Bestow on me, O Lord, a genial spirit and unwearied forbearance; a mild, loving, patient, heart; kindly looks, pleasant cordial speech, and manners in the exchange of daily life; that I may give offense to none, but as much as in lies live in charity with all men. By Johann Arndt (1555-1621)
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near Philippians 4:5
I am not a gentle person. I try so hard to be…. I study books and blogs on gentle parenting. I try to be calm and patient with everyone. I try to let go of my own ideas of how my life should be and just follow along with God’s plan, but I am truly awful at all of those things. I frequently complain and question why God allows certain things to happen. I try to take charge and then get frustrated when things don’t go according to plan.
Take this week for example. My special needs son is not doing well right now. School is out for the summer and his behavior has reached an all-time low: screaming, throwing, threatening, hurting himself and those around him, not sleeping well, waking up early, just out of control like he has forgotten everything I’ve ever taught him about being a functional human being, and I’m not dealing with it well. Instead of being gentle, calm, and patient with him, I’ve been giving in to my exhaustion, anxiety and frustration and have just yelled way too much.
I’ve been snapping at everyone around me. I’ve complained to God, “Why would you give me such a difficult child to raise on my own? What is the point? I can’t do this.”
To be honest, I’ve even been putting off writing this post, because I feel like the most un-gentle person on earth right now. My gentleness has NOT been known to everyone. However, writing this has actually proven to be a blessing because it has made me take a look at my lack of gentleness and resolve to do better. I have been focusing on slowing down and not responding quickly out of anger (as Treebeard says in The Two Towers, “Not so hasty!”). Today has been the calmest, quietest day we’ve all had in at least a week. My son hasn’t acted out as much, the girls haven’t fought as much, and it has been a very peaceful day. The kids even went to bed mostly on time, with very little complaining.
One thing that I have learned while reading about the fruit of gentleness is that gentleness and humility go hand in hand. Something I need to work on is remembering to apologize after I snap. I need to apologize to my kids when I yell at them instead of calmly answering them. I need to apologize to my family when they try to talk to me and I lose it. I need to acknowledge that my words (or at least, the volume of my voice) might have hurt them, and determine to have the self-control to not lose it next time.
God wants us to be gentle. Have you heard the saying, “Let go and let God?” This is a perfect summary of gentleness. Gentleness means fully letting go of our expectations for life and letting God take complete control, submitting entirely to His will. Easier said than done, for sure.
Mary, cause of our joy, pray that we receive the fruit of gentleness.
– Day 23, Novena for Our Nation
To Jesus through Mary - Adrianna Tucker