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Tanya’s story

“Why are you yelling?”

“I’M NOT YELLING.  HOW CAN I BE YELLING?  THIS IS AN EMAIL!!!”

Melody realized how tight her jaw muscles were as she mauled her sandwich and began dumping her morning frustration on the lunchroom table.  “Customer service jobs suck—that’s all there is to it.”

“Wait a minute!  What day is it?  Didn’t we have this conversation yesterday.”  That was Melody’s best friend in the cube farm—Tanya.

“Yesterday and everyday from now on.  I’m putting it on the calendar:  ‘hate work.’  I mean, where does this guy get off?  I’m glad it was an email and not a call.  But still, I swear it hits me just the same.  Oh great!  Listen to me practically yelling at you now!”

“I know,” replied Tanya in a more subdued tone that allowed the other workers to return to lunch.  She had been in the chair at PayUsToFeelSafe Mutual for several years longer than Melody, and had almost adjusted to the occasional roughing up.  “What gets me is that they actually think they’re going to accomplish more by being jerks.”

Melody was struck by Tanya’s easy vibe.  “Why can’t people be like you?  I’ll bet you’ve never raised your voice in your life!”  Her voice was lower, but the sandwich was still paying a terrible price for her wrath.

“Hahaha!  You have no idea!  I still cringe when I remember how many times I took anger from bad days here and sandblasted people at home.”  Tanya reflected a moment and then continued.  “Yeah, ‘abrasive’—that’s exactly the picture.  Dan and the kids would be home, but I’d be alone in the family room.  It finally dawned on me that everyone had snuck off into conflict-free zones.” 

“And so you just turned over the gentle leaf?!  Why aren’t you giving lessons?  Humanity needs you!  Let’s start a podcast and change the world!”

“You’re hilarious,” Tanya said drily.  You really want to hear it?  It has to do with the Bible.”

Melody scrunched her nose like she knew it might hurt, but said, “Of course” in a cheerful voice that was only a little fake.

“Well, it was during that time I was going through my health crisis.  The doctor had prescribed a medication.  I guess it was necessary, but it made me feel awful.  Anyway, I was dealing with that when I came across a passage in the Bible that says gentleness is something that marks God’s Spirit at work in us.  I was aware of how my abrasiveness was affecting my family, so I was curious about the verse.  I’ve got this app on my phone.  And you can click on a word and see what the original Greek word was—and what it meant.”

“Greek word?  Who are you?” Melody asked, rolling her eyes.

“Let’s not get lost there.  The word translated ‘gentleness’ was linked to medical terminology that talked about a mild medication.  You know, one where the remedy isn’t worse than the disease.  My abrasiveness, an upset stomach from strong medicine, and this concept of gentleness—it all came together for me in a pretty powerful way.  That was the catalyst for change I guess. ”

Melody stopped chewing for just a moment and then said smiling, “And now you’re perfect.  And I hate you.”

Tanya gave Melody a little hip check as she got up from the table, making her spill her last sip of iced tea.  “How’s that for gentle!?”
 
The story of us all: 

Gentleness is non-abrasive.  It takes no pleasure in seeing people cringe.  Followers of Jesus are called and empowered to be considerate and tender toward others; mindful that they are made in the image of God.
 
One important Scripture:

Philippians 4:5 – "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
 
Your own story:  

You’ve heard Tanya’s story, you know the story of us all.  Now, let’s talk! 

  • Is there someone in your life that you celebrate as gentle?
  • Have you learned to value gentleness through the pain of relationships with people who were harsh and abrasive?
  • The Scripture says we should have a reputation for gentleness
    • Would your family call you gentle?
    • Your circle of friends?
    • Your coworkers?
    • Your social media “friends”?
  • Are you familiar with a tug in your heart to be a healer of broken things?
  • Having a reputation for gentleness isn’t the same as always being gentle.  Have you observed a difference between being gentle and being spineless?
  • How have you discovered the strength required to be gentle?
  • Has your gentleness factor moved one direction or another recently?
  • Do you fear that people won’t take you seriously if you are gentle?

Ask someone:

Can you afford to be gentle in a society like ours?

9 Comments


Mike 20 days ago

I think I'm gentle. More importantly, I think people around me would say so. However, I also tend to be a quiet person, and it's easy for me to mistake being quiet for being gentle. My kids know how many times a look or a few quiet words have still had a withering effect. I think a gentle person can be firm, but they somehow communicate acceptance and are never demeaning.

I think it's a real challenge to know and value gentleness in a society that values and actually operates on the basis of competition. In some arenas, gentleness is probably even considered a vice rather than a virtue.


Rachel 19 days ago

This is the blog that comes out the day after I have to apologize to my husband for cutting words? I’m glad I already apologized.
My mom was gentle and a very good example of being slow to speak.
Snarky and sarcastic come way more naturally to me. And I agree that a look does as much damage as words. These things became more clear to me after Mark and I got married and the kids came along. I’m thankful that God continues to work on me. He is helping me be quicker to apologize when I say something hurtful. Now if I could just keep the words and looks from happening at all.


Amelia 19 days ago

I am typically a very gentle person, I would say. I am a Montessori preschool teacher and actually feel like that's one of my favorite qualities about me as a teacher of littles. But this post got to me today, because it has been a stressful week of work and I have had a really hard time being gentle with my students. When I'm not gentle and patient with them, I feel very inauthentic to who I want to be as a teacher and a person. I hate being the abrasive version of me to my preschoolers. It's not right and I end up apologizing to a bunch fo 4 year olds for being grumpy. Maybe I need to get some Bible verses memorized and taped in my desk or my car or something to help pray over when I'm not feeling naturally gentle and need that Holy Spirit help. Would love some suggestions!


Katie 18 days ago

The month of December, I did a “gentleness challenge” with a friend, where we both checked in weekly with one another about how we were displaying gentleness in our lives, specifically in our words towards our families. A few take-a-ways I had as I continue to work on gentleness are:
-Gentleness doesn’t come naturally to me, but making it a focus through prayer and by reflecting on the loving, gentle character of the Father helps my mindset.
-Often action and healthy boundaries aid me in being more gentle. Example: choosing to lovingly discipline a disobedient child right away, rather than ranting about how I’m frustrated with his/her behavior.
-Working on gentleness in community is so powerful. It reminds me that I’m a small part in God’s overarching story for His Church (which He has been so gentle to since the beginning), and while I may fail in gentleness, there is a community who will “spur one another on to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), encouraging me to “run the race with endurance”.


Bryan Galloway 18 days ago

What a week! Our sewer backed up on Monday. My daughter, grandson, and I have been living in a hotel since then. Lois is still with her parents in San Diego. Thankful, she comes home on Sunday night. It has been a week of challenges. Oh yeah, I was also sick in bed for two days! I do not remember the last time I nibbled on crackers and sipped Gatorade! Yet, God is good. Despite the challenges, I have had some good times of prayer and scripture reading. This has allowed me to be gentle. I still have a long ways to go in the process of sanctification, but thankful for the journey.


Ranella 17 days ago

And this morning's devotion was Ephesians 4:2-3, 32. Do I see a pattern developing here? I need to pay attention.


Ginny 17 days ago

I had to laugh when I read this this morning. I had a co-worker "yell" at me through e-mail yesterday. My immediate emotions were not gentle, but I choose to take a breath, take some time and say a quick prayer. I was able to respond to him in a kind and professional manner. Since my boss was copied on the email, he saw the exchange and came to thank me for the way I handled the situation. Gentleness does not come naturally to me but since it is part of the fruit of the Spirit, I believe we can cultivate it in our lives by seeking to know Jesus better and responding to His leading. Like any other fruit, the fruit of the spirit is a result of time, growth and the effort of the gardener.


Phil 13 days ago

Reading some of these and i'm thankful to know i'm not the only one who has to work to be gentle. I'm naturally a bit more outspoken and when not careful-slip. I've realized in my own life that it's often the people that i'm close to that receive the "non-gentleness" because of my own high expectations. Gentleness is my word for the year!


Jessica 8 days ago

I’ve got a lot of thoughts on this one because gentleness is one of the fruits of the spirit I am very drawn to; I think it is so needed in the world right now.

At work, I am a supervisor to many teenagers, and I make it a goal to correct them as gently as possible. Criticism can be hard to take… there’s no reason to make it any harder. I also try to make an extra effort to be gentle to those I find annoying. I’ve noticed some people will quickly become bullies once they deem someone as “deserving it” because they are annoying or because they need to “learn a lesson.”

On a different note, I’ve noticed a trend in media pertaining to “comebacks.” People love a good, snappy comeback toward the bad guy… a quick, witty jab that disarms the bully. Many people think that’s the answer... intelligent, but still harsh, words. It’s really really hard to be gentle when someone is being harsh. But we know “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1.

I think gentleness can be propagated by practicing assuming of others the best intentions and the worst life circumstances. We don’t know what people are going through or how hard they’re trying, and even if someone needs correcting, there’s no reason to do it harshly.

Being gentle is hard. I often get a knot in my stomach when I’m deciding how to respond to conflict. It hurts my ego to feel like someone got the last word. But I have yet to regret choosing gentleness.


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