There’s a verse in the Bible that I’ve tried to live by for the last seven years:
“Let your gentleness be known to all men.”
Gentleness. It’s the first word my girlfriend uses to describe me. But as a kid, I was never gentle. I was very angry, sometimes even a little violent (as violent as a ten-year-old can be, anyway). Everyone and everything around me made me mad, and I didn’t bother hiding it.
I grew up feeling like I had to win every argument and fight. I thought I had to fight for myself whatever the cost. My weapons were sarcasm and a loud voice. If we’re honest, becoming an adult doesn’t fix any of that.
But try living by that verse for a while. When I first read it, all the conflict and stress became a little more black and white. I understood why I had a hard time leading and keeping peaceful friendships.
So I memorized it and thought about it every day for months. I stopped talking as much, stopped insisting on being right, and stopped expressing anger.
I can honestly say, that may have been the biggest turning point in my life. I don’t live in stress and conflict anymore. I don’t drive people away.
I still refocus on that verse regularly, still live by it. And I can tell you from my own experience: For the sake of your own peace and the peace of your relationships, gentleness is one of the most valuable characteristics you can create in yourself.