Saturday, October 29, 2011

A President's Gentle Love by Karen Wingate

Free use photo from Hub Pages
Michelle Obama has an active role as First Lady of the United States, yet not all First Ladies have been healthy enough to support their husbands in their work as President.

Ida McKinley, wife of President William McKinley (1897-1901), suffered multiple health issues including frequent seizures. William adored his wife and, in spite of his many responsibilities as governor of Ohio and later, as the United States President tailored his schedule so he could stay close to his semi-invalid wife.”

Every afternoon, at three o'clock, McKinley stood at his office window and waved a handkerchief at the governor's mansion window across the narrow street. He would not leave his post until he saw his frail wife wave back. It was their special signal to each other.

When William campaigned for the Presidency, he did not want to leave Ida alone as he campaigned, so he chose ways to campaign that would keep him close to home. He was the first presidential candidate to use printed brochures that outlined what he stood for. He was famous for his "Front Porch" speeches that newspapers across the country reprinted.

Ida’s risk of epileptic seizures didn't keep the couple from attending state dinners or other public functions. If a seizure hit, McKinley calmly diverted his guests’ attention away from Ida. In an era when epilepsy was easily misunderstood, McKinley courageously demonstrated gentleness and respect toward his wife when he could have so easily hid her from public view.

McKinley valued the person behind the pain. Ida's dignity was as important to him as her physical needs. Instead of ridiculing or criticizing what we don’t understand, Christians can shine brightly like stars in the heavens by portraying the biblical trait of gentleness.

Paul told his readers in Philippians 4:5, 
"Let your gentleness be evident to all.”

Gentleness means that as I realize who I am before God, I treat others with mercy and consideration rather than thinking first of my own agenda or treating them as I think they deserve. Gentleness minimizes the faults of others and puts their needs before my own needs.

Like President McKinley’s treatment of his wife, gentleness goes beyond care of physical needs. It treats the weak with dignity and respect, valuing them for who they are in God's sight rather than for what they can or cannot do.

Who in your life needs an extra dose of gentleness and mercy today?

Karen Wingate writes regularly for the Lookout, Christian Standard, and Clubhouse magazines. She also writes a Children’s ministry blog Inside the Classroom.  She and her husband, Jack serve a church in Roseville, Illinois.

1 comment:

  1. Karen, so good to see *you* on the WOW blog! Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with the WOW readership. I appreciate the reminder to "value the person behind the pain." Looking forward to reading and being challenged by more of your insights!


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