Strength Wrapped in Gentleness
"Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
Gentleness in speech. Phew. This is probably the most difficult thing I have ever strived for: being a person who was gentle in the manner in which she spoke. I thought, "That's just not me". Gentleness in speech meant learning how to carefully choose my words and how to say them without shoving it down the other's throat or throwing someone under the bus. It was extra hard for me because I know myself to be a woman who speaks her mind (way too often), a woman who is headstrong and opinionated.
The emotions I had in my heart fed the words that came from my mouth. Too bad if I was angry, I'd spew poison and I wouldn't care. It was how I felt- the other person would just have to deal with it. I felt various experiences in my life had also given me the 'right' to act out.
As I grew older and became more aware (and sensitive) of other's feelings, I realized that my harshness was slowing creeping into my relationships and tearing them apart. I saw this especially in my relationship with my mom- which was one of the most important relationships in my life.
You see, I always thought my Mom had a tendency to speak too much- and I didn't like it. I felt she had too much to say about anything and everything in my life and I always took it as her being against everything I wanted to do. Because I thought I was old enough and had the right to, I would talk back and tell her she was wrong and tell her to stop meddling with my now-adult life. This really didn't help my relationship with her.
In December of this past year, things had gotten to a pretty bad place in my relationship with my Mom. My women's group at home, in the Philippines, decided we would each offer something as a sacrifice to the Lord on His birthday. After taking some time to pray about it, I felt the Lord asking me to offer my mouth to Him. Yes- offer it to Him and give Him control over what to say and what not to say. More specifically, I felt the Lord calling me to be gentle in speech when interacting with my Mother. Boy oh boy...that was a sacrifice.
My decision to follow the Lord's request constantly left me on my knees begging Him for grace and patience and tolerance every single day, especially when I had the urge to retaliate.
This wasn't a one-time, big offering to the Lord. It wasn't something that I decided to do only until Christmas, no. It was something that I decided and still am deciding to do everyday, even now.
By the grace of God, I have slowly learned how to be more gentle with my Mother and because of it, I can see that my relationship with her is starting to grow more in love and mutual respect. I talk less, and because of that I am able to listen more and listen in a new way. I am able to hear our conversations in a new way- not just hear the words she is saying but also hear those she isn't saying. Her "you're always out late with your friends" has miraculously translated into "I actually just miss you" or "I care about your safety". Praise God for this new way of not only speaking but also of hearing. Yes, I admit it has been hard. It takes more strength to be gentle but that strength is bearing much fruit. My Mom and I have grown so much in our relationship. It has given us a more loving, open and peaceful relationship. I still have my slip ups, yes, but by the mercy and patience of God I am able to exercise my strength in this new way.
Gentleness has a special place in my heart. In the many years that I have both struggled and triumphed in this area, I have realized that gentleness is a very powerful thing. Many people, especially in the world today, see gentleness as weakness, something which only puts you at a disadvantage. They say women who are gentle get stepped on and pushed aside. Women who are not fierce and outspoken and headstrong are useless. I beg to disagree.
I say gentleness actually takes more strength. Gentleness can be wrapped in strength- for it sometimes takes more strength not to lash out but to keep your cool.
It takes more strength sometimes to calm down and not blow your top off. This isn't to say that women should never say what they would like to- sometimes it is very important to, especially if they are trying to speak truth and for the good of others, but those who are gentle look to use their words wisely. A gentle woman knows how to speak her mind without hurting anyone or putting anyone in a bad light. A gentle woman is a powerful, soulful woman. A gentle woman captivates and inspires people in her wake. A gentle woman is beautiful to look at and to be with because her love and confidence in the Lord is clear. Her love for the Lord and the Lord's love for her is her aroma. I think this is the kind of woman we are all called to be: fierce but gentle, outspoken but kind, powerful but loving.
Hailing originally from Manila, Philippines, Mae has flown 8,152 miles across the world to go on a Mission Year with University Christian Outreach in Lansing, Michigan. Mae grew up as part of a Sword of the Spiritcommunity- Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon. She has spent her entire college years building and serving with the youth in Christ's Youth in Action (CYA) at her University. CYA is similar to University Christian Outreach. Mae enjoys reading and singing, acting, musical shows, fashion, chai tea on a cold day, hoodies and sneakers, clouds, the heat of the sun and the beauty of the moonlight...and life's surprises!