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“The Lord your God will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

My decision a few years ago to become certified as a spiritual director meant I would find myself a student again.  In my first session, sitting with the others anxious and excited, I was introduced to the phrase: “Be gentle with yourself.” Not a message we hear from the world very often. But it was one that rang true to me then and continues to do so each time I hear it. It settled me and brought me comfort. I’ve learned many valuable lessons in the last few years as I’ve been studying. Being gentle with myself and others ranks near the top of the list.  I think of the passage in the book of Hosea where God is speaking: “I was the one who taught you to walk. It was I who took you in my arms. I led you with cords of human kindness, with ties of love…” (Hosea 11:4) That passage speaks of God’s gentleness and tenderness which has been whispering in my life this past month.

Recently, after a spiritual direction session with a directee, I found myself reflecting:  If we could all learn to go easier on ourselves and on others, and to understand how fragile and imperfect we all are. It seems like we can so easily crucify ourselves or someone else for a human mistake. If we could just keep our eyes on the Crucified One and let Him show us the way He would have us go. God wants us to be all we can be. That is difficult when we are being critical of ourselves or of others.

I was sharing with my spiritual director about a relationship that was troubling me and my uncertainty as to what God was saying through it all. She tenderly responded: “Walk lightly.”  I am learning that the more that I believe that God is taking care of things, even fighting for me, the easier it is to be gentle with myself and with others—to walk lightly.

A question to ponder: When you are anxious, do you go big or do you go small? Both can have negative consequences in relationships. God can show us the path to balance. I encourage each of us to take some time in prayer with God meditating on His tenderness and gentleness to us. How might He be asking us to show this gentleness to ourselves and to others?

“Never give up on life and never doubt that every bit of kindness, every tender touch we lay upon another in life can heal what might otherwise have died, certainly in them, perhaps even in us.”
—Rule of Benedict, Insights for the Ages, Joan Chittister

I’ll end with one last quote:

“What we need are people in our lives who care enough about us to lead us through life’s various stages gently. If we chose spiritual people for our friends and our leaders, if we respected our elders for their wisdom, if we wanted growth rather than comfort, if we ripped away the masks that hide us and we were willing to have our bleeding selves cauterized by the light of spiritual leadership and the heat of holy friendship, we would come to the humility that brings real peace.”
— Rule of Benedict, Insights for the Ages, Joan Chittister

These words leave me deeply grateful for the people God has placed in my life, and their spiritual companionship and direction. Speaking of spiritual direction, I have updated my website to reflect my spiritual direction practice. To take a look, go to the home page or Enjoy the rest of your summer– gently.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Photo credit: Cathy Raney

1 Comment

  • Jenna
    Posted August 14, 2023 at 9:27 am

    Thank you for sharing, Cherry. “The Lord your God will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14. What a beautiful passage and truth. I was just reading another devotion recently that talked about God’s unwavering commitment to us. And how His commitment and love are perfect. However, in our culture, many people are often leery of commitment…I see this lack of commitment in many ways on a daily basis in myself and others. And I am prone to projecting upon God the undesirable characteristics of humans (including my own undesirable characteristics!) Which is why it’s so important that I have a community of spiritual friends/companions who are committed to following Jesus, so that I can receive wisdom and gentle guidance on my journey (and hopefully provide that for others too at points 🙂

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