Growing in Glory

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Gentle Anger?
By Jenni Saake © 2011

I recently blew it, BIG TIME! I had been wronged so I got angry. I used my hurt as justification to completely loose my temper. The brutal bite of my unbridled words deeply injured someone I love. I could give a ton of excuses about what went wrong – hormones, stress, worry, pride – but the bottom line is, I forgot the importance of gentle grace.

Gentleness, sometimes translated “mildness” or “meekness,” seems to scream just the opposite of independence and strength that culture tells me I need to strive for. While some might agree with my “right to be right” that led me to the moment of explosion, I believe it was the ugly lashing of my tongue that actually displayed my greatest weakness. A gentler answer would not have been a sign of lack, but rather a mark of controlled strength, of wisdom, of freedom from being a slave to my own emotions.

Did I get anywhere with my harsh words and dominating attitude that day? Not really, unless you call a month of hurt feelings on both sides anything to be proud of. Although my loved one tried to defuse my outburst calmly, we eventually both were spewing emotional blows that sent us each reeling. If only I would have stopped in the midst of the drama (or at the start of it!) and asked God to take over the reins, so much pain could have been prevented. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV).

How can I be sure that gentleness isn't making me weak? 

Consider the schooled, steady hand of a surgeon as he practices his skill. When I'm under the knife, am I looking for fast and aggressive slashing, or am I hoping my doctor has been trained in the art of gentleness, able to accomplish the necessary task while inflicting the least damage possible? Or in the case of gardening, will my plants flourish better under harsh bruising and unskilled whacking, or through gentle and selective pruning?

Am I attractive to others when I'm yelling or angry and inflammatory? When I see someone else acting out in such unbecoming ways, am I drawn to their “strength,” or am I driven away with their brash disrespect? “[Beauty] should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4, NIV).

Unless I willfully choose gentleness, I always tend to drift from meekness toward selfishness. Selfishness is messy and ugly and disorderly, but God can help me to fight against my natural inclinations when I listen to the same wise advice that the Apostle Paul once gave to a young pastor named Timothy: "flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (1 Timothy 6:11). If I want to be gentle, it's not going to happen accidentally, but by conscious pursuit of God and an ongoing dedication to asking Him to guide me in the process. 

It is now my daily prayer God will put a guard on my lips so stupid or harsh words don't come flying out. I'm praying that both the words of my mouth and the mental recordings that play over and over in my head and heart will be ones that honor Him. If I'm allowing God to shape my words and attitudes, He will be growing within me the attractive quality of gentleness.

This doesn't mean I have to be a doormat, unable to stand up for myself. God doesn't tell me not to get angry, only that I'm not to let my anger lead me into sin (see Psalm 4:4) as I did so recently with such flourish! Gentleness simply means I need to allow God to train my heart to think before I speak and to deliver whatever words washed in grace. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Saake, know as “InfertilityMom,” is the author of Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss. She blogs about natural beauty, seeking hope in the midst of life’s heartaches, and life as a homeschooling mom. Jenni lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and XMRV, a retrovirus related to HIV. She is currently writing a book on the life of Paul as encouragement for facing chronic pain and illness.


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