We often get ourselves into vicious cycles. We make some mistake or we receive some negative feedback, and this elicits a whole series of reactions. In such situations, we can fall into patterns of negative thinking in which we beat up ourselves for our shortcomings and failures. In time, this attitude pervades how we treat others because often the two are interconnected. It is the reverse of loving your neighbor as yourself.

Learning to be gentle is a delicate art that requires patience and diligent practice. Often, in our frantic quest to live up to our ideals, we fail to take the time to cultivate gentleness. In a world of constant action and busy schedules, we can make self-improvement just one more thing on the list. We understand that we must grow and we definitely make it a priority. However, instead of being receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we erroneously think that growth is about our personal effort.

Of course, humans must cooperate with God’s grace, and to do so is grounded in our free will. That being said, the art of gentleness is cultivated and learned through being receptive to the Holy Spirit. Receptivity is not built on our constant need to do and to accomplish, but is instead a product of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable before God. We must allow ourselves to suffer and feel the pain that our sins cause for ourselves and for others. We must not hide from our weakness behind self-deceptions and illusions. Ultimately, those illusions will cause us more confusion and pain than that from which we are hiding.

Gentleness teaches us to see ourselves in our sin and disorder through the lens of Christ’s unconditional love. Instead of condemnation, our Lord longs to speak to us words of consolation and healing. Our Lord wants us to be saints and our transformation is the fruit of our intimacy with Him. We do not have to figure everything out, but rather learn the art of surrendering all things to Christ with complete abandonment. All with a gentle touch.

Today, desire to practice the art of gentleness. When you see your sin, gently offer it to Jesus Christ. When an embarrassing memory from the past surfaces, gently discuss it with the Lord. In all things be gentle with yourself and tread quietly on the sacred ground of the heart. In this way, you will become a conduit of Christ’s mercy because you will also learn how to be gentle with others.