“Care is a state in which something does matter; it is the source of human tenderness.” Rollo May
Do you feel tenderness is a good quality? Are you a tender person? How do you express that in your life?
(Many thanks to Sue for today’s topic. Thanks to all of you who gave me suggestions. Again, it was hard to make a decision with a list of so many good topics. Next week the topic will begin with a “U” so please leave some suggestions for next week. I hope you enjoy today’s post.)
We often think of tenderness in relation to touch. A sore spot on the arm is tender. An overworked muscle is tender. A bruised place is tender. In these situations, tenderness is related to injury, but it is not always a physical experience.
We all love the sight of a mother talking sweetly and lovingly to her baby or small child. The action tells us she really cares and puts her ego aside to give full attention to this small one who needs to feel loved. When we express tenderness, we are saying we care.
Tenderness Is Masculine and Feminine
We also often think of tenderness as a feminine quality, and there are men who will hide this quality, if they have it, because they feel it is not masculine. The truth is that tenderness is not about gender at all. All caring human beings are tender.
My grandfather on my mother’s side was a carpenter. While he was hacking away at wood in his shop, making items for the house or to sell, he allowed me to play with the sawdust and discarded pieces of wood. I made fake food and doll houses and we said little to each other. He was definitely a masculine guy building things.
But when we were relaxing together, I would curl up in his lap or next to him on the sofa and he would gently stroke my hair, talk to me softly, read the Bible or tell stories. I learned early in life that tenderness was a part of masculinity just as it was part of the feminine.
Tenderness Shows We Care
The events of life often call us to express our caring in tender ways. Being with a friend who has lost a loved one is certainly one of those times. Our tenderness guides us to give hugs, cook food, and offer help in many ways. We want those persons to know we are there to aid in any way they need us.
Letting others know that we care about them is a sign of our inner strength. At times that strength may call us to speak up in ways that are not popular. We have to assert our position, but when that is expressed with care, even if our words are powerful, they are a reflection of what is beneath the surface, a tenderness that respects all humanity.
Treat Ourselves With Tenderness
Not only do we need to be able to express tenderness to others, we need to be able to express it to ourselves. When we are grieving or unhappy, we need to be gentle with ourselves, and allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling. Shutting off these feelings because we think they are a sign of weakness or disgraceful is not wise or healthy.
Stuffing intense feelings can create mental health issues, relationship problems, and wear down our immune system. When we feel emotional, we need to acknowledge what those feelings actually are so that we can begin to understand how to deal with what created this intensity. We must care about ourselves as well as about others.
In order to express tenderness, we must care. In this difficult time, although we are separated by the pandemic, we are fortunate to have electronic opportunities like Zoom meetings to connect with others. The masks we wear may cover our facial expressions, but our words and actions can still be expressions of tenderness.
May you care and be cared for with tenderness today.
© 2021 Georganne Spruce
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