In Search of a Gentle, Quiet Spirit

Welcome  When I was younger, I did not have a very quiet or gentle spirit.  I laughed loudly and talked constantly.  I wasn’t aggressive or mean, but my personality was a bit “in your face.”  I was seeking the attention and approval from peers and this is how I thought it would happen.  With age and maturity, I have noticed these behaviors are rarely popular and often have the opposite effect.  I’m learning the lessons, slowly but surely, and seeking a quieter, more gentle approach to life.  I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I might just be on the right track, based on some recent Bible reading.

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Today’s Scripture  1 Peter 3:1-7 1Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4Rather, 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. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her LORD. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Bible Journaling 1 Peter 3:4
Bible Journaling 1 Peter 3:4 with black ink and colored pencil.  I completed this page while sitting out on our deck, so there’s a towel under my leather-covered Bible to protect it.

 

Food For Thought  Have you ever thought to yourself, “I talk too much,” or “Man, I wish I hadn’t said that!”?  How about, “Maybe I overreacted.  Why do I let my emotions get out of control sometimes?”  All of the above, maybe?  I have thought each of these phrases, more than once.  I’d save myself so much grief and spare the feelings of others, too, if I would just have a more gentle and quiet spirit.

A few weeks ago I was reading this passage in first Peter while working on a Bible study for wives and marriage.  The verses are wonderful guidelines for how to conduct ourselves as Christian wives, but there’s more to it.  I contemplated the words, breaking down each verse to consider.  But the words in verse four kept calling for my attention again and again.  My inner self, unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, great worth in God’s sight.

As I studied this verse I became aware that a gentle and quiet spirit is beautiful, and unlike physical beauty, it will not fade as we grow older or put on our middle age pounds.  Some of my favorite ladies, both friends and mentors, are examples of this gentle and quiet spirit.  Slow to anger, patient and kind, caring for all, putting others before themselves, doing good without boasting or bragging, slow to complain, strong listeners, these are just a few of their beautiful traits.  I do not care what kind of clothes they wear or what house they live in or what car they drive or if they have gray hair and wrinkles.  I care about their quiet and gentle spirit that blesses every life they touch.

These beautiful traits are likely attractive features to my husband, too, as these verses are specifically addressing wives.  I’m sure there are times he would like me to have a more gentle spirit.  Then there are the times he wants me to just be quiet!  More importantly, though, these traits are of great worth in God’s sight.  HE wants me to have a quiet and gentle spirit.

As I have gotten older I have definitely found myself getting quieter.  I have learned “the hard way” that talking too much just gets me in trouble, whether it be from others twisting my words to blabbing my personal information to being ridiculed for speaking my opinions.  One way or another, there seems to be some sort of fallout when I choose to not be quiet.  I know in my younger days, my loudness was mostly connected with a need for attention.  Fortunately, that desire for attention just keeps slipping further and further away.  I’m finding myself more often with the opposite thought…just leave me alone.  I’m watching the world around me turn into one giant drama, with controversy and offensiveness around every corner.  And it bothers me.  A lot.  I don’t want to fall in line with that worldly behavior, loud and obnoxious, demanding everyone listen to my opinions in every situation.  As the popular English proverbs says, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

So how do I become more like this quiet and gentle spirit?  When I think of “quiet” in this sense, I envision stillness, peace, and rest, not busyness, anxiousness, or aggressiveness.  My voice is quiet, but my mind and body are also quiet.  It’s not attention-seeking behavior.  It’s not complaining and groaning.  It’s not worry or fret about how I’m going to get things done.  It’s not restlessness.  It is leading by example, not lecturing or preaching or screaming.  It is an example of calm and trust, knowing God will guide and provide.  It’s not arguing, even when I feel I’m right.  It’s not saying, “I told you so.”  It is listening to others and understanding their point of view, their needs, their wants.

The gentleness is in how I treat others.  It’s an offer to serve or help, without shouting, or even whispering, that I’ve done something for someone else.  It’s helping them without injuring their pride or feelings.  It’s acting out of love, not for praise or haughtiness.  It’s patience with my family and with strangers.  It’s not holding grudges or harboring bitterness.  It is learning to keep my emotions in control.  I still get to have my emotions.  I can even express them, but in a more gentle fashion than how I may have previously.  It’s in how I respond to things going wrong in my life.  It’s in how I respond to being treated unfairly or poorly by others.  It’s making a gracious exit, when I really want to run away screaming or stay and fight.  It’s being polite in the face of utter rudeness.  It is being meek and modest.

Becoming a quiet and gentle spirit, in every way, is not easy.  I might be able to lower my voice and refrain from pushing and shoving, but there are other aspects of this spirit that are much more challenging.  But for the sake of having “great worth in God’s sight,” I’m certainly willing to give it much effort!


spinach salad with chicken and strawberries
A bed of baby spinach topped with strawberries, cucumbers, walnuts, chicken and a warm strawberry-citrus dressing.

Today’s Recipe  Schools are back in session and we’re just a couple of weeks from Labor Day.  The calendar might not make it official, but I think we can all agree that summer is winding down.  I know some can’t wait to break out the pumpkin spice-everything and I keep seeing Christmas countdowns everywhere.  Others, like myself, are mourning a little bit as our favorite season comes to an end.  Luckily for me, it’s not officially over yet.  So that means I can still sneak in a few more simple summer supper recipes.

Today’s recipe takes advantage of my Meal Prep Mondays, where I boil several chicken breasts for the week, hard boil some eggs, cut up carrot and celery sticks for the week, and prepare some of the dressings, avocado spreads, or spice and seasoning mixes I might need for the week.  Depending on the week, I might also make some omelet muffins, granola bars, trail mixes or other breakfast, lunch, and snack helps.  I use some of my boiled chicken breasts in this light and fresh Chicken and Strawberry Salad with Warm Strawberry-Citrus Dressing.  I do not make this dressing ahead of time.

Chicken and Strawberry Salad with Warm Strawberry-Citrus Dressing

For Salad

  • 1 6-oz pkg fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cups slicked fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup peeled, diced cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced

 

For Dressing

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1 large orange, juiced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 individual packets of Splenda or other no-cal sweetener
  • salt and pepper

In large salad bowl place the spinach leaves, strawberries, cucumber, walnuts and chicken.

Prepare dressing by placing strawberries and orange juice in small saucepan.  Mash the strawberries with a sturdy masher; bring to a boil.  Add olive oil, sweetener, and a pinch of salt and few grinds of fresh cracked black pepper.  Reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook another five minutes, or so, until dressing begins to thicken.

You can pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat, or you can serve the dressing on the side.

Amazon Products for Food Storage and Meal Prep

I have this Rubbermaid Easy Find Lids Food Storage System, 42-piece set, which makes it easy to find the perfect size container.  They are also easy to store in the cabinet when not in use and they’re stackable in the fridge, freezer, or pantry.

You can also try this 10-piece Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage System or this 9-piece Glass Food Storage Container Set.

Amazon Products for Salad Service

3 Piece Copper Accented Hammered Salad Bowl Set

Libbey Urban Story Extra Large Lidded Glass Bowl

Hardwood Chef Premium Thick Acacia Wood Salad Bowl

Large Clear Glass Wavy Salad Bowl