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The Power Of Gentleness PDF Print E-mail

            Gary was a senior lecturer on Christian relationships at a mid-western US university. He lived in town near the university with his wife Cindy and his son Greg. One afternoon Gary was very late coming home from boating with his son Greg. Gary had taken the car, which left his wife Cindy with only their mini-motorhome for transport. She waited and waited, but as Gary was several hours later than he had predicted, Cindy decided to take the mini-motorhome to the grocery store.


            Granted, the motorhome was not the easiest thing to handle in the world. Gary had already had his share of close calls when it came time to park or back the vehicle out. But Cindy re-defined the word “close-call” as she tried to back the camper out of the driveway.


            She had almost made it out from under the carport when she turned the wheel the wrong way and sheared off an entire section of the roof. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the falling roof bounced off the front of the camper, scraping away paint and leaving a deep dent in its wake.


            When Gary pulled into the driveway an hour later, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Looking at the gaping hole in the roof, Gary’s first response was to look at the sky to see if the tornado was still around; but one look at the mobile home told him that it was Mother Cindy, not Mother Nature, who had caused this catastrophe.


            Gary instantly felt like ordering his wife out of the house and asking her in thunderous tones questions like, “Where did you get your driver’s license? At the slot machine from Woolies?!”


            Instead, Gary sat in the car, frozen, with his hands on the steering wheel, praying, “Lord, I need strength to act Your way!” Every fiber of his being wanted to lecture his wife now and not be gentle and forgiving with her. This was one of those pressure situations he had often lectured about to his class, and Gary knew he had a choice as to how he was going to react. “Lord, help me figure out what I am going to do.” Turning to his son Greg, who was sitting beside him in the passenger seat, he asked: “What do you think I ought to do?”

            His son answered, “Dad, why don’t you do what you teach?”


            “That’s a good idea,” Gary responded.


            But all the while Gary was praying for the strength to be tender. Being gentle and forgiving at such a moment is definitely not natural. Yet Gary wanted to be the way he knew was right and better.


            Finally, he got out of the car and walked toward the piece of roof lying in the driveway; but just as he got up to the camper, his wife came flying around the side of the house.


            What did Gary do? Fighting the temptation to lecture and condemn his wife, he pulled her to him and held her in his arms, gently patting her back. He hadn’t spoken a word when finally, Cindy pulled away and said, “Oh, look what I did! I wrecked the motor home and knocked off the roof,” she said. Then she added, “And I told the neighbours across the street what I did, and they’re watching through the windows to see how you’re going to respond.”


            Gary was thankful he had not given into the temptation to rant and rave at his wife. He just put his arms around her affectionately again and said gently: “Cindy dear, listen. You know I love you. You’re more important to me than campers and roofs. I know you didn’t do this on purpose, and you’re feeling really bad about it.”


            At that very moment, Gary felt his wife relaxing. What’s more, he immediately felt better himself as his initial anger faded away before feelings of tenderness. He actually felt that this situation strengthened his relationship with his Lord and with his wife.


            After a few more minutes of talking and holding her, Cindy went off to do whatever she had been doing, and Gary went out to the garage to lay his hands on the few tools he had. After taking a deep breath, Gary said to Greg, “Well, I’d better get to it.”


            Just then, from out of nowhere, a friend from Gary’s church pulled up into the driveway. This wasn’t just any ordinary friend. He was a local contractor pulling up in his truck filled with hammers, saws, timber, nails, paint, and a long ladder. He jumped out and said, “Ok, Gary. Let’s get to it!”


            “Where did you come from?” Gary asked in disbelief.


            Smiling, his friend explained that Gary’s good neighbours across the street had been calling everyone around town about the hole in Gary’s carport roof. Ironically, he had been one of the first to hear about the predicament. With his expert help, and without exaggeration, the impromptu “skylight” was patched and re-painted within a couple of hours.


As Gary went to bed that night with his wife Cindy snuggled up next to him, he was amazed at the events of the afternoon. Had he let fly with his first reaction to seeing the damage done to the carport, he would have emotionally wounded his wife, possible irreparably. What’s more, his watching neighbours would have been shown that his profession as a Christian relationship lecturer was only good in the classroom; at home, he was just like everyone else. Closing his eyes, he breathed a prayer of thankfulness, grateful that God’s way was truly beautiful.