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Don't Be Afraid To Be Gentle

PEOPLE'S everyday mistakes always used to irritate me. Then something happened one day that taught me a surprisingly far-reaching lesson. I told a caller, in what I am certain was the iciest of tones, that she had misdialed. I was taken aback when she replied with warmth and gentleness: ``I'm so sorry if I disturbed you.'' My first thought as I hung up was, ``I'd like to know that thoughtful woman.'' Then I began to wonder how often my critical attitude had caused someone to think, ``I wish I didn't know her!'' I am not normally an abrupt or unloving person. Then, how could minor mistakes cause such a major reaction?

This was a sobering question. As I thought about it, I realized that fear of losing control of our time can seem to make us vulnerable to annoyance and impatience. No one wants to feel out of control, but our own efforts to control our lives aren't enough. It's only when we truly realize that we are God-governed that we can expect to see the effects of His dominion in our lives.

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How clearly the Master, Christ Jesus, proved man's God-given dominion. On his way to the home of Jairus to heal the man's desperately ill daughter, Jesus was stopped by a woman who had been plagued for twelve years with an incurable condition. The Master didn't treat this as an interruption; instead, he was gentle with her. He comforted and healed the woman and then went on his way to respond to Jairus's call for help.1 How conclusively he proved that man's true nature is poised, serene.

As I pondered these and other similar incidents, I thought of the words of a hymn:

O sweet and tender as the dawn,

With mighty power to heal and bless, Is God's dear gift to all His own:

The happy grace of gentleness.2

People are sometimes afraid to be gentle -- fearful that it will be seen as weakness. Actually, it is weakness that triggers the fear and self-will that lead to irritation and impatience. Gentleness, based on an understanding that God, good, governs all in harmony, heals these unhealthy and unpleasant traits. Referring to God, the Bible tells us, ``Thy gentleness hath made me great.''3

Christian Science explains that God is divine, all-encompassing Love and that spiritual man, Love's image and likeness, is our true identity. It shows that in the proportion that we understand that the all-loving God governs and controls every cause and effect we can see that fear is neither real nor causative.

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Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``The Apostle John says: `There is no fear in Love, but perfect Love casteth out fear.... He that feareth is not made perfect in Love.' Here is a definite and inspired proclamation of Christian Science.''4

Gentleness, graciousness, poise, are qualities of divine Love we are all capable of expressing. As we earnestly strive to live them, we will find annoyance, irritation, and pressure proportionately fading from our experience. Not only will those who have to deal with us be blessed, but peace and serenity will govern our own lives as we practice ``the happy grace of gentleness.''

1See Luke 8:41-56. 2Christian Science Hymnal, No. 243. 3Psalms 18:35. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 410.

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