I glanced at a book recently that was about the hate you communicate through your look and non-verbal communication. I’ve been thinking about that for some time now.
I’ve been teaching my daughter about that. So much of what you say isn’t said at all. You can speak volumes without saying a word. As a believer I’m fond of Galatians 5 where the fruits of the Spirit are listed, and two of them are gentleness and kindness. Those are two things I’ve lacked in my life, and I’m trying to make them more a part of who I am. I’m asking God to infuse me with gentleness and kindness, so that they will pour out of me to others. It seems to me that those two fruits can bare themselves without words. Brash and mean individuals abound in our world, but when we make a choice to be gentle and kind I think love will grow.
This is going to seem kind of funny. The Godfather trilogy is not something you think about when you think about gentle and kind, but there are moments in those movies where love is expressed. I think about the end of the first one where Don Corleone is with his grandson Antonio in the garden, and they are playing. The gentleness and kindness he uses with his grandson is enduring even when he scares the little boy. Even at the end of the movie when the family surrounds the Don’s grave the other Dons are respectful in the moment. Tessio continues to do “business” with Barzini, but they aren’t brash or rude about it in a Sonny Corleone way.
Gentle and kind for me sometimes is simply ignoring an offense. Christ instructs me to turn the other cheek or walk two miles with someone who asks me to go one, but if I’m being honest, and I am then I follow my paternal grandmother’s advice and walk away. That may be you, especially if you fight a mental illness. There’s no shame in walking away from negativity when those of us who fight mental illness are at a “disadvantage.” There’s a time to fight, but there’s a time to walk away.
You’ve been in situations where you’re familiar with the way things can escalate. Not a word has to be said, but a stare into the eyes or the collide of shoulders can quickly end bad, so draw boundaries when you anticipate these kinds of situations arising. Don’t drive when you’re angry. Don’t shop in the grocery store when your hungry. Don’t be around that toxic person when you’re hangry (hungry and angry). That’s a terrible combination
It’s not enough to go to church and hear the pastor say we need to be more gentle and kind. This goes beyond religion. It’s not enough to know someone isn’t well even though they say they are. Look below the surface. Read between the lines. Pray for God’s angels to surround us, but even more important than that pray that all of us will daily embrace the love of God to transform our lives together.