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Recently, I was talking with my mom and she told me about a woman who had shared a story with her about horrific abuse she had suffered from her partner decades before. I will spare the details of this story, but it’s sufficient to say that this man whom she had once loved had done awful things to her.
In order for this woman to survive, she had to endure until she was able to leave. She was actually a bit of a prisoner until the day she was able to be free from him and his abuse.
Decades later, as an older woman, she herself had gone on to become a successful woman in life and overcame many mountains along the way.
However, it was also in this time, many years later, that she had a realization of something she’d long ago lost during the time spent in an abusive relationship.
Although her suffering was long gone, she realized that surviving that ordeal had also taken something else from her – something that was once very important to her.
She realized she had long ago lost her softness, or in other words, her gentleness.
In order for her to survive the brutal abuse, she needed to be tough and resilient. She had overcome the torment by becoming hard and numb.
But all these years later, as she recounted her story to my mother, she realized that she had also been robbed of the gentle softness that once characterized her life.
My breath was simply taken away as my mother shared this story with me. In all of my years of ministry, I had never heard someone specifically pinpoint this Fruit of the Spirit, gentleness, being taken from them.
But, this in fact does happen to many survivors of traumatic circumstances of many kinds. It happens to those of us who have had to deal with frightening medical issues or accidents. We can become hardened from facing financial difficulties and times of uncertainty. We might lose our gentleness because of any of the seemingly endless ways life can bring us down.
And for many of us who have endured such painful trials – we often don’t realize that gentleness has even disappeared.
And remember, gentleness is a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Evil is always trying to corrupt the image of God in us. It wants to rob us of the identity God has in store for us and replace it with brokenness and turmoil. And while this woman faced torment after torment from her abuser, it wasn’t until years later that she grieved for the loss of her softness – the gentleness she once had.
Oh, how my heart breaks over this woman’s pain.
We all have the potential to lose our softness, our gentleness, because of the harshness of this world – whether we face horrific abuse or not.
This world is hostile and hard for everyone, and unfortunately, some of us face it more than others. But this world, in the state that it’s in now, was never intended to be our home. Human beings weren’t created by God to experience death, decay, disappointments, or pain.
That is why we are in desperate need of a Savior! We need someone who can restore the image of God in us and build up the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, (joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, love, self-control, and of course gentleness).
The Fruit of Gentleness is much needed and directly opposes the culture of our harsh world.
But don’t confuse gentleness with passivity. Rather, gentleness points us toward compassion, grace, and lack of judgment towards others and self.
We need the Fruit of Gentleness more than we often realize.
If you have realized that the difficulties of life have left you rough, hardened, or numb, my challenge for you is to take that concern to the Lord and ask Him to help you transform it. Ask God to help you heal from it and cultivate the Fruit of Gentleness in your life.
Honestly, this is what I am praying for in my life right now, too.
May the Lord meet you where you are and take you to where He is.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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