The Strong Ones

One more step.

Just one more step and my life could have changed forever.

Have you ever held your breath underwater for a long time? I can distinctly remember summer days in the Florida sunshine at the community pool holding my breath for as long as I possibly could, then inevitably coming up for air. There was always something so euphoric and freeing about taking that first deep inhale… in and out, in and out, the crisp air flowing into my lungs once again.

We take that for granted, don’t we? Not just the summer days swimming and basking in the sunshine, but simply our own breath. I did. I forgot how to breathe properly for an entire year of my life.

At the beginning of 2016, my life unraveled dramatically, exposing every written detail I so desperately tried to ignore; choices that I had covered and hidden for years, exposed and on display. It began the snowball effect of shame in my life. Growing up in the church, I learned all about what not to do, and how God felt when we participated in those things. Something I didn’t grasp fully, perhaps because it wasn’t taught regularly, is what the heck do ya do afterward? After the damage has been done, and you are left in the ruins. After the pain has cut you deep and left you wounded and broken? I didn’t have coping mechanisms. I had never experienced the grace and mercy of Jesus fully because I allowed shame to block the floodgates of love. I gave so much power to my own sin, it began to consume me. It then began to consume my ability to breathe.

It then stole my voice. My inability to sing most people are aware of, but I could barely talk sometimes without straining my voice severely or feeling as though I was being strangled. The chain around my neck was no longer figurative, it was literal.

For a season, I walked alone. Jesus was always standing by, ready and willing to carry me- but I was strong enough to walk by myself. I didn’t need Him to help, because that would mean surrender. And I was determined to survive.

I found myself standing on the Natchez Trace Parkway more times then I am willing to admit. I would get in my car, park somewhere discrete, and pray. I knew that I couldn’t breathe anymore. I knew that survival was killing me. I was so tired, so ready to meet Jesus. So desperate, I was willing to do whatever took to get there. So I tried, but He never let me.

He sent me His angels. I encountered them. They talked me down, and may not have even realized it. But then again, maybe they did. Maybe they knew exactly what they were there for. Or rather, who they were there for.

I am breathing again. Undoubtedly, Jesus revealed to me His divine protection on my life. Papa God knew my breath was so very important, but he knew, I had been holding my breath underwater for far too long, and I wasn’t strong enough to come up on my own. He lifted me up, and breathed forgiveness into my lungs, grace into my heart and soul, peace into my mind, and freedom into what felt like my entire being; this is the euphoria I am speaking of.

I share all of this to say, you can continue to breathe too. And you don’t have to do it alone. Surrender is strength. Hope is openly available to you! It’s like a precious gift that Christ lays in His palms, patiently waiting for us to take it.

When I breathe, I am reminded of my creator. I wanted to give up on the beautiful work in progress I am, but He taught me how to love myself in every stage of life, not just the highlight reel.

I love you friends. Here is an acoustic video of my song “The Strong Ones” It is part of my testimony, and means so much to my heart. I pray that is blesses your soul today!

You are good enough,

Carmen xoxo

Carmen Brandy