How to Be Both Strong and Gentle
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
We welcomed a new baby into our extended family recently. Beatrice is precious and perfect, with ten fingers and ten toes. She is rosy and healthy, for which we are all most grateful. But she is still tiny and fragile.
So everyone treats her with much gentleness.
Even I know to be gentle with newborns. It’s everyone else I seem to have trouble with…
Paul reminded, “Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5)
I often imagine God admonishing me, “Cindy, take it down a notch.” Or “Lower your voice.” Or even “Keep Calm and Carry On!” (who says God doesn’t quote the British?)
I confess, my default manner is not gentleness. In fact, my tone of voice with all its urgency (I prefer to call it ‘passion’) is sometimes mistaken for harsh instead of enthusiastic. Imagine!
But I long to let my “gentleness show.” A soft touch. A whispered endearment. A kind word of encouragement and support.
Sometimes the strongest thing we can do is to be gentle.
The truth is we all break rather easily.
And the louder the words we hear, the more defensive we become. King Solomon knew this quite well when he warned, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15.1)
Harsh words can crush a spirit and shut down a soul. Kind words can mend a broken heart or plant a dream.
In what ways can you offer gentleness to others today?
- The clerk at the checkout counter
- The colleague at work
- The unruly child who clamors for attention
- The spouse who is sometimes overlooked
Take heart, no matter whether you are predisposed or not to being a gentle person. “Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves.” (Matthew 11.29) With Christ dwelling in us, being yoked to us, we can learn from the best of the best.
Because not only is He gentle, but “The Lord is near.”
under the mercy, Cindy