Fruits of the Spirit: Gentleness


There are times that a firm "No," or even "Absolutely not," are needed. There are times when a strong push is the only thing that will open a door or move an obstacle.

It's easy to think that a spirit of gentleness is the same as being a push-over. Everything is allowed, and we can be taken advantage of or abused because we won't fight anything.

This couldn't be further from the truth. Gentleness doesn't have anything to do with allowing everything. But it does change how we approach the things that are wrong.

Have you ever pushed on someone, whether to get them to move or even joking around? Whether they were expecting it or not, the immediate reaction is to resist against the push and push back.

Gentleness moves people differently. Nelson Mandela understood this well. Having spent decades in prison under apartheid rules in South Africa, he was eventually freed and elected president of the very country that had imprisoned him.

He would have been justified and even applauded by many if he had punished and excluded the people who had been part of the oppressive class for so long. Instead, he incorporated them into his government. It was clear that things would change. Apartheid was gone and that line would not be crossed again, but this was a new world that would be built together. South Africa would not repeat the same discrimination in reverse under his watch.

We all have things in our lives that challenge our gentleness. We all get angry on occasion. However, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, those things don’t become so harsh. They are tempered and calmed until they come out from us in ways that are strong and healing.

For today's challenge, if you are angry, frustrated, rushed, or harsh, notice it. Stop a second, say a quick prayer, look with fresh eyes, and respond with gentleness. Then try again the next time, because there will be a next time. See if it gets easier as you go.

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Karen May

Inspirational Catholic Writer and Speaker

based in Austin, Texas