You may or may not know me and that means you may or may not know that “gentle” has never really been a word used to describe me. In high school, I won awards for the funniest laugh and the loudest voice. Things like “talkative”, “hyper”, and “rambunctious” were words that I heard a lot more often as a kid.
I remember reading though the fruits of the Spirit as a youngster and thinking, “Why is gentleness in here? Why is that important?”
It took me years to understand how the fruits also reflect God’s character and why they are good characteristics to seek in my own life.
At the age of 17, I went through some pretty difficult things and I definitely fell away from God, slipping into a lifestyle that wasn’t healthy or good in any way. I was knowingly living in sin and was fully aware that I was hurting not only myself, but the people I loved as well. I avoided talking about God for fear that He was going to smite me for all the things I had done. I was scared that I was going to get brutally punished by Him or something of that sort. I saw God as a being who disciplines cruelly and is quick to anger, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
While God does bring correction for wrongdoing, He does so out of the sweet and gentle love that He has for His children.
In Exodus 34:6 Moses says, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” He doesn’t say that the Lord was merciless with those who disobeyed. He doesn’t say that God brought unfair judgement upon his people. He said that God is slow to anger and abounding in love. That speaks to me of a gentleness that I can still barely comprehend.
When I was living in the mess I called my life, God was so incredibly present. He was there in my parents who continued to seek contact with me no matter how much I avoided them. He was there in the friends that kept me safe when I wasn’t in the state of mind to think about safety. And He was never cruel or harsh or merciless. He didn’t have some huge confrontation with me saying “Turn or BURN!” He spoke to me softly and gently saying, “I love you” and “I miss you”. There was no spite or malice in the way God spoke to me when I eventually came back to my senses and recommitted my life to Him.
I think back in retrospect to all the things I did, and the way God pursued me, even when I was so disinterested, and I’m astounded by how graciously and affectionately He cared for me. Seeing God work that way in my own life has taught me to try and represent that gentleness of character more in my own actions and words. I’m still loud and I talk quite a lot. My laugh can still be heard through buildings and down streets. But I’ve learned to be more gentle. To take time in how I respond and to think thoroughly about things. My actions, while still rather animated and large, are somehow calmer.
I’m still me in every way, but someone has taken out the bits of me that were hard and unkind and replaced them with a gentleness that can only be from God.
by Brittney Laird
YWAM Newcastle Alum
Brittney (CAN) joined staff at YWAM Newcastle in May 2014, and worked in the Training Department for two and a half years. She loves writing, art and people, but is highly introverted, so she often spends her time reading or watching a lot of sci fi.
This post is the eighth in a blog series on the fruits of the Spirit by YWAM Newcastle staff and alumni. In the series, each author shares how a specific fruit of the Spirit has impacted their understanding of God’s character. Through these blog posts, we hope to encourage you to look for examples of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your own life.