My father had the gift of gentleness. How well I remember the tender touch of my his hand, spreading from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. He always knew when I was struggling. The caress was often followed with the words, “Come take a walk.” By the time we returned, my heart had been calmed by wise advice and consoling words.
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
The Gift of Gentleness is Needed
Our world is filled with violence. Broken hearts, decimated families, people on street corners with pleading stares filled with emptiness and loss. It’s impossible to know the trials others face. However, we need to approach people in a way that our presence lays a cloak of gentleness about their shoulders if we want to minister to their needs.
Much like my father, my husband handles the most difficult of situations with calm, respect, and understanding that diffuses tension and leads to a positive resolution. He explains kindness as action and gentleness as our inner nature. To me, the gift of gentleness is a tenderness that flows from God through us to meet the needs of those who suffer.
As a nurse and mother, I know soft words and a gentle touch have the power to calm, comfort, heal, and convey love and care. Frightened or combative patients and children are often soothed by the right approach.
The Gift of Gentleness in Practice
For several years, I traveled five hours every few months to help my elderly uncle, the sole caregiver to my aunt who suffered from severe dementia. She existed in the moment—nothing before—no future, and the present was frightening. No longer able to remember me, she feared my presence in her kitchen, quiet discussions with my uncle, or my accompanying them to the doctor. Every word, touch, and movement needed to convey comfort and safety.
Eventually, my uncle agreed to move to an assisted living facility near me. As a result, I spent the night before in their guest room, something I hadn’t done in years because it upset her.
When he awakened me in the middle of the night because she was sick, I sent up an arrow prayer about the challenge we faced. My poor uncle had chosen his battles with care. I cried as I helped her dress and realized the full extent of her physical condition.
It’s not difficult to act with kindness toward those in obvious need, though it’s a challenge to treat someone who fights you with gentleness. My motives changed from a desire to get her to the hospital quickly, to a determination to surround her with calm. The plan to transport her by ambulance the five hours to an unfamiliar facility was now complicated by a trip to the emergency room.
In answer to my prayers, God gave me the gift of gentleness, my sometimes-commanding tone softened. The irritation of answering the same question time after time fled. I experienced no frustration in stilling her hands, protecting tubes, covering and recovering, and explaining to my uncle how to calm her.
Gentleness vs Kindness
Though both gentleness and kindness are gifts of the Holy Spirit, we can determine to act with kindness. Gentleness surrounds you like a warm blanket, quiets your tone, softens your touch, and calms your mind. When God takes the reins, our words are tempered with love beyond our capability.
Those feelings continued throughout the last months of her life. Along with my sister and a dear friend, we prayed and sang her into the arms of Jesus as my uncle cradled her hands. Gentleness surrounded her as she took her last breath.
The gift of gentleness is the Holy Spirit moving through us to meet another’s deepest needs, be they physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. It enhances kindness, softening our manner with a sense of the Lord’s presence.
Whenever a situation calls for a gentle approach, remember that it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God will enable you.
…Pursue righteousness, godliness faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11
© Norma Gail Holtman, March 6, 2020
Norma Gail writes Fiction to Refresh Your Spirit, exploring the theme of women whose faith triumphs over trials. Her debut novel won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, Norma is a former Bible Study Fellowship discussion leader, and founding leader of the women’s Bible studies at her church. Her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 44 years. They have two adult children.