“There is no charm equal to tenderness of the heart” Jane Austin
I am a strong woman. I am beautiful, talented, smart, loving, fun, and bighearted. I am also relentless. I wear an imaginary placard in front of myself that reads survivor, hard worker, over-comer, fighter, and overwrought.
Guess which list I have allowed to define my life? The first or second?
You guessed it — the placard list! Just thinking of it makes my neck tired. Holding that weight is not comfortable. Thank God, I feel myself outgrowing it. Survivor, hard worker, over comer, fighter, overwrought, and incautious aren’t working for me any more. What happened and why do I care?
Well, to start with, I’m tired. The placard I chose to wear is an identity I learned at an early age and it served me well. In survival mode, those qualities came in handy. It is when those adjectives become my sole identity, I keep creating for myself situations in which to use them over and over again. We are what we think, just as we are what we eat. Identifying as survivor leads me into situations in which I can prove my survivor skills, fighter leads me into battles, overwrought leads me into confusing and topsy-turvy situations, and over-comer brings me many difficult trials to overcome. Believe me, I can make the turn the best conditions into chaos in sixty seconds flat.
One of the miracles turning my world upside down…..and in the best way, is that tenderness entered my life. Tenderness of recovery, learning that I can contribute to life and to the world. Tenderness from a co-worker who told me what she really sees in me even when I can’t see it. Tenderness of children’s letters thanking me for loving them through very tough years. Tenderness of my mother, brother, and aunt. Tenderness taught me that I can, through changing of thought about myself, let go of the fighter/struggler identity and welcome a new one. One that is joyful and free! Tenderness happened! Wouldn’t that be a great bumper sticker instead of that other one – shit happens– . Tenderness Happens and creates life, hope, joy, and energy to stir in us again.
Couldn’t we all use a little?