My mom bought some spring chicks. They are fluffy, fragile little things that bring sparkles to her grandkids’ eyes. When we visit, the kids crowd around the warm light and reach their hands in to touch the soft, new feathers.
My two-year old is a stocky little guy. He looks like a future quarterback for the Oregon Ducks (and he eats like one, too). When he reaches for the chicks he isn’t aware of the power behind his chubby fingers that could potentially harm the tiny birds, but I am.
I gently reach in, cup a nervous fuzzball up in my hands, and whisper a cautionary lesson of gentleness.
After the kids wash their hands, we send them off to play.
I watch as my little ones traipse all over Grandma’s grass that needs to be mowed. They are picking up anything and everything that catches their eye.
The same mischievous two-year old picks up a stick and wields it in his sister’s direction. Despite my quick lunge to save the girl, she is mercilessly whacked in the face. The dramatic wailing begins and I feel the heat quickly rising up my neck. I told that boy to leave that stick on the ground!
Irritation tells me to react in volume and power, but gentleness reminds me that “it’s the strong hand, not the weak one, that must learn to be gentle.” -Gary Thomas
Low…slow…and listen I tell myself.
It seems that sometimes gentleness and firmness are differentiated into categories and are limitedly defined as timid or harsh. And as a parent I have to make a choice between the two.
However, I’m learning that gentleness is neither timid nor harsh. Rather, it encompasses the heart of both softness and strength.
Gentleness is a firm guiding hand that brings direction, correction, but never harm…
Gentleness is a strong voice of truth delivered with a soft tone of love…
Gentleness is power under control…
I get down to his eye level and take a deep breath. I smile because this is my baby bird. I’m going to hold him tight enough that he can’t squirm his way out of this situation, but I’m also going to cup him with a copious amount of gentleness in a way that he continues to feel safe with me.
I wish this was a one-time lesson and that perhaps I would get it right from here on out. But I know my failures and they occur daily. I guess even hens peck at their chicks sometimes…
So with grace… “Let our gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Phil 4:5 (NIV)