Can I Ever Be a “Gentle” Mama?

Growing up, I was silly and entertaining. Literally my grandpa’s nickname for me was “Noisy.” My bubbly personality was mostly out of necessity. Living in a sometimes tumultuous household, I felt like it was my job to keep the peace or to bring a smile to otherwise grumpy faces.

“Calm and quiet” would never be adjectives I would use to describe myself.

Even though I have been called “sweet” by others (I can show you my high school year book messages to prove it!), the truth is I seem to always have some fire sizzling under the surface. Blame it on my Hispanic heritage, but it’s a controlled fire and I have come to appreciate the strength and determination it gives me.

And yet, I look upon gentle, cool, and calm moms with a sense of admiration. And a sense of longing.

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You have that friend, right, who in the middle of domestic chaos, seems to maintain a serene demeanor and a gentle voice—even while correcting her child who is trying to set a house plant on fire?

Maybe you are that friend.

If so, I admire you!

I have wished—many times—that I could be more like you.

And I used to think it was impossible, due to my Latin blood and my particular personality.

But if you’re like me—standing on the outside looking into the Gentle Moms’ Club—I’m here to tell you that God’s Word is right and true when it says, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Almighty God is changing me. He is changing this Grumpy Mommy Frumpy Mommy for the better. He is keeping all the good stuff that makes me, me—like the aforementioned fire and personality and occasional silliness. And He is getting rid of all the stuff that doesn’t bring a smile to His face or mine. I can see how He is cultivating gentleness in me.

Let’s back up for a moment and define what gentleness is.

The Greek word for “gentle” in the Bible is praus. It means “mild or meek.” I love this explanation in Strong’s Concordance:

“Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.”

WOW. That hits me right in the gut.

Do I, as a mother, demonstrate power without undue harshness? Is my strength under control? Better yet, is it under God’s control?

Here’s what I’ve learned about being a gentle mom.

Are you ready? Here’s the big secret:

Humility precedes gentleness.

A guest pastor at my church shared this gem a few weekends ago as he led us through a study of Ephesians 4:2, which says:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

In order to be gentle, we have to first be humble. This can be difficult as a mother. Most days we are doing to humbling work of wiping bottoms and cleaning spills and dishes and messes. If you have a strong-willed child or a child with special needs, you know what it’s like to constantly be in negotiation mode to keep it copacetic in your household…to understand your precious little one better…all the while trying to parent, discipline, and teach.

I have found that whenever I become irritated or raise my voice, it’s because I’ve mentally “had it” for a moment with the humbling work of motherhood. I’m human. It happens.

But ever since I made the connection between humility and gentleness, things are beginning to change.

  • My mind is clearer to instruct rather than to nag when I’ve asked my eight-year-old to put his socks in the dirty clothes hamper for the umpteenth time.
  • My heart is filled with greater compassion as I look upon my five-year-old who is throwing a fit because something didn’t go her way.
  • My spirit is more joyful and willing to spend a few more precious minutes singing or reading to my three-year-old when she asks before bed.

Yes, I still get frustrated when my kids fight with each other or whine or disobey. But humility is helping me to frame my responses to these situations in a gentler manner. I love how Greg Parsons puts it:

“Biblical humility is grounded in the character of God. The Father stoops down to help the poor and needy (Psalm 113:4-9; 138:6-7).”

I know that learning to emulate the Father will be a lifelong process, but I also know that as I continually seek humility, it is promised that God will give me much-needed grace (James 4:6). It helps immensely when I envision my Lord and Savior who,

…being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

God is gently leading YOU.

In closing, I want to share with you a tender verse in the Book of Isaiah. Here, God is likened to a loving shepherd:  

 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
   He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
   he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11

Do you have young? God is gently leading you! This is such a touching reminder of the kindness of our Lord. Despite our mistakes, even when we ourselves fail to be gentle, He leads us still.

***

Do you have any tips on how to be more patient and gentle with your children? If so, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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