Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quiet Strength

As I pondered the meaning of a “meek and quiet spirit” today, I realized that the true meaning of the phrase has been completely disemboweled. I did some research on the current definitions of the words “meek” and “quiet” and this is what I found.

Meek - overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame
Quiet – restrained in speech, manner, etc.; saying little

(Dictionary.com)

I was not shocked, but was disappointed with the interpretations of these once beautiful words. Unfortunately, I have found that those who are set on obtaining the heart of a righteous woman, though their intents may be perfectly respectable, are often plagued by the knowledge of these contemporary interpretations.

When the instructions to be of a meek and quiet spirit were written, these words were specifically chosen to move in alongside the other descriptions of the ideal woman creating a perfect image of what Christ desires us to be. However, given the new definitions, meekness seems to reflect weakness, and quietness is comparable to being anti-social. Does God really want us, His daughters, to be weak and anti-social? The answer is a firm, and doubtless “No.”

I read through Proverbs 31:10-31, and found some specific excerpts which reject the misconceptions of desired frailty in women. Much of this passage focuses on the strength of a woman. Not only does it mention time and time again the productivity of a woman with her hands and mind, but it places so much importance on her strength, that it says “Strength and honor are her clothing.” A woman cannot be honored for her strength unless it is a vibrant, energetic, and contagious strength. This strength—I believe—is not vanquished, but simply held in check by meekness.

Quietness is a bit trickier to define. I used to always think of limited speech when I read this scripture, which confused me since I knew that our purpose as kin of Jesus Christ is to spread His love with a loud voice. However, I think in this case, it is referring to a state of peacefulness in simply trusting—whether it be in a spouse, a dad, or above all, our Savior. Surrender is so often called of us as women. We are not to be in positions of power, but our greatest strength is in our quietness. Many of our duties we will have as women will never be given the recognition that those of a great leader would receive; but when we accept that knowledge, and embrace the quiet strength that we have in diligence, our strength is at its finest. Our honor will be found in strength without earthly reward. The blessings we receive from our Savior may be the only recognition we ever receive, but those blessings are also the most precious rewards we could ever acquire.

Our roles in life as potential wives and mothers will hold challenges. We will be tried every day of our lives—our patience, and essentially our love for others, will be tested more often than we can imagine. It’s human nature to want somebody to recognize when we’ve succeeded at something. The hardest things to do are the ones which get no immediate reward. In those times, we need to remember God’s instruction to have a meek and quiet spirit, and take a moment to smile with the knowledge that He is smiling right back at us.

9 comments:

  1. Amen,... my sweet, meek and quiet spirited granddaughter. You spoke straight to my heart in this post.

    Over my life as a Christian woman I have often prayed to have a meek and quiet spirit. I have desired and longed for it many times. I have experienced His peace on so many ocassions when I needed it so badly, and by His grace alone I have even been able to be quiet and submissive to His will,... at times. However, I long to be that way more often.

    I desire to be a true handmaiden of the Lord at all times. Willing to do all that He wants me to do,...and be all that He wants me to be.

    I take pleasure and delight in knowing that He isn't finished with me yet. He is still molding me and forming me into the wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, and follower that He would have me to be. I count it a true blessing that He takes the time to mold me,...to love me,...to even treasure me.

    Speaking of treasures,....you are indeed His treasure,...and mine also. I pray that the things He is teaching you will be a great blessing to other girls as you share these truths with them.

    Love always, Grandma Linda

    ReplyDelete
  2. Abigail!! I want to be like YOU when I grow up =) You have such a sweet way with words. I LOVE this post. It is the epitome of what I need to work on the most in my life. Being quiet and humble, being meek. These things are a constant struggle for me. Thank you for putting into words what I am feeling!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Abigail and Olivia,

    This is such a great idea for a blog! A wonderful place to share the truths of an Imperishable Beauty (wonderfully well said).

    Thanks so much, I look forward to reading more!

    Blessings,
    Hannah

    ReplyDelete
  4. First i'd like to say you did a wonderful job... very inspiring and beautiful!

    but there is one line i don't agree with at all, you say a women is not to be in the position of power, God has repetively put women in positions of power (the prophetess Deborah is one that comes to mind) and even in proverbs 31:10-31 the women isn't nesisarily in a position of power but she's working. i'd like for some one to show me a verse in the bible that tells me that i'm not to be in power, or my sisters in Christ aren't to be in a position of power. (ok feminstick rant over, and sorry about the spelling).

    i agree about having a meek and quiet spirit, and the strength found through and along side them. keep up the amazing work girls!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hannah G.: Before I say anything else I must mention that this is my personal take on this issue and not necessarily Abigail's. I'm guessing that she will respond to this comment as well, so take this as just my opinion and not Abigail's. (Ok, now that I got that out of the way...)

    I think how you define "power" is an important issue in this debate. If you define power with having a voice or a say in things or ever leading (not pastoral, but say, leading other women), I think that women should be in a position of power. If you define power as leading over men, I would say a definite "no". You use Deborah as an example and that's a Bible story that has puzzled me in the past, especially during the election and the whole Sarah Palin thing. When I asked my father about this his response was that God used a woman, yes, but He used her because there was not a man willing to do so. Because of that, the man was punished. The victory in the battle ended up not even going to Deborah, but instead to a meager "peasant" woman. (Check out the whole story in Judges.)

    It is man's role to lead. God created women to be a helper for man, man was created not for women, but women for man. In my heart, this brings me great joy knowing that I was made in order to help. I know that how I will find joy in being a women is by submitting to God, my dad, and someday (if the Lord wills) my husband. Neither man or woman is better than the other. Obviously they are both incredibly important and the Bible tells us that we all come to Christ as equals. We are just different. We are made to do different things and have different roles.

    As for scripture to back up my point, Ephesians 5 gives the commands for husbands and wives and the wives are told to "submit". Also, take a look at 1 Corinthians 14:34.

    I wholeheartedly recommend you reading "Let Me Be a Woman" by Elizabeth Elliot. She wrote it as a letter to her daughter while engaged at the beginning of the feminist movement. She explains how we have freedom in fulfilling our God given roles. (So sorry for my anti feminist rant, I'm done now as well.)

    In Christ alone,
    Olivia

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a great post - thank you!
    (and you have a beautiful blog! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hannah – Thank you for your comment and for bringing up this subject for conversation. I agree with Olivia that one’s stance on this idea would be affected by their definition of “power”. If referring to a definition such as this—“The ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something”—then I wholeheartedly agree that women can and should be in a position of power, because we are called to be very efficient and capable beings.



    The bible never degrades woman in her rights to work, minister, lead, etc. As I pointed out in this post, Proverbs 31 does say “Strength and honor are her clothing”. The ideal woman is strong and not to be trampled on. However, in that same chapter, importance is placed on one’s submission to her husband. I believe that, though this specific passage seems to be referring to a wife, a single woman should have the same attitude towards men—an acceptance of being the “weaker vessel” in the vein of authority.



    We are undoubtedly equal to men, but as 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 puts it, “For the man is not of the woman but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” When the first woman was created, it was because, as God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” This statement shows not the inferiority of women, but the need for women on the man’s part. We complete each other, because man needs woman, and woman needs man to fulfill her purpose.



    This isn’t a cut and dry subject since both men and women can be called to singleness in God’s will. However, these are the basics of my beliefs on the subject.



    Thank you once again for your thoughts!

    In His arms,

    --Abigail

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Abigail and Olivia!

    I just started a blog for teen girls too! You should come see it sometime! I think that Christian girls today really need somewhere to go to, and it's cool that we're all trying to make safe places. :)

    I hope you don't mind if I put a link to your blog on mine. Maybe you'll return the favor? Even if you don't, your blog is still a blessing to me.

    Love to you always,
    Kelly

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think alot of women, and men, need to go back and read the writings of the mothers of the Feminist Movement. Meaning Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. We've forgotten and have wandered so far away from what these women wanted to do to help women in life. Susan was VERY anti abortion, which today's Feminist movement likes to ignore, and also very pro motherhood, again something today's Feminist movement likes to ignore.

    Elizabeth Stanton had some kind of out there ideas and I don't agree with everything she wrote about and fought for. STILL though alot of what these women wanted was very beneficial to women and still in the bounds of Biblical teaching.

    Women had NO rights to ANYTHING when these two women were alive. They were totally dependent on the men in their lives be it their father or husband. I mean the money if the husband or father died didn't go to the wives or daughters! Everything revolved around men, and women were to be just mothers and housewives. No further education except to learn to be a good and obedient/submissive wife and mother.

    A good movie I'd suggest you watch, if you've not already, is Iron Jawed Angels starring Hillary Swank and Angelica Huston. To learn what these women went through just to get the vote, it's horrific. The early feminists were physically and sexually assaulted by men because the men were afraid of women getting outside their submissive place. I honestly believe that there was more than meets the eye going on during that time. That the enemy of our souls saw the potential of women and what they could do to further God's kingdom. After all, the majority of church goers are women and the ones who do most of the church labor are women. What would happen if women were able to go outside home and church? Lots of God glorifying things that's what!

    Not all women were made to stay at home and take care of babies or be only assistants to men in the workplace. If women were truly supposed to be quiet and meek and submissive and NOT teach then why are they allowed to teach Sunday school? If women can't teach and should be quiet in church then that means ALL teaching should be done by the men and that includes Sunday School for the kids.

    But that of course is not done since handling kids is women's work. Again, double speak and putting women "in their place" all backed up by the Bible.

    Women have done many great things as leaders and teachers of men. All because some women stood up to fight for womens rights. Do you like wearing pants and makeup and having a bank account that has nothing to do with your dad? Well you can thank the early feminists for that. They were LOUD and they were not silent! All so that you could vote and wear pants and have your OWN bank account and be able to have some inheritance when your dad died and not have it all go to male heirs etc. . So that you could say no to a husband that beats you and has the right to do so since he's the man and knows what's best to keep his wife, the weaker sex, in line. And so you could get a job to take care of your family if you've left that abusive relationship and be able to keep the money that you make. etc. etc.

    God is not to be kept in a box. Sometimes he does things that don't make sense. He calls women to do certain things and others to do other things and sometimes it's to lead men and speak out and teach in church and in the world. If He didn't then we should all go back to our homes and stay there and be quiet about all matters outside the home. Oh, and wear sack dresses. ; )

    The early feminists went through hell so that we could have the things that we take for granted today. And, again, early feminism is so very different from the feminism of the 60's through today. Please watch that movie, also watch Ken Burn's program on Susan B. and Elizabeth Cady as well as his individual programs on both women. Pray and ask the Lord to give you eyes to see and ask Him to give you discernment when watching them. It really hurts to see women fighting to go back to "the old ways" of staying at home and raising kids and keeping quiet.

    *gets off soapbox*

    BTW I'm loving your blog. I'm older than you but I've been learning alot from the few posts I've read. : )

    -
    Stacy

    ReplyDelete

We appreciate all your comments, even those that disagree with us but we do ask you that you put your disagreements in a respectful and courteous way. Please do not leave them anonymous but at least sign your first name. Thank you very much! God bless!