Every week I visit my local hospital and spend time with patients in the rehabilitation wing. I go because I know what it’s like to stay in a hospital, and what it’s like to spend time with a loved one there. In the first instance, there are never enough visitors. In the second, it’s stressful for everyone. Your anxiety shoots through the roof. Being in a hospital, and spending time with family in one are scary experiences.
During my visits I typically tell patients three things:
– Work hard during rehab sessions. Rehab is training for the Olympics that is your life.
– Listen to your body. Being in the hospital, is stressful. It requires a lot of energy. Physical energy, and emotional energy. If your body is saying you need a nap? Give in. Indulge yourself. If you’re sad and need to cry. Let yourself do just that also.
– Be gentle with yourself. We want healing to happen as quickly as a microwave heats a slice of pizza, or pops a bag of popcorn. Instead healing takes place the way snow falls, one flake at a time. As folks in Boston have learned, one flake at a time, adds up.
Growing in faith involves three similar disciplines:
– Instead of working hard at having more faith, or trying to live on the outside like Jesus, let yourself be present to the people that are part of your life. Do that and you’ve taken a step towards being Jesus for them.
– Listen to your body, and bring it with you to worship and prayer. The aches of your heart. The pressure of living. Your anxiety, hurt, and fear. Notice them. Bring them to Jesus, and remember, you are already his body in the world.
– Be gentle with yourself. So many things in our culture encourage us to think about ourselves first. To consume, and want more. If you find yourself busy and without any room for anyone in your life besides yourself? Don’t beat yourself up. Growing in faith happens slowly, bit by bit. If you beat yourself up, all that will do is shame you. You’ll think you’re a bad person, and not simply someone who made a mistake.
For me, the three points are mantras to hold and review.