The Gentle Touch
Sherry Bitler, Guest Writer
A gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).
As a teacher, I have learned through the years that our natural tendency when dealing with children is to raise our voices above the noise so that our instructions can be heard. However, the goal is usually better achieved when we lower our voices so that their voices need to quiet down to hear what we are saying.
When I hear the word gentle, my Grammie always comes to mind. Her voice, her smile, her movements, her words were always gentle. When I was young, I viewed her as fragile and delicate. As I became older, I understood her incredible strength was displayed through her gentleness. She was a pastor’s wife. Grandad had a commanding personality which suited his ministry but could be a challenge at home. She raised five children, each one growing up to serve the Lord, four in full-time ministries.
The smallest touch can teach gentleness. How many times are we called on to wipe hands and mouths after a meal? In cold weather, there are noses to wipe. Are we gentle? How often do little ones flinch as we approach with the wiping cloth? Little ones need to be trained to be gentle; it does not come naturally. They will hear what we are saying, but they will learn what we model.
Like a shepherd who gently cradles his sheep, we need to slow down and handle our families with gentleness. It takes work. I liked to live at a fast pace which doesn’t usually accommodate gentleness. I need to be intentional to be gentle. I pause to pray, asking the Lord to help me feel gentle. To feel gentle, we need to be confident in our walk with the Lord and our identity as His child.
I heard a sharp, snappy tone assaulting young ears, causing their bodies to flinch. The sound reverberated back to my heart, drenching my soul with regret. The young eyes and shoulders were sinking toward the ground. Why was this happening? This Mom was stressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed. The responsibilities of parenting were overcoming the vision of her heart. I suspected she needed a spiritual overhaul and a simpler agenda. She needed help to find gentleness in the tone she used to speak to her child. She needed grace. Right now, she needed a hug and encouragement – “You can do this!”
We can start our day with a prayer for grace, asking for help to live this day with gentleness. When I am able to take what I know in my head to be true – I am loved, I am forgiven, and I am adored by a gracious God – and wrap it into my heart – then I am able to respond and behave gently to those around me. In gentleness, I can remember the importance of being an encourager, a life-giver, in my relationships.
Being deliberate can help keep us on track - take time to sit on the floor with your children. Make it a daily goal. Be gentle with them. The dictionary defines gentle as kindly, not harsh, easily managed, not steep but gradual. Can you relate this definition to your responses and requests of your children, your husband, and the people in your circles of influence?
As you go about your day, help your children practice being gentle to each other. If your house is anything like our house was with young children, this will require enormous strength on your part and lots of prayers for grace. But lessons learned in kindness and gentleness help us define the legacy we want to leave behind.
Lord, please help me to grasp the importance of a gentle spirit. Please give me the strength to make this part of my character. Please give me the strength to model gentleness for my family. And in those moments when I am successful, help me to remember to give You credit and be grateful for grace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sherry Bitler, founder of a local traditional Christian School, a home school cooperative school, and a summer program for children at a popular Christian Conference Center. She is a spiritual mother to hundreds of young women. Challenged by her daughter-in-law, she began writing a blog, The Grateful Grammie. She loves time with her husband of 47 years, their four children, their spouses, and twelve grandchildren. Sherry shares more about living with Multiple Sclerosis in the MARKINC, Help & Help Story: When MS is Your Constant Companion.
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