The remaining items on my Gentleness Manifesto are no easier to embody than the first five.

  1. I will trust and respect your integrity and goodwill.

When I am at my best, I trust you are doing the best you can. It may not seem good enough to me, but it is the best you find yourself capable of at this point in your life. You will only be helped to move to more deeply realize the beauty and strength of your humanity as you encounter, acceptance, encouragement, respect, and love. No one ever moves forward under the lash of my rejection, criticism or correction. The judgement and negativity which cause me to believe you must change, never work towards your full becoming. Gentleness accepts you where you are. I am only able to extend this generous acceptance to you when I have first extended it to myself.

  1. I will seek to listen deeply to you.

In order to listen deeply I need to open deeply. I need to respect you enough to want to hear what you are truly saying.  I can only hear you when I am willing to put down my preconceived notions of who you are and how life should work. True listening is a gentle art that calls me to respond to you from a deep desire to truly know you. I need to let you into my heart even when I experience you as threatening and uncomfortable. True listening is only possible when I am deeply grounded in my own inner security and spaciousness and have moved beyond my need to impress, control, or manipulate you.

  1. I will risk allowing my own sense of vulnerability to be seen.

It is so tempting to hide behind the protective veneer I have built around my life. I hide because I am afraid. I am afraid because I believe that, if you truly saw me, you would reject me just as I reject those parts of myself I find unacceptable. Gentleness does not need to seek protection because gentleness experiences a strength within that is deeper than any hurt or rejection I might ever fear. Gentleness resides in a deeper inner strength that comes only from trusting that I am a child created in the image of God and gifted with a deep well-spring of love at the centre of my being.

  1. I will surrender my determination to control you.

The attempt to control another person is utterly futile. I may be able to exert some control over a few of the external circumstances your life. But you will always remain beyond my power to control. My desire to control you comes from my own insecurity and fear. I want to control you so that I may feel safe and comfortable. Except in the most severe situations of potential physical harm, my determination to control you, does not emerge from any real threat to my actual well-being. Gentleness knows that my sense of well-being does not depend upon you treating me a certain way. Gentleness experiences the reality that well-being resides within the freedom of my heart to rest in that greater strength that comes from a source higher than myself or any circumstance.

  1. I will follow the wind of God’s Spirit wherever it may lead.

The Spirit of God living and stirring in every human being always moves in unpredictable ways. Jesus likened the work of God’s Spirit to the moving of the wind (John 3:8). On a hot day wind can be a calm refreshing breeze. At other times, wind can be an unsettling disturbance that creates mess and bewilderment. If gentleness is going to be a part of my life, I must be able to embrace both calm and mess. I must open to the subtle invisible stirring of the Spirit gently prompting me towards love and moving me to live more gently.

My only hope of embodying more fully this precious quality of gentleness is to acknowledge that I cannot manufacture gentleness in my own power. Gentleness is not susceptible to my will-power, determination, or self-discipline. Gentleness is a gift. It is a gift given when I open to the mysterious deep Source of all life who moves in the depths of my being and whose strength and beauty my heart longs to trust.

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