I’ve mentioned before that if you are not following a verse of the day you should. A few weeks ago Philippians 4:5 popped up and the line blew me away: be gentle. I’m not gentle. I’ve believed the lie that to be gentle you are fake or just naturally sweet, kind, and nurturing. If you are gentle you aren’t being authentic, yet, gentleness is an attribute we are commanded to exhibit.
Take the idea of gentleness and apply it to any situation, and see how the situation could change. It’s obvious for times of conflict. My conflict stance is to have a firm, unwavering voice (usually full of anger), planted feet, a hand on the hip or waiving in the air, and a scowl. But what if it was softer – an arm around the waist (for those who know you), head to head, and a gentle whisper. How differently would my kids respond to this? It speaks of intimacy, love, care, and grace.
Here is another exercise I suggest, say these lines and notice a rest in your soul.
Be gentle when you have been wronged
Be gentle when you are right
Be gentle when you are angry
Be gentle when you feel defensive
Be gentle when you have done wrong
Be gentle in your thoughts
Be gentle with your words
Be gentle with those you love
Be gentle with those you don’t know
Be gentle with yourself
When I originally wrote these lines above I could feel relief in my soul. This is the answer for me. I struggle with social anxiety, especially with people new to me. When I don’t know how I will handle an upcoming situation, a feared tragedy or conflict I know gentleness is the answer. If I can conquer this at home I believe that any situation outside my comfort zone will easily be met with gentleness. The habit of gentle is likely difficult, I have 37 years experience leading me to anger when mad or scared but think of the benefits. Think of how growth can happen in a tended, weeded, and loved garden, rather than one of hateful words and shameful thoughts.
Here is the verse in its entirety:
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
I hope you feel encouraged by this post. If this touches you and you want to talk about it but don’t want to comment, send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to talk about this subject with anyone interested.