2013-01-31 / General Stories


(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

When You Can’t Breathe

Paul had struggled with COPD for a number of years. His lung capacity was shrinking. He was continuously short of breath and on oxygen all the time. Standing up was a chore that took five minutes to recover from.

Paul had smoked most of his life. He made no excuses about where his condition had come from. Before he was homebound, he spoke to schools on the importance of healthy living, using himself as a negative example. He’d show up wheezing and wearing his oxygen, just to drive the point home.

I asked him what he said to the kids.

“The basic message was this: When you can’t breathe, that’s scary stuff,” he gasped.

I had asthma as a kid. I remember what that was like. Scary accurately describes it.

Then it dawned on me - Paul’s words apply to more than our lungs. We need breathing room in life. We need down time for our souls to be restored. Without this kind of space, we tighten up. Joy disappears. Life can become drudgery.

When we can’t breathe, it can be scary.

Most of us could use more wiggle room – in our finances, family, work, or relationships. Healthy living requires space. Some of us need more than others. And space doesn’t just happen. It usually has to be planned and deliberately created.

Where do you need more breathing room? How will you find it? It’ll cost you, but it’ll be worth it.

Here’s to breathing better.

Thanks, Paul.

Gary Roe is Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington and the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice

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