By: Sister Mary Louise, O.C.D.

It really is amazing the ways God will choose to speak to us. Sometimes it is in a church. Often it is through a book we read. Other times He uses a conversation with a friend. Oddly enough, this morning He spoke to me on a treadmill. Not one of my top ten most-likely-to-receive-a-message-from-God spots.

I am something of a newbie when it comes to running, so if you are an exercise enthusiast the basis of this revelation may not be news to you. But after struggling to breath while running, I have come to a conclusion: For me, it is more important to focus on exhaling than inhaling. That is, as my body demands more oxygen, I automatically breath in deeply. But the demand for air can be so great it takes a very conscious effort on my part to breath out. When I do concentrate on emptying my lungs completely, I can run much longer.

But where is the message from God in that?  I’m a doer. I like to get things done. While I am working on one thing, I have at least three more going on in my mind that I will get to ASAP. But recently, God has been asking me to slow down. He wants me to exhale, to empty my spiritual lungs. He wants me to fight against my automatic inclination to take more in, to take on more. He doesn’t need my gasping, He needs my deepest sighs. He doesn’t need me to fill my life with good things I have accomplished, but rather, to intentionally empty it so that He can fill it with the greatest things – the things only He can do. I still need to “breathe in” but I cannot continue to do so on autopilot. I need to deliberately carve out space and time to “exhale,” to acknowledge that I am, in fact, poor in spirit. Only then will I be able to run the race so as to win.