May 26, 2015

Breath Test by Marnie Pohlmann

I am not a fan of exercise, but a few years ago, my town became the focus of a television show called “Village on a Diet.” My husband and I joined other townsfolk to learn about healthy living. Together we climbed hills, built community gardens, hiked, and ate tofu (yuck!) Every Sunday afternoon we gathered to walk or run about four kilometers. Taping a television show was a lot of fun, and some lifestyle changes did stick, but the best part was the building of community – learning who our neighbours were and encouraging one another to a healthier lifestyle.

During that time, I learned about the “walking breath test.” While you are exercising, if you can carry on a conversation you are doing alright. If your heart is racing and you are gasping for breath, you may be able to continue for a little while more, but you soon need to slow down to recover. Of course, as I exercised more regularly, I was able to walk further, faster, and still visit with my co-panting friends.

Many writers use the healthy exercise of personal journals to process their daily lives – the good, the bad, the ugly, the painful, and the celebrations. The question is, at what point do we share that personal breathing of our heart and soul?

Like the walking breath test, I use a writing breath test. If, as I write my story, state my position, or share my heart, tears course down my cheeks, I am stretching my feelings with those tears as a healthy cleansing of emotional toxins, much like exercise sweat. However, if I begin to huff with anger, or sob in sorrow, I need more time before I share that writing with others. If I am not able to read the words aloud, or I leave my writing desk to kick the dog or eat a gallon of ice cream, those are signs I am not ready to carry on that particular conversation. When my feelings are still raw as I write, overwhelming me with grief, depression, or anger, my words may cause injury. I need to slow down to continue my recovery – to pray, heal, submit, and process through God’s eyes, what I am writing.

This may be one reason I have not (yet?) established my own personal blog. The temptation to publish in the passion of the moment is strong, but is sure to leave me gasping in pain, raging over injustice, or misrepresenting my Lord. You see, my heart daily battles with the black of sin, and while Christ has washed me white as snow, I still bleed red with emotion. Like the song I learned as a child says, I need to “be careful little mouth what you say.”

I can honestly share the secrets and angst of my past and present, the wheezing of my soul, to encourage others as God leads. There are times, though, when God gives me a very clear "not yet", "be quiet" or even “shut up” – because either I am not ready to speak or someone is not ready to hear. When the time and place is right, I believe my words will heal, not harm others or myself.

So as I share stories or lessons from my most personal journals that are my heart breaths, I continue to apply the writing breath test.

photo credits:
Lose Weight Now -
Crying -
Be Still Journal - Marnie Pohlmann


  1. You are so blessed to have learned when is the right time for you to share your stories....a writing breath test. What a wonderful analogy! 'Process through God's eyes.' Such great advice. Thanks for sharing, Marnie.

  2. This is one personal measure I will not forget, Marnie. What an excellent way to gauge what we're ready to share. Thank you!

  3. I remember watching that show when it aired because we live so close by. (And I wondered if you were participating!) Thanks for your wise words, too!

  4. Great post, and a writing breath test - what a great idea!

  5. Excellent post Marnie! Very well written. The bits of humor kept this piece flowing. What great "measurable" advice, I love it!

  6. Excellent post Marnie! Very well written. The bits of humor kept this piece flowing. What great "measurable" advice, I love it!

  7. Thank you for this writing breath test analogy. Some people can hold their breath longer than others. As you expressed, it is good to listen to the spirit's prompting us to share.

  8. Thanks for sharing this, Marnie. It has taken me a long time and a few episodes of depressions--the kind that messes up the chemicals in my mind--before I've been able to share with my readers what this is all about. That is as I understand it. One thing I'm learning is that God speaks to me more each time this happens to me. He teaches me to slow down, to rely on him, and to seek silence, peace, and calm. God stays close and joy is never far away from me.

    But I have only recently opened up to the reality that my words, if Spirit-driven, can offer people comfort and "sustain the weary."

  9. How wise and patient you are, thanks for an interesting post, Marnie!


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.