the butter just got gloppy.
I am not, by nature, a gentle person. My voice is loud. My movements are wide-arching and flamboyant. My approach to people is direct. I don't shy away from confrontation. I'm quick to get defensive. Gentleness doesn't come naturally.
When I first held my daughter, no one had to tell me to be gentle. I remember tracing the tip of my finger along her downy hairline, kissing her tiny baby fingers, lifting her and holding her against me as if she might at any moment break. Gentleness was instinctive; it was freely and generously offered.
Our world doesn't prize gentleness. We prize contact sports and reality shows--the bloodier the better. I hear kids out on the playground (and even in the back seats of my own minivan) saying cruel things to each other. Gossip floods the church pews and malicious posts festoon Facebook. It's no wonder that people are always surprised to find gentleness--although, ironically, it is something for which we're all a little desperate.
The unfortunate misconception of gentleness is that it is a sign of weakness or an unnecessary vulnerability. But that's a big, fat lie. If I've learned anything, it is that gentleness takes a supreme amount of courage and strength and discipline. And, to go a step further, gentleness is a necessary vulnerability. Here's why:
1. Gentleness is a facilitator of the authentic
2. No one can live in the shadows of the inauthentic and be satisfied
The authentic is where, if we're honest, we want to reside. We want to know and be known. But we won't expose ourselves to be known if we are fearful that anything less than a gentle hand will touch us. We are capable of gentleness. So let's be gentle with each other. Let's be gentle with ourselves. And let's welcome in the sunlight, the warmth, the freedom of the authentic.