Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gentle Is...Part 3

As you know, I've been thinking on what the word gentle means to me and how I have experienced this in my relationship with God. Yesterday, I talked about how I came to the conclusion that I have experienced gentleness in my relationship because He has shown me comfort, compassion, mercy and grace.

This gentleness that I have experienced in my relationship with God has also manifested itself in my relationship with other people. Now, not everyone may agree with my assessment here, but I'll go ahead and say it anyway: my approach and my reactions have improved significantly when I deal with my family. Somehow, they seem to get the raw end of the deal a lot of the time. When I've had a bad day or am at the end of my rope (or someone has bumped into my happy, as Lysa TerKeurst is fond of saying in her book Unglued), my family members are the ones who experience the raw emotion I'm feeling. I'm not proud of this, but many times I talk to them in a manner that I'd never speak to my friends or acquaintances, and I'm willing to act in a way that expresses my displeasure with the situation (even if it has nothing to do with them), all the while knowing I'd never conduct myself in such a manner around anyone else.

I guess part of it has to do with the fact that I feel safe around them, I know they aren't going to judge quickly, and frankly, maybe they're used to the rare Heather-tantrum that gets thrown.

All excuses aside, I know that I have the ability to act and react better than I do. Which is one of the reasons I'm reading Unglued.

I find that when I've searched out my Father, asking Him for the gentleness, the compassion, the mercy, the grace, and the understanding that I need (and He does freely give it, all I have to do is ask), then I am much more likely to show that same gentleness, compassion, mercy, grace and understanding when I have to deal with difficult or stressful circumstances.

My daughter and I tend to have the same...tendencies...when we react to stressful or disappointing situations. We both have the same penchant for raising our voice {ahem} and to show our displeasure rather than calmly voicing what is bothering us. It drives me CRAZY when she acts like this, as she is completely unreasonable and contradictory. (Am I talking about myself or my daughter?) I've probably not been the best of role models, but I'm working hard to make every day better than the one before. What I'm learning is to first be aware of what comes easily to me when I react and work to react in a more positive manner. The other day she was almost to the point of being absolutely absurd and silly, all because she was in a bad mood about having to do something that she didn't want to do. What comes easily to me in that situation is to demand she straighten up, get mad when she doesn't, not pay close attention to how she's feeling and discount her words (and my voice might rise an octave or two somewhere in there...). When I react this way, the situation will always escalate quickly, going from bad to worse. That day, I made a conscious effort to be calm and give her the chance to speak. I tried to be gentle with her, showing compassion, mercy, grace and understanding. I was still angry, sure, and so was she, but I found that when we were able to both voice our frustration without the, er, passionate reactions, the situation was actually diffused. What a relief!

I'm no expert at this, but I do know this much: the more I go to God to be filled with His love and compassion, the more I'm able to give it out when it's needed the most (But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23).

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