I set out to title this post “Cultivating a Quiet Heart,” but the picture I found was too perfect to not use. The power, the emotion, the effect: all work together to portray exactly what it looks like to settle yourself down into an attitude of calm when everything inside screams for action, for noise, for running wild with itself in forgetfulness.
But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
(1 Peter 3:4)
January seems like the most fitting time to practice taming my own wild spirit; new projects begin, old ones continue (or die off completely unfinished—sorry, you well-intentioned Bible journaling habit), and it’s so easy to get caught up in the onslaught of things to do. My mind races along its hamster wheel, expending lots of energy but not getting anywhere helpful. A gentle and quiet spirit could certainly come in handy right about now.
As a highly sensitive introvert, I feel like I have an advantage in this area. I naturally tend to not be loud or overly-talkative, but does that mean I automatically get the 1 Peter 3 prize? Nope. It’s been said that the quietest people have the loudest minds, and I’m fairly certain that has proven to be the case in my own life. I can’t shut myself up! So a little help, please?
A couple of women I read last year speak to this issue, and happily, neither of them consider themselves inherently quiet-natured (which is good news for the more outgoing of you):
In The Fruitful Wife, Hayley DiMarco challenges her readers to accept the fact that “gentleness, then, lives out of our certainty that this isn’t our world, but God’s, and because of that there is nothing in it that we must manipulate or control.” This is huge. Quietness resides within resting in the Lord and His sovereignty. It refuses to get caught up in anxiety, regret, or drama. A gentle spirit separated from the cross is a doormat; a gentle spirit clinging to the cross is the most powerful thing there is.
And Rachel Held Evans* says in A Year of Biblical Womanhood, “Mastering a gentle and quiet spirit didn’t mean changing my personality, just regaining control of it, growing strong enough to hold back and secure enough to soften.” I love the concept that this will look different for each of us; we are all on unique points in our journey, walking alongside the same loving God who handles us according to His wisdom. A result of being indwelled by the Spirit is a development of self-control. Sometimes hushing your heart is a matter of sheer willpower. And that’s okay.
What if we wrestled ourselves into a deep quiet every time the temptation to control came up? Or to fear? Or to worry? Or to gossip? Or to manipulate? Or to do anything besides rest and revel in the care of Christ? Do you know what would happen? God would have space to move freely in and among and through us. It would be the whisper that changed the world.
*I’m quite aware of the biblical controversy surrounding Mrs. Evans. My personal reading includes books that stretch me, and sometimes truth is hidden in surprising places. I happen to love her writing style, so I take it with a couple of grains of salt. I strongly advise that you sift everything you read through the filter of the Word; but with that said, don’t forever limit yourself to a narrow ideology created only by a precious few—it’s easy to miss out on some very apt bits of wisdom by doing so. The God of the universe isn’t restricted to LifeWay bookstores, and He has scattered knowledge about Himself around the world for us to hold up and admire, regardless of where we find them. So be gentle to those hearts you don’t fully agree with (for this is precious in the sight of God). Rant over, Kassie out.