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Take a Deep Breath


By Deacon Tammy Devine

ELCA Wellness Manager
July 2017

"God is a solid rock under my feet, and breathing room for my soul." Psalm 62:2

My spiritual director begins our time with an invitation to “breathe in self-care; breathe out compassion.” This simple, portable prayer practice reminds me to stop and listen to what my body is telling me about where it is carrying unexpressed frustration, pain, or stress.

Unresolved emotions — like resentment, hurt, anger, and grief— are like a deep wound that’s covered with a Band-Aid instead of treated with stitches. When that happens, the tissue heals slowly and often becomes infected. Left unresolved, these emotions can twist our thoughts and eat away at our perspective. When they do make their way out, they are often expressed in unhealthy ways. Only when we stop to breathe and acknowledge the negative emotions that weigh us down can we begin to heal, and proceed on the journey to self-growth and greater love of others.

Healing is a unique process for each of us. Richard Rohr reminds us that “only the forgiven can forgive, only the healed can heal, only those who stand daily in need of mercy can offer mercy to others.” Too often, we who are called to be healers stuff our own pain instead of dealing with it. We struggle to find appropriate, safe places to lament. We underestimate the degree of pain and the amount of time it takes to heal.

In a “fix-it” culture, it’s tempting to go for the quick and easy answer and push on. All too often my communication with God is similar; praying for the fix I think is needed and forgetting to pause and listen to God’s direction. Are you carrying unresolved emotions that are keeping you from living a life of wholeness? Slow down, listen, and attend to your breath. Breathe in self-care — so you can be your best self; breathe out compassion — for the world needs it!

Tammy Devine's monthly reflection invites you to consider how your faith and health are intertwined. She shares her personal journey to help support you in new ways as you strive to live well in Christ — for the sake of ministry in God's world. ELCA organizations, feel free to print or link to Tammy’s reflections in your publications.

Since joining Portico in 2004, Tammy has provided whole-person health promotion, education, and inspiration to ELCA rostered leaders and lay employees. Contact Tammy Devine at

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