11/01/2011 - My wife Carla and I have just celebrated the addition of a new little baby boy to our home. Isaiah is our first child and the learning curve is steep. He is fussy when we want peace, wants to eat all the time and when he is being quiet and cute, he (audibly) fills his diaper. Despite these little quirks, he really is, in my biased opinion, very cute and adorable. He has the softest hair, tiny little hands and feet, perfect little ears and nose and he seems so delicate.
I write about my new son for two reasons. One, I want to brag. I can't help myself. The second reason is that this is about gentleness and how it applies in this struggle to defeat selfishness and be a person of integrity. What better way is there to illustrate gentleness than with a baby?
I look at our baby boy and wonder about why and when do parents lose their compassion and tenderness towards their children? Children, at alarming numbers are experiencing sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Many other children experience various degrees of neglect, some to the point of death.
I have used some extreme examples, but a lack of gentleness isn't confined to these serious offenses. Here are a few, probably closer to home, situations where gentleness needs to be on the forefront of our minds.
Discipline: This is an area Carla and I will be learning as we raise Isaiah, but have experienced from our own parents. Our parents were disciplinarians. Today, we both have incredible relationships with our parents. Discipline does not damage a parent child relationship if done with…gentleness.
I know I got away with very little in my childhood. The few things I did get away with are the things only recently confessed. Gentleness in discipline does not mean turning a blind eye toward the offense or administering too lenient of consequences. It means that the punishment is given lovingly and gently, but very firmly.
Boundaries: Boundaries are all about saying "no" when needed. Without boundaries we can be taken advantage of, overwork ourselves to the point of exhaustion or illness, burn ourselves out with work or too many obligations and may even fail to meet our own needs or priorities. Other people don't always respect our boundaries so it is imperative that we decisively establish and enforce these boundaries. Boundaries must exist within the closest of relationships and, because of this, must be handled gently. The presence of healthy boundaries will not cost us relationships unless they are established without compassion and care. Do this with gentleness. For more information on boundaries please read the book Boundaries by Drs. John Townsend and Henry Cloud.
Relationships: Most of us will say we value our personal relationships above all else. But when frustrations and stress enter we easily forget that these relationships can be easily damaged. When handled with gentleness we show our loved ones that, even though we are stressed or frustrated, they are still more important than how we are feeling at that given moment. This is especially true if our loved one is the source of our stress or frustration. By speaking gently, we set the stage to work out the problems.
Gentleness is not being passive; it is not ignoring troubling things or allowing others to run over us. Gentleness can be firm and decisive. Gentleness is always loving and compassionate despite the circumstances. This takes a large amount of self discipline but it is necessary because abuse does not always leave bruises and cuts. Neglect does not always cause malnourishment. The most damaging types of abuse can be the ones that leave little emotional nicks and cuts that occur when we are not being gentle.