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In The Gentle Way: It’s Not Just for Delicates
By Meridith Fisk
I love my sweet, simple washing machine… Simple. That is why I love her. She has no pretenses. No hidden agendas or codes requiring higher education in cybernetics. Simply add the clothes with a bit of soap, close the lid, turn the crank, push the button…and walk away. She efficaciously delivers with clean laundry in a short span of time. Not half a day later. Not after the wet load is precisely positioned to bypass the computer’s algorithm for getting from Rinse to Spin. Not offering so many cycle options as to spur an onset of Decision Fatigue. She literally has no bells or whistles. Just simple, reliable results. In today’s complex times of war in our neighbor’s backyard, political fragility on our front porch, and walking around with our belts tightly cinched due to expensive grocery receipts, simple, reliable results in the laundry room sounds really good. Four years ago, I looked in the mirror. My reflection showed ragged exhaustion housed in an awkward combination of bloated skin and bones from a lifetime of standard American malnutrition, crowned by a mane racing to turn gray, but falling out faster in fistfuls. Cultural messages told me this was nothing that more make-up, time on the treadmill, hair-dye, and hot iron curling could not hide. Meanwhile, the most intimate relationship in my life was being nurtured by time together each night staring, not into the ocean-blue of his eyes, but rather into the eerie-blue light of a giant screen. Grab the phone. Dial the technician. I was teetering on the edge of breaking. My life was like a high-tech Samsung washer with custom settings, computerized sensing complete with a song of congratulations for each decision made and executed, that breaks 18-months after being taken out of the box because its motherboard lacks support to carry out all it claims to offer. The motherboard of my life was on the brink of frying up. My life needed fewer bells and whistles. I needed more Simple. “Do not let your adornment be merely outward - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God,” 1Peter 3:3-4. I shut my ears to the resounding echos of Rosie The Riveter’s propaganda and allowed myself to own that I am a Delicate. I turned the crank of my life to the “Gentle Cycle,” sorting out of my load things that were Heavy Duty, or even Normal, by putting them in a different pile or getting rid of them all together. My daily life became the creation of what my husband would later call the Gentle Way as I began to notice how my day to day choices impacted my body, mind, and spirit. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things,” Philippians 4:8. When there are two paths before me, the Gentle Way fosters true living. Seek the quiet, the gentle, the simple, in the basic areas of life: Food, Faith, and Flexibility. Nutrition? Keep it simple. Trust in God? Keep it simple. What does your body need today? Keep it simple. When the distractions are limited, we see completely, feel deeply, and hear others more clearly. From a place of rest, the fullness of Scripture soaks through the stains of the soul. On a quiet road, my neighbor is a living, breathing, human. The suds of life may be ever agitating, but with the Gentle Way as your only setting, Jesus Christ is sure to build your house. “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches,” Proverbs 24:3-4.