1 Peter 3:3-4 says,Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
How encouraging to know that it is not the externals that matter to God. What is precious to him is the hidden person of the heart — who we are inside. But I struggle with the idea of a gentle and quiet spirit. I want to have this imperishable quality. I mean, wow, it sounds like the secret to lasting beauty! However, it is a challenge to be gracious and humble when I feel like my rights are violated or when I am disrespected, or to be kind and be a blessing when people or circumstances annoy me.
A gentle and quiet spirit conjures up an image of someone who is at peace, at rest, one who is not easily agitated or reactive, choosing to bless when cursed, choosing to love when wounded, self-controlled and able to temper her emotions. I have a lurking fiery spirit that comes out from time to time. But my prayer is to be more consistent about being a quiet and gentle spirit. Of course, God gives me many opportunities to practice applying this. He knows I need the practice!
A few days ago Edric was correcting me about leaving his basketball shorts on the floor. I started to make excuses about why the laundry hadn’t been done and suggested that he was being a little bit nit-picky. He said, “pregnant or not pregnant, you need to get your household duties done. I have equipped you with the resources and house help to get these things done.”
I began to defend myself. “You know I push myself, hon. I am not the type of pregnant person that complains or excuses herself. But you are getting upset about the laundry not being done when we couldn’t possibly get the laundry done because we have been out of the home for the last few days.” There were some holes in my argument. I didn’t want to admit that it was my responsibility. As I was giving my defense, I caught myself…Why am I explaining myself? Why can’t I just admit that I need to improve? So I said, “Okay hon, I will improve.” It is amazing how these few words said in a respectful manner can melt the heart of a husband. He didn’t say anything but he stopped talking about his shorts and the laundry.
Sitting silently on the bed, I prayed and made my appeal to God. A gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t mean you have to be silent inside! I was honest with the Lord about my feelings and frustration. “Can you help Edric to be more understanding? I don’t want to get angry. I don’t want to react.” I did not want to disrespect Edric or begin a conflict with him over stinky basketball shorts. Being able to tell God how I felt was spiritually soothing and emotionally calming.
I walked to the living room and hung out there for a bit to write. In a few minutes, Edric came out and followed me to the couch I was lounging on. He put his arms around me, hugged me and said, “I think I need to be sweeter when I am correcting you. I think it will make a big difference if my tone is more loving. I noticed that a lot of times you react to me because I don’t say things in a kind way. I want to change that.”
Oh my goodness! That was fast, Lord! I hugged Edric back and thanked him for saying that. I admitted to him that I was praying hard that I wouldn’t react. He replied, “I was praying you wouldn’t react either!” We both started to laugh as we recalled what happened when I threw the remote control the week before.
Marriage is really a riot sometimes. I am crazy in love with Edric but I do not always get along with him or agree with his perspective. However, Jesus is the glue that holds us together. He helps us both to change and grow, and he gives us the desire to keep loving one another.
I honestly don’t know how any marriage can survive without Christ in it. I am not talking about marriages where couples stay married for the principle of it but can’t stand each other. I am talking about marriages where couples are able to work out their differences, seek out spiritual solutions, and find that there is more love, more joy, and more adventures to share together after decades have passed.
Edric and I have just barely passed a decade of marriage. I would like to be able to look back fifty years from now and still say that I am happily married. And I can’t see that happening unless Edric and I commit to love God and follow him faithfully. So far, so good. But I have to do my part by obeying his principles. One of them is being a wife that cultivates a gentle and quiet spirit.
During a recent quiet time, I read this passage: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:31, 32 NASB)
God is for me. It helps to remember that God is committed to helping me become Christ-like. He uses circumstances and people to reveal my weaknesses and work on my character. He uses Edric. He uses my kids. He uses this pregnancy and the hormones that make me wacko. But most of all, he makes himself available to me so I can run to him. A gentle and quiet spirit is not from me. It is from him.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB)