Gentleness in Stressful Times

by Janet Aronson

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32

It’s been a tough time, even for the healthiest of us. We are learning to live in a new reality, a new way of looking at ourselves and others. Some are coping well, some not so well. We tend to disagree about how this time is being handled by our leaders, our friends, our families. Gentleness in a time of crisis is vitally important. When we look to Jesus, we see that he was gentle when he dealt with sinners. He was kind and good and compassionate. Gentleness toward others is a fruit of the Spirit that shines in the difficult times. One thing I see, in these times is how stressed we are and how that impacts everything.

One aspect of gentleness is how we treat others. When stuck at home with family members, patience can run out. Our attitudes can become negative. Gentleness may disappear. These are the times when we must call on the Spirit to help us to really see the other person and love them through this tough season.

Another aspect of gentleness; being gentle to ourselves. Self-care gets a lot of attention these days. Just type in those words in your search engine and your will find over 3 billion places to go. Yikes! Didn’t Jesus tell us to deny ourselves? Aren’t we supposed to think of others first? Yet, self-care is important.

I tend to be hard on myself. I judge myself against a standard that I can never live up to. I push myself to care about others, to do the right thing, to live out the fruit so that others will see Jesus in me. What I don’t do is treat myself the same way as I treat others.

I tend to listen to the voice in my head that tells me I could do better, more. I tend to beat myself up for my mistakes, my imperfections. I tend to drive myself crazy.

This is not gentleness.

Those of you who are trying your best to teach your kids at home, be gentle with them and with yourself. Don’t expect perfection. Do the best you can and let them do the best they can.

Those of you who are caring for family members, remember that God loves you and them. He knows you need rest. He knows you need a moment to yourself. He said that his yoke is easy. Invite him into your day.

Those of you who are alone and lonely or sick and tired, remember that God loves you and that you are important to him. Allow yourself the blessing of this time of rest. Pray for others as they come to mind.

When God called us to think of others more highly, to love our neighbor, to bear each others’ burdens, he didn’t call us berate ourselves when we fall short. The times are hard enough without that!

Everything you do today matters. A little self-care is okay. Stop and have a cup of tea or cocoa and breathe. Forgive yourself and others, just as God forgives you. Then get back to the task at hand. We can do this.

Lord, help us to remember that we can only do your will when we are filled up with your Spirit, when we have rested in your arms, when we have been gentle to ourselves. Help us to see ourselves as you see us. Amen

Janet Aronson is an author, speaker and life coach. Her book, Marking Time with Mark is a devotional through the book of Mark which came out on her 70th birthday. She writes a daily devotional on her Facebook page called Stepping Up: Growing Up in Christ Together. Janet is passionate about discipling others and encouraging them in their walk with Christ through writing, speaking, mentoring, and coaching. She graduated from Boston University in Music Education and has her M.Div from Bethel Seminary.Marking Time with Mark: A Devotional Journal on the Book of Mark by [Janet Fisher Aronson]

Janet’s book is available on Amazon, or you can email her directly and she’ll mail one right to you!

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