White woman in red sweater holds up an animal bone
Like Jesus

Break it to me gently

“A gentle word can break a bone.”

As I crouched over the back of the chair to hear what my friend had called me over to say at the end of Wednesday evening prayer, my heart pounded furiously inside my ribcage like a camouflaged animal suddenly spotted by a predator.

How could he know?

How could he know I’d been praying for months, weeping and desperate, for God to change my heart and soften my tongue, soften my soul?

How could he know my reputation in high school and college had been as the friend who gives “tough love,” the one people come to for intervention and solutions, not comfort.

How could he know I shredded my husband with sarcasm and veiled accusations, horrified at my own behavior but helpless to stop?

How could he know my longing to be sweet and salty, to both correct and comfort?

How could he know my ache to be gentle without omitting the truth?

I left the sanctuary that night buzzing with hope. If God had given him this word for me, that meant I’d been delivered, right?

As days ticked by, though, I didn’t feel different. My tongue was sharp as ever, my words harsh, and my soul hard despite earnest prayer and trying to change.

But every once in a while, I’d hear those words in my mind again—a promise of God in my friend’s voice.

And slowly, too slowly to notice as it was happening, I started to soften.

I’d smile instead of attack.
Pause instead of respond.
Ask instead of tell.
Let go instead of dig in.

It’s been four years since my friend waved me over. Four years of shuffling steps forward and back at the gentlest pace; four years of chains and strongholds breaking under the gentlest pressure; four years of repentance and repair.

It’s a neverending process. I can always be more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, and self-controlled—all the things it takes to be truly gentle.

And so I carry on pursuing soul-softness day by day, trusting that the God who may break my bones will always heal them, remaking me ever more closely in His own image.

“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone” (Proverbs 25:15 NIV).

This post is part of Five-Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is GENTLE. If you’d like to join in the fun, click here!

21 thoughts on “Break it to me gently”

  1. Beautiful and profound. I share your journey towards softness, and I’ve never noticed that proverb before. May God continue to work in our lives in his gentle way so we may become more like him!

  2. “A never-ending process.” Just lovely. His way of dealing with us is always so kind, so cognizant of the pace of change we can handle. Thank you for offering us such a beautiful and truth-filled (and well-written!) story.

    1. Yes! God’s care for our pace and personality as we change and grow with Him is so beautiful. I love it when He reminds me of this part of His character!

  3. A gentle word can break a bone,
    and rip a soul apart;
    a kindly smile can be a stone
    to rend a beating heart.
    I want to be something like Christ,
    but my vain conceit
    negates what He has sacrificed,
    and offers dull defeat
    to aspirations held so high,
    of something I could give
    to those far beneath my eye,
    beneath the pride I live…
    Lord, cure this disability,
    and scourge me with humility!

  4. Lovely! Yes, I am on a similar life-long journey towards godly gentleness, and thankful for the gentle patience of the Holy Spirit as he works on me. And on you. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Visiting from FMF#33

    1. Yes, so grateful for God’s patience in this change! It really is a life-long journey–we will never be fully done until we are with Him in Heaven.

  5. This is sooo good. My tongue is sharp towards my husband and my kids in my frustration. This was a nudge for me to ask God for help in this area. Thank you!

    1. Oh gosh, I can feel your heart in your words! Praying for your respond to that nudge to be both humble and courageous as you begin to walk a new road of gentleness. It’s not easy, especially at the beginning, but with God on your side, there is NOTHING you cannot do!

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