I’ve got my lines. The words of encouragement and advice I pull out on my friends and kids, my husband, my mom, my sisters and the beautiful young women I mentor. I’ve certainly pulled some of them on you.
I bet you’ve got yours, too.
Perhaps one of the most oft used in my repertoire is this: be gentle with yourself.
Stuck in a cycle of self-critique? Be gentle with yourself.
Berating yourself over and over for your part in a conflict with a friend or family member? Be gentle with yourself.
Sick, but finding it hard to take the rest you need? Be gentle with yourself.
Exhausted and still have a ton to do before the end of the day? Continue on if you must, but be gentle with yourself.
Sometimes we go unfairly on the attack against others, but for so many of us the greatest battles wage inside, where grace wanders around looking for a safe place to set up home.
After my fall down the stairs in March, I experienced the return of a long ago problem: numbness on the left side of my body, from head through face and down my limbs, sometimes manifesting as pain, sometimes as dull ache, sometimes in tingling that makes me want to jump out of my skin.
Most often it reveals itself in a deep and draining fatigue.
I have days where it’s difficult to move, and in the evenings I usually feel exhausted, having lugged half a body around for hours. Lying in bed, I’m thinking about all the people for whom these kind of limitations are normal and might even be welcome from the place they sit or lay.
I’ve attacked my numbness. (Stupid as it sounds.) I’ve embraced my weakness, recognizing that this “weak place” has powerful lessons to teach. (It does.) Now I’m ready for the place that lives somewhere in the middle. The place that says you can pursue information and possible explanations from a place of kindness. You can put one foot in front of the other without a forget you, body, and all your dumb needs kind of mindset.
I can’t change this in my own timing, which would be like, yesterday. I can’t fight against the body that houses my spirit. And soon, I’ll start seeking out some new ways to care for myself. Appointments, when needed. More rest, likely.
I am recognizing that being gentle with myself right now means something different every day. Maybe more writing, maybe less. Maybe deeper thoughts, maybe fewer formed into words at all.
I do know gentleness means looking full in the face of the One who loves perfectly and without condition. I know that gentleness itself is a fruit of the Spirit, with love and peace and joy, growing into being from the heart of a life connected to the One.
The One who couldn’t love me more or less if I never left my bed again, if my left side never returns to normal.
Jesus’ love for me isn’t conditioned on how I feel, and mine shouldn’t be either.
So I just wanted you to know. I’m trying to take my own advice. Receive gentleness, receive grace.
What advice of your own would you be wise to listen to today?