Updated on January 18, 2018
I am not an athlete. Never have been. I can fall down standing still; and have no desire to beat anyone at anything. These are not positive attributes when it comes to sports. Somehow, though, in college, I got addicted to running. And all these years later, I am not particularly good at it, but it is still my thing. I love the wind in my face, the pavement under my feet and the movement that helps silence all the things in my head. Oddly enough, it is the only time I feel still enough to listen.
So earlier this fall when my creaky old knee started giving me trouble, I ignored it. When it continued, I slowed my sluggish run to a fast walk. But, I refused to admit it was an issue. Our bodies are nothing if not persistent when they don’t work right, though. And so, this week I finally gave in and hauled my swollen old knee to the doctor.
Our orthopedic doctor is a dear man whose car I think we have paid for thanks to the multiple broken bones of our boys. He laughs when I show up with no busted kids in tow and quietly studies the x-ray of my knee.
“Is it broken?” I ask him because isn’t that always the question you ask the orthopedic?
He laughs, pats me on the shoulder and looks me right in the eye, “No it isn’t broken, but it might be better if it was. Then you wouldn’t have been able to walk on it like you have. The way you have just kept walking is what has caused the issue.”
Are you kidding me? Walking? I have injured myself walking?
“Is it bad?” I ask hanging my head.
“It isn’t bad or good. It’s just what is. It is totally fixable, though,” the good doctor assures me as he peers over his glasses, “However, no more running until you learn how to walk correctly. No more just getting by and making do. You’re going to have to do the work and get this thing healed for good. It will require that you go slowly for a bit.”
What? I can walk just fine. I can even run. And I do not have time for slowly.
But that x-ray?
It shows otherwise. It shows evidence of damage; damage that won’t heal if I don’t slow down and pay attention to it.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened … and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” That verse runs right through my head as I talk physical therapy and rest and the rebuilding of unused muscles with my doctor.
Come to me and I will show you a new way of doing old things.
We are experts at getting by, aren’t we? Experts at making it all work and holding it all together. Expert compensators.
Life gets hard; so we work harder. Our hearts get broken, twisted and a little beat up and we start using other muscles to get by. We figure out ways around what hurts; ways to never stop moving and to never admit that something isn’t working right.
Who has time for things that don’t work?
But what if there were a way to x-ray more than just bones? What if there were a way to see right through to our hearts and our souls?What would it show?
I stare at those shadowy images of my disjointed knee and know that my heart and soul x-ray wouldn’t look much different.
You see, a truly broken heart, a broken spirit is hard to hide. But a tired one? A sorta not right heart? Well, no one really notices those. We are amazing at curating our lives; at making do and getting by.
But I don’t think God created us to just get by.
He created us to run a race. He created us for wind in our faces, pavement under our feet. He created us to move and feel and take it all in; to do this life in step with him.
“Are you tired? Worn out? … Come to me …walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
I love those lines from Eugene Peterson’s take on Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus inviting us to learn how to walk differently; to stay in step with him and to not worry so much about our pace. Unforced rhythms of grace …
I am stubborn about this though. I can walk just fine, I keep insisting. The doctor with the x-ray in his hands raises his eyebrows when I say this. You see, he knows the truth. All is not well underneath my fine walking.
The mechanics are all wrong. All these years of stepping and leaning so that nothing hurts have built muscles in the wrong places. My rhythms of grace are forced and unnatural. I need to unlearn them.
What about you? Out of step anywhere? Making do and getting by? Forcing your tired heart and weary soul to just keep going? God wants more for you.
Come to me …walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
Often our temptation, when we find ourselves out of step like this, is to call it a bad thing; to feel like we’ve done it all wrong.
But I hear the good doctor’s words echo in my heart, “It isn’t bad or good. It’s just what is. You can learn to walk differently and it will heal.”
Unforced rhythms of grace have a way of building new muscles and turning us in new directions. But. They can take a little time to learn.
Come to me … walk with me … watch how I do it, Jesus whispers, I’ll walk right next to you as you learn; one step at a time.