Be gentle.

self-care well-being Jan 18, 2019

For a majority of my life, my dad’s hands have been rough with calluses. In the wintertime the skin was often dry and cracked from the cold. Occasionally his hands were stained from the projects he was working on at the time – green from working on the lawn mower, black from fixing a car, brown from weeding the garden.

Regardless of their state, I could always feel a power and strength in them. A strength in his safe grip, their ability to carry and lift literal weights in my life as well as figurative ones. A power and comfort in them from the generosity of his spirit – his willingness to serve and be there whenever I might need him. Even a strength in their gentleness.

One of my earliest memories is of him braiding mine and my sister's hair after we took a bath. Those were the days when his t-shirts fit us as “nightgowns.” :) After our bath he would very carefully brush out our wet tangles then, just as carefully braid our hair into a short, simple braid. I could feel the unfamiliarity of the task in his movements, yet he always made sure to never give even the slightest pull or yank. The strength and power I knew were in his hands combined with the gentleness he used taught me to trust him.

From his hands I learned gentleness is strength and strength is gentleness. It is easy to be the opposite of gentle – to be rough – anyone can do that. Strength, however, is exercising the discipline to be gentle…even with ourselves, regardless of the mistakes we have made.

We are rough when we deprive, deny and ignore what we need…whether that is rest instead of exercise, sleep instead of entertainment, nourishment rather than emptiness, connection rather than withdrawal. We are rough when we yank ourselves into position to stretch, to be a certain thing, to fulfill someone else’s expectations, to disregard our boundaries. We are rough when, for motivation, we use demeaning thoughts about our worth, our bodies, our personal image, or our mistakes to abuse ourselves into doing something. 

Exercising gentleness with his hands when they contained so much power and strength taught me to trust him. They also taught me that I … I can be gentle with myself.

Only when we exercise the restraint to be gentle with our own person can we trust ourselves to be unfailingly gentle with others. And, it is in being gentle with our own self that we truly learn to trust ourselves.

You are worthy of your own gentleness. Be gentle with yourself.

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