"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, 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."
For the last two months, I have been in a book study about, "Becoming God's
True Woman". On Monday, October 31, we looked at the above scripture. Many times, over the years, I have met this particular verse with one of two attitudes. 1.) Bristled at the notion of having to be quiet. Or, 2.) Discouraged that it seems so contrary to my innate personality. Mad or sad. And, then I feel even worse that I'm a foo foo girl and a little flamboyant in my dress. (Just ask my mom. It has been that way since I could have a say...Leopard hand muffler at age 4. A must have...!!)
There was laughter that day, in our Bible study, from both types of women. Those that are naturally quiet...and those of us that are not. I will come back to this thought in a bit...
After it was over, a few of us hung around to chat. A friend had come up to thank me for praying for her. I saw in her eyes that there was more going on. Within seconds about six of us began praying over her. It was a beautiful picture of gentle and quiet. Acting in obedience. Praying. Loving. And, I believe it was not just for her....
I left there feeling so encouraged and uplifted. Yet, within two hours, my attitude changed. Some events, of the prior day, swept over me. What I wanted to call "righteous anger"...was beginning to fill me in a non-righteous way. I went from being right where God wanted me.........to not being "right with Him".
I shared my struggle with a friend. In doing that, I gave voice to my anger.
Within one hour I was hit with the worst head ache that I have had in years. It scared my kids enough to call in my mom. Several things happened. I was crying out in pain. Full of fear. Sad that I had wasted so many years wanting, hoping, and even trying to die. Scared, in how I have never wanted to live more. Yet, ready if it's my time. Yes. Welcome to my brain... With the symptoms that I have been having, the doctor had mentioned signs of "anuerism", just a few days earlier. I had not fixated on this at all...until now. The thoughts overcame me.
My mom, Jake, and Zach all laid hands on me and prayed individually. Another beautiful picture of gentle, quiet and grace.
Over the next few hours, I rested. I had to miss Lexi, as the "Queen of Hearts". A costume that she, my mom, and Carol had collaborated on... it made me sad to miss. Thank you, Sommers!
On the other side of this migraine, something happened...... In the middle of the night I heard these words over and over..."Vow of silence, vow of silence...". Weird? No. I truly believe that God was beckoning me to be still. Quiet. Silent. That I need to listen to what I am saying in between my own lines. To reconcile the application of this scripture to who I am. You see I am sanguine. Yet, mixed with a big dollop of melancholy. Kind of the same mix as having prophecy and mercy at the top of your spiritual gifts. Which I have. Not oil and water. However, a good recipe of oil and vinegar. (I personally prefer Balsamic vinegar) Unusual.... But, good. ;-)
No surprise here, but I thought a whole lot in those hours. Why have I been so irritable? Angry? I felt a deep conviction, that I was "speaking" into my agitations and anger a lot more in recent weeks. That I am too easily offended. That I need to be still and listen to my true heart. I thought about my strengths. My gifts. I knew that I must navigate these gifts,... traits, with the understanding and implication of God's word. How to continue being outgoing, energetic, and silly. Yet, embracing the gentle, quiet, and still. Upon, really hearing the call to be silent...I went to sleep with great ease. This, in and of itself, was a miracle. Sleep does not come easily to me at all....
That next morning, I woke up at 5 a.m.. Truthfully, I woke up in a panic. I must interject here, that the enemy plays his best mind games with me at this very hour... I woke up wondering if I was even a Christian! I did not listen to that voice, yet the notion troubled me. I woke Mark up too. I shared with him about my late night thoughts. I told him that I believed that I was to take seven days of silence. He prayed over me. As only he could do. A precious man......
Admittedly, I was not mute that week. (I had to work with Lexi on school. And, I talked on Sunday. Very little.) The first two days, I was sick. Which made being quiet a little easier. But, I was nearly silent. And, for anyone that really knows me...this was huge!
I listened to music and read my Bible. I studied the names of Christ with a passion. I prayed like I have never prayed before. I liked the still. The quiet. By Thursday, I was exploring the roots of my easily triggered agitations. There are only a couple things that just don't seem to go away. The work, effort, and prayer that I have put on them seem to be in vain. In this time of reflection, I was earnestly seeking out my complicity's in these particular struggles. I remembered a conversation that I had with my friend, Cindy, a couple of months ago. We were talking about these very things that get me riled up. This was her response to me:
I just wanted to encourage you regarding our conversation yesterday. You are very passionate about what you do, who you are, and what you believe. You also have a tendency to be extreme at whatever you do...you went to the extreme with your addiction and now you are going to the extreme with your faith. Not that extreme faith is wrong at all.... just remember the average person is most likely not going to join you on this journey, because they have not been where you have been and are not called to the road you are traveling. We have to be careful not to hold other people accountable to what God is holding us. We all have different journeys and with that different responsibilities. You are gifted with an outgoing personality that wants to live out loud and share your faith with everyone that will listen! You have an awesome story of redemption to share!! You also have a prophetic voice that speaks truth and calls black, black and white, white. The weakness of this calling is to not understand why everyone doesn't see and do things like you...everyone should be sharing their faith and proclaiming truth, right? Well, not exactly. For example, Mark shares his faith loud and clear by being a highly respected and responsible employee, a good father, a pillar in the church, having consistency in what he does and how he believes. That speaks volumes about his faith without him ever opening his mouth. I love you just the way you are, please don't change!! But don't be caught in the trap of comparative Christianity and accessing where people are in their faith by where He has called you to be. You are awesome and I cant wait to see where God is taking you!!
Love you bunches!!
In revisiting these words, I continued to examine my own heart. I know that I am passionate. Both good...and sometimes not so good..... Thankfully, I embrace growth. I know that I never want to be stagnant again. Ever.
1: a-not flowing in a current or stream
2: not advancing or developing
(Teaser for next blog?)
I am striving for complete and earnest authenticity. Hating my own medicrity. But, I do have to realize that because I was radically changed, does not mean that everyone else will operate in the same manner. I cannot impose that same level of passion on everyone else.
I read this blog post from Justin Taylor, that week. This just struck me, "The biblical balance requires much wisdom. I think John Piper puts it well: “Periodic self-examination is needed and wise and biblical. But for the most part mental health is the use of the mind to focus on worthy reality outside ourselves.” Or more memorably, Robert Murray McCheyne wrote, “For every look at yourself take ten looks at Christ.” It’s the difference between looking and staring"
I loved this process of what I am calling, "divine introspection". I usually tear myself apart...bit by bit. Looking for imperfections, for all of the wrong reasons. Reverse self-centeredness. This time, I was not. The quiet was cleansing. My thoughts were pure. My goal was.... His. To hear Him. By eliminating most of my distractions...I focused.
It made me think of when Zach got his first set of hearing aids. At that time, he was playing basketball at the Boys Club. Walking into a gym before, Zach just heard thuds and thumps. But, now he was hearing bangs, squeaks, yells, and buzzers. He had to learn to differentiate the important and necessary things from mere noise.
That's exactly what I did. I put on some "holy hearing aids". I like what I'm listening too. And, I can still be my self. I may not be in the naturally quiet group. But, I will embrace the quiet and the still ....differently now... and more often.
Taking "ten looks at Christ"....