A Gentle & Quiet Spirit

1 peter 3Solitude. Quiet. Silence. My soul sometimes wants to live there, literally. The Rockies or Smokies. A remote Hawaiian beach house. Even a secluded lake house in my home state of Michigan would suffice.

But that’s not where my life exists. It exists taxiing busy teenage boys to practices, making sure the kitchen stays stocked, and making sure homework gets completed. It exists with a husband often overwhelmed by work responsibilities and needing to know his home life is quiet and stable.

The busyness of those I love seems to pull me along in life at times. I wonder my place, not just as a mom and wife but as a Christian wanting to please God.

At times, my place in this busyness feels insignificant in comparison. They live lives of activity and relationships and growth while I wait for them to need me.

Atmosphere of the Inner Self

I’ve been a working mother and a stay-at-home mother, and in both scenarios wondered how to be an individual. Seems that many wives and mothers struggle with wanting unique identities but know their identities lie wrapped up in the lives of their families.

For me, this struggle came through a focus on accomplishments rather than on who I was as a person, or rather, than on the atmosphere that enfolded out of my inner self. Scripture encourages me to be known for “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). In fact, it tells me this is “precious” to God.

Creating an atmosphere that comes out of a “gentle and quiet spirit” allows for a place of stability and consistency that my busy family needs. It provides a place of peace and quiet along with gentleness that contrasts so heavily with the noise, clutter and brashness of our culture.

Hidden & Imperishable

Some days, as hard as I try, my spirit is anything but gentle and quiet. Instead, feelings of frustration and being overlooked consume my thoughts. My family finds a moody and downright grumpy atmosphere, and home becomes the least helpful place for them to relax and escape from outside pressures.

On these days, the deep cry of my heart becomes, “Oh Holy Spirit, I need you to transform my inner spirit, so that my home can exist as a place of refuge and strength for my family.”

A deeper look at 1 Peter 3:4 reveals two qualities that must also exist in order for a “gentle and quiet spirit” to have staying power, to be more than just an occasional good day when I don’t constantly react and snap and scowl.

  1. Hidden. Hiding something takes effort while reacting happens all too easily. Take the time to hide a “gentle and quiet spirit” deep within by developing a Discipline of Silence and by constantly returning to the Lord where “quietness and confidence” brings strength (Isaiah 30:15).
  2. Imperishable. Creating that which lasts also takes effort, while the perishable remains instantly available. While the physical has some value (1 Timothy 4:8), focus on increasing the fruits of the spirit grows the imperishable nature of that “gentle and quiet spirit” and provides a safe atmosphere of mercy and grace.

A life changing toward gentleness speaks loudly to growing kids who need stability and consistency as life screams at them to compete and stretch and grow. An atmosphere of quiet strength gives a stressed-out spouse space to live without expectations of productivity and attention.

A quiet and consistent faith not only provides a family with a safe atmosphere for processing life, but it also shows Christ in a way they probably can’t see while out in the world. And that, truly, is a sight precious to God.

DISCUSSION: Comment on the role of “a gentle and quiet spirit” for Christians in general, regardless of gender or age.

25 thoughts on “A Gentle & Quiet Spirit

  1. Oh Kari, you are so on. I too struggle with being a person who shows Christ to the world and not the grumpy reactive person that I can be. I a m learning to recognize the lies, to catch myself slipping from peaceful to frantic, and I turn back to the One, the only One who can change my heart, my mind, my life. Yes, God loves us just as we are, but as one of my favorite authors said, "He refuses to leave us that way". Growth in this area like all others takes time, commitment and patience. At least I will never reach perfection, but I am glad I am learning a new way of life. A friend who had not seen me in a long time said this weekend I looked relaxed and happy. It said a lot about how my life has changed. I praise God for the work He is doing in me so I can better offer the world His love, Peace, and Grace.

    • No, perfection won't come until Heaven. But boy can we improve in this life when we let the Holy Spirit control us. What a difference that makes! I had a friend recently tell me that I seemed peaceful too, and that's never been how I've been described before. Love that process of being perfected! Thank You Jesus!

  2. Kari, I struggle too to have a gentle and quiet spirit also. My extrovert personality can over whelm others and cause them to feel uncomfortable if I do not on purpose seek Him before I speak. I thought, be swift to hear and slow to speak was written just for me when I read it the first time. Great honest post…one I need to read more often.

    • Funny that you struggle with this in your extroverted way, and I struggle with it in a very introverted way. Just says that a gentle & quiet spirit has nothing to do with whether or not we are outgoing. It has to do with the atmosphere that we created around and through us.

  3. We are potty training at my house. The other day I was hit with how each new milestone in my sons life isn't just about him learning, it's about me growing/learning as well. I learn how to depend on God, to rejoice in the small things, to not react with human emotions, to count my blessings.
    I'm so incredible happy to be a stay at home mom, I never could have imagined the challenges or the contentment I'd find. I also never could have envisioned how it's drawn me closer to God. Toughest job I've ever had. Daily I have to conform and die to self and ask God to help me create a loving environment for my son and husband to enjoy. That means I must put them first! And when I do, it feels wonderful.

  4. I'm pretty sure the Bible says to have a gentle and quiet spirit, except when you're peri-menopausal. 🙂 I think what that looks like is different for each person. Not retaliating is the mark of a gentle spirit and as hard as it is, I generally don't. So I don't have to walk around speaking in hushed tones to pursue this character in my life.

  5. Very timely post. Peace or having a "still and quiet Spirit" within us has nothing to do with the external (where we are) but who we are. Peace & Quiet arrives from within as a gift from God. We can comb the most tranquil beaches or rock on the cabin porch of the most serene mountain resort but we troubled and stirred within, yet likewise we can be calm and at ease in the midst of our busiest days too. Why? When we know who we are and who we belong to then no matter our circumstances we do not need to search for the "stillness and quiet" that we believe "we" can find for ourselves, because it is not a place we can travel to, but a condition of our heart. Of course, chilling at the beach or rocking on a porch in the mountains helps me to appreciate my "still and quiet Spirit" …

    • Great points, Coach! It's an inner quality that is obvious when present, and, as Melanie noted, looks different from one person to the next. It's an outward reflection of an inward state, and really isn't to much related to any outward state or atmosphere.

  6. I think the gentle and quiet spirit points to a stability that comes from a strong Christian foundation. It comes from knowing – and living based off of – our place in eternity, our worth in Christ, and his Spirit in us. So to me, I think there's something to be said for having this gentle and quiet spirit in the midst of busyness and trial – not simply as a result of time away from busyness. However, I think that those times away from busyness help us to refocus and recharge our batteries so that we can maintain that gentle and quiet spirit when the storms and the stress comes.

  7. My extrovert and gregarious nature make it especially hard to have a gently and quiet spirit. But I can also sense when I need to "be there" for people. Does that make sense?

    • Yes, it makes sense. As others have noted, personality style impacts how it looks, but everyone can have a gentle & quiet spirit. I have an outgoing friend who is a great example of this. Comes from the inner self & God’s presence, as I am sure you know.

  8. I know my kids really watch me closely on this. They can sense when my gentleness isn't so gentle any more. They also tend to react to things in a similar way as they see me reacting to different things in my life.

    • My boys react to it too but in very different ways. My youngest emulates in a major way. My oldest tries to be helpful & asks what\’s wrong. Both help me manage the status of my spirit.

  9. Having a "gentle and quit spirit" can be a challenge in a noise world. But if we are intentional about preparing our inner life then we can have and maintain one no matter what is happening around us. Great thoughts, Kari!

    • It’s definitely a challenge but also very worth the intentionality. Developing the inner self – or rather, letting the Holy Spirit develop our inner selves – is the only way to get there. We need to have a maintenance plan too. Thanks, Dan.

    • The worries and challenges of life definitely make having a gentle and quiet spirit seem impossible at times. Since writing about it, I have been even more challenged and not feeling very successful at this point. Keep moving forward though, right? As I often say when I'm running & struggling with it, "Slow but don't stop." Thanks for commenting!

  10. For me, it's been tough being the homemaker for all these years – I just finished the 26th year. First it was the noise of all the kids, and now the quiet of no kids! I crave excitement. So I've had to learn to rely on God for contentment and joy. I really hate living with an unquiet spirit, so more often than not, when I'm in turmoil, I go to God to see life from His perspective. Although I think I'm only about 50-50 when it comes to writing-created turmoil. I need to work on that!

    • Thanks for your honesty & transparency. That encourages me, just knowing we struggle together in that upward spiral. I need to rely more on Him to meet my needs rather than on my husband, kids & friends. It’s really choosing joy (relying on Him) vs frustration (relying too much on others).

  11. I've found the same thing to be true, Kari – joy when I'm relying on Him, frustration when relying on others. I guess God wants us to rely on HIm!

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