If you’ve ever tried to pick up a bird egg from the grass in your back yard, hold a newborn baby in your arms, tweeze a splinter from the finger of a child, stack Jenga blocks on an already wobbly tower, you’ve practiced gentleness. It takes a lot of energy and effort, because if we wanted to or were not careful, our readily available strength would create some real havoc. Gentleness does not come easily. It requires patience, attention and restraint. Those are not things we do for fun. And like it or not, there are times that life calls for gentleness.
We usually think of situations that call for gentleness in terms of physical scenarios, where we are careful not to apply too much physical strength. But there are many more times that the situation calls for emotional gentleness. Just as too much physical strength at the wrong times can wreak havoc, too much emotional strength can cause far more damage. We forget just how powerful our words and tone of voice are. We don’t have to think long to remember a time when we or someone else used too much power by shouting angrily, making cutting remarks, spreading gossip, or using any of the other destructive tools in the human’s arsenal. So many times, gentleness would be the wiser choice, but that would take restraint and patience.
When we fail to choose gentleness with people around us (it’s amazing how gentle most of us can be with a store clerk but not with our spouses, kids and family members, isn’t it?), we expose ourselves. We expose our laziness, usually. Sometimes, we expose our hard heart for that person. Sometimes, we expose our fatigue. Regardless, strength shown when gentleness would have been the higher and wiser choice reveals our need.
Be proactive. Don’t wait until a lack of emotional gentleness costs you something of great value, like a loving relationship, or a broken friendship.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 (NLT)
Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.