Gentle and Quiet Spirit

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If I were to describe myself, the word ‘gentle’ would not be my first choice, nor would the phrase ‘quiet spirit’  come to mind (though I can be quiet as far as not talking much, a quiet spirit is entirely different). However, during a bible study I did last year, I came across 1 Peter 3:4.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, 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

This verse stuck to me, ingrained itself in my brain, burrowed under my skin, and has latched onto my heart. I haven’t been able to shake it. I wasn’t exactly drawn to the verse because I liked it. I’ll be honest with you, while this bible verse may be telling me how I’m supposed to be, it sure as heck ain’t me and to be even more honest with you, I haven’t wanted it to be me. This kind of woman sounds so blah, boring, weak.

I pretty much ace the whole ‘don’t put all your efforts into looking good because that isn’t where true beauty comes from’. I’m lucky to get a shower without the kids seriously maiming each other, let alone spend even another few minutes doing something worthwhile with my hair and face, so it’s rare to find any extra adornment there.

But what about this “gentle and quiet spirit” the bible talks of. What exactly does that mean? As I looked up the original, greek word used for ‘gentle’ and found it is the same word used in 1 Kings 19:11-12.

“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (italics mine)

And that is where God was found. Not in the power of the wind, nor the earthquake or even the fire. He was in the gentle whisper. While His very presence is one of power and commands our awe, He need not showcase himself with dramatic revelation. He is ‘I Am’ simply because He is God, not because of how he appears.

“God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14

Now on to the next word that I haven’t been a huge fan of: ‘quiet’. The original, greek word used here can also be derived from the greek word which means ‘firm, immovable, steadfast’ (according to the Blue Letter Bible at blbclassic.org).

Now, I get it. Instead of hearing this verse tell me I’m supposed to be blah, boring and weak, this verse in 1 Peter is telling me something entirely different. To have the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” is calling me out to be a woman of quiet strength and dignity, unshakable peace, firm in my beliefs, passionate and steadfast in God’s truth. This verse does not tell me to lay down and be a doormat, but rather to rise up and change the world for Jesus. Not by showcasing my beliefs in anger or by disrespecting and putting others down, but by being a peaceful anchor for my family to hold on to when life’s storms blow us around, by offering forgiveness to those who hurt me instead of avenging my pride, by not letting the words of others break me because my strength and identity come from God, by standing up for what Jesus taught and how he lived even when it is the unpopular stance to take. No, this verse is not about a woman who just smiles and nods, but rather about a woman standing with her God, messy and dirty from the trials of her life, but who’s unfading beauty shines forth as she stands tall in the presence of her Saviour.

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Reigning it in

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I just put my kids down for naps and got a huge lesson in motherhood.

I’ve heard lots of jokes about blondes. I’m not a blonde, except when the sun lightens my hair, but at times, I have found myself just as ditzy as those jokes make blondes out to be. I’ve also heard lots of comments about how red heads have fiery hot tempers. I’m not a red head either, but I definitely have a temper. My reaction to just about any situation is anger, annoyance or frustration, which in and of themselves isn’t so bad. They are a God given emotion after all. That argument only carries me so far though because my anger often comes out in not so good ways-yelling, slamming or throwing things, or growling/grunting (a very unattractive sound according to my husband); pretty much all the things my toddler’s second favorite show, Daniel Tiger, teaches you not to do. His option, take a deep breath and count to 4, is not as satisfying though.

And that is where the one thing I probably find the hardest in motherhood comes into play-reigning it in; reigning in my anger, my desire to yell at the child who won’t stop yelling themselves, my almost knee jerk reaction to push away the kid who just bit my shoulder, my satisfaction I would get from throwing the pot that won’t pop the popcorn across the kitchen, the guttural yell that wants to escape from my lips when the stupid sun shade won’t hang right after trying for 30 minutes while the kids are trying to climb on the chair to “help” and whining because they just want some lunch.

Seriously, I have an anger problem. Unfortunately for me, Jesus commands in Ephesians 4:26 “in your anger do not sin”. I read that verse and my lungs deflate in a big sigh. Oh how I fail at this every day. However, sometimes instead of blowing my gasket, I actually lay my anger down at Jesus’ feet and beg for his patience, his mercy, his grace, and his love. Not because I need it so much (although I do), but because I have a little person right in front of me who needs it, and in that moment of anger, I have nothing to give them but anger. So I really, really, really need Jesus to fill me with his character so I can pour it out to my children.

Today, it was my eldest, my 3 year old, my little girl who may whine for a few seconds prior to naps just because, well, because she’s 3, but who typically goes down without a hitch. She’s my easy one. Not today though. Today she threw an all out melt down, screaming, growling (hmmmm, I wonder where she got that?), toddler tantrum. I was in the other room putting my not-so easy sleeper down for his nap and as I listened to my firstborn scream her head off, my anger started to build higher and higher, deeper and deeper. I was ready to go in and give her a real reason to scream. However, in the 2 seconds it took me to slip out of one bedroom (after my not-so easy sleeper went down easily and stayed down despite his sister’s loud protests) and into her bedroom, I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer (“Jesus, help me”) and reigned it in.

Instead of scolding her, which is putting it nicely, I simply asked her what all the screaming was about. Turns out, all the little person wanted was a couple of band-aids for her knees, which had a couple of old boo-boos on them, but which apparently needed something to cover the almost healed battle wounds. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why those boo-boos needed band-aids today when it happened days ago and why they needed the band-aids RIGHT NOW, but in her little 3 year old mind, she understood it and it made perfect sense. Yes, she went about it the wrong way and the whole situation was made worse from her being tired, but what a simple solution; band-aids and a kiss from her mama. Wouldn’t you know that once we put those band-aids on (which took way too long because she wanted to do it herself) she was the sweetest little thing and promptly said “thank you” and “good night”.

I don’t condone her temper tantrum, but Jesus wouldn’t have condoned my tantrum either if I were to have reacted to her anger with  anger of my own. It’s a lesson that isn’t easy for me to follow, but one that I need to be reminded of again and again. Today was a good reminder.