How to Breathe Deeply When it Feels Like Your Soul is Suffocating

This is one of those posts. The kind that I just have to type out because the truths may explode from inside of me if I don’t get them on “paper.” And that’d be all kinds of ugly for the Starbucks employees that are so innocently standing behind me doing their jobs.

Two things.

First, I have a question for you. “What thoughts are suffocating your soul?” Think about it for a minute. What’s suffocating you?

I had a long, desperate chat with God the other day that included lots of capital letters written on legal-sized, yellow notebook paper, telling Him how my soul felt like it was suffocating in one particular area of my life. And I realized it was because I kept. thinking. about. that thing.

I kept analyzing and wondering and managing and turning it on all its possible angles and the thoughts were killing my joy and my peace and…me! The last words I scribbled on that paper were, “I’m tired of thinking so much about this, Lord. I’m tired of trying to control this. I want YOU to consume my thoughts.”

And He started ushering in freedom.

What does “He ushered in freedom” mean? Well, it means He drew me in. It means that, by His grace, I dove into His Word and shared my heart with some dear friends and prayed. It means I started hearing the sermon my faithful Father was tenderly, sweetly speaking to me. The sermon of FREEDOM.

Freedom to rest. Freedom to trust. Freedom to love Him in the midst of the unknown. Freedom to not think the thing to bloody death.


“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1


Here’s where it really steps on our toes.

And He showed me, whatever suffocates our peace and joy may be an indicator of some idol we’re allowing into our heart. Granted, life is straight-up hard at times. Things affect us. And God is tender to our humanity. But soul-suffocation isn’t in His job description. That’s a work of the enemy. That’s a work of our short-sighted flesh. God Almighty is in the freedom-business.

So first, what thoughts are suffocating your soul?

Second, there’s only one way out of that suffocating-cycle: WORSHIP. Worship. On Sunday our pastor mentioned idolatry and he said something that felt like water to my soul. He said (and I paraphrase), “We get out of idolatry the same way we got in. We worship our way out.

Drop. The. Mic.

Is that not brilliant?! We worship our way out. If something other than our God consumes our soul — suffocating our peace and hope and joy — the way out is worship. We worship our God with singing and repenting and praise and prayer and reading His Word and fellowship with other believers and dancing (yes, dancing….possibly utilizing the “Roger Rabbit” or whatever your particular brand of dancing includes). We worship our way out. Because He’s got this! Whatever this is, our God hasn’t forgotten His children.

More than a solution to our problems, our awesome God wants to grace us with a solution to our souls. He stands in love offering fulness in Him — a fulness we actually experience by His absolute grace through the stirring of His Spirit which happens through worship.

That’s it. Two things. Identify any thought patterns that suffocate your soul. And then worship your way out. And now I don’t have to explode. You’re welcome, Starbucks.
Fill me, Lord…

Is anything suffocating your soul? What can worship look like in your life today?

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Lara Williams
Speaker and author, Lara has walked through valleys of death, addiction, and betrayal, and experienced the miraculous ability of God to bring victory in spite of circumstance. She describes the beat of her heart to be revival in our moments as daughters of the King.Lara and her husband, Adam, live in North Carolina with their three children. “Life can get pretty messy,” she says, “But our home is a place where God has ‘shown-off’ and redeemed the broken. There is hope in Him.” Lara blogs about her journey and faith at her blog, To Overflowing, and she would love to connect with you on Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram.