I’m sincerely looking forward to this ‘Spirit’ portion of our #obfwellness series. It’s intended to be a space for reflection and taking care of our ‘self’ with habits that cultivate the soul. So today we’re kicking off with a topic I feel resonates on a personal as well as communal scale.
In an age of readily accessible media and social networks that spread news faster than headlines, we’ve developed a terrible trend: whoever yells the loudest speaks truth. On the flip side, if we’re not yelling, it means we lack passion or conviction. Both of those assumptions are misleading. There’s a far more valuable and impactful virtue that we often neglect: gentleness.
The word ‘gentleness’ can conjure visions of weakness or fragility. In many minds, to be gentle is to lack strength or power. I want to throw a giant wrench in that belief. Gentleness is not the absence of strength or power but rather the harnessed expression of those traits. Erwin McManus, one of my favorite authors and pastor of Mosaic church out in Los Angeles, says this: “Gentleness comes when you have strength and you use that strength to comfort and to heal.” It’s not a passive characteristic. Instead, it should be seen as the dynamic expression of compassion and empathy.
So what does that really mean? How does that translate into daily life? To practice the virtue of gentleness we have to act on behalf of others. It means we don’t just shout (or type) our opinions for the sake of hearing our own voice. We speak out or stand up for the oppressed. We offer a listening ear or soft shoulder for those needing sympathy. The power is in kindness; the strength is in comfort.
This is a big personal challenge for me. It’s easy for me to love the people I love. That sounds redundant, but it’s true. I can be supportive, encouraging, and protective of those closest to me. But I rarely seek out or take up the opportunity to be truly gentle toward others. So my goal is to make a weekly habit of gentleness. I want to move from a place where it feels like work to a place where it flows naturally.