What does living non-violently mean to me? What does it look like?
It means living in tune with my body, her needs and her preferences; working with rather than through. It means taking a gentle approach to newness – of exercise, of diet – no sudden changes, but giving my body time to adapt and respond, letting her give me feedback as I move towards greater health.
It means living in tune with my self, my natural ways of being, my own loves, letting them shape my life.
It means parenting in tune with my children’s natures as well, learning about their natural styles of communicating, of learning, of loving, and working with their needs rather than my wants.
It means walking gently with the earth, using renewable resources and avoiding non-renewable ones as I am able. It means choosing products which have minimal impact on the natural world around us – in their production, in their transportation to us, in their use, and in their (and their packaging’s) afterlife (such as being aware of what is in our cleaning products and how those ingredients effect the streams they end up in). It means celebrating and being grateful for the plants which nourish and sustain us. It means composting, going vegetarian – if not vegan; it means not using (or supporting use of) chemicals to control the plants I eat and those around me. It means selecting materials which allow the earth to breath and absorb. Less concrete. More natural colour and texture.
It means choosing less processing – of food, of clothing fabrics; it means less dyes (and bleach), less plastic.
It means choosing a power company based not solely on price, but where they get their energy from, how they cooperate with the earth, how they support their employees.
It means fair-pay and fair-respect. And fair honouring of those who don’t get paid at all.
It means less purchase and use of items which cannot be recycled or reused; it means buying secondhand more; it means making do, repairing, upcycling, or doing without. It means choosing cloth over paper towels. It looks like washing rather than throwing away. It means voting with our money and our time – and being deliberate with both.
It means preferring the natural rhythms and randomness over enforced, imposed order. It means working with the cycles of the earth – seasons and days, and the cycles of my body. It looks like welcoming the different seasons of my life and the shifts of aging. It means celebrating the differences they all bring, being open to the gifts they offer. It means working with our natural rhythms, not using stimulants and relaxants to force our way through. It looks like rising with the dawn and slowing down with dusk. It means being deliberate with how we use our time, so we can be less rushed and less stressed, so we can live generously and patiently.
It means less harsh words, less critical self-talk. It looks like less careless words and more companionable silence.
It means welcoming difference – in others, in ourselves, in the things around us. It looks like mismatched chairs and odd mugs; well-loved furniture and mended clothes.
It means generous giving, not selfish grasping; open hands, not closed fists. It looks like mindsets of plenty, not of scarcity. It looks like release instead of restriction.
It means using the good china, the silverware, the crystal – just because, to delight in it now, not saving it for a later which may never come.
It means accepting breakages and stains as part of life well-lived and objects well-used, building in memories as they travel down the path to well-loved.
It means less plucking, less waxing, less dyeing, less concealment of imperfections. It means a gentle softness towards ourselves and the bodies which are part of us in this life. It means comfortable clothes and shoes, wearing things which support us towards health, not wearing things which contort our bodies or restrict our movement.
It means making room for both logic and intuition. It looks like heart and mind working together as one.
It looks like holding space for each other’s awkwardness and messiness; softness for each other’s unsmoothed edges. It means less trolling and more cheering. It looks like speaking up early; it means trusting each other’s words.
It means coming home to ourselves, and allowing and empowering others to do the same.
It means looking at things holistically, more than breaking things down and separating things into tiny pieces.
It looks like coming together.
It looks like rhythm and flow.
It means being good and kind to ourselves and to each other.
It looks like leaving things better than we find them – in our mundane day-to-day living, and setting up the next generation well to do the same.
It means taking responsibility for our actions, our words, our thoughts, our energy. It means being deliberate about what technology and media we allow in, and which we keep out. It means teaching our children to do the same.
It looks like being pro-active about healing and harm-prevention. It means more fences at the top of cliffs and less need for ambulances at the bottom.
It looks like standing our ground and holding our truth. It looks like not putting up with theologies and systems which lead to death, but chasing after the Life-giver.
It looks like living a life of love, a life after God. It means breaking the swords and tending the ground beneath our feet.
It means being ruled by love, rather than loving the rules. It looks like actively moving away from shame and guilt, away from pounding drums and thundering heartbeats.
It looks like taking action based in love, it means living out our faith, not just holding it in stillness.
It looks like grace poured out and love overflowing. It looks like life abundant.
No, I’m not living this, not all of it, and not by a long short, but it is where my heart and soul are leading me. I’ve been slowly leaning towards living healthfully with myself, with others and the world around me, slowly making choices towards this non-violent life. Some of these ideas have been brewing for years, others have only surfaced recently (and I hold the right to edit this as I live into it). It’s how I see the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – taking form in my life.
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