As a young girl, I loved Cinderella… and as an adult, I still love Cinderella. I realize that life doesn’t often happen the way it does in a fairy tale, but I am still drawn to her character. She had birds eating out of her hands, she found joy in the simplest of things, and even though her step-mother and sisters were cruel to her, she treated them with respect. If one word describes Cinderella best, it’s gentleness. What made her character so beloved was her kind, gentle way of approaching people and animals. Her voice was soft and inviting and she moved about gracefully. I’ve been told by my husband that one of the qualities he most desires in me is gentleness. When I have a frustrating day and I raise my voice or approach situations (even something as simple as chopping onions) harshly or with hostility, it shows a lack of gentleness in me. As the wife, I set the emotional atmosphere of our home. If I’m fussing at the food as I chop it, I’m setting a tone of anxiety and unrest.
One evening a few years ago, Eric and I found ourselves in an argument. For the life of me, I cannot remember what it was that we were arguing about; however, I do remember my harsh and angry tone of voice – I was letting him have it with reckless abandon. At the end of our argument I hatefully said, “Write me a list of everything you expect from me so I’ll know exactly what I’m supposed to do!!!” I walked away and went to another room. When I returned, I found a “list” on my bed. The list said: gentleness. I was quickly thrown off my high horse and forced to come to terms with how my careless words and actions were negatively affecting my marriage. Thankfully, through God’s patience and work in my life, I have become far gentler than I was previously. I’m excited to know that as He continues to work in my life, I’ll become gentler.
My husband’s go to example of gentleness is found in a clip of the movie, Braveheart. From Wikipedia on the movie plot: “In the 13th Century England, after several years of political unrest in Scotland, the land is open to an invasion from the south. King Edward I of England decided to conquer Scotland. After invading Scotland and winning the war by 1280 A.D., Edward (known as ‘Longshanks’) granted areas of land in Scotland to his nobility which they were to rule, along with the traditional privileges. One of these privileges was Primae Noctis: the right for the lord (of the local area) to take a newly married Scottish woman into his bed and spend the wedding night with the bride.” Prior to the scene, the lord’s men are restraining the new husband (with a knife to his throat) because he is trying to fight against their taking his new bride for that first night. Though Primae Noctis is a practice detestable by God, watching the movie scene of how the new bride diffuses the scene (and saves her husband’s life) by her gentleness is very powerful. For those who view gentleness as weakness, take a moment to view this scene:
While most men are looking for a gentle woman, they may not realize that women are also usually looking for a gentle man (i.e., a gentleman). Yes, we want a man that will protect us and not run from trouble; but, when it comes to interacting with us on a personal level, women desire a gentle, tender man. We adore a gentle hug after a long day and when our man speaks gently to us, we melt. So many negative situations could be avoided in dating and marriage if both parties practiced gentleness.
We all stumble since we are only flesh and bones; however, the more Christ-like we become, the less we will find ourselves treating others with disrespect. Gentleness by its very nature is respectful. When I see a woman speak gently to her husband, it warms my heart. Most men would tell you that they feel respected when their girlfriend or wife speaks to them in a gentle manner (as opposed to disrespect when speaking in a harsh or hostile manner). It is also beautifully feminine to possess the character of gentleness.
When women are treated with gentleness, we feel safe and loved. Security and love are two of the most important qualities a woman desires in her man. Gentleness and respect are two of the most important qualities a man desires in his woman. Gentleness between a husband and wife is so precious and it’s not only a blessing to their relationship, but it is also a blessing to those watching them. Is gentleness present in your relationship?
- If your nature is predisposed toward gentleness, consider some ways that you can express that gentleness and manifest it at least three times this week.
- If your nature is not so naturally disposed to gentleness, meet with someone this week who you know has learned how to be gentle (you may need a pastor’s referral to someone else in your church if you do not know of someone off-hand) and take notes on how the Holy Spirit has developed that aspect of gentleness in his or her life.
How gentle are you with those around you? Do you speak to your beloved in a gentle, caring way or do you bark orders and speak unkindly to him or her?
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