"Gentling" is a word I've made up to describe how I approach "brick wall" days - the ones when you feel like you're facing insurmountable demands, and your choices are to blast your way through with raw human will or to quit before you start. But often quitting isn't an option, and going ahead seems equally impossible.
That's the perfect time for "gentling through." It's a mental approach, primarily - a path of restful grace that recognizes that the omnipotence of God is always linked to the ever-presence and omniscience of God. It recognizes that God is the source of all strength, intelligence, wisdom, creativity, order, relatedness - even life itself. And, it recognizes that we, as the children of God, are the expression of God's being. We reflect or evidence God's qualities, and so our expression must be Godlike. The Bible puts it this way, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever" (Rom. 11:36).
Putting this gentling into practice involves patiently taking the steps you see right in front of you and staying very much in the moment. It involves refusing to ruminate on past challenges or to speculate on future outcomes. It practices gratitude for every evidence of goodness at hand, and trust in the divine promise of eternal goodness. Invariably, for me, the effect of gentling through has been that by the end of the day I feel rested, refreshed, and amazed at how creatively things were accomplished.
Take, for instance, the day I had just returned from a week-long business trip, and my mother-in-law called to say she was passing through town for one day - could she come for dinner tonight and bring her new husband so we could all meet him?
As I looked at the stacks of mail and the suitcases piled high in the hall, I hesitated, but how could I say no? The fact that she's a white-glove housekeeper, that there were no groceries in the house, that one of our children's friends needed a ride to the other side of town, another daughter had to be picked up at college an hour away, and I had a full day's work in my office didn't seem reason enough to turn her down. But, before I'd even hung up the phone, a headache began to nag dully. This day was a clear call for gentling.
So I put all the demands on hold for a half-hour and sat down to pray. As I became quiet, inspiration came. I felt God's assurances that He is the source of all the love, order, and dominion of being, and that the supply of these qualities to us is infinite. I also felt a command to let go of any pride about what a good homemaker, mother, and businesswoman I am. It didn't matter if we took our guests out to dinner, or even if the house was cluttered when they arrived. What mattered was God's love, and I could reflect that right now as I went about the tasks before me.
As I finished praying, the phone rang. It was my daughter, saying that she'd gotten a ride. A few moments later, the mother of the child who needed a ride called to say that she was unexpectedly coming our way and would pick her up shortly. The day flowed with offers of help and support until the house was clean, the mail sorted, the suitcases stored, the office work done, the groceries put away, and the roast beef dinner simmering in the oven. When my mother-in-law arrived, she said, "Oh Sissy, you made my favorite dinner - I just love your roast beef, and Jim will, too!" He did. And we loved him and wouldn't have missed that delightful evening together.
All traces of a headache had melted away quickly. I felt full of energy and peace. What a delight it was to see that the point of this day was not to get all of these tasks accomplished, but to further yield to being the expression of God and to watch how much of God's omnipotence was then expressed in the fulfillment of these tasks.
Gentling through is a good way to proceed all the time. You don't have to wait for a brick-wall day to do it.
The calm and exalted
thought or spiritual
apprehension is at peace.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)