Discerning Gentleness as a Feminist
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:5-7 (NIV)
Recently, to get back to basics in 2019, my husband and I began reading the Bible together. We wanted to revisit a time in our lives when we had the free time to delve into the Bible at weekly Bible studies and ponder how the word was speaking to us. We decided to start with one of Paul’s letters. When I came across the verse, “Let your gentleness be evident to all,” I really got hung up on the ideas of gentleness.
In today’s society, I think the ideas of gentleness – especially for a woman – have negative connotations. We equate gentleness with weakness or being the “damsel in distress.” I struggled with this perceived narrative as a woman working in a leadership role because I couldn’t relate. I didn’t see myself as weak. I didn’t see myself as someone who was afraid to speak my mind.
However, gentleness does not mean weakness. Gentleness involves humility and gratitude towards God. Gentleness displays strength using proper restraint. It allows us to remain even-tempered in the wake of adversity. In Matthew 21:5, Jesus gave us the perfect image of gentleness: “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey.” Jesus represents a much different narrative about gentleness. As the crowds around him cheer his name one day and condemn him the next, his demeanor doesn’t falter. He is the calm in the eye of the storm.
Once I fully comprehended the ideas of gentleness, the entire passage began to really resonate with me. When we practice gentleness, it’s easier to trust Gods plans for our lives. This can help alleviate anxiety about the future because God is near and is willing and ready to offer you a path to peace. We just have to be willing to let go and lay our burdens at the feet of Christ.