How to Use Your Breath So Others Can Breathe

How to Use Your Breath So Others Can Breathe

In the wake of COVID-19, another deadly disease has spread to pandemic proportions seeking to suck the breath of life right out of you. While many infected with the coronavirus have struggled to get enough air to fill their lungs, another vicious enemy has been lurking through our cities and towns squeezing the very breath from its victims as well.

Unlike COVID-19, this virus reared it’s ugly head hundreds of years ago and has unfortunately gone unbridled even with the attempts of many to bring about a cure.

The testing is already available but it will require a swab that reaches all the way to your joints and marrow …going deep into your soul for an accurate read. It will be painful …but necessary if you want to get the antidote.

Racial Injustice

I’ve struggled for days with deep grief, anger, sadness, sorrow, frustration and angst as the story of George Floyd unfolded in the news. My heart was heavy …too heavy to hold on my own.

The weight of this horrific act was beyond the limit of any understanding. It was wrong. Heinous. There aren’t enough words to describe the horror of it all.

Conversations emerged as we all tried to process what had happened– realizing this was not a new event but one that had been breeding in the dark places of humanity for a very long time. Too long.

Enough was enough but how do you move forward when it feels like your own breath has been knocked right out of you?

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)

Use our breath to help others breathe.

As I began to walk this out with my black and white brothers and sisters, this phrase came to mind — “Use our breath to help others breathe. We have no choice.” And the Spirit spoke life into the breathless void and chaos.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

There’s a verb or 2 (or 3) in there. “Do …Love …Walk.” and that’s just what I needed to hear.

Do. Love. Walk.

Do justly. This is not passive participation. This is active.

My African American friend, Fred Whitlow, II, shared solid words of action from his own vantage point:

  • Speak it! Speak truth to power through your own privilege (and let’s be honest — especially white privilege).
  • Use it! Use your influence, privilege and platforms for integrity and justice.
  • Take it to action! Do more than pray and know what’s right. Take Action! Be engaged.

In a recent peaceful protest in our city, my husband heard these poignant words: “Speak up. Speak out. Speak truth.”

Peaceful Protest in Huntsville, Alabama (June 1, 2020)

We can’t be silent.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Love mercy! The best way to think about this is to think about how you want to be treated. Do you want fair? or do you want mercy? The enemy would like nothing better than to counterfeit your faith with a false sense of self-righteousness.

Mercy has to do with kindness and compassion …weep with those who weep …rejoice with those who rejoice. Treat others as your brothers and sisters because…they are!

Family. We weep together. We laugh together. We stick together. We walk together. We lift a brother or sister up when they fall.

My husband reminded me today of the story of the Good Samaritan as told again by T.D. Jakes with a current-news-like perspective. A man of color and diversity from “the other side of the tracks” showed mercy on a man who was bleeding and left for dead on the side of the road. He pointed out the often under-stated 2 other people in the story who walked by on the other side and ignored the bleeding man. They were religious people.

This isn’t just a story from 2,000 years ago anymore.

George Floyd and many, many others have been lying on the side of the road bleeding under oppression and abuse and how often have the religious people–like me and you– walked by on the other side …not wanting to get involved in the mess of it all. Too busy? Too pre-occupied? Too self-absorbed? Too scared? Too judgmental? Too many assumptions…stereotypes? Too many …

For anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, this is not acceptable. But moving forward can only be accomplished in a good and healthy way by this next phrase …

Walk humbly with your God! Every single day, in every single way, we must walk humbly with our God and ask Him for wisdom and help. He’ll guide us through the Holy Spirit to let us know if we need to march in a peaceful protest today …or write truth out to challenge and encourage others …or sing out life-giving words from the depths of our breath-filled lungs …or walk with a neighbor or passerby who might not look like us …or join with others in prayer and solidarity.

God says to be angry and sin not. God Himself was angry but His anger led to change and justice and was fueled out of deep, abiding love for all people.

We can’t ignore this current tragedy of George Floyd and the thousands of others before him. This could have been your own son. There’s too much at stake. This disease must be treated and we have the ability to administer a balm of blessing and care to the bleeding and helpless.

We have been given a voice to speak to those who are abusing their power and using it to hold their knee on the necks of others and choke the very life and breath out of them. We can’t hide behind the mask of religion or comfort. This is an issue that affects the very fiber of humanity.

Do. Love. Walk. And get up and do that all over again tomorrow. But whatever you do, don’t walk away.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

What are you doing where you are to “do, love and walk” with God and others against this age-old pandemic of hate and racial injustice? What are your fears about moving forward?

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. carrye1

    “But whatever you do, don’t walk away.” Though haunting, that ending is powerful and just what we need to hear. I appreciate your comparison to the epidemic- fitting and timely, and just as deadly. Thank you for your words and your challenge. I look forward to hearing more as you learn what steps we can take to live out justice in action.

  2. Daphne Campbell

    Well spoken, Joy! And it came across as kind and caring. Last Tuesday we invited a couple to my birthday dinner. They brought their daughter age 3 and son age 18 months. Very enjoyable time together. It was my first time to meet the lady and her children, but hubs has been inviting the man to help him do mobile RV repair, and teaching him a skill that will go with him when they move in a month. She is a Navy Chief and he is a house husband caring for the children. Though our skin tones were different, I don’t believe it was thought about either at our table, or by anyone else at the restaurant. This island in the Keys has a motto, “One Human Family”. However, we also have other close friends here, who have both experienced the inequality on the mainland that has been brought to our minds and hearts with sadness right now. When we are weak, God is strong, and He created every human being in His image. May we pray, as Roger mentioned recently, “Thy will be done”. And then that we each would practice His will in love, showing value to each person, not ” because” of their skin tone, or “inspite” of their skintone, but because we are ALL equal in the sight of GOD.

  3. beckyjuettmiller

    Very good and well said. You go girl Your ministry is awesome.

Go for it! Leave a comment. :-)