on yoga, worship, headstands, and being brave.

*Originally written earlier this year.

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This week I am keeping track of the brave moments.

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Putting yourself out there is painful.

Your heart leaks out words. You take a stand. You express yourself. You press publish, and you wait, or you speak up and are met with silence.

Breathe in, breathe out. What will they say? Think? Feel?

Sometimes the hardest part of the waiting is the never hearing anything back.

You fling out parts of yourself, and no one seems to notice.

Breathe in, breathe out. Open up, let it out. Wait. And don’t forget to keep breathing.

//

Some Sunday mornings I am given the opportunity to lead the congregation in worship for a couple songs. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love it because I absolutely do. I love every beautiful, terrifying moment.

But it is utterly exhausting.

I’m standing in an open field–no trenches, barracks, or shields–and I’m raising my flag. Showing my colors.

Worship is an outcry of the heart, and each person I’ve ever met worships in a different, beautiful, powerful, amazing, unique way. Hands lifted high, hands in your pockets, eyes closed, eyes opened, I don’t care. No matter what you physically do, it’s your heart that’s talking.

So leading a congregation in worship to me feels like vomiting my heart all over them.

To be that open and vulnerable with a church full of people is terrific and tiring and beautiful and one of the scariest things I do on a regular basis—and not because of stage fright.

While I’m singing, while I’m raising my hands or hanging them at my side or closing my eyes or opening them or smiling or not, there is no fear there. There is stability and strength and joy. There is me, all of me, and Jesus, all of Jesus.

But the minute I have to step off the stage, I feel unsteady because I realize I was out in the open. All of me.

They’ve seen who I am, and they can now do with it what they will, feel about it what they will. I did not perform it. I did not perfect it. I didn’t even touch up the rough parts.

Some Sundays, I shake and I quiver as soon as the service is over. My eyelids flutter uncontrollably sometimes, but I try not to fidget. Sometimes my hands tremble, or my leg twitches. It’s a release of so much of who I am–emotions, anxiety, stress, joy, sadness.

Oh my. I think. I just let them see all of that?!

I let them see my heart, and I revealed emotions and devotion and love, and I wonder, what do they think of that? Anything at all?

“Breathe in, breathe out. Be brave,” I wrote in my notebook. “Reach inside, grab the heavy things, the thoughts about their thoughts, the fears about their thoughts, and toss them out. Release them.”

And so I breathed in, breathed out, reached, released. Because I’m worshipping and I’m loving God with all I am, and it’s some form of art and heart that I’m sharing with people, and that is something worth sharing.

Breathe in, breathe out.

///

Today I did a headstand for the first time since I began yoga and Pilates. I used no wall for support. It was just me, head on the ground, cradled by clasped fingers and sweaty palms, a yoga mat, and legs in the air.

Yoga really is all about the breath. They’re not lying when they tell you that. It’s not about beauty, brawn, or even brains. Guts and breath.

Breathe in. Reach my toes into the mat. Grasp, steady, ground, cling for a moment.

Breathe out. Be brave. Know that you can topple over, fall, fail. Do it anyway.

Breathe in again. Grasp what you know. Right leg in the air, toe pointed to your goal: high.

Breathe out again. Release, push, press. Left leg up in the air, not too quick but not too slow. Committed. Balanced.

Breathe in, breathe out. Stillness, balance, breath, core-shaking quiet.

When I came back down, I was refreshed. I have wanted to do a headstand unsupported for years, but I’ve always been afraid. I cannot commit. I prepare myself for the stand, I lift my right leg in the air, and when I push off the floor, I find a way to push myself back down.

C’est la vie.

Today I was brave enough to commit, which really means I was brave enough to fall.

And when I tried a headstand again, I did fall (sideways, too, all contorted–who knows how someone can fall incorrectly, but I did) because I forgot to breathe in and out with confidence.

I smiled when I whacked my foot on the coffee table because I realized: the falling was not nearly as bad as the fear of falling.

I know now that I can’t forget the breath. It’s all about the breath. Headstands, worship, vulnerability, perseverance. Life. It’s all about the breath and what you do with it.

Breathe in, breathe out. Both legs in the air. Steady your core, find your ground. And when your legs want to push you back down, you breathe in (reach) and breath out (release) the fears and the shaking and the hesitancy, and you just commit.

You will come back down when you’re good and ready to come back down, and you’ll either fall or you’ll fold gracefully, and that’s the truth.

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