Gentleness: What Does Not Work

Psalm 141: 3

Thinking and writing about gentleness has been a workout almost derailed for me as I was confronted with several non-gentle episodes right in a row. It was as if a barrage of taunting wasps bombarded me.

If gentleness is a cherished authentic for me are these incidents tests of my truth?  

  1. a co-worker’s email tirade
  2. a community colleague’s greeting of “I’m mad at you” as soon as I entered a meeting
  3. another co-worker asked me a very, extremely personal question in front of a group of people, including my boss
  4. the brother of a long-ago friend still carries a misperceived grudge and greets every person but me at a restaurant
  5. cars at a party at our new next-door neighbor’s house blocked our driveway/mailbox and the postal worker complained angrily to me even after I tell him the party is next door.
  6. a threatening email arrived spoofed from an account of someone who I trusted (it  required a different level of response than the other five)

 My habit- reaction is to kick a** and take names. But after you kick a** and take names, what is left but bruised butts and long lists? 

Our Be Gentle, Be Love course content  advises, “To achieve gentleness, you need to have a great power. This must be a power that can bind a power. You need to be stronger. You must have a great strength that can manage your own strength. Furthermore, you must have a self that can control yourself, or in other words, self-control.”

My friend, Jacqui rephrases the concept this way, “When gentleness is expressed, there is a great power which comes from within.”

It takes great discipline for me not to swat the wasps of nastiness or spray them with a serum of verbal poison. And believe me, I do not need to “buy a vowel” –several words and compact phrases (and a few gestures) readily come to mind.

Some approaches I’ve tried offer zero-sum results. They have not worked for me.

1. It does not serve me well to deny that I am the recipient of abrupt unkindness. My soul does feel it and the hurt is palpable. Acknowledgement is empowering, even if I never speak a word.

2. It does not help to anesthetize the pain or blow off steam with a myriad of unhealthy distractions. (i.e. new shoes don’t help my heart)

3. It does not serve me well to attempt a “go-to-my-happy-place” escapism. When I tune others out, it is  tacit permission for them to continue.   

4. It certainly does not nurture me to try and find the grain of truth as an explanation. This was such a BIG one for me during the last eighteen months when I tried anything to quell an angry man. In the car insurance business percentages of shared damages are analyzed and figured. But hearts are not cars. Pain is pain. knots

Twisting myself into a metaphysical pretzel to reason away another’s unreasonableness is futile and disingenuous. It sets me up to be accountable for you.

And I am kinda busy these days, with, you know, me… :)

Tomorrow’s Post: Gentleness Despite Hurt– Responses that Work
Day 21 Be Gentle Be Love

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