Gentleness ≠ Weakness

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Gentleness ≠ Weakness

We live in a fast-paced world, and sometimes, we forget to be gentle. We also forget how important it is to be gentle. We will emphasize integrity, intelligence, and honesty. Gentleness, though, we don’t talk about often and when we do, it’s usually in a negative light.

We tend to equate gentleness with weakness – and then we sling it at each other like it is some horrible insult.

I saw this video a couple of years ago and it is asking a group of people to throw like a girl…

When I finished watching it though, I saw that they didn’t even realize that they were putting girls down. It is so commonplace to assume girls are weak – and when we are equating weakness with gentleness, what are we supposed to do with that? But then I found this video, done by, as my kiddos would call them, The Guys Who Blow Things Up.

This video is about throwing a ball, but it also speaks to how the world thinks being a girl makes you inferior and how anything perceived as “girly” is bad. So we assume gentleness is an ugly trait and a weakness.

Gentleness isn’t a weakness, it’s not anything close to that. My favorite way I have heard gentleness described is “Power under control.”

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

Blessed are those who have their power under control and use it for God’s work.

When I think about power, I usually tend to think about horses. Their average galloping speed is 25-30 miles per hour. They can weigh anywhere between 840-2200 pounds. There are also these competitions to see how much weight a horse could pull. As of 2014, the record weight two horses could pull was 14,000 pounds. That is the same weight as a helicopter, a school bus, or even a small jet. It is pretty safe to say that horses are some seriously powerful animals.

I had this friend and he used to break horses. He would take these wild horses and work with them every day. Once, when he was working with a new horse, he was kicked. He ended up with stitches, broken ribs, a concussion, and a giant horseshoe print on the side of his face. After his body had healed some, he went right back out to work with that horse. Then, 6 months after that, he put his little girl on that same giant horse. His little girl whom he loved with all of his heart, was on the back of this horse who just under a year earlier, landed him in the hospital. Do you want to know what the horse did when the little girl was on his back? He trotted…very slowly, while the little girl squealed with delight.  

Now, was that horse any less powerful than he was a few months ago? No. So what was different? The horse was still as strong and deadly as it was before, but now it had harnessed his power. He had all of his power under control and was using it to do what his owner requested.

So what does that look like for us? What is our power and how do we get it under control?

First, I like to start with our eyes.

“The eye is the lamp of my body; so then if your eye is clear (Or sincere) your whole body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22)

We can say so many things with our eyes without saying a single word. There is a little game I like to play when I am teaching a class, you turn to someone beside you, and looking at your partner, you try to say: I have a secret – with only your eyes. Then, say “you disgust me” and finally, say “I am sorry” All without speaking.

You then realize how much of our communication is done with our eyes. It is not always easy to control our eyes though. And what types of things should we be saying with our eyes that would demonstrate having our power under control? Only the things that will glorify God.

Then, our mouths. This one is pretty hard for me, I have a biting sense of humor and it tends to get me in a lot of trouble. Our words are the second most powerful thing we have.

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” Proverbs 15:4

Three of the biggest less-than-gentle things we can do with our mouths are gossip, lie, and tear others down. Think of all the times words have made a difference in your life. Think of when someone lied to you or about you. Or when someone was spreading horrible things about you. How crappy did that make you feel? On the other hand, think of when someone randomly came up to you and offered a compliment. For me, it’s the little things like that, that change my entire days.

Next, our hands – our actions. We have heard it said time and time again, actions speak louder than words.

“When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”  And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:1-3

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, but what is so important about it? Pay attention to verse 3. Jesus reached out and TOUCHED him. He touched a man with leprosy (which by the way was even worse than the cheese touch). He touched a man that had been deprived of any physical contact. We all know how important touch is – a hug from family and friends. Imagine not ever having that again. Sometimes the difference between life and death in a sick baby is simply the touch of another human. Human contact is life giving.

Did Jesus need to touch this man to heal him? No. He could have spoken the words or even simply thought them, and the man could have been healed, but Jesus KNEW how important it was for that man to be touched.

We need our actions to be like that. We need to do things that support each other. We need to do things that show love and compassion.

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies,and one who sows discord among brothers.” Proverbs 6:16-19

I spoke about gentleness once at a camp to a huge group of girls and before I did, I spent several weeks praying. First I prayed that I wouldn’t have to do it (A public speaker I am not!) But I really wanted to make sure that everything I was saying would really make an impression on everyone who heard my words. I soon realized that I couldn’t do that unless I shared some of my own story.  I couldn’t talk about getting my power under control and making good choices that glorify God and not do the same thing.

So….

I did not come from a loving family. I can’t tell you what it is like to know and feel the love of a mother. I can’t tell you what it’s to be protected and cherished by a father. I grew up knowing only two things:

1.) I was a worthless nobody

2.) My only job in this word was to protect my sister to make sure she didn’t feel the same pain and desperation our parents handed out to me. I lied to provide for, love, and protect her. I was young and wanted nothing to do with God….I was not a gentle person.

When I was 14 years old my sister was 11. We had decided to go to the local park and play. She and I spent all of our time outside of school, together – and as much as of our time as possible away from our house. Our home was not a safe place, but as it turned out, the park was not a safe place that day. A girl and her friend, who were just a little older than I was, hurt my sister. They were bullies and threw rocks at her and one hit her in the mouth and made her bleed…and that’s where I stepped in.

There were so many choices I could have made that day, but the world needed to know that I was not weak. These girls needed to know I was strong. So, I decided to grab one of the girls’ hair. She was much bigger than I was, but I didn’t care. I threw her to the ground – I could have stopped there, I had already asserted my dominance over her – she had stopped hurting my sister and we could have just left, but I was out of control – I had the power – but God had no place in my life, so I had no reason to try to glorify Him. This girl had just hurt my sister – the only thing I had truly loved the one person I swore to protect. I couldn’t just walk away from that…I needed to make these girls pay. I hit her again – then again. After that, I kicked her. Her friend decided to step in so I hit her too. Again – again – and again. I had hit them long after I had won the fight – long after they had given up -I just hit. I had no control and I was strong…so very strong. Those poor girls never stood a chance.

When I was finished, I stepped back and I left them there – both of them on the ground bloodied and not moving. I left them for someone else to clean up. I found out 2 days later when the police showed up at my doorstep – that one of the girls, I had broken her nose, her cheek, broken two of her ribs and she had a skull fracture with a concussion. The other girl had a broken tooth, nose and a torn ear.

I thought I was strong, but I wasn’t I was out of control and weak. I should have been looking at some time in juvie, but because of a corrupt system and a technicality, I walked away scot free.

I felt good about that fight for a long time. I felt so powerful – and by the world’s standards, I was.

Fast forward almost a year and a half and a ton of stupid mistakes later – I hit my bottom. I had come to a point in my life where I could no longer protect my sister – I couldn’t provide for her. Yes, I gave her attention and love, but she deserved more than that – so, I let her go. I let her be cared for by someone else…and then…I spent the next 6 months homeless. I prided myself on being strong and self-reliant…So how in the world did I not only end up without my sister…the only person I loved, but homeless??

I thought I had hit my bottom before, but this was something much worse. I met a friend while I didn’t have a place to stay, and honestly, I was probably only hanging out with her because she had food…oh my goodness was I so hungry. We eventually built a relationship and shared how we both ended up with the lives we had.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew who God was – I knew the Bible. I spent a few years at a Catholic school – so I knew, I just hated him and he was not someone I wanted in my life.

Our conversations eventually became honest and vulnerable and after a long time, those led to a new relationship God. I was a person who thought she had absolutely nothing in this world and even less to offer anybody, but my God said otherwise. I developed a real relationship with Him and my life was forever changed. All of that was possible because one day a girl with her eyes, conveyed truth, with her words conveyed kindness, and reached out and touched my hand.

Now, my life is nowhere near like what it was then. I am still my sister’s protector, that is a role I will always have, but my responses to the situations I am in are different.  

We have been in other situations which my first gut reaction was some sort of violence, but I have found that it actually takes so much more strength to walk away than to throw that feel good punch. We were never promised an easy life though.

Today though, thanks to my God – I know what it is like to have a mother’s love. not because I have received it, but my life’s path has led me to be the mother of the 5 most awesome kiddos you will ever meet. Their faces show that they know they have a mama who loves them fiercely. And that has only been made possible because of my God. He provided the guidance I needed to get my power under control.

I also know a father’s devotion and protection – because I truly know our Father and have accepted my role as his daughter. I also get to look over at my husband and see how he watches over our babies and cherishing them.

My story isn’t your story – we each have our own stories, but the takeaway is the same.

Each and every one of us are beautiful and strong. We are powerful. That is how God created women. We all need to remember that gentleness is not weakness. Gentleness is taking all of our power and using it for His glory.

 

 

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