The biker dude scowled at me as I sat next to him. He seemed life-beaten and harsh. To be honest, I felt pretty intimidated by him. Yet, within ten minutes together, something triggered his gentle side. This trigger is available to all of us.
In his biker-dude outfit; leather jacket, tough-soled shoes and messy helmet-hair, he watched me play with my one-year-old grandson. I sat on the sofa keeping an eye on the baby as he practiced his newly found skill of walking – he would venture as far as his courage would take him then turn around and run back into my arms. All the while the biker-dude watched out of the corner of his eye. At one point he got up, fetched himself some coffee and went and stood a few feet away. My grandson followed and stared up at him as only young children can. Then, for no apparent reason, the little one cracked a huge smile. Biker-dude caved. “Darn cute kid,” he said, bent down and cooed, “Hello, buddy.”
There’s something about the tenderness of babies that we all understand and, no matter how tough we become, we intuitively respond with gentleness. We touch them softly, we speak in kind tones and we are protective toward them, eager to look out for their good. We see their immeasurable value and treat them carefully.
Why does this change?
When does this change? Why does it change?
We change the way we interact with others because we are all vulnerable in a harsh world. When others are harsh, we learn aggressive behavior to protect ourselves. We too become pushy or manipulative, looking out for our own interest.
Yet, every one of us, child and adult, craves gentleness.
- We are afraid so want to be touched softly and reassured.
- We don’t always understand so we want to be spoken to in kind tones with patience.
- We are vulnerable so we want to be protected with good will.
- We are acutely aware of our brokenness so we want to be forgiven.
We should remember these tender spots in others.
Perhaps when we recognize that tenderness is a part of the human condition, we will see others as they were – a babe of immeasurable value. Then, perhaps, we will forgive the years in between that made them harsh and we will treat them gently and with utmost care. It is in the safety of this care that the harshest of people have been known to set down their weapons and respond with gentleness of their own. Here, then, is where the human condition finds rest for the soul.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29
Are you able to see the vulnerability in harsh people? Will treating them tenderly draw out their gentleness? Thoughts?