Walk By Faith

i can’t breathe … this is the air i breathe

i am still “high” right now. today … about today. i’ll just say i was wrecked. from the worship, to the word, to the opportunity to minister. wrecked!

as a nerdy black woman, there are few things i remain shy about these days. you tend to naturally stand out in the crowd when you’re one of the very few brown women in cosplay at the con. the confidence it requires to be comfortable being one of the “onlies,” something i’ve lived my entire life as the only black girl/woman doing (insert category list here), means i tend to do what i love without worrying about how others perceive/receive it.

that is not always the case at church. i grew up in a traditional, southern black church. i got liberated from the “traditions” during college and had a life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit. over the years, i have attended churches where the spirit flows freely and the congregation actively engages in that move. this looks different from church to church, but there is a level of freedom that allows individual expression.

just a hint of what we experienced at church today
just a hint of what we experienced at church today

moving to seattle was a major culture shock in a lot of ways, but church was the biggest. i’ve written about my feelings about the isolation i felt at church (even though i know God called me to be exactly where i am) and how weird it is in seattle that people don’t talk about their faith. like, really, it’s weird that people are closet christians in this city! when you grow up in the bible belt it is nothing to hear people talk about their kids’ production for vacation bible school or how good bible study was last night, or even, how they can’t do something because they will be at church. in seattle, you get the stare of death for admitting that you spend time – regularly – at church. it’s a twilight zone. but it also forces us charismatic, live-your-faith-out-loud folks to retreat to the closet. or fight to not be forced into one.

that’s why today was so powerful for me. i was asked to minister through dance in connection to a call for the church to lament. i thought about what songs would be the best fit for a call to lament and came up empty. and then i was reading through my twitter feed and i kept seeing #icantbreathe over and over. i myself have tweeted that hashtag because i find myself choking and gasping for air during this exhausting time of racial tension. and it hit me, i needed the Holy Spirit to breathe fresh on me, and that’s exactly what the church needed. so i searched for the song “breathe” because i knew that was the word we needed.

i spent time listening to and meditating on the song and then got busy choreographing for service.

this is the air i breathe. this is the air i breathe. your holy presence, living in me. this is my daily bread. you are my daily bread. your holy word, spoken to me.

i have danced at my church before and it’s always a great opportunity to share my ministering gift. but there is this weird feeling that i’m a performer and not a part of worship. since i’m not a fan of being in the spotlight (ever) it’s an odd thing to endure. so, today, when i was preparing to minister, i was nervous. how would they receive me, my worship? had i spent enough time in the presence of God to even minister in the first place? was this song that spoke to the depths of my soul when i heard it an actual word for the church, or just me? i suddenly felt very unsure about it all. and when i danced during the first service, i could feel this internal fight – ministry and fear battling it out in my spirit. i’m pretty sure it ended in a draw.

pastor brenda salter-mcneil sharing a prophetic message she received during her visit to ferguson last week.
pastor brenda salter-mcneil sharing a prophetic message she received during her visit to ferguson last week.

but then i heard the message and knew instantly that it was the prophetic word i believed it to be and when second service came along, i was able to freely give myself over to be filled, and used by the Holy Spirit. the power of freedom was so strong, and the atmosphere so charged, i was able to BREATHE!

picture courtesy of pastor gail song bantem of me dancing in the 11 am service
picture courtesy of pastor gail song bantem of me dancing in the 11 am service

thankful today for the pastors at my church who live into the call to let everything that hath breath praise The Lord. and absolutely grateful to be “seen” without being on display by some people that i’m happy God placed in my life despite my best efforts to keep them at bay.

going into this week, i no longer feel like #icantbreathe because i have the breathe of God blowing into my lungs. #thisistheairibreathe

Nourisha Wells

I'm cool and incredibly fun. I geek out on scifi/fantasy/action, video games, comics, superheroes and the outdoors. I pwnd the interwebs for a living.

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  1. This is beautiful and so are you! Thankful for the breath of life He gave us. #wonthedoit

  2. Your worship-filled dancing was powerful and profound. Thank you for sharing your gift with us (even those of us at the 9 o’clock!)

    1. oh thank you so much nancy. it is truly an honor to usher in the presence of God at a church that welcomes this form of worship.

  3. Bonnie Hedman says:

    Thank you for sharing this with me. I haven’t had a chance to see you worship through dance often, but every time I have, I have felt the worship and Spirit. Keep moving and know that you bless and enlarge our spirits.

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