Soft Eyes

Meeting Hard with Soft with Troubled Teens By Renee Kim

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In a time of defiance, a child looks at you with eyes that would kill if they were able. Their mouths spout disrespect, false accusation, offensive words. They want us to fight back. They want to win by seeing us falter at their next biting, witty comment.

“I don’t think that’s what she meant by…”

“Oh, you don’t think?! Wow…”

And the barrage of how the adult doesn’t think continues for the foreseeable future. At least as long as the adult continues to stand there allowing the fight to continue.

Our response?

Soft eyes. Even if we must be firm.
Soft eyes. Even if we must clamp our mouths shut to keep from retorting.
Soft eyes. If we must speak, keep our voices soft, both in volume and tone.

Soft. They may hurt us, but they can’t win, because nothing they do can drive us away.

Firmness is a necessity. But our response should never be to meet malice with malice.

Oh, how I struggle with this. It is in my nature to fight. I’m often defiant. Sometimes for the right reason, sometimes because I want my own way, sometimes because I am ashamed.

I fought with my siblings tooth and nail. Hair-pulling, biting, pushing, hitting, throwing. My nature wants to show superiority, capability, strength, authority, control. But that is what Cain did. He gave in to the sinful, egotistical, violent, superior ideas of self-righteousness. And he committed the ultimate act of pushing away from relationship.

Soft eyes. Soft voice. Soft gives me the opportunity to walk away and breathe.

I must always return to connection.

I must model what it means to take responsibility for my defiance manifested in my verbal punch-throwing, my explosion-evoking tone, my dagger-sharp eyes. This apology is not laying down and giving up. It is in actually fighting for real connection.

Fighting for connection, softly.