Gentleness – The Vulnerable Fruit of the Spirit

“When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say, “Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again”—my gut reaction is, “What a badass.” ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong

I begin gentleness with this quote about being badass. Because gentleness is not soft and fluffy. Gentleness is the presence of being “there” and going in again and again and again.

Gentleness almost sounds like something we could do on our own. For example most mothers are gentle with their babies, caring for and nurturing them.  We can all do that.  “On our own” is not what I am finding out in each and every one of these fruits of the Spirit. Gentleness is something we think we can do on our own yet is really another attempt to control our faith. To have the fruit of the Spirit of gentleness in our lives means we get to yet again be exposed to vulnerability just like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness. I am growing a bit weary in this series because uncovering these truths has been gutty. I feel like I have to brace you for gentleness. Gentleness!! Shouldn’t this be gentle?

But I do like the thought of badassery in gentleness.

In Galatians 5:23 the Greek word for gentleness is prautes which means “to submit one’s strength in a posture of meekness.” In fact, gentleness and meekness are somewhat interwoven in English Bible translations. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.  Matthew 5:5.  Meek feels like a soft and fluffy word too. An older meaning from Webster’s for meekness is “enduring injury with patience and without resentment.” That is not too far from the meaning of the biblical word, with the Greek being a bit more positive in feel. No wonder the meek inherit the earth. They are the last ones standing. That is badassery.

But enduring injury… That sounds like my decision to live broken-hearted. Love hurts.

Aristotle gave a classic definition of gentleness as halfway between excessive anger and indifference. That is, he felt the gentle person could be angry at the right time and submissive at the right time. (Thank you Google.)  This is similar to how Paul felt and tried to explain to the Corinthian church about his righteous anger over a troublemaker in that church.  That is why I wrote to you as I did, so that when I do come, I won’t be grieved by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful. I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you.  2 Corinthians 2:3-4. I understand this!

Anger is a part of gentleness. I see it.  I have been very angry at some of the pain my beloved children have gone through as well as have caused me .  I have also learned that I cannot necessarily be the one to deliver to them my message of anger because shame is such a part of their thinking. (To understand who my children are, you need to read this.) Their beloved God-given mother cannot be the one to heap on more shame. So I show them gentleness and my badassery to still love them. Which I do very much. This is Galatians 6:1, Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.  This is Ephesians 4:2, Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

“Yes, we are totally exposed when we are vulnerable. Yes, we are in the torture chamber that we call uncertainty. And, yes, we’re taking a huge emotional risk when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. But there’s no equation where taking risks, braving uncertainty, and opening ourselves up to emotional exposure equals weakness.” ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Gentleness is not weakness. To be gentle is to accept the broken-hearted love God allows in our lives. Do you feel why I am weary in writing this?

I literally had to take a break at this point from writing. I didn’t think gentleness would hurt me so much.

……………….

It’s been three days. Three days of prayer and wrestling with my anger and vulnerability. God has revealed a “supposed to” in my life that I’ve been “supposed to-ing” in my prayers.  It’s too early to write about it here.

From these three days I thought of this visual to describe gentleness.

Whooo…that is beautiful.  Gentleness is beautiful.  And strong.

At the end of this scene, some music starts. This is that same music. It is from Gungor. Notice the lyrics.

I will love you with all of my heart
I will love you with all of my mind
I’ll love you with all of my strength
Love you with everything

Brave is the one who lives in the vulnerability of gentleness. It requires your everything.  When you think of mothers showing gentleness to their babies it is also those 2 am feedings and cleaning up puke and being so exhausted you can’t even hold a conversation.  Gentleness requires your everything.  This is not such a gentle fruit of the Spirit after all.