It’s a new year.
It’s a new year, and I wish I felt pumped about it, but this new year comes hot on the heels of a really brutal December and I’m just not feeling the HOPE nor the JOY, nor even the INTENTIONAL, which seems to be THE WORD errbody all over Facebook is choosing as their Word of the Year.
I don’t even have a word for 2020. And I don’t even care. I don’t even care, y’all.
I mean, who can commit to one word for a whole year? NOT ME. Pshhh.
Do you have a word for 2020?
There is a word that keeps jumping out at me, though… as I was reading my BSF Bible study lesson a few days ago, feeling kind of overwhelmed and bummed and NOT INTO THIS WHOLE DADGUM NEW YEAR, one word caught my eye…
As in, the way Jesus treated everybody. In this case, it was his buddies who were supposed to be up praying with him the night before he went to his death, but they kept falling asleep. And Jesus was kind to them anyway, never harsh or sarcastic, never apathetic to their struggles.
They didn’t even BEGIN to meet His needs in a relationship, and He was gentle with them anyway.
I can tell you FOR SURE how I would NOT deal with people, if I’m going to my death the next day and needed them to stay up praying with me and they kept falling asleep… and it would NOT be gently.
Listen, I’ve had that whole list of the Fruits of the Spirit memorized since I was a kid. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. All that. I know that ‘Gentleness‘ is one of them, but TBH, I have never paid much attention to that word.
I mean, LOVE, JOY, PEACE, and PATIENCE… we all love those words.
Every religion and race… we all understand those words. MOVIES are made about love, joy, peace, and patience.
But gentleness, though? BLAH. That one’s kinda lame. Definitely not sexy or exciting. Gentleness would be the plain sidekick who somehow gets to sit at the popular table with her glamorous friends Love, Joy, Peace, and Patience, but nobody really notices or pays attention to her.
I mean, I don’t think I have ever given two seconds of thought to that word before…
Until December when my soul felt wounded and raw and life came at me with brass knuckles and more than anything, I just wanted… GENTLENESS.
For someone to please care about my feelings.
To just please let me sleep because I’m so tired and yet I cannot sleep.
To realize that I’m feeling a little fragile and stretched way too thin right now and I’m longing for someone to GENTLY care for me like Jesus cared for the woman at the well, and His disciples who fell asleep when He needed them most.
I picture Jesus’ gentle touch on these souls like my favorite yoga instructor’s gentle fingers on my spine or up my neck, reminding me to relax those tense parts of me…
I just recently realized, for the first time in my life, that I am NOT the most gentle person.
I mean, WHY I am just now realizing that, I dunno, but sometimes we are slow to see the stuff about ourselves that needs improvement…
I can be snarky and sarcastic and quick to say things that are harsh and abrasive and offensive ESPECIALLY if it feels funny to me. I mean, I’m kind of KNOWN for my funny social media posts, and the ones that get 172 likes are the ones that are slightly harsh and sarcastic and that is WHO I AM.
And I’ll be honest, I’ve always liked this about myself.
I am quick-witted and making people laugh feels GOOD to me. I am really GOOD at stringing together the right words to accomplish my mission, if I do say so myself.
But what looks good from a distance, like in my snarky Facebook posts, for instance, is not so good up close. THIS quality I have has turned so many people off.
I am sometimes not so gentle with people’s feelings, especially the people closest to me.
I can be rude. I can be intimidating, so I hear. If I had a dollar for every time a friend told me, “When I first met you, I was scared of you.” I chalk that up to shyness and preoccupation on my part, but still…
I’ve gotten better. In my younger days I made my friends cringe at the way I treated a cashier. I am not proud of it.
BUT STILL. I can be harsh and blunt and “I will always tell you the truth,” I say, but no one is grateful for harsh, cold, blunt TRUTH, especially at a moment in time when they might have been feeling like life has emotionally beaten them with brass knuckles.
And here’s another cold, hard truth that hit me right in the face: December may have been so hard on me because I was not gentle. I may have hurt a treasured friend, maybe more than once, and may have fractured a friendship I really wanted to keep a while longer.
I mean, this friend looked strong enough to handle it…
But even the strongest, toughest people bruise, too, sometimes way deep down in places that will be black and blue for a while.
You can’t take back UN-gentleness.
I wish I could.
It makes my stomach hurt every time I think about it.
And I don’t wanna be that girl anymore, the one who is so good with words that I can turn them into hammers or swords or any other weapon of mass destruction any time I want.
Maybe gentleness needs to be my word for 2020.
Maybe instead of proclaiming a big, ambitious, goal-slaying, boss-babe word for 2020, I need to lean in to Jesus more, and spend some time quietly being transformed by renewing my mind… and meditating on gentleness.
I found this definition online, and I like it:
GENTLENESS: not the absence of strength, but the application of strength to a tender situationDesiring God
I would like to care for people, and their feelings, as if they’re delicate and fragile, because we ALL are. We are ALL in pain and confusion and weakness and mess. We all need care and gentle protection, the way Jesus cares for a bruised reed or a smoldering wick. We all need to be carried like lambs and gently led by a gentle shepherd.
We all need friends who will apply strength to our own tender situation, and gently care for us.
Even the ones who look strong and tough…