Take a minute to breathe


By Jenna Ebener

I was driving in the middle of a heavy rainstorm when it started to hail. As I turned up my windshield wipers even higher to increase visibility, I went under an overpass. All of a sudden, I had a couple of seconds of stillness as the rain and hail abated. I had a moment to notice that some cars drove on through as I did while others stayed under to wait out the storm. I was back into the fray but with a renewed appreciation for those moments of calm.

Oftentimes, life might feel like a hailstorm. Especially this past year, it seems like obstacles are ever increasing, making a smooth journey seem impossible. It may seem like you never get moments of peace and stillness and that you are in a never-ending storm, constantly being blinded and blown around. Do you take the time to look up to find those overpasses? For they are there!

Sometimes, they are a blessing we stumble across, like a few unexpected minutes of silence in a busy household. Other times, we have to seek them out. It may seem inconceivable, but it is simpler than you think.


I have been trying to put this practice of finding my personal overpasses into play the last few weeks. When I start feeling overwhelmed, I make myself pause, even for a moment, to look up to God and to breathe. I might say a prayer, put my hand over my heart, pet my dog, listen to a song or lift my face to the sunshine. Sometimes I have time to take a few minutes to try to reset. Other times, I do not have nearly enough time.

One day at work, I was moving from crisis to crisis. I was responding to concerns about students in the hospital, suicide, depression, domestic violence and student problem solving, one crisis after another. I knew I was getting overwhelmed and needed to find some peace, so I sat on the floor with our facility dog and took one deep breath. That was the only time I had before I received a panicked message. As I picked up the phone to call a family in crisis, I knew I had not had enough time to get in a good mindset. As I started to dial, I paused just long enough to frantically ask God to help me get through what I knew would be a very emotional phone call and to grant me the wisdom to help the family. As I started talking to the family, my inner turmoil dissipated and I focused on supporting that family. I hung up feeling oddly refreshed because I knew God had just worked through me.

No matter the circumstance, we can always find the time to take one breath to center ourselves. Sometimes, we might have time to reorient ourselves even more. Other times, we might not feel like we had nearly enough time under our personal overpass. Yet, God will be able to take that breath of time and turn it into enough. The miracle of the bread and fish can be a good reminder for us:
“‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered. ‘Bring them here to me,’ he said … looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over” (Matthew 14:17-20). God will always take what we give him and make it more than enough. We just have to give him what we have.

(Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavior disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)

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