We win by tenderness, we conquer by forgiveness. F. W. Robertson.
We Win by Tenderness – The Stay Soft Series – Part 3
On its worse day, being soft means to be: weak, spineless, frayed, void, shallow, without substance, fearful to the point of ruin, and painfully fragile.
On its best day, being soft means to be: vulnerable, tender, attentive, feeling, malleable, gentle, and intuitively delicate.
And on most days, there’s a fine line between them all. There’s a lot of crossovers. And unfortunately, we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater: in fear of being spineless, we’ve thrown out vulnerability. In fear of being shallow, we've done away with gentleness… You get the point.
A prophetic minister once told me (read more about it part 1 of this series) to “keep myself.” Over the years I’ve come to believe that The Divine was trying to tell me, through that prophet, to stay soft. And it’s long been my journey to figure out how to be soft in a hard world, how to be tender while being strong, and how to feel everything without coming undone by it all.
I wonder if perhaps like me, you’ve also been a person who's used force to be who you thought you were meant to be? Taking matters into your hands, pushing people and things and moments to bend to how you think they should be… Usually tipped in your favor? I used to wrestle my way to the front, take control of situations, yell and scream so my voice was the loudest… All to make what I thought should happen, happen. I thought that was how you won at life. (SIDENOTE: do not confuse this with protest and raising your voice for human rights and the vulnerable. Two different things.)
All the while, my soft heart was hardening. I was losing myself, rather than “keeping myself” as the prophet encouraged me to all those years ago.
On its worse day, being hard means: prideful, arrogant, unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling, stoic to a fault, and sharply stubborn.
Driving all “hardness on its worse day” attributes (and more that are not listed here), is self-protection. We harden so that we CAN be unfeeling: to the pain, heartache, unmet expectations, the unexplainable and inexcusable that we seemingly can’t do anything about. Sometimes life knocks us around, and so we harden, stiffen our backs, point our nose to the heavens, and charge on through, unaware that we’re raging like a bull just let out of the gate.
The irony is, sometimes it works. Sometimes being hard like that gets us places and things and achievements. But it almost always never ends up being what we want. We are hardwired for connection. It’s in our genetic and metaphysical make-up.
Being hard-hearted puts up walls that keep people out, that keeps whole hearted living at bay. That keeps us from the rest and peace (shalom) of God. All that being hard ever taught me was that isolation is a thorough sickness that damages the soul.
On it’s best day, being hard means: strength, tenacity, determination, enduring, stoic to the point of faith, and reassuringly reliable.
There’s no black and white way to be either the best of both hard and soft at all times. We can only figure it out as we go… Live into it, learn along the way.
How do we keep a soft heart in a hard world? We keep asking the question.
And remember, that on their best days, strength and tenderness always hold hands.
“We win by tenderness, we conquer by forgiveness.” F. W. Robertson.
Written by Lizzy Milani