I finished a post this morning, and after working to give birth to it for at least 10 days….I thought I was free to go about my life for a moment. I headed to brunch, maybe a manicure afterwards, but other than that I planned a relaxing Sunday to just breathe.

Well…wasn’t that clever.

I was driving around with the top down (and let me add how heavenly that is) and suddenly Sara Bareilles’ Breathe Again comes on….and the words wash over me as if I am hearing it for the first time (though truth be told it has been well over a year since I listened to it)….and I look up…and then I pull over, turn around and capture the photo below.

I see you there God.

I see you. I hear you.

When I heard this song the first time, it was an old song already…and it fit perfectly because I was newly brokenhearted. The truth is that when I feel sorry for myself, I swear I have spent more of my life brokenhearted than wholehearted….anyone else??? Well, if this has been or is currently true for you, let this post give you heart…I heard the words afresh today….BUT not from the stance of a brokenhearted woman.

I am breathing again. I am on the other side of heartbreak.

“…Facing the ghosts that decide if the fire inside still burns.
All I have, all I need, he’s the air I would kill to breathe
Holds my love in his hands, still I’m searching
All I have, all I need, he’s the air I would kill to breathe
Holds my love in his hands, and still I’m searching for something
Out of breath, I am left hoping someday I’ll breathe again
I’ll breathe again, I’ll breathe again,
I’ll breathe again, I’ll breathe again,
I’ll breathe again, I’ll breathe again…”
I have already faced those ghosts.
The fire inside of me DOES still burn.
God has restored even this. Even. This. God has breathed the breath back into my lungs. He has held my hands. I am no longer searching…because I am finally found.
While in Israel, I had the opportunity to opt to be baptized in the Jordan River…and not just anywhere along it, but where it is believed the Israelites crossed over…and where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Ummm…..I had both arms in the air faster than the options came out of the tour guide’s mouth. Aren’t you already saved? baptized? Ummm….yes and yes…actually twice on that second one….which is why….
This was SO personal.
I got saved in grade school and baptized by my beloved youth pastor late one Sunday night in the dark (literally) with my little broken family there, my knees knocking, but I was determined. Read that as determined. Bless my heart. *Tears* I can feel that young girl’s heart beating out of her chest. I loved Jesus. I loved my family. I wanted all the things I was raised believing in and yet our family was already a broken hot mess and the worst was yet to come, but I still had hope…and I was clinging to Jesus with all I had….all I had.
Fast forward to my mother’s remarriage and an option for our “whole” family to be in church again, but there was one caveat…I would have to be “re-baptized” or “baptized into” that church. I believe that would be the second thing I would hold against God (I just didn’t know then I was keeping score.); I was furious and felt tremendous shame. I wasn’t good enough. I was already convinced and here it was…confirmation from a church no less. My heart burned.
So….imagine me…after these past four plus years of wilderness…with the option of the Jordan River in front of her. It was if the whole trip was suddenly all about me and Jesus. He made a touchstone out of the Jordan River, and I was somewhere between awe and just completely broken. You have NEVER seen a woman more ready to dive in…that is until my toe hit the water it was ICE COLD. There was even a heart in the stonework in the changing room to remind me who was talking over me in the most surreal few minutes of my life. I was undone, and I hadn’t even laid eyes on the Jordan River yet. So after the shock of the cold water, I locked eyes with my pastor suddenly feeling all of five years old. Bless his heart at one point he asked me if I was going to hold my nose quizzically to which I suddenly noticed I was holding my nose…nervously, I blurted…”I have NO idea what to do, it has been awhile.” It was comical, but also telling. Something in me was resisting the release. Then he started dipping me back, and I will never forget….I FINALLY let go. I felt my whole body relax and fall back….and then I was up and I didn’t need a photo to prove it, but I raised both arms to heaven.
As I wrote in my journal that day, “It was the most beautiful and perfect day and I never want to forget the feel of that cold and muddy Jordan River as it washed over me. Full stop. Restoration. This time. This baptism. Just me and you Jesus - US - our relationship - my heart…and a whole crowd of witnesses.”
See….sometimes you are on the floor in the fetal position convinced you will never ever breathe again. Your life is too messy and broken. You have failed one too many times. Then one day, you quite literally step into the Jordan River and Jesus says…THIS…I say who you are and who you are not Heather Ruth. No one else. No. One. Else. And for the first time…maybe the VERY first time in your 45 years…you believe him. You simply BELIEVE. It is oh so complicated and yet that simple and beautiful.
So….today I heard those old words that once reminded me of all I had lost and today all I heard was all I have gained…I looked up and saw that God holds my love in his firm hands. I am not too broken or too messy. I am found.
Found. Fully renewed. Fully restored.
It is time to breathe again.
Matthew 3:13-17 ~ The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”