A Gentle Calling
January 8, 2018
“A body has to move GENTLE
and speak low
when wild things is about.”
from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden
I have two wild things I am raising, ages 11 and 14, and I have to be honest…I am NOT always gentle when they are about. You see, I am more of a “rub some dirt in it” kind of parent verses the “boo-boo song and rainbow band-aids” kind. But something deep inside my heart has been calling me to be a bit more gentle with not only them, but with others around me, and especially with myself.
The latest “gentle wake up call” came as I was sitting in the car with my 11 year old daughter, waiting for my son’s football practice to end.
“Hello Sunshine!” I answered with a smile. It was my sweet husband who had called to coordinate the next two hours of picking up kids, homework and dinner prep.
During the discussion about dinner, my daughter Rylan began chiming into my ear…“Don’t cook the potatoes….Don’t let him cook the potatoes…Tell him NOT to cook the potatoes!”
With each chorus she became louder and louder…and as I struggled to hear my husband speaking…I snapped and shouted above her potato-panicked pleas…“Stop it!!!”
Was I gentle? NOPE. Her face showed the shock of someone who had just been slapped as she slumped back down into her seat. And Patrick, who was still on the phone even said, “Is everything OK? Do I need to take her off of your hands for a while?”
My heart sank. “No…we’re OK.” I answered…knowing full well that “OK” was something I was NOT.
I was direct. I was honest. And I was loud for sure, but I was not GENTLE. I promptly apologized to her for losing my cool, and felt my soul stirred again by this call to be more gentle.
Later that week, as this feeling lingered, I searched Google for a little “gentle” motivation and found this gem that hit me straight in the gut:
“Criticism, like rain,
should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth
WITHOUT destroying his roots.”
I WANT TO BE GENTLE
“It was really a very simple thing, after all,
—it was only that HE HAD LIVED NEAR A KIND AND GENTLE HEART,
and had been taught to think kind thoughts always and to care for others.”
I forget sometimes to remember…that I will leave an impact on those around me. Thank you Frances for that reminder today.
MY NEW GOAL: I want my kids, family, friends, and even myself…to always live near a “kind and gentle heart” too.
RE-DEFINING GENTLENESS (at least in my heart)
But here is the challenge: Gentleness is not something that comes naturally for me. I grew up with two older brothers, and so to keep up with them, I learned to be bold, outspoken, direct, and confident. And while these traits have served me well in business and getting things done, when it comes to building relationships…I know in my heart that a more gentle way would be helpful.
And then there is this…
Somewhere along the way, I developed the idea in my head that gentleness WAS weakness. Am I the only one that thought this? And I certainly didn’t want to be weak growing up. I wanted to be strong like my big brothers!
“Sara was a very fine little person, and had a GENTLE,
appreciative way…which was very charming. ”
I have to admit…the terms “fine little person”, “gentle” and “charming” that Frances used here to describe Sara…make me giggle a bit uncomfortably…even today. Because while I can readily see these traits in others, these terms don’t always reflect the me I see.
So I have decided to re-define what it means for me to be gentle. Since I don’t relate to the “soft, docile or delicate” definition, I will shift my focus to defining MY gentle as being: Kind, Honorable and Free from Harshness.
But how do I cultivate gentleness in the chaos of life? My hope is that it is just this simple: By slowly and more purposely choosing my words before I speak. It’s a choice, and Max Lucado hammered this point home when he said,
“I CHOOSE gentleness…
Nothing is won by force.
I choose to be gentle.
If I raise my voice may it be only in praise.
If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer.
If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”
I too choose gentleness today for my family, those I cross paths with, and for the girl looking back at me in the mirror. And when harshness threatens to rear it’s ugly head again…I will remember this quiet call inside…and remind myself what I have learned:
- There is strength in gentleness.
- And that a gentle word can work wonders and accomplish miracles…(and who doesn’t need a miracle now and then)
- And that a gentle way can shake up the world!
And I am all for being strong…working wonders…and shaking up this world!!
Don’t believe me about the power in gentleness? Just ask these guys, because I learned it from them.
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.”“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
“A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.”
More Gently Yours,
FHB and Especially Me