Well, I don’t know what the greater theological meaning of this is. I know there’s a lot of debate in the Christian community about the ins and out of what it’s talking about. But I’m pretty sure that it’s a lot simpler than we’ve made it. And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t describe me.
I’m wondering if this describes me better, “The woman named Folly is brash. She is ignorant and doesn’t know it” (Prov 9:13).
I suppose in the big scheme of things there have been times that my toughness, or as this verse says brashness, grew out of necessity. In my brokenness I built walls of protection around my heart. We all do. If we keep the walls up, people stay out.
My walls were built with defensiveness, loud words, sharp answers, emotional distance and counterfeit strength.
We build walls for all sorts of reasons. We suffer abuse so we build walls. Our homes break up so we build walls. We have been betrayed so we build walls. Our hearts have been broken so we build more walls.
My walls have caused others to think I am callous, abrasive, loud, and unapproachable. I know this because the two people who know me best have pointed this out to me… more than once. But honestly, it hasn’t been a place that I have been willing to go.
The bible says that as a woman I “should clothe [myself] instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God” (1 Pet. 3:4).
Gentle and quiet. I am faced with the challenge of obeying this verse and being precious to God in light of my brokenness and fear. How can I be gentle when it has been my tough exterior that has protected me? Can I open my heart and be vulnerable to quietness in spite of my trepidation? I don’t know. But I think I am going to try.
I think I am going to try because my Lord tried.
But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. Mt. 27:12
I have always thought that if I remained quiet that it equated my weakness but Jesus was never weak. I have believed my gentleness would give people the opportunity to take advantage of me. But I think the truth is that silence and gentleness require more strength from the depth of who we are. I think being able to stand before accusers and remain silent comes from a divine source of fortitude coupled with peace. It really is the mark of true Christ followers in whom the Spirit of God dwells.
So here I go. I am embarking on this journey into uncharted waters. I may slip back. I may sink. I may regress and build more walls from time to time. But I am going to pack some essential truths with me, to anchor my soul.
- Gentle words are a tree of life (Prov. 15:4).
- Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Mt. 11:29).
- Always be humble and gentle (Eph. 4:2).
- But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others (Jm. 3:17).
Wish me well… see you on the other side.