I have been watching. I have been listening. I have been paying attention. And I have learned something about developing (or naturally having) a sensitive, gentle heart: even the gentlest of hearts gets tired. It opens one up to feeling a great deal, of intuiting emotion behind words and events and reacting deeply, even if you never show it outwardly. And that, dear friend, can be utterly exhausting. And that exhaustion can affect our ability to be gentle.
Several months ago (they can all start to run together eventually, can’t they?), my darling preschooler daughter kicked the bottom out of my proverbial spoon drawer. The hubby commented that I can “always find more spoons” but without the drawer to hold them, all I end up with are spoons all over the floor. The truth is that I was tired, as in “life is exhausting me and I need a break” tired. Green Eggs and Ham was tantamount to torture that night, as my girl insisted on “reading” it a second time herself. Even though I normally love to listen to her “read”, I was just tired and done, and tiredness is far from a recipe for gentleness for me. I was beset by sinus congestion and pressure/pain that had enveloped my entire head. And yet there were still things to do. This was not a case where “it will wait” was workable. Company was coming, Easter was coming, date-day was coming, a new bed was coming…there were things that had to be done! I was feeling, and often acting, far from gentle in those moments.
Like the writer in Psalms, I can feel myself crying out, “My soul is weary! (Psalm 119:28)” I wonder how (or if) I can ever get back to the replenishing that is promised in Jeremiah (31:25 MEV). I feel like I am swimming against the tide and it’s oh so wearying.
Tiredness makes gentleness hard, even (and maybe especially) with myself. If I am not careful, I can see my weariness as weakness, my difficulty in asking for help an insurmountable fault. I can see my being slow to grade a large set of assignments (only doing it bit by bit instead of in one all-nighter) as being lazy. I can see my humanity, my need for rest and recovery, as a fault. It’s a lie I can easily fall into if I am not careful. But that’s exactly what it is: a lie. My weariness is not a fault. It is a consequence of my humanity, yes, but not a fault. It is in such times as these that gentleness is having to be a conscious and deliberate choice, even if I don’t believe it. At that point, the crux is in the doing.
Right now, my soul is weary but I am choosing to be gentle with myself. I choosing to let myself off the hook for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) this year. I’m still going to post as often and as regularly as I can but I am not going to beat myself up if I miss a day or if I have to choose grading over writing or sleeping over grading. I want to write what is true and meaningful and helpful but I cannot do that if I am pushing myself to the breaking point, if I lose sight of the why within the action.
Dear One, if your soul is weary and tired today, gentleness can be hard. You won’t feel like being gentle, even and perhaps especially with yourself. Gentleness may take a conscious, deliberate decision that you may not quite feel as of yet. Keep doing it. I’m right there with you; you aren’t alone. Let’s keep being gentle with others and with ourselves, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Allow yourself to rest as best you can, recover as best you can, soothe and care for your deeply feeling heart. Being gentle can be hard but it is worth it. Choose your gentleness, over and over again. You may not have the room to feel it at the moment but keep doing it. The “feeling” will return eventually.