Author Topic: Exercising Gentleness Muscles  (Read 4127 times)

Certain Hope

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Exercising Gentleness Muscles
« on: August 13, 2006, 01:13:08 PM »
To introduce this topic, the following is excerpted from an article I recently read:

   Oh, be gentle sweetheart,Ē I spoke tentatively to my daughter as I watched her ďpetĒ our cat aggressively.  Her hand slowed and she tried to make her movements more purposeful although still pressing too hard against his fur.  ďLike this,Ē I took her hand in mine and gently stroked the animalís back with just the right amount of pressure.  When I released her hand to allow her to try unassisted, she was still too rough despite her best efforts.  Our cat became irritated and left her sitting in the floor alone.  She didnít know her own strength and certainly didnít have the motor skills or self control to bridle that strength enough for the catís liking.

I think Iíve often associated gentleness with weakness.  Iím not sure why that is because the two are very different.  Weakness lacks strength whereas gentleness controls it.  I picture my husband holding our children in his lap as he reads them a book.  Heís so much bigger and stronger than they are and could hurt them quite easily yet, when he deals with them (and me), he is gentle.  Even in disciplining them he demonstrates gentleness.


Gentleness is selfless.  It requires us to think of someone else.  Gentleness requires self control as most often the one practicing it has the power to harm the one to whom it is shown. Being gentle doesnít come naturally to us.  Itís something we have to practice and is most difficult when weíre angry or hurt.  It takes a strong person in such circumstances to understand their power and use it appropriately.  Such power isnít always related to muscular strength, our tongue is likened to a two edged sword and can do much damage as well.  True gentleness is being able to overpower and harm someone with word or deed and choosing not to.  This is far from weak behavior, it's a practiced strength and the epitome of love. 

Personally, I've been very convicted of late re: my own need to make a practice of gentleness. I believe that it did come naturally to me at one time, but was eradicated along lilfe's path by repeated violations of those who took advantage of my meekness and quiet manner. I never consciously chose to change or to respond differently toward people.... it just happened. Somehow along the way, relating to others became a series of defensive manuevres instead of a communication directed toward mutual understanding and growth. I want to change that about myself. I want to stop reacting out of what's become my repertoire of personality traits formed through interactions with abusive, self-centered people and always respond with gentleness, regardless of the approach taken by another.

The Bible is one of my main resources. Whether or not others reading this value its counsel or not, I thought this was interesting to share.   A couple verses in particular motivate me:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23
and
"Let your gentleness (moderation,KJV) be known be known to all men. The Lord is at hand." - Philippians 4:5

The word translated gentleness here is epi-ei-kei-a ~ one of the most untranslatable words in Greek

This fascinates me.

The difficulty can be seen by the various translations given it:
         a. Patience (Wycliffe)
         b. Softness (Tyndale, Cranmer)
         c. The patient mind (Geneva Bible)
         d. Modesty (Rheims Bible)
         e. Forbearance (Revised Version)
         f. Moderation (King James Version)
         g. Sweet Reasonableness (Matthew Arnold)

and this:
DESCRIPTION OF "GENTLENESS"... (from Erdmans)
      1. It describes that courtesy and graciousness which should
         characterize a Christian gentleman
      2. The term indicates something of "the power of yielding"
         a. The ability to give way to the wishes of others
         b. The poise of soul which enables one to sacrifice his own
            rights, not by necessity, but out of generosity and sympathy
      3. It is the opposite of stubbornness and thoughtlessness

"GENTLENESS", THEN... (as defined by Pulpit Commentary)
      1. Is the opposite of contention, rigor and severity
      2. Is the spirit that enables a man to bear injuries with patience,
         and not demand all that is rightly his due, for the sake of
         peace
      3. A good example of where this virtue is to be applied is seen in
         1 Corhinthians 6:1-7 (note the willingness to be defrauded enjoined by
         the apostle Paul)

Willingness to be defrauded? If that is the case, I've definitely not exercised this virtue. In fact, I've recently "stood up for my rights" in a variety of different contexts and I'm now seeing that I was wrong to do so. It's not that I shouldn't have spoken up, it's that my heart's attitude was wrong. Since this is the place where I share my thoughts the most freely, other than in my own home in relationship with my husband, I felt a need to declare this here. I've not been gentle. To anyone who has suffered because of my own lack of gentleness, I apologize. I believe that my own emotional muscle of gentleness has atrophied considerably through my past experiences with N and other abusers. It's my goal to now begin an exercise program which will strengthen that quality once again so that I can respond with true gentleness when needed, and not simply from a desire to "look good" or "keep up appearances" or not catch hell.  8)   Thanks for reading.

With love,
Hope



 




Certain Hope

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Re: Exercising Gentleness Muscles
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2006, 05:35:25 PM »
Hi Moon,

   Most of my past memories of being gentle revolve around my children, especially taking care of them and nurturing them when they were babies, so I guess they inspired that quality in me. Besides that, I've always had alot of pets and have felt quite protective of them and gentle toward them. The sort of gentleness I showed toward the people in my life who burned me was more based on the fact that I always felt responsible for everything, including the wrong that they did... thinking it was all somehow my fault. Now I can see that that sort of gentleness was warped and not based on reality. It was more about weakness, not meekness, and I sure don't want that back.

   I don't feel that I hate anyone either. Even those who have done the most harm to me and my family, I hope the best for them. If they tried to get back into my life now, though, I would not allow that... it just would not be wise. I agree with you that some people we can only safely love from a distance and keep firm boundaries in place. Sometimes when people say that they want reconciliation, they really mean they want things to go back to the way they used to be without any of the necessary changes taking place. When I see that, I will gently say, No thank you.

Love,
Hope

Certain Hope

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Re: Exercising Gentleness Muscles
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2006, 06:19:14 PM »
Dear Moon,

  I think that Mr. Moon is right and that he is very wise. You are blessed to have a caring and thoughtful husband.

From what I've seen, everything N does is about keeping up appearances, so that he'll look good. In order to do that, he likes to put his family on display and if they won't cooperate in his act, he'll say anything to make it look like it's not his responsibility. But N can make up any story he wants, and still he cannot change the truth and he cannot control everyone, no matter how hard he tries.

My mother is very materialistic and controlling, too. In order to keep the right heart about her, I try to put the best construction on what she says and does, but still I am saddened when I see how very shallow her caring really is. I am very thankful to be miles away from that family and also blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law who is very real  :)

Love,
Hope

Stormchild

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Re: Exercising Gentleness Muscles
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2006, 06:30:32 PM »
Amen, amen, and again amen! I could definitely do with more of this trait as well... thank you Hope for posting this.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2006, 06:32:38 PM by Stormchild »
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Certain Hope

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Re: Exercising Gentleness Muscles
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2006, 08:12:35 PM »
Dear Moon,

  We have family that would run to there door in joy to see our faces..........................

That's how my mom-in-law is... always so glad to see us and genuinely interested in who we are, how we are... none of the fakeness of my other family. Spending time with her is a wise investment!! No one person can carry an entire family into real joy  when they insist that you always be the one to change and bend and fit into their mold.

Love,
Hope

Certain Hope

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Re: Exercising Gentleness Muscles
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2006, 09:03:55 PM »
((((((((Moon)))))))) Jesus knows. He knows your heart best.

In all I've had to deal with, I think of my children as not only gifts from God but also an assignment from Him... like He loaned them to me for a short while to nurture them and raise them up. Protecting them from harm has been a big part of that job in my own family and since their Dad turned out to be a molester, I had to choose between him and my perfect little family life (which was all a lie) and guarding their welfare. Nothing and no one is worth putting their safety and wellbeing at risk.

You know the commandment to honor father and mother... well, I have thought alot about that and how to manage it when those people are not necessarily worthy of respect and maybe not even safe. I have told my own children about their dad and how they will have to choose when they're of age what sort of relationship they might want to have with him. I have also told them that someday when they have children of their own, they would be very wise to never leave those little ones alone with him. This is a truth that hurts but may spare someone in the future so much pain. I think that acknowledging the truth is the best way to honor anyone, including our parents, even if that truth is unpleasant to them. With some parents it seems that the best way to honor them is to be sure to forgive them, to not despise them, and to keep a good safe distance.

Love,
Hope