No Personality Transplant Required (for women only)
I usually try to write for any Christian. But today’s post is just for women. Of course, men can certainly read it, but I don’t think they will really get it. I heard something yesterday in church and felt like I just had to write about it, because I am thinking that it may not just be me that struggles with this particular concern.
We Christian women have been hearing the phrase “gentle and quiet spirit” forever. For years and years, I have felt so incredibly guilty because I am just. not.
Really, it has been one of the most discouraging things ever for me. I naturally tend to take charge (even when I’m not asked) and I can talk too much, if I’m not very careful. I am not gentle. Or quiet. And I struggle with being submissive, too. There. I said it. (You can click here for my post on submission. I won’t write much about that today).
I used to watch Christian women who were “gentle and quiet” — at least in how they portrayed themselves in public– and get a little jealous. Why couldn’t I be more like them? Dignified. Quiet. Even shy.
As I have gotten older, I have gained a much deeper understanding into this. I have seen “godly” women–quiet, shy ones– who years later are not exhibiting much fruit. Their kids have walked away from the Lord. They aren’t really ministering in any area of their lives. Or I have found out that they are pernicious gossips behind the scenes. Of course, there are many quiet, shy women who are truly lovely women of God. And that’s really the whole point. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.
So let’s go back to what I heard yesterday in church. We watched a video in our ladies’ Sunday School class that really brought this all together in my mind. At one point, Nancy Leigh DeMoss said something like she believed for a long time that she would need a personality transplant in order to be godly woman. She just knew she didn’t have a quiet and gentle spirit. I had never heard the struggle put that exact way before, but as soon as she said it, I could totally and completely relate. It struck something deep inside me.
In many ways, I have felt like I have left my Savior down, my family down, and my church down just by being me. I have felt like it is impossible to be a godly woman.
But here’s the thing–
Perhaps we haven’t defined the words correctly. I remember that when I wrote the Sermon on the Mount in a Nutshell post that I was surprised by the actual meaning of those verses in Matthew 5. All my life I had defined certain terms in that passage completely wrong–words like “mourn” and “meek.”. Perhaps the same thing has been true of these words “gentle” and “quiet”.
And logic would dictate that if we start with the wrong definition, we end up with the wrong conclusion.
So let’s define these words, using the specific Greek terms (keep in mind that I am no Greek scholar by any means)–
πραέως (praus): This difficult-to-translate root (pra-) means more than “meek.” Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness; humble.
[The English term “meek” often lacks this blend – i.e. of gentleness (reserve) and strength.]
ἡσυχίου (hescuchios): (an adjective derived from hēsyxos, “quiet, stillness”) – properly, quiet (still), i.e. steady (settled) due to a divinely-inspired inner calmness; (“calmly quiet”) describes being “appropriately tranquil” by not misusing (or overusing) words that would stir up needless friction (destructive commotion).
As we read these definitions, we begin to understand that being gentle and quiet has absolutely nothing to do with our personality and everything to do with surrendering our will to God’s and living obediently, according to His Word.
You see, this verse is for all of us. As we mature, we should be cloaked in “divinely-inspired inner calmness”– whether we are an introvert or an extrovert. As we grow up in the Lord, we should be demonstrating humility.
And let’s keep in mind that being an extrovert does not mean one is filled with pride, just as being an introvert does not mean one is filled with humility. A quiet person can easily be more prideful than a talkative one. Sometimes we get a little confused on this.
NOW– all that being said– there are some things we need to face.
No matter what personality we have been given by God (Psalm 139:13), it can be used for God’s glory or for our own. Challenges abound for us, no matter what our natural bents are. The key is to recognize the area in which we struggle and, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to work at changing it.
For example, a strong personality may struggle with speaking words at the appropriate time while an introvert may struggle with developing the courage to speak words at all. One woman may struggle with responding with love and compassion, while another may struggle with enabling people in their struggles.
We need to recognize that God has uniquely designed (and blessed) us with the gifts, talents, and quirks that we have. And, along with that, we need to realize that each and every one of us– no matter what our personality is– has struggles and victories and needs and blessings.
No matter what personality we have been given, we have the glorious opportunity of using it to honor and glorify Christ. So let’s make sure that we grab that opportunity and, by God’s great grace and mercy, use it to the best of our ability.
If you have found this post helpful, I would sure appreciate if you would share it. Thank you!