His name is Atticus Finch, and he plays a leading role in Harper Lee's classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Finch is the kind of man women love. He's smart and educated, but well acquainted with humility. He's a man of uncompromising convictions with a common sense approach to life and relationships. He's honest and hardworking. He's kind and mannerly. He's a man of many talents who can handle a hostile crowd with his tongue and a rabid dog with a gun.
Mostly, he's a man with an extra large helping of gentleness.
The words of Atticus inspired Lee's novel. Finch explains to his children the temptation of a waiting gun and how eventually, they would want to do more than shoot old tin cans with it.
"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
He goes on to say that a mockingbird does no harm to anyone or anything, but exists only to make beautiful music. For this reason he believes they should be more esteemed than others-words reminiscent of Jesus himself when he claimed those who took care of the least of his brothers would reap great reward.
I can understand why my wife loves him so much.
Gentleness may be hard to define in words, but it's easy to see in action. It's compelling and attractive.
It's the tone, mannerisms and way of behaving that says, I care more for your needs than my own--the world and those in it were made for me to protect--not the other way around. At one point in the novel, Atticus teaches his children with these simple yet profound words:
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
Indeed, I am gentle when willing to view the world from another's perspective without demanding he understand my own first.
It's the way we best communicate love itself.
Atticus didn't use his physiology or endocrinology as an excuse for neglecting it. He recognized the common predicament of those around him-rich or poor, strong or weak. He was the voice of those struggling to find their own.
Atticus was accustomed to accepting hickory nuts and vegetables as payment for his legal services, but on one particular occasion even poor Walter Cunningham found himself at Finch's mercy.
"Let that be the least of your worries, Walter," Atticus replied.
He knew how to let a lesser man win a losing battle and keep his dignity doing it. He knew how to be gentle.
So what's the lesson here for me?
Gentleness isn't an option for a Christian. It must be some of the fruit I bear because it proves the Maker's Spirit lives in me. There can be no salt and light without it. It gives me the moral authority to share my faith and the credibility for others to believe it.
We need look no further than the pages of the gospels themselves to find the greatest template for authentic gentleness. It oozes from every word of the Christ we serve. The life and times of this humble carpenter provide an especially good model for men today searching for the key ingredients necessary to lead their families. Gentleness ties everything else together.
It helps others love me more easily…especially my wife.
And, maybe if I'm lucky, she will notice some of that Atticus in me. Maybe it will be what sends her running back headlong into my aching arms again, where I'll be waiting to embrace her once more.
Click here to discover more about gentleness: http://www.bridgetchumbley.com/2010/04/gentleness-blog-carnival/