2020. What a year. The amount the Lord has accomplished this year is overwhelming so in this post I just want to pull out some highlights.
In case you don’t know, at the beginning of every year I pray for the Lord to teach me something. It’s usually some area of my spiritual life that I’ve found very lacking. So on New Year’s Day, I spend time in prayer and then focus on that area throughout the year. Every year, God has been faithful to answer that prayer. And I guess I didn’t post it this year (so you’ll have to take my word for it), but this year I prayed for the Lord to teach me gentleness.
I’m not a gentle person by nature. At. All. I know it’s a fruit of the Spirit but I think it gets overlooked some. I’m more of a you’ll-be-fine, get-over-it, brush-it-off, drink-some-water kind of person. [Ouch] The more I realized this and the more I saw gentleness in others, I knew I needed to work on that in my own heart. So that was my prayer on January 1, 2020. I started studying it in Scripture, wrote down definitions, and watched closely people that I knew were gentle.
WHAT A YEAR TO PRAY THAT. There were SO many opportunities where gentleness was required this year! And sometimes I would think, “Lord, that’s it. I’m at the end of my gentleness here. I don’t have any more.” But always he would remind me of how gentle and patient he is towards me and my heart would soften towards those around me.
A pandemic requires gentleness. Dealing with the wildly differing opinions of others, the pain of suffering, the strokes of loneliness- I needed a tender heart. For effective ministry to occur to those around me, I could not have a harsh heart towards their opinions or feelings.
Dating requires a gentleness I did not expect. You actually cannot just plow your way into someone else’s heart, especially not a heart that has been deeply hurt before. I had to come in a gentle and understanding way. (And since Shawn is such a gentle person, it only magnified to me how un-gentle I was!)
Dating someone with children requires an extra dose of gentleness. I knew I needed to be mindful of their emotions and thoughts. I also knew the importance of fully and unconditionally embracing and loving those kids, knowing that I could get hurt in the process.
The more I practiced gentleness towards those closest to me, the more I realized this is how I should have been living all along. How harsh of a person I really am. And that gentleness grew and spread out. I’ve been hurt a lot this year (not by Shawn or the kids, lest you think that) and yet responded in ways I didn’t think possible. Instead of withdrawing (my natural response) from those hurting me, I moved closer. I was constantly reminded of Christ who came to US, to ME, and so I moved towards the offenders, not away. I was reminded that if not for Christ, I would never have come to faith and since he makes the first move in reconciliation, we as his followers do the same. We are called to be peacemakers.
In case you are sitting there thinking I did that every time, let me shatter that belief to the ground. Ohhhhh no. There definitely were times where I responded in anger. Times where my heart raged within me. If I struggled with anything this year, it was anger and selfishness. Or rather, the anger and selfishness I have in my heart were CLEARLY revealed. And it wasn’t pretty.
But I am thankful for the gentleness that God gave me where I certainly didn’t have it before. Like I said, THIS was the year. Little did I know how gentle I would need to be this year but of course God knew.
And so this Christmas I celebrate the One who comes to us to create peace. The Author of reconciliation. Oh come, let us adore Him.