I had hip surgery a month and a half ago. I woke up afterward, groggy and predictably begging for a Diet Coke and somehow found myself in the most wonderful conversation with my PACU nurse. I was nauseous and uncomfortable but remember trying to force myself into a somewhat lucid state as we chatted.

Eventually, it was time for her to hand me off to the next nurse, and as she unlocked the brakes of my gurney to roll me away, she paused. “You know, I think I’m gonna keep you here just a little longer. I’m afraid you might appear better than you actually are.”

I assured her that I was fine.

In minutes, I was clutching a vomit bag for dear life. 

This exchange has rolled around in my head since then, her voice still instructing me, in essence, to 

Slow

Way

Down

The truth is, I know grit. I can grind it out with the best of them. Sometimes, it feels like God wired me with an off-switch a little too far out of reach for my own good. As a kid, my bedtime routine looked like studying until I passed out on my bedroom floor, atop piles and piles of notecards. In college, I meticulously counted calories and restricted my way to anorexia. As an adult, I’ve run through broken bones and torn up hips, kudos to my expert-like abilities to ignore any hint of pain.

I know I’m not alone in this, and I truly believe most of us are far from masochists. Most of us are just in the zone, running headlong on the well-worn paths laid out for us by a culture that prioritizes and celebrates anything but what most of us need the very most:

Gentleness.

This, a posture that doesn’t come easily to me. A stance that, quite honestly, has felt counter to so much of what I was discipled to believe is godly and good in the “go/be/do! do! do!” brand of Christianity and life that so sneakily worms its way into our hearts and thoughts.

And so, as many launch into this new year with their renewed fitness goals and diets and Bible reading plans, I’m over here with my Angel Nurse’s voice in my ear telling me, “HEY YOU. I’m onto you. I know you want to push through and go hard, but you’ve been through a lot. Let’s hang back a little longer and recover. And then? Let’s go real slow.”

This morning, I found myself doing just that. Slowly, methodically pressing and draining my tofu, leaving me feeling a way that could only be described as worshipful. Because here I was, simply prepping lunch. Following through with an everyday task that many would deem mundane and menial. And yet, for me to take the time to do this for my own self, was honoring this God-given body as worthy of nourishment.

Choosing to see it less as a tool to control, ignore, and pound into compliance and more as a temple of the living God.

Bearing his image.

Worthy of care. 

Soon, I will go on a slow walk in the January sun with my newly fixed hip and happy-as-a-lark Labrador, and I will likely fight my annoyance at my limitations and inability to move quite as adeptly as I once could. But I’ll remind myself again and again that full-throttle isn’t the only way forward.

I will absolutely, positively take a nap. Because Matt was snoring last night, and there’s only but so much coffee that can be consumed in a day.

I’ll probably crack open my liturgy book at some point because prayer is still kind of hard for me these days, and sometimes I just really need borrowed words.

And I’ll lean hard into this new self-proclaimed season of gentleness. Because, remember? I’m not so great at doing things halfway. But if I’m going to err in any direction in 2023, I’m going to err on the side of my nurse’s advice and take it slow. Because this body, it’s been through a lot. 

We all have these past few years. 

And it might just be possible that you, too, are fighting with everything you’ve got to appear better than you actually are.

So maybe, join me? Hang back a bit longer and heal. The nurses are always right anyway.

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