Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Gentleness - The Way We Speak Matters


The eighth fruit of the Spirit is gentleness.

To be honest, this is the one fruit I struggle with the most.

I did not sleep well last night.  Lots of worry, anxiety, thinking, and prayer.  I'm not a fan of these kind of nights.  Nights where I am wrestling with both myself and with God.

Actually, I'm not sure any of us are fans of anxiety, worry, or the lack of sleep they bring with them.

As I tossed and turned, I began a conversation with God.  I traveled over all the events of my life.  My marriage.  My divorce.  My next two relationships.  I began to let the Holy Spirit show me things, experience all the feelings, and lead me through the emotions and prayers.

I have always struggled with gentleness, and I come about this struggle honestly.

Both my Parents were traditional Italians.  While they were not abusive or mean, gentleness was not a character trait they possessed. But they, too, came about this honestly.

My maternal Grandmother was widowed at an early age with three young girls to take care of in the 1940s.  She went from being adored by a husband that loved her and a stay-at-home Mom to having to work full-time to survive and provide for her little family.  She became mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive to all three of her daughters, who then grew up with their own set of problems resulting from that abuse.

My paternal Grandparents were not abusive to their children, but they did rule their home and raise their children as most Italian families in those decades.  There were rules to be followed, and if you didn't follow those rules, you got a good dose of yelling and probably some physical "reminder" of why you should obey your parents.  Both my Grandmother and Grandfather had a lot of siblings (10 and 12, respectively), so their lives were always filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, and days full of food and fun.

Growing up, love was always present to my brother and I.  But still, neither one of our parents possessed a characteristic of gentleness.  If I had to pick, I guess my Mother was the more gentle of the two with her love of nature, gardening, and animals.  My Father was probably gentle somewhere deep down inside, but it was harder to find and pull out.

As each one aged, their personalities changed and we began to see the gentleness emerge.  It was incredibly moving to witness, and I am so glad this fruit of the Spirit was present in their lives before they passed away.  I like to believe it was always there.  Life just got in the way.

The longer I live, the more I grow to understand that my parents weren't the only people to struggle with gentleness. This eighth fruit of the Spirit seems to be one of the hardest fruit for us to grasp as humans.  It's only natural.  We were born with a sin nature, and we live in a fallen world.  Therefore, being kind and gentle will never come naturally to us.  Our inherent sin nature will always wage war against the gifts God bestows upon us as His children.

Of course, and this goes without saying, there will always be people out there who are inclined to produce gentleness more easily than others.  Don't compare yourselves to them, but remember, as you struggle with this eighth fruit of the Spirit, we are constantly at war against ourselves.  Gentleness may not come naturally to you, but it is still a fruit of the Spirit we can work on and cultivate daily.

Situations where we are under stress or where we might feel we are be being challenged or targeted or maybe even situations where we may have to make a difficult decision can cause our gentleness to quickly flee from us.

I'm sure we are all guilty of not being as gentle as we could have been.  And I'm equally as certain we have all been the recipient of someone not being gentle to us.

Not too long ago, I had the unpleasantness of standing in my church's parking lot one Sunday morning after church services, beside my car, for almost an hour while someone ran through their entire list of why I was not a good person, example by example.

I stood still - silent and listening - without reaction (trying my very best not to cry or respond with why I was not all those things on their list) - as they presented their proof.

I could see their anger.  I could feel their hurt.  It was palatable.  They wanted to invoke my reaction.  I refused to give it.  I stood still and silent, listening to them and silently praying for God to give me the words to relieve their hurt.

Sometimes, being gentle is hard when we have been hurt and are angry.  Sometimes, gentleness is simply remaining silent in a situation when a person just needs you to listen to their hurt.

Why don't we stop this morning, while we are reading this post, and take some time to pray about our lives?  Look deep into who we are, our past experiences and relationships, and ahead into the new futures God is blessing us with.

Maybe God will begin to reveal situations where you could have exerted more gentleness into a situation or to an individual.  Maybe He will open doors and opportunities for you to show gentleness in a future situation or to that person one more time.  Be open to what the Lord is showing you through this time of prayer and reflection.

When we study all nine fruits of the Spirit, we understand where we are lacking (what areas need more care and cultivation) and we begin give ourselves the grace to forgive ourselves and others for past mistakes.

We begin to learn what God desires from us daily.  We grow in wisdom, bravery, and courage as we forge into our new lives and futures.  One that Jesus promises to travel with us.

What is Jesus asking you to do today?

Who do you need to forgive for their ungentleness toward you?

Who needs to accept your forgiveness for your ungentleness toward them?

Let's take time today to pray about gentleness, the eighth fruit of the Spirit.  It's one of the hardest fruits to produce, but as new creations in Christ, we can do it...and the rewards reaped in both our lives and in others' lives will be far-reaching and amazing!

Until next time,

No comments:

Post a Comment