But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law – Galatians 5:22-23*
John and I admire his sister Mary Louise (We call her ML), and her husband Moe. They have many accomplishments worth noting. But I would say one of their greatest assets is the ability to connect to anyone at any time with no reservations.
They are gentle souls.
I first met my sister-in-law over 20 years ago when John and I were dating. She has always been glad to introduce John and myself as if we were the most important people she’s known. ML’s humble, yet bold gentleness continues to strengthen her ties to John. From day one she was friendly to me and always saw the best in me. ML’s m.o. (method of operation) is that way toward everyone she meets. We have always gotten along well, even in our greatest life trials, and in turn helped each other through them better.
She met Moe about twelve years ago and the match was made. They were perfect for each other!
Moe came from a large family and began working early on without a break (as did ML). Moe chose a healthy lifestyle a long time ago and it’s served him well in the physical demands of his work (so did ML). He’s a good source of inspiration and information for anyone staying on track health-wise.
They are responsive. I have never – and I mean never – seen them shun nor shame others, even when they had good right to. I have never heard them do things to “try to be an example.” Ironically, they are an example in so many good things. They are simply grateful for who they are and seek to do what’s right. They believe that if anything is worth imitating, it will speak for itself. Ironically they are free from the baggage of arrogance and apology.
I believe this is why they rarely get discouraged when things don’t go their way. Their resiliency is the dividend paid them for running baggage-free, and in turn grows their good traits more; gentleness, humility, gratitude, responsiveness, blessing others and doing the right thing in the moment.
They are fully alive, whether at home, work or doing life in general!
I want to insert a caveat that will hopefully explain one of the reasons I admire these two people.
They have had very different upbringings than I have, though we value the same things in life – family, faith and friendship, for starters. Both came from humble beginnings. Both of their parents loved them by working to provide opportunity for them to advance further than they had. And both ML and Moe have done so wonderfully and in turn thank their parents by simply being available, even if they can’t be there in person. They are always an encouragement, even if only on the telephone!
Their upbringing was not perfect, and in fact, there were some great challenges. But in it all, each of them stayed in their families, if only emotionally when living far away, and worked through their challenges in a way that have made them the wonderful people they are today. They are also well-connected to their parents and siblings, giving their family members permission always to be who they are.
They don’t try to fix people or change them, either by direct opinion nor subtle hints. They simply let others be. In turn, it is easy to be around them. There is plenty of oxygen for all in the room when they are there. They also are gentle when offering a different point of view while not trying to make a convert to their way. In turn, it is easy to hear them out.
A few more things I have learned about gentleness from watching ML and Moe:
Gentleness is a trait that can be grasped as quickly as it is understood. Though trials may tempt to let go of this beautiful trait – especially when one feels friendless – gentleness itself can be a friend when no one is available! ML and Moe have never been friendless, even in solitary times. I’ve seen them transition from stages of life while retaining the best of old friends and gaining new ones.
They are not entangled in religious rules, but live freely by submitting to the best qualities God could give any human by simply listening to God’s nature through educating themselves where they feel any lack.
They stay positive and bring out the positive in others. They don’t profess to be counselors but do the job well when relationships require it. They never leave a person’s presence when that person is down, but always leave when they are sure the other person is in a better place emotionally. I’ve seen this for myself, and watched when others have opened up to them in person.
Their gentleness is courageous, though they might not see it that way. It’s such a part of their nature that they don’t know it is. (And I know I am going to embarrass them with so much adulation, but they deserve it!)
What I understand about gentleness today that I didn’t when I was younger:
Gentleness when one is misunderstood and even slandered by others always protects the bearer of gentleness. It’s like one of those invisibility cloaks you see in science fiction movies, but with real effects. Without the cloak of gentleness one gets beaten down by the harsh elements that surround. And harshness – the hardness of mind, body and soul – begets harshness if remained unchecked. Harshness is a hope killer, while gentleness preserves hope.
We don’t need one more harsh/bold opinionator in this world as much as we need gentle souls who leave others better for having been in their presence. It’s the essence of gentleness that leaves others knowing that God was here, even if His Name is never spoken.
Though I’ve not credited Jesus verbally in this series on the fruit of the spirit, I have sought to credit him subtly. But today let me say that I see Jesus at work when I see people live his traits well. Amazing Jesus is still doing amazing work all around us through anyone and any circumstance he wishes. I learn more about his nature when keeping an open heart as I await his return.
One final story on how Moe handled a sticky situation with his future mother-in-law (who is also my very own). The family was vacationing, and one evening Moe wanted to go kayaking alone before dinner. He had his life vest on, paddle in hand and was sneaking off before anyone could ask to join in. I happened to look up when I saw the next scene.
My mother-in-law who loves tandem kayaking had just come around the corner and excitedly exclaimed, “Moe! Are you going kayaking”?
Moe froze from head to toe, looked pensively ahead for two long seconds. Then quickly turned from the neck up and innocently declared, “No ma’am! I’m going running” knowing John’s mother doesn’t run!
Thank you God for ML and Moe, and bless them in all they do! I am more thankful today for our kinship and friendship.
*Today’s post had already been written when I realized today should have been faithfulness. Stay tuned!