When Being Gentle is Hard


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.

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Moments in Magical Modernity: II


He narrowly avoided the frazzled human who barged through the door of The Hollow Bean (affectionately known by regulars as just The Hollow), keeping his chameleon-spiced chai safely out of harm’s way. Bryan Banebridge breathed a sigh of relief as he made his way out the door and into the city streets. He immediately took a deep sip of his chai and its fortifying additive. Being in the city always set his nerves on edge, as it often did for most Earthborn Elementals. His missed his acreage but it was the cost of doing business, and his investors were mostly city-fold sheeple (what he privately called humans, while maintaining that most of his actual sheep were more intelligent) who were wanting to diversify their portfolio with the now-popular “Gaiorganic”. He rolled his eyes nearly into the back of his horned head, a cold, autumn breeze rustling his russet hair as he wrapped the slightly-fraying green scarf with its hand-knitted pattern of fauns cavorting around a lamppost a bit tighter.

Fairy-run coffee shops were his favorite (perhaps only favorite) thing about the city. The baristas always seemed to get him and know just what he needed at any given time. Since fairies were Talented, they were tethered to any particular Element and so seemed to understand…well…everything a bit better than anyone else. Especially Pearla…

Bryan felt the tips of his ears warm and cursed himself for a foolish kid. Crushing on a fairy, not to mention a city barista fairy, is nothing short of soul-stupid. Especially for a country farmer faun.

Making his way downtown, Bryan rode up to some obscenely high floor in some obscenely tall crystal-plated building (crystal being fifty times stronger than glass and cheaper to manufacture with an in-house alchemist in your R&D). Stepping out of the elevator, he was greeted and ushered in by a pale portly man. Short, squat, and fat he was, with a mop of white hair atop rounded his pate. His eyes were beady, his nose pert, and he really did look entire too much like a sheep for “sheeple” not to float through Bryan’s head. This man wouldn’t last a day’s work on Bryan’s “delightful Gaiorganic operation”.

The meeting was long and arduous, the men attempting to haggle, but fauns are nothing if not built of stronger stuff and with the endurance and patience of growing grass. Eventually, stuffy, sweating with the exertion and pining for their dinners, the men gave in. They congratulated Bryan on his business acumen and the latter, his next three years’ investments secure in writing, made his grateful exit. All he wanted was his beat-up pickup truck and the cold country air.

Maybe one last stop at The Hollow before making his way back upstate in the autumnal night…

Thanksgiving Grace


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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, I will gather my family around a table full of lovingly-made, delicious food, and we will indulge in feasting, conversation, beloved traditions, and spending extended time together. Tomorrow, I will remind my daughter of what day it is and its significance and help her remember all the wonderful things that we have to be thankful for.

But I don’t just want to leave thanksgiving on Thanksgiving. I want it to be a part of every day. I want to make sure that I don’t forget my blessings the rest of the year. I don’t want to forget them. Not ever.

Over the course of this month, I have been inspired by and written on grace. I have one week left and I know that there is still so much that I have yet to learn about the kaleidoscope facets and beauty of grace that I am simultaneously floored and chomping at the bit to see what comes next in this journey of mine.

I never want to forget the grace that has been lavished on me, both by the God I love and serve and the people with whom I share my life. In these holidays (and every day), let’s determine to extravagantly extend the grace we so desperately need ourselves, dear ones, and fill our homes with safety, love, kindness, and mercy.

When I am Graceless


There comes a point in just about every evening when a switch is flipped within me. A moment when I go from gentle, loving, patient, ever-bearing Mommy to a weary, prickly, cranky woman who wants nothing more than for her child to go the eff to sleep and for a lion’s portion of quiet to reign in my house again for the little time that I have left before my body requires me to sleep before  getting up and doing it all over again. In those moments, I have to admit to being largely graceless.

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A Thought on Thanksgiving Grace


Thanksgiving is coming up quickly. November is the month during which we are encouraged to be grateful. Grateful for what we are able to give. What part does gratitude have in grace? Does gratitude, acknowledgment of all that we have and have been given, make us more apt to be gentle? More forgiving of the shortcomings of others?

I hope so. And I hope we give thanks for the opportunity.

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From Golden Eye to Emerald Orb


For my dear friend Kat at TheKatWrites:

Dear Emerald,

Hi!  I know! A snail mail letter, right? I thought it would be a chance to practice my penmanship. I know it’s awful.

Thank you, Emerald, for always being what’s needed, for always being so strong, so hopeful. I mean, it’s what you are now even. Literally! The living embodiment of Hope! So appropriate! ^_^ I am ridiculously proud of you, Emerald.

How are your Mom & Dad? I hope you’re getting time with them now after everything. You deserve lots of lovely family time! And I’ll boot any big-headed little space elf who says otherwise. Things are okay here. Jon and I spent a week with Ryand’r after everything but I don’t really think he was doing any better when we left him and I don’t know when he’s coming home.

I miss my friends. I miss our friends. I miss the way things were, to be brutally honest. Even if we didn’t agree all the time–which obviously we didn’t–I miss just being friends. Being together. Life feels too much like a set of checks and balances anymore with my people.

Sorry, I didn’t meant to be all depressing. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you and I miss you. I love you, Emerald. All the time. You know that, right? I hope so. Hit me up when you’re back on campus and I’ll make us entirely fattening chocolate chip cookies and then you can watch me eat them while I whine at you to eat just one. Cuz that’s how it always goes, right? ^_^

Love you, Emerald. Shine on!

Bets

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Everyday Grace


There are few places where I have learned, been offered, and practiced grace more than in my job. I’m a teacher. Middle school English and Language Arts. Yeah. See what I am driving at? School provides an obscene number of opportunities. Education, definitely, but also for growth, maturity, dealing with failure, kindness, and, of course, grace. Every moment is a big-decision moment, and every student is a potential big decision. Therefore, I have to judge each one, weigh each one, sometimes in only a thought’s worth of time.

There are times when a child just desperately needs grace. Even the most ornery of teenagers. They don’t know what to call it. They don’t know what to ask for. But they need it and they know they need it. They need grace. They need to hear, “It’s okay. You’re okay. Take a breath. It’s okay.” Then you will see those captured lungs exhale and they actually start the act of breathing again. The tension releases maybe just a bit but every little bit helps.

It’s rather a microcosm of life as a whole, that moment, isn’t it? We all, at one time or another (usually more), desperately need to be told that it’s okay. Our shortcomings aren’t the end of the world. Our mistakes haven’t destroyed all we hold dear. We aren’t left helpless and hopeless. We just need to hear:

It’s okay.

You’re okay.

You will be okay.

In those moments, we all need someone to extend a little grace to us. For some of us, it’s often the permission that we need to give ourselves a bit of grace. I’ll admit it, I’m about to hit that wall, I think. Thanksgiving is coming and, with being back to full-time teaching, that makes tidying up and readying the house for company a much bigger chore than when I was a stay-at-home mom and could parcel the work out over more hours in a day. I don’t have nearly as much time now to Tetris away the toys in the living room and the everyday stuff on the kitchen table, air out the house, rearrange the cupboards, and clear off the kitchen counters. I know myself and my stress level well enough to know that, (much) sooner than I’d like, I’m going to need someone to tell me, “It’s okay. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The family will have a great Thanksgiving no matter what.” I’ll need someone to remind me to give myself permission to see okay as good enough, permission to not be perfect, permission to just be.

Will you stay close? I’ll stay close to you, too.

It’s okay. We are okay.

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