Tuesday, January 4, 2004

Have I happened to mention, as father of one-year-old triplets and seven-year-old son, that raising children at very different developmental stages can have its challenges?

Leo, my energetic seven-year-old son, is a wonderful big brother. But alas, any seven-year-old will find themselves, from time to time, being over "playful" with the little ones. I find myself on almost a daily basis reminding him, "Be gentle with them, Leo; be verrry gentle..." Leo doesn't mind the reminders, as he even realizes that he can be a little rambunctious with the triplets.

And I am realizing that as Leo develops at his own stage, it's helpful for me to remember these words as well. Like all parents, I sometimes forget that his play and antics are his "work"; his learning and growing process into an adult.

In fact, today I offer this suggestion to you (as a reminder to myself as well). Perhaps it would not only be prudent but also very uplifting and releasing to ourselves to remember these words as we encounter so many lives across our path each day:

Be gentle with them. Be very gentle...

It is so hard to discern and understand the path of another human being. Think of your significant other, spouse, life partner and friend for a moment. And think about all there is still to know about that person. Now consider the more distant lives you cross paths with each day - whether face to face, car to car, phone to phone, etc. And of these persons, you know so much less of their life journey.

Why are they in a bad mood when you interact with them? You have no idea from where they have come or the struggles they have faced or are facing. Be gentle with them. Be very gentle... as you would like others to be toward you.

Why do they seem distant and cold and uncaring? You have no idea the decisions and pathways that have led them to their present place. Be gentle with them. Be very gentle... as you would like others to be toward you.

A flipped finger, an angry gaze, a harsh word - we may never know what motivates others to do so, just as others may not fully grasp our deepest motivations. So, in closing, I offer this personal thought:

Be firm with one's character, but gentle with one's soul.*

For injuring one's character leaves a person bruised, but injuring one's soul leaves a person crushed. So be gentle with them. And "them" includes yourself as well. Be gentle with yourself in your own journey and you will find that it will be much easier to pass that gentleness on to others.

* Quote by Lee Hoedl

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