But I feel like I too often lack it.
I'm not a particularly angry or hot-tempered person in general, but some days I feel like I'm living the dual life of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The plain truth is that there are times I would be so embarrassed at what someone would find if they entered my home unexpectedly. I've actually surprised myself at the volume my voice can achieve when left to its own devices!
It's not just volume, though. I have said, in the calmest of voices, such poisonous things as, "Why don't you get it? We've been over this a million times!" or "I give up! I'm done!" (as she huffs out of the room like a three-year-old having a tantrum).
Now, the second it dawns on me what an idiot I'm being, I begin the humbling process of apologizing to my Lord for being such a poor example of one of His followers (ever grateful for the mercy and grace he daily, hourly, minute-ly extends to me) and making things right with my precious son. My heart always feels so broken and bruised after an episode like that. I can't imagine how his must feel, not having the maturity of adulthood to filter my careless words through.
Yes, I'm glad I know enough to ask forgiveness and clear the air, but, oh, how much better things would be if I would just consistently practice gentleness and have no need for trying to make up for things later. Yes, apologies mean a lot and can help heal broken hearts, but words uttered cannot be returned, cannot be taken back as though they had not done their marring job. Their deed has been accomplished and cannot ever be completely undone.
That is my regret.
I can't expect my precious son to not close off a little more of his heart from me each time I speak harshly to him. I can't expect him to not learn from my example and speak to others with such a lack of mercy and grace. I can't expect him even to get my point (or want to) when I present it in such a way.
Our household is pretty peaceful. Yelling really isn't what some would consider a problem around here. But every time I succumb to this ineffective method of communication (or to sarcasm or other unsavory ways of making my point), I feel it strongly in my heart--this is NOT right! Even a tone of voice that expresses my lack of patience is really not necessary or productive.
I'm not talking about letting Little Mister get away with doing wrong. I'm talking about me being more intentional about holding him accountable with gentleness. It's so important!
"Let your gentleness be evident to all . . . " Philippians 4:5
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
That's why I was so pleased to see the "Gentleness Challenge" on Women Living Well's website. It's for the month of January, and I definitely signed up. It is encouraging, too, to see how many other moms have joined--it makes me feel less alone as I strive to be a more gentle mom.
Let me know if you join the challenge, too! When I say, "join," I just mean commit to doing it. There are no forms to fill out or anything, though Courtney would appreciate a comment if you care to take on the challenge! :)