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Gently and Quietly – an impossible project is born

I have been delaying writing this post for some time now.

First I knew I needed to do something, but wasn’t sure what. Then I knew, but was afraid to start. Then I was certain I would begin, but I still feel silly and terrified to share here publicly. Yes I could do this privately, but there have been so many times I have tried and failed, and no one knew so I could just sweep it away into forgetfulness… I will just come out and say it.

At 11:11am September 14, 2017 I began a project… That project is that I am not going to raise my voice (yell) for one year.

This is an impossible project. I doubt that I will complete it by September 14, 2018, because each time I fail I will restart the entire year. It’s the same concept as when I tell my children that their quiet five minute time-out begins over at a full five minutes each time they break the silence to ask if they can come out of their rooms.

It is an impossible project, but I am going to succeed because I will not quit until I have completed one year of not raising my voice – even if that takes me five years. I am a competitive person so I think that a one year project taking a decade is pretty good motivation for me to not screw this up too badly. However, each time I do screw it up, I am going to drag myself to this blog and let you know. Everyone in my family has authority to keep me accountable. For that matter everyone who reads this blog, has authority to keep me accountable. So if you see me lose my stuff in Trader Joe’s when I think no one is looking and my kids have touched one too many bananas and whined for one too many snacks… You have full and complete permission to tap me on the shoulder and tell me that my year starts over right then and there.

I don’t know what I will do when I complete the year… Maybe I will jump and scream and throw things, just because technically according to the rules of my project I can.

My hope is that I will be transformed.

Yes as a Christian I believe that transformation is the Holy Spirit’s work – Christ in us, the hope of glory. But He is a gentle counselor and will not force us to do anything we are not committed to ourselves. I think the whisper of this project in my ear is His gentle nudge after many years of patience and pruning.

I have grown up amidst believers, among the Church. I have read the scriptures that say I am to adorn myself with a gentle and quiet spirit. I believe it, I acknowledge that this is God’s word and must be his will for me, but I have been too afraid that gently and quietly would mean to be weak, used and downtrodden. I have lived loud and broken all the while professing redemption. I have lived in a world of men, leaving my Father’s house to go to my husband’s house and fill it with boys of our own making.

And then a little less than a year ago my daughter was laid in my arms for the first time, and I realized I had no idea how to show her the way of womanhood. I knew that I didn’t want her to follow my example. And I know that she will – so I must change.

But what will I have to give her?

A few months later as my husband and boys were on a campout, I carried her under orange trees, through a gentle garden breeze. I asked God to quiet me, to let me listen to him soft as the wind through leaves. I heard Him tell me that there is a gentle quiet strength that I have not yet tasted fully, a power that is stronger than volume or argument. I heard that this is His way, a beauty and strength that is not forceful, but is unyielding.

I am going to continue to blog about the past and present and future, but I need to share with you this great question I have wrestled with all my life… Can I be both tender and fierce? Can I be both obedient to my Lord and a unique and ravishing woman? Is there a strength that goes gently and quietly, why are we called to it, and how do we live it?

To that end there may be blog posts that are difficult for my family to read, but I will share carefully as I dance with the question of – what is this beautiful voice and power that our God has given us as women? I think there may be some sisters who benefit from what I share because we post our cute Instagram stories and yell at our children when no one is looking. We tell ourselves we are doing the best we can, and we live with a sinking hole in our chest, an unspoken ache that there must be a better way. Or maybe it’s just me… either way this is my time to lay it all bare.

So for the next year (at least) I will not be yelling. I desire to speak the truth in love. That may result in saying some things that may be hard to hear, but I pray that I will only speak with necessity and tenderness. I am now afraid to open my mouth and I feel the tears coming, but maybe that is the point. I pray that somehow the Spirit uses this ridiculous project to help me find the voice I was always meant to have. 

– this project is dedicated to my Mother, the gentlest, quietest, strongest woman I know

  • brittany - thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Wow… amazing and brave… and so very beautiful.

    The question “can I both be tender and fierce?” is one that resonates… From here looking in… dear sister, you ARE one of the most tender-hearted fierce warriors I could ever imagine.

    Do you know of Lisa Bevere? Girls with Swords etc… I think as someone who’s personal vocal settings start at “exuberant” and ratchet up through “preaching”, and “lifeguard” to “screeching banshee”, I marvel at the power of those who can stand, and quiet a room with their silent strength, and those whose voices pierce through the noise because when they speak, its an occasion. I LOVE your commitment to this… Praying for you, and for the heart change that will accompany, and I look forward to the ‘rubbing off’ your experience will have on me.ReplyCancel

    • sharon - Aw thank you! I will have to look her up and I LOVED your descriptions 🙂 Thank you for your prayers, I will need them! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - This year I chose the word “soft” as my word for the year, all the while feeling like it mocked me. I dream of being like my Grandma, Blanche, who never raised her voice. 500 plus times during my childhood she would whisper to me, “Kim, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

    When you wrote about being enough/not enough it resonated so much with me for this very reason, because every week I fail to gently correct my children and have to come to them asking forgiveness. The most humbling thing I have ever experienced is to hear the smallest voices whisper, “I forgive you Mom.” But though I too am longing to lead by example, I am grateful that He has softened my heart enough so that I can say, “I have sinned against you with my harshness. The words may have been true but the way I joined them with anger was nothing to do with truth, can you forgive me?”

    Thanks for being so honest here.
    Kimberly LockeReplyCancel

    • sharon - Thank you so much for sharing Kim! Also I think part of the solution is focusing on what we will do, not just what we won’t do… I have spent too many years feeling Im supposed to be silent, and now I’m trying to figure out how to share my strength without doing it at the top of my voice. xoxoReplyCancel

      • Kimberly Locke - I have one idea that’s working for me….. when a daughter needs a serious chat and I feel angry, I grab some lotion and take her to a private place, usually her bed or mine, and start massaging her hands. I do it silently for awhile until I find the words. The hard looks and closed fists and tense shoulders relax and surrender stroke by stroke. Sometimes I don’t have to say anything except, “Ready to get and give some grace love-bug?” and then she’ll smile, and we’ll laugh, and we start over, day after day after day.

        My son? We go for a run or bike together because I can’t yell when I’m doing that! He gets the hand massages too, but needs to move more.ReplyCancel

        • sharon - I love this, thank you for sharing! I have found that my oldest talks best when we are doing something and my middle son can’t resist a back rub. My youngest crumbles if I say I love you so many times that he starts laughing. What is hardest for me is when I’m so frustrated or overwhelmed that I don’t want to draw near to them. The other day during a difficult homeschooling moment I told them I was going to walk to the mailbox, I was praying and then saw a friend on the way and vented to and was encouraged by her. By the time I got back to the house (Grandma was home with them) they had worked through their issue and I had a renewed spirit.ReplyCancel

  • Charissa Steyn - Girl, this post so touched me, especially today, on this Sunday morning…a morning of tears and yelling with my hubby and my kids. But immediately upon reading these words, I feel a stirring in my sprit to join you in this journey. The verse you quoted, about a gentle and quiet sprit adorned my bedroom wall as a little girl, and for the past two years I’ve sensed the Holy Spirit drawing me into it more and more… What does this truth look like in my life, my heart, my home, my relationships, my writing…. I think this may be the next step. I have a tendency to yell, at least once a day, people think I’m a quiet person… And I am in many ways, but I feel not in the ways that truly count, if that makes sense. Anyways, thank you for sharing your heart here, I stumbled over your blog through the Wild and Free Instagram:)ReplyCancel

  • I haven’t yelled at my kids in one week and this is what I have learned… » Sharon McKeeman Blog - […] minutes after posting that I was committing to a year of not yelling, no matter how long it would take me to succeed, I […]ReplyCancel

  • I Haven't Yelled at My Kids in One Week and This Is What I've Learned - […] minutes after posting that I was committing to a year of not yelling, no matter how long it would take me to succeed, I […]ReplyCancel