Soft is hard to do because it is deeply counter-intuitive. It runs contrary to almost all the rules of the game I have learned.

Soft does not demand; it is tender and receptive. It feels no need to defend itself, or prove its superiority. When I get to soft, I am willing to admit that I may not have all the answers. I am even able to acknowledge that some of what I think I know may be wrong. Soft accepts that we are all imperfect human beings who only see in part. And yet soft does not accept shame or blame. It sees below the painful cracks and brokenness of the surface of life to the beauty, truth and strength that are my true nature. Soft does not seek control in an attempt to establish security in this horizontal, time-bound material realm of circumstance. Soft is willing to yield.

When I get to soft, I acknowledge my own failures. But I understand that they do not define me. They carry, perhaps a flavour of sadness, but no shame. Soft does not need to be perfect; it seeks only to be honest and authentic.

When I am soft I take responsibility for my own life and leave you free to take responsibility for your life. Soft does not tell you how you should be. It does not lay down the law expecting from you a perfection I know I myself cannot achieve.

When I get to soft, I let go of my expectation that you should be different than you are. Soft may eventually get to “No.”  But, before I get to “No,” I choose to trust that you are doing the best you can given the realities of your imperfect humanity and the way you have been formed and conditioned. And so I choose to start by opening to you as deeply as I am able.

“No” is capable of forceful action when circumstances clearly call for a strong word or decisive behaviour. But, having started with “Yes” always gives space for a more balanced and nuanced “No” to emerge.

So how do I get to soft?

I only get to soft when I discover the source of true strength. Paradoxically, the path to strength is lined on both sides by the awareness of weakness.

In 2 Corinthians Paul writes about his extraordinary spiritual experiences. But, in the midst of his description, he stops and reminds his audience that his experiences have not insulated him in anyway from the reality of struggle, hardship and suffering. He says that, in order that he might never forget the frailty of his human nature,

a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

There is, Paul suggests, a strength in me that surpasses all my weaknesses and is only known when I fully embrace my frailty as the path towards true strength. This strength is the reality of my true nature. I am a being in whom dwells the Eternal Sacred Power of the universe. In Christian tradition we call this Power Christ or God and say that we see it fully embodied in the actions, teachings and person of the man Jesus. But, the next step is to understand that, as Jesus was, so I am. This Power dwells in me. It is my true identity. There is nothing to fear. There is very little that can be taken from me which I am not free to let go.

I have nothing to defend. I am free see my hard edges and acknowledge my resistance. But at the same time, I can know that there is more to me than hard. Soft is always available waiting hidden beneath the surface. When I am willing to see and acknowledge hard, soft begins to peak out from beneath the burden of doubt, insecurity and fear that felt so paralyzing. Hard begins slowly to loose its grip. This is the power of love, the promise of resurrection and the hope of our deepest longing. In the end, soft will always prevail because soft is an expression of my true nature and a manifestation of the power of love.