The Myth of the Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

1 Peter 3:3-4

 

As I write this, it’s pouring down rain on the construction site/trash pit that is my lawn.

It’s a very, very long story, but let’s just say that the “simple” covered deck project we commissioned, the one that we believed would be completed in 5 to 7 days, is about 30% completed—and well into Week 4.

My heart is not feeling gentle or quiet—it’s way too cluttered with anxious thoughts. As I look out the window, I see rain is soaking every bit of the mess and half-done work. I can feel my lawn dying under piles of boards. My perennials, currently residing under fat concrete discs, are deciding that this year was their last. My poor neighbors are looking at piles of construction detritus in both my front and back yards. (Oh, how this makes me cringe!) And my heart wants to hurry, hurry, hurry this to its conclusion!

Thankfully, this morning I read Exodus 14. In it, the Israelite people had just completed their very first Passover and then packed up in a hurry. They’d left Egypt and followed Moses… toward what seemed like a very bad end. And they started to rail against it.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:13-14

 

What is your heart railing against today? Are you afraid of something that might happen? Are you tired of unfair circumstances? Are you bitter about waiting, even as your waiting period extends indefinitely? The Lord fights for us even today, and our hearts can be still in that knowledge. As Peter wrote, we are to have gentle and quiet spirits.

Some would say that this verse makes Christian women sound wimpy and spiritless. That’s a myth. The Bible doesn’t say that we’re supposed to sit around looking decorative and benign. Just as the Israelites following God’s instructions during the times of Passover and Exodus, we are to do what we can. But then we need to quiet our spirit and wait on Him.

As far as the deck goes, I’ve made every call that I can to the builders, site managers, permit givers, and building inspectors… but I can’t control their actions, and I can’t control the rain. That’s not my job. At this point, my job is to wait patiently for God to move. I have done what I can, so now I need to claim the gentle and quiet spirit of one who trusts in her Father.

My still heart will set the tone for our household tonight as we listen to the rain.

My trusting, calm spirit will make me a beautiful witness to my neighbors in the midst of our mess.

And my gentle acceptance of the natural consequences of a project like this one will help me to reseed and replant without bitterness come spring.

 

So today, I have a three-step challenge for you (with Thought-Shots!). Think about what your heart is railing against, then think this through:

  • Can you honestly say that you’ve done what you can? Have you been obedient to God’s commands as the Israelites were at the Passover? Have you taken every necessary action, just as the Israelites packed up for the Exodus? Or are you waiting on someone else to make life easier for you?
  • Once you’ve taken your steps out of Egypt, stop walking. Be still. Claim your gentle and quiet spirit. Try the Thought Shot, “The Lord is mighty” (or the breath prayer, “You are mighty”).   When you start to fret, chose to think, “The Lord fights for me” (or pray, “Thank You for fighting for me”).
  • Then, take a moment to ponder the people (including yourself) that your attitude will affect. And know God is pleased with your efforts.

As I’ve written before, we have to do two things to clear out any spiritual clutter: act intentionally with some organization, and surrender intentionally with a humble and quiet spirit. That’s not passive… it’s fierce.

 

What Thought Shots might calm your railing heart today?  I’d love to hear your ideas, here on the blog or on Facebook.

Learn more about clearing out spiritual clutter with organization and surrender in the Organizing You Books

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