Gentleness: Mr. Rogers
-Brandon William Peach-
Comfort, comfort my people!
says your God.
Speak compassionately to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended,
that her penalty has been paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins!
Isaiah 40:1-2 CEB
When I was young, I watched Mr. Rogers every Sunday morning before church with my twin brother, countless episodes and songs and life lessons that stick with me today. I was profoundly saddened by his death. I would look for old videos of his Neighborhood on the internet when I was in college (more challenging in the days before YouTube). As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate him more and more. His fundamental personality trait—his gentleness—was, and is, something that I admire greatly.
In 2012, when we heard the news of the horrible shooting in Newtown, CT, a Facebook image of him went viral along with a quote of his from years earlier:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world."
Gentleness, of course, was the input. Comfort was the result. Soothing a crying baby, petting a cat, treating a wound--all things meant to comfort--only work if gentleness is applied. The gentleness of Christ, of course, is on display when he offers a light burden and an easy yoke.
God displayed His gentleness toward the children of Israel, who suffered tremendously during years of Babylonian captivity, through His prophet Isaiah. In the same chapter, God promises to give rest to the exhausted, to empower the weary, and promises His people would fly with wings like eagles [Isaiah 40:31]. Comforting words after such a long wait for some gentleness, indeed.
We live a violent world still—one that seems to value being tough over being tender. Meek attitudes and gentle actions are seen as a weakness. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The most powerful being in the universe could have used any method at all to crush darkness and Satan and sin—yet He chose to save His people by literally condescending and becoming a human child. There is then, in the fruit of gentleness, an amazing strength.
Gentleness in a world such as ours goes a long way, as Mr. Rogers demonstrated. Our decision to be gentle even in times of fear and uncertainty allows us to share the heart of Christ, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” [2 Corinthians 1:3]
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Lord, thank you for Your gentleness toward me. Please give me the strength to be gentle today, no matter the circumstance.
Brandon William Peach is, first and foremost, the husband of Kathleen O'Neill and the father of William Sean O'Neill. He is a writer with a degree in literature from Penn State University, and a frequent contributor to various blogs, magazines, and podcasts.
While his career is in marketing, Brandon's primary interests include historical Christianity, literature, art, and pacifism in practice. He lives in the heart of Amish Country in Central Pennsylvania, where "getting stuck in traffic" often means being stuck behind a horse and buggy on a windy backroad. His hobbies include reading, writing, watching good movies, cooking, and most importantly, spending time with his wife and son.
He is owned by his cat Tiger and his dog Millie.