I hold my breath when I am in pain.

Several years ago, I fell while x-country skiing and tore my ACL. All the way to the hospital, my friend had to continuously remind me to breathe.

“Breathe, Robin. Breathe.”

A few years back I broke my tibia. I had to keep saying the same words to myself in the ambulance and the ER.

“Breathe, Robin. Breathe.”

When my mom died, it felt like I didn’t breathe for weeks, until God gave me some words of comfort.

Ten days ago, I said goodbye to family and friends in the Northeast as I start my next adventure in Nashville. Sixteen years of amazing church family, an ever-expanding, extended family (we make the cutest and smartest littles) and some friends who are so much a part of my heart I feel a tad shredded leaving them.

Yesterday, while swimming in the amazing salt water pool at Duke Diet and Fitness Center, I made myself work out for two hours instead of one.  I love that pool and that water so this was no sacrifice for me.  As I pushed past the weariness that threatened to stop me sometime during hour two, I started to weep.  And exhale. And breathe once again.  I was in pain. The sort of pain that leaves you breathless and raw. I was excited to start my next adventure with my southern family, but I was overwhelmed by the very real grief of leaving so many of my tribe, my people, my persons.

“Breathe, Robin. Breathe.”

I had been breathing oh-so-shallowly for weeks. Weeks of transition for me and so many others around me.  Months of change.

Job loss.

Loss of my favorite living space.

Loss of the role of associate pastor, my heart-love.

Watching some of my dearest persons lose jobs, homes and dreams.

Still, I have not lost hope or trust in the God who is leading me. As I felt myself finally taking deep, long breaths, the “damn dam” broke One of my persons and I have this understanding that we each have an internal dam that holds back our emotions when they are too much to bear. Maybe it’s Jesus holding onto them for us until He thinks we need to feel them.  Maybe its how God designed us. Either way, eventually the dam gives way and all the emotion floods our souls. I am grateful to feel it all, but it can overcome me a bit. So I continued doing my laps, slowly; breathing deeply; letting the tears flow.

It was then that I realized how often I forget to truly breathe.  When I am hurting, breathing seems counterintuitive.  So I hold my breathe, or at very most, take shallow breaths.

If I breathe, it will hurt more.

If I breathe, something will shift and more pain will come.

If I breathe, all the surreal of injury and grief will become real.

If I breathe, I will have to move into the pain of healing.

If I breathe, the damn dam will open.


When I breathe, life rushes back into my soul and my body.

When I breathe deeply, pain and injury heal faster.

When I breathe deeply, I expand to hold all the forces of grief and joy that come with loss and life.

When I breathe, Light comes, Joy begins, peace follows.

“Breathe, Robin. Breathe.”  Deep, long and often.  It is well with my soul.

Maybe you, too, need a reminder to breathe.  I think our entire nation does.  I think we have been collectively holding our breath for weeks now, before and following “The Election.”

Breathe, America, breathe. Deeply.

Breathe, friend, breathe.  Deeply.




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2 Responses to Exhaling.

  1. Robin Rowe says:

    😢 Thank you ,I needed to hear this today. I too have been holding my breath and didn’t even realize it. Safe travels dear friend.

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