How We’re Learning

By Sarah McKinney

I didn’t even realize I had been holding my breath.

Wandering through my days with a “fake it till you make it” mentality had created a burning in my chest and a panic in my heart. I needed to release the tension, but how do I breathe easy when I’m not sure of the road before me? Maybe you’ve felt the need for the “fresh air” of courage and hope in your military experience as well.

  • Waiting for news of the next assignment…we hold our breath.
  • Waiting on that promotion board decision…we hold our breath.
  • Waiting on that referral we desperately need for our child…we hold our breath.

Too often there are more unknowns than we can count, and the stability we may crave can be even hard to come by. I get it. I’m living it. But we can’t just keep holding our breath, afraid of what the future will bring.

I’m discovering a better way to release the tension:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29 NIV)

Yes, there really is freedom from worry. His name is Jesus. His gentle and humble heart sees you (and me) struggling to bear up under the weight of all the worries and trials of this life and He offers something better.

He offers Himself.

THIS is where the exhale is even possible. THIS is where your shoulders come down and your chest rises up to enter peace. Rest, peace, and breathing out a sigh of relief (exhale) don’t come because your problems magically disappeared or were instantly solved. Nope. The ability to exhale isn’t actually circumstantial.

We exhale because we are fully convinced that there is NOTHING in our lives that is bigger than the GOD who holds our hearts.

We release our breath not because our situation is easy or even solved. We let go of stress because we remember that we are loved more deeply than we can imagine. We exhale because we lean in to the truth that Jesus really is who He says He is. We are free to be brave as we choose to believe His promises never, ever fail.

Not ever. 

Truth is, we may not get the answers we were hoping for. That promotion board or assignment list may herald news that we would still rather not hear. But still, sweet friends, we can exhale. We can look into the eyes of Jesus, who has promised to complete the good work He started in you (and in me) and He is faithful to complete it!

How to Be Free from Worry:

  1. Bring your worry to the Lord. Root out the reason you’re holding your breath and name it.
  2. Search out verses that reference the character of God. This is a practice that a mentor challenged me to do years ago, and it has changed my life. I can testify that you can’t be saturated with the character of God and still be afraid.
  3. Submit your concern into the Presence and Truth of who He is in prayer. Pray about your concerns in view of His character. There is such freedom found in looking at your worries through the lens of who He is.
  4. Release your expectation of a certain result. For some (including me) this can be the hardest part. Trust Him to do what is best. There is no one on this planet who loves you more than He does. He sees all of you, your past, your present and your future. He is trustworthy to hold that which you hold most dear.

 Your Turn:

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you (Psalm 116:7 NIV).

Now, read that last verse again. Remind yourself of who He is and His great love for you and… exhale. I am doing it, too. May you find sweet rest as you abide in Jesus, the Author and Completer of your faith.

Verses to Ponder:

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us (Psalm 62:5-8).

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them (Matthew 6:25-32 NIV). 


Lord, I confess that I get easily tangled up in the worries and trials of my life. I know that You do not want me to obsess about my future or the things that I have no control over. With courage born of faith, I release my concerns to You. Teach me more about your faithfulness and love, so that I can exhale with freedom from worry. Amen.