Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption-Sinatra
Throughout my life I have tried to live a life of few regrets. In some regards I have succeeded spectacularily and in other aspects I have failed miserably. But since I have the immense need to make amends and dispense advice before I board that plane for China on Monday; I have decided to inform my children what my biggest regret in the world is with the hope that they will try to do better for themselves than I was able to do for myself.
Regrets are tricky things. If you are fearful, regrets are often too few because you never have taken yourself out of your comfort zone enough to do much of anything that might cause you distress or regret. In fact, often your regret is that you had no regrets because you played it safe. On the other hand, going off pell-mell-willy-nilly without thinking things through, well, in the worse case it can lead to tragic results. Yet, in the best of instances in can involve seeing your name in the police blotter of your local paper for something people will talk about long after you are dead and gone. Personally, I think it is prudent to shoot for the notorious remembrances that don’t involve jail cells or lawyers.
It often takes chutzpah to admit your failures and gain insight on how you might do better in the future which is exactly what a regret should serve to do. It takes more than brutal honesty to dig deep to examine your shortfalls. It often takes courage and really listening to the people you love the most as they dish about what they love about you the least. And so in that spirit I have decided to share my biggest regret which is this… that I have not been as GENTLE as I wish I had been during the days I have walked this earth.
Frankly…I wish I had been more gentle with my words, more gentle with the tone of my voice, and gentler when giving advice. I wish I would have been more gentle by holding my tongue, gentler in my touch, and that I would have been softer with my facial expressions. I wish I would have provided more plentiful and gentle/nurturing hugs, held my children more tenderly than I did, and that I would have gently laid down the law without malice or anger. I wish my first reaction to that first spark of anger would have been one of gentle compassion to myself and the other involved by refusing to allow the spark to turn into a bonfire and by allowing myself to listen in the hopes of greater understanding. I wish I would have understood that there are so many things that you will be remembered for throughout your life and I wish I would have appreciated the fact that if you are living well that the best thing people can remember you for your gentle/loving nature.
One of the gentlest individuals I can think of is Mr. Rogers. He once said, “I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings–ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else–we’re helping to make our world a safer, better place.” I wish I had taken these words to heart when I first starting raising children. Had I understood that my reactions set the stage for my children’s reactions now and in the future, I’d like to think I would have taken the time to develop gentleness and all it entails. I also think it would have been awesome to have really understood that to help our children deal with their feelings we have to be gentle with our own. I wish I had known that way back then too.
Gentleness is important. It is a calming influence. Gentleness is merciful, compassionate and kind. It is also wise, dignified and considerate.
Perhaps Max Lucado describes gentleness best when he says “I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”
Gentleness…its something we could all use a little more of as we go about our busy lives. Perhaps in practicing it we can become it. That is my wish.