rolling down that hill.

As mothers, we are constantly moving - bending our bodies and spirits into new spaces that once never existed in our realm of reality. We learn to breathe again in these new positions as if practicing yoga, asking ourselves, are we open to the challenge and the change? Are our feet firmly planted? What is our intention for this hour, this day, this lifetime? And maybe the most daunting thought of all, are we balanced? Do we give enough to every other aspect of our lives that pulls at each different part of us simultaneously? Maybe not always, maybe never without struggle, but we continue our practice with a righteous vigilance, striving to shift from one new stage to the next as a seasoned yogi flows through a Vinyasa sequence. She is mindful of every moment, aware of the discomfort, breathing deep from asana to asana, ever reveling in the present with awe and thankfulness for the goodness right in front of her. When gravity pulls on her and tries to cripple her strength, she must focus in, locking her eyes on a singular steady object fixed before her.

 For me, it is my faith that keeps my feet from losing their grip and keeps my eyes from wandering. Jesus is my solid rock, my firm foundation, the anchor of my soul. When my body is weak and my heart is heavy, the love of Christ is unwavering. He whispers, “Be still, and know that I am God” into the depths of my being. For when I listen to His words, I can no longer stay seated in my anger, selfishness or discontent. There is something about the presence of Christ that draws out even the most justifiable grievances and replaces them with a call to reconciliation and a new heart that beats thankfulness. Perhaps this is why He is called the Prince of Peace.

 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” I pray that every day I have the humility to fall to my face in a child’s pose, sinking my knees deeper into this truth. I pray I allow my son to see the strength that is within me only through bowing before and crying out to one who holds together all life and time.

 For it is not our performance, but the posture of our hearts that will sit within the memories of our children. Therefore we can rise up, we can bend down, we can be stretched, we can fall over, we can improve, we can stand firm and unshakeable, we can teach others, we can be taught. We can approach our role as the parents, teachers and counselors of these tender souls with intention, purpose and self-control. We can inhale truth and exhale self-doubt. We inhale gratitude and exhale self-pity. And we can inhale Christ, exhaling “self” altogether, and drink the most freeing breath of all.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart by acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
— Psalm 19:14

 JOURNALIST: Lisa Leyda Petersen