For The First Time, Gentleness is Appropriate in a Campaign Year

Companion Blog Post

October: A Month of Gentleness

Concept Week 1

Write Your Life With Grace, Fruit of the Spirit Guided Journal (October, 2016)

 

Concept: Gentleness, as a character trait, is an overflow of a heart full of love.

“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble.” –Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV)

At no time does this Proverb seem to be more true than in this 2016 political season. The degrading banter, the hateful dialogue, and the angry exchanges about who should NOT be President of the United States is frightening and causing all sorts of chaos. One analyst spoke with wisdom: “November 8 will not be the end of it; it will be the beginning.” Lord, help us.

Gentleness seems an impossible mandate, ludicrous, even, with so much at stake. After all, the word itself conjures visions of white fluffy clouds and trees swaying in the breeze. Gentleness is a nice lesson for toddlers when they’re clobbering their sibling but it doesn’t seem to be a legit concept for adults embroiled in battles or debates or voting for the lesser-of-two-evils in the election. Right?

Since I love definitions, let’s start with one.

The Dictionary! App says that gentle, as an adjective, is, “having little impact; quiet and soothing; soft and mild; easily handled or managed.”

Who wants to go through life with little impact? Nobody! Who wants to be easily handled or managed? Nobody! I’m sure there is one, but at the moment I can’t think of a definition that does more disservice to a word than this one. The above definition could also be used when discussing a door-mat or a people-pleaser or a weak-minded person. Someone with little or no boundaries, no sense of self or identity or convictions.

A fuller definition for gentleness would be to look at the word meek. Meek is, “strength under control.” In this case, gentleness signifies restraint. Which means there is something that needs to be bridled. Anger, maybe? Impatience? Fear? Shame? Arrogance? Selfishness? It takes a great deal of strength and self-awareness to put these negative traits under the control of wisdom, to restrain from lashing out, to bridle these temperaments from hurting and abusing. Gentleness is the ability to excel without destroying something in the process.

For example: A person being insulted, and taking the high road, is strength under control. Gandhi was strength under control. Remember John Coffey in the Green Mile, the gentle giant with all kinds of super-human strength, both physical and mental? And of course, Jesus was the ultimate example of strength under control.

It takes a great deal of strength to be gentle. Gentleness is an overflow of a heart full of love. Love is not romance; love is not an emotion or a feeling; love is a choice to do right by the person you are with. It is a sacrifice to consider the other person first. Gentleness is a character trait.

In regards to the political season, we would all benefit from the components of gentleness: respect, wisdom, conviction, passion, firmness, and love. It’s not about giving up your voice or your convictions; it’s using your voice to make the world better instead of worse.

–Tara Schiro is the author of the newly released, Write Your Life With Grace, Fruit of the Spirit Guided Journal (October, 2016, Xulon Press), and No Arms, No Legs, No Problem, the memoir of bronze-medal Paralympian (Quad Rugby), Bob Lujano. Both books are available on Amazon.com, Ingram, and Barnes & Noble. TaraSchiro.com

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