“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!