Let your gentleness be evident to all
A little over a year ago I posted on the fridge the statement, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
The phrase is from the Bible, Philippians 4:5. At that time, but for no particular reason, I was drawn to that verse and valued the reminder. But I did not post it on the fridge until a few weeks later, after my mom died. She had left a note instructing that verse be read at her funeral. A little less than a year later, my sister read that verse at my wedding.
Truly, my mom was a gentle person. Her funeral was overflowing with people who told me over and over again what a wonderful, uplifting smile my mom always had on her face. And that she did! Through her smile, and how she talked and treated you – you always felt her gentleness. She had her own ideas and beliefs, but never pushed them on people. She always respected other opinions and gave them due consideration. She had her own beliefs, but did not have to force her way. She accepted the ways of others.
I was drawn to that gentleness as her daughter. A gentle nature has always felt right to me. And though I may fall short in modeling it from time to time, I do know that I respond positively to those who speak and act gently, as do many people. I especially value her example as our national political discourse becomes more divisive.
The verse continues on to recommend that we ponder positive values, specifically described as “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.”
And, these thoughts and actions come with a promise of “peace.”
Most recently, the “peace” promise took on an additional meaning to me. I spoke words that hurt someone I love; it was done inadvertently and without ill-will but nevertheless, it was hurtful. It left us all feeling a total lack of peace. My comment was not “lovely” and the way I beat up myself for saying it was also not gentle. It’s surely something I need to correct.
But, not everyone values gentleness. To some, it is seen as a weakness. To some, a fierce attitude is admirable: Fight for want you want, get your way, stand up for yourself, be bold, apologize for nothing.
My refrigerator note is a reminder to be gentle, even in the face of a society and political culture that favors forceful words and actions. We might want to use it as a reminder to temper our social media comments. And, it’s most certainly a personal reminder to work on my relationships.