Sometimes I have difficulty breathing.


No. I don’t smoke.

Yes. I exercise.

No. I don’t battle disease.

Yes. My life has been sabotaged by others.

I have been

  • Displaced by a conniving, duplicitous subordinate

  • Disconnected by leaders believing what the subordinate says

  • Demeaned by a leader just because he found someone he liked better

  • Confused trying to please an employer who constantly changed the job

  • Denied access to salary rates, paid less than those I was meant to lead

  • Offered a job which was later rescinded

  • Proffered an institutional agreement, later forgotten by those who benefited

  • Lied to about a job, hired, later discovering falsified pretext

  • Lied about when fired on untrue, leader-created false charges

  • Lied about to others by leaders so as to eradicate personal responsibility

So yes, sometimes, I have trouble breathing.

I regularly feel exposed, naked, repressed, disenfranchised.

These are not feelings that anyone else can see.

These are not emotions which can be overcome by discussion or dialogue.

These are not settings where one can speak about issues without bad-mouthing others.

These are not circumstances which allow for redress or restored work.

These are not situations of which one can speak without the label of “complainer.”

I write generally about these situations and my feelings here because I think it’s important that others who have endured similar effrontery find solace with one who has put their feelings in words. [Paul did so about the Corinthians in his second recorded letter to them.]

  • You will not find me ranting on social media about grievances.

  • You will not see me post the “defamation du jour.

  • I try to capitulate instead of fight because there is little recourse in rancor.

  • I rage in my soul because there is nowhere else to rage.

  • I try not to play the game “What if?” but end up playing anyway.

I write words like these, sludge released from a grill, because I need the release.

I agree with my sisters Amanda and Jamie. They write about their own internal, human struggles, expressing how they feel, knowing no other resort than words, often in the form of sighs.

Have I been angry about the situations I’ve encountered? Sure. Have I expressed myself to those who have wronged me? As I’ve had opportunity. Do I lament the past? Every other day.

But on the good days, I am reminded of this prose poem by Minnie Louise Haskins.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

And so I breathe.

Please feel free to record your responses, thoughts, experiences, and “sighs” in the comment section below.

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  1. So wonderfully said! Some of the wrongs inflicted in this life cannot be righted, yet we place our hand in the hand of the Man who calmed the sea, the great Protector, and press on toward the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Who we are in Christ establishes our self-worth and we stand tall. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. When one has been in vocational ministry as long as we have, times and experiences like these are sadly inevitable, a truth I also personally know all too well. I have never been hurt as deeply by those outside Christ’s Church as I have from those within – which is a strange sort of paradox. It has driven me to consciously, as best I can, NOT be like this to others.

    Times like these also emphasize that we as vocational ministers must be VULNERABLE as Christ was – fully confident in His calling and Who He was/is, but also putting ourselves “out there” for the sake of others even though they may mistreat us. Therefore we can take comfort in Him and knowing He has led the way in hurtful times. Looking to Him brings tremendous comfort, as well as looking into the little face(s) of some of His greatest gifts to us, our grandchildren who are our delight. Even if nobody else loves me, I know Jesus and these little ones still love old Papa!

  3. It has been humbling to know that I am not the only one getting beat up in life. It has ultimately made me a LITTLE more patient with others as I remind myself that even those who belittle me, who seem so perfect and on top of it all, are struggling with there own “thing” their own hurt….somewhere in their lives. As Don Workman stated above it is my very own brothers and sisters in Christ who stab the deepest. Maybe because we do not expect it. Because of that, along with gaining humility, unfortunately I have also gained skepticism.

  4. Ah, yes…the Times of Sighs, appropriately named for their demand of outward silence in the midst of inner cacophony. When the inner voices scream to get out, yet wisdom blocks their way, what is left but the expelling of breath? As I try not to play the game of “what if?” I remind myself that God is the judge of every man’s heart and Christ will vouch for me before the bar, and I pray to be shown where I have wronged another. Sometimes, the sighs and tears and what ifs linger far longer than I’d like, but thankfully diminish with time – the time required to find the Hand of God and be led from the darkness into light. Beautiful.

  5. Thank you for sharing! We’ve had our share of “sighs”. It comes with the territory of working in the music ministry. Sometimes, it helps to just sit and breathe. 🙂 Blessings my friend!

  6. Expressive, honest reflection is not only admirable, but shows our humanity and offers release. I am personally glad that you are open about these sorts of things. Human struggles are real, and we are foolish if we ignore them. The Word of God does not spare showing us misery and suffering.

    In reading your article I am reminded of Job, who said, “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:11)

    And, befitting the title of this article, “For my sighing comes instead of my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water.” (Job 3:24).

    Job said that He would prefer to be strangled to death rather than live any longer. This book, and the book of Lamentations, are books about suffering. And they do not shy away from reality. They are very descriptive.

    How fortunate it is for us that our God, the Lord Jesus Christ, knows what it means to suffer, for He suffered not only as a man, as man suffers, but also for man, that man might be saved from eternal suffering and separation from God. I believe it is the best answer to the “problem of suffering”. Yes, we suffer. But God suffered too. He knows what it means to suffer, and He is with us in our suffering. Praise the LORD.

    Thank you for this article, Dr. Eckel.

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