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?
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So much easier for us to speak good things to others, so hard to hear it ourselves. Listen to yourself and the One who made you and knows you. Peace to you my dear friend.
This is so hard. I’m struggling with this very thing right now. I’m pregnant with twins and in pain and exhausted, but it’s difficult to be kind and gentle to yourself when nobody supports that or is willing to lend a hand/ear when you desperately need it. It’s painful to be left to fend for yourself in every way. I will try try to be gentle to myself, even though others are not.
Thanks for the words.
Stacey, I am praying for you in this place of pain and exhaustion, and particularly for all these ways you feel so alone in it. I know how that intensifies the pain, and I am so sorry. I am praying, too, that you would know the God who is your strength in weakness and the God who perseveres on your behalf. Bless you and these beautiful lives growing inside you. None of your love and efforts for them is wasted. This moment, today, tomorrow, you are loved, Stacey, you are loved.
Dearest gentlest Ashley…so sad learning that once again you’re suffering with this! I echo your “yeses” – yes to exploring options, yes to appointments where necessary, yes yes to rest and gentleness in every form you can find it! Yes to listening to the changing needs of your body, mind and spirit. Yes to opening gently to the love meant just for you, just where you are. May blessings, love and grace seek you out and find you! I love you dear girl and wish I could take this from you!
I’m so sorry to hear of your pain Ashley & urge you to be gentle on youself as you so many times have said to me! I love you & am praying for answers & healing for you.
I personally need to listen to myself about going to bed earlier as tiredness is a constant struggle for me yet I’m not disciplined about letting go of the tasks before me & just going to bed! :(
Ashley dear heart, I am wanting to embrace you in the biggest hug possible. You are so brave. Yes it is easy to play the glad game and to count your many blessings and to see and know how much more fortunate you are to others, but at the end of the day pain – that doesn’t go and when you can see no end in sight, is just not fun and is completely draining. I’ve been there. It is so hard when there are no answers. I sooo admire you.
Bless you, dear Fiona. How you encouraged me tonight. I’m so sorry you’ve been there too. One beautiful outcome I’ve seen from pain is the ability to show compassion to another from that place of understanding. Thank you for that gift from you to me. And I wanna hug you back!