They Do Exist.

For The Girl Criticized For Not Having A Quiet Spirit

Editor’s Note: Today’s post by Taylor is on a topic that really fascinates me. Most women in the Bible had radically strong and “vocal” spirits, yet many of us are raised to be quiet, introverted, and ‘gentle.’ I grew up believing that I didn’t have a gentle spirit and I needed to fix myself, until multiple close friends insisted I was a quiet person. Whatever side of the fence you fall on, be careful when you let others speak into what kind of spirit you should have as a person, or as a gender. It can alter your life. Taylor blogs here and tweets at @tayholder. – Lauren

There really aren’t many things that annoy me more than gender stereotypes, and that’s mainly because I just don’t feel like I fit into any of them. Specifically, the ones the traditional Church has promoted.

In my eyes, I am too opinionated. I’m too loud. Too strong. Too tall. Just too much. I just need to be more dainty. No matter how hard I try, my car ends up being a mess. Maybe I should pluck my eyebrows more regularly… yeah, I probably should.

Over the past 6 years that I’ve had a relationship with Christ, I’ve had many victories, disappointments, lessons learned, heart aches, and relapses. The beautiful thing is that Grace has always been there to pick me up. Every single time. And somehow we just keep on trucking, together.

But somewhere along the line, I stopped being the too-strong girl.

That loud, obnoxious one who wore the puke shade of orange and argued ’til she was blue in the face about why Phil Fulmer and the whole Clausen family could all go to hell (For those of you who don’t know, that’s a football thing).

It first hit me a couple months ago when I was told, for the first time ever, that I’m kind of a quiet person. I was taken aback. Quiet? Me? No. Then again, yesterday, when I said to a friend, “I just have too strong of a personality,” he quickly refuted it.

Where did that girl go? And when? Is she forever gone? Is that even a good thing?

I think in the end, it all depends on why she left. Was she transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit? Or was she scared off by insecurity and a need for approval in this new community? A new community in which women look very different than she used to look.

Bottom line is that yes, I think we can all agree that the girl who willed sports players to eternal damnation can kick rocks, but why is the opposite of her a quiet girl to the extent that she’s a coward?

Why can’t the opposite of her be a strong-willed girl who is loud for the right causes?

Like the cause of justice? Of truth? Of grace and love, in a culture filled with judgement? Can I use my loud-ness in favor of Love?

I haven’t become that girl. Somewhere along the line, expectation reached out and grabbed me. And I didn’t even put up a fight, believing that the expectation came from those around me, who pointed fingers at me, or whispered about me behind my back. And it came from me too. I joined in and threw rocks at myself in judgement, while Jesus stood in the gap, drew lines in the sand, and defended me from my own hatred.

When I’d become a Christian, I’d resolved to know who I had to be so that I’d fit into the church. Who I had to be in order to have a Christian man desire me, value me, and even want to keep me around.

I was so far from being that kind of girl, and I hated myself for it.

Instead of going after Christ whole-heartedly, half of me was always stuck on being a better woman, or at least my perception of a better woman. I kept wondering when Jesus was going to transform me into the perfect Christian friend and wife.

All I wanted was to be a different person than I who was before I knew Christ, but I took it to the extreme, and in the end I kind of lost myself. Not completely, though. Sometimes the “old me” comes out, but I’ve resented her, and have quickly reprimanded her.

Sometimes, I still get a little loud. I feel like it’s the old me that comes out and fights and fights. Sometimes trivially, and sometimes for the best reasons.

Sometimes she says, “MEN, WOMEN ARE NOT DISPOSABLE.”

Sometimes she screams, “STOP RUNNING TO THAT THING, IT WILL NEVER SATISFY YOU.”

But this week I realized that maybe that girl isn’t the old me, maybe it IS still the new me. The me who is in Christ, but is still just me, “The too-tall girl from the wrong side of the tracks.” (If you know that reference, you get me.)

***

I can’t wait to get to the place where I can put down expectation and be who God has made me.

I want to be her fully.

A woman with a quiet spirit, but not always a quiet mouth. A woman who has a really weird, goofy, over-the-top side. A woman who likes to debate, but is open to being wrong. A woman who challenges those around her, hoping they will challenge her back, because at the end of the day, she just really wants to learn. A woman who always wants to be the best version of herself.

Maybe this girl doesn’t fit into the perfect gender role molds, and maybe that’s okay.


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35 Responses

  1. Preach it, sister! I wrote a paper in college about the tyranny of the "gentle and quiet spirit" in my Christian elementary school and the common misconception in Christian circles that the softer you speak, the holier you are-especially if you're female. I often felt that if only I could shut up in class, I'd find favor with God. Thankfully, I now see how that urge to speak can be a God-given gift in its own right.

    March 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm

  2. Michelle

    I can relate to this because I was that girl too but now I’m back to my self and I don’t really care what anybody thinks. There is no rule but mans rule who will always oppress women. The energy needs to be equalized without usurping the God given heirarchy in the family. As long as the man does his part, we can be who we are in respect. I no longer believe that being too strong or too loud is non feminine – I just think that’s the personality that God gave me and I’m not conforming to something I am not.

    March 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm

  3. This could be my story. My parents gave me a t-shirt for my 18th birthday that said, "Teamwork: Everyone doing what I say." I hated it and let it rot at the bottom of my closet. Point well taken. But I've had co-workers and classmates describe me as "demure" and "sweet". I've shrugged it off claiming they don't really know me.

    But I'm beginning to wonder too. Your questions are making me examine myself. THANK YOU for writing this. You are not the only one by far.

    March 13, 2013 at 10:02 pm

  4. lindayoon

    Thank you sooo much for the post!!! Although, I'm this petite lady… rather than being tall… I totally related to this blog post!!!!

    March 13, 2013 at 10:19 pm

  5. ALLIE

    Thank you so much for writing this! I can completely relate. In the past Church-set stereotypes of that is “womanly” have led me to question myself and feel completely insecure, somehow hindering my confidence in who God made me and making me feel like God wouldn’t love or accept me if I wasn’t a certain type of woman.

    It’s so refreshing to remember that God made shy, quiet women, loud, crazy ones, and all those in between. And He made them ALL a certain way for His purpose.

    March 13, 2013 at 11:26 pm

  6. For a long time I saw myself as the quiet insecure, type that was sweet and the like. Growing up I had barely any friends, and every time I had a raised voice or acted outside of the character that I perceived myself as, I'd punish myself.

    I don't like the loud part of me, and when I'm with my friends that say that I am loud or any kind of characteristic that I don't like, I try to change it. Sometimes it's to try and conform to others, mostly it's because it's a quality that I hate about myself and I don't see as godly.

    But there is a point that we shouldn't have to conform. You had a really good post that brought to light a lot of issues that aren't really being talked about.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:23 am

  7. Jennifer

    A gentle and quiet spirit doesn’t have to translate to a gentle and quiet person (although it can). A gentle and quiet spirit is someone who is completely at peace with oneself, confident through the Holy Spirit, and not afraid to look stupid. You can have a heated debate with someone and still possess a gentle and quiet spirit. It comes down to love. A gentle and quiet spirit is an unabashedly loving spirit.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:50 am

  8. kristipaula

    I know the feeling. I've often felt like I'm too outspoken to fit into Christian culture. But you know what, most other women in the church are just role-playing when they act like that. Besides, I have plenty of quiet friends who are opinionated. Jesus came to free us from rules and just love Him and be who we truly are!

    March 14, 2013 at 1:46 am

  9. Hlengi

    Oh my word miss Taylor i can relate to this 100%. It's been the story of my 7 yr relationship with christ.I live LOUDLY! my laughter, my emotions, my passions, EVERYTHING. But i felt sidelined because of it. I could not be put into a box or categorised because my personality is a cacophony of contradictions. So after years and years of trying to be more quiet and failing miserably at it because it made me so miserable, i've resigned myself to becoming the woman the lord wants me to be. I have great confidence in him and his word says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I'm excited to see that vibrant woman so lost in the Lord's love and affection towards her! YES! Leggo!!

    March 14, 2013 at 2:50 am

  10. Jess

    Thank you so much for this post. It is a complete answer to prayer. I have been struggling with this my whole life, as I’ve always been told women should be meek and mild and that I’m anything but… That my fiesty nature is ungodly or un biblical. So thank you so much for this (and all the comments)! X

    March 14, 2013 at 4:13 am

  11. This is so good. Also, "a woman who likes to debate but is open to being wrong." I mean, damn, some days I feel like if we just had 5 more of these women in the world, it would get better. It's ok to speak up, it's ok to be quiet, it's ok to be wrong, and it's ok to be right!!
    I've been grappling so much this year with discovering who God has made me and what does that look like. I've always been "too emotional" or "too sensitive." but if God created me that way for a purpose, then I've been missing out on that purpose thanks to a whole lot of fear. Well, no more.

    thanks for sharing!

    March 14, 2013 at 10:35 am

  12. YES. So much hard-fought wisdom here, Taylor! Thank you for writing this. I needed the reminder. I'm a loud laugher and a loud story teller, and honestly there are few things more disheartening than when someone tells me to quiet down. … That "gentle and quiet spirit" verse can get so twisted so fast. Our hearts can be at completely rest in Jesus while our mouths simultaneously, fearlessly proclaim grace and truth and honesty, and I think that's how it should be. A quiet spirit doesn't mean being literally quiet, or small, or demure, and I didn't learn that until mid-college. Thanks so much for speaking truth about this.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

  13. _T_

    Oh my gosh THANK YOU!!! for writing this! I was actually abandoned by my best friend almost three years because of my "strong personality" and it's taken me some time to celebrate the way God made me instead of try to stuff myself in a neat little quiet box and try to be someone else. There hasn't been reconciliation and restoration between us yet, and though daggers continue to be thrown, I talk to God about healing this relationship constantly. Until then, I hope she reads this and it sinks in. In the mean time, as it's been hurting again this week, this has helped… so much.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

  14. Mckenzie

    I have struggled with self hatred for years because I was nothing like my awesome Christian girl friends, who were timid and loved small animals. I laughed too loud, at inappropriate times, and had too much to say about all the wrong topics. Useless facts crowd my mind, and I can’t help but overly mention people that I love dearly. So, so thankful that someone took time to write this. While God has certainly quieted me down a bit, he didn’t make me to be the mild mannered, silent church maiden. And I’m ok with that…as long as he gets all the glory! Anyhow, thanks so much for covering topics that affect all women, and not just the ones that this “bible belt” that i live in glorifies.

    March 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm

  15. This is EXACTLY what I've been discovering about myself over the last 20 years…getting back to God's original design for me–which is not verbally quiet, but settled in who I am in Christ. Thank you for articulating it so beautifully. I'm a relationship therapist and I am sharing this on my professional pages. Bravo!

    March 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  16. esharajendran

    This is beautiful :) Thanks for this! I'm still trying to figure this part of me out and I found this so encouraging!

    March 14, 2013 at 4:23 pm

  17. laurenrebekah

    I worked at a Summer Camp mentoring a bunch of the 20-something year girls on staff. This topic actually came up as an insecurity pretty often, and I have struggled with feeling like this as well. Thanks for addressing it and highlighting that there are different types of Godly women!

    March 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm

  18. Zoeb

    Can I applaud you Taylor? Because, to me, this is the perfect description of Godbly womanhood: "A woman with a quiet spirit, but not always a quiet mouth. A woman who has a really weird, goofy, over-the-top side. A woman who likes to debate, but is open to being wrong. A woman who challenges those around her, hoping they will challenge her back, because at the end of the day, she just really wants to learn. A woman who always wants to be the best version of herself."

    In my opinion, a quiet spirit is a spirit that is connected with God and is quiet and calmed in the knowldege of His love (the opposite being a restless spirit searching for, and spurning, God). This kind of quiet spirit is a deep spirit. A deep spirit cares passionately about things. And a person who cares passionately about things does not always have a quiet mouth. On the contrary, a woman with this kind of quiet spirit is able (compelled, on the topics God has placed on her heart) to discuss, debate, have – and share! – opinions both with the humility to admit when she is wrong and the courage to hold her ground when she is speaking the truth.

    I'm so excited that you came to the above conclusion :) God bless you xxx

    March 14, 2013 at 6:05 pm

  19. All I really have to say is: thank you, thank you, thank you.

    March 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm

  20. Great insight! And many of the above commenters have nailed the real meaning of a quiet & gentle SPIRIT as well. One of the nicest compliments I recently received (while laughing WAY too loudly at a meeting!) was "Nobody laughs as deeply as Lois" It was said as a compliment and I received it as such. As children of the living God we ought to live deeply, love deeply, laugh deeply.

    Another article I recently read had this quote "shyness isn't a virtue" The article was about the art of good conversation and how shyness can actually be a form of selfishness or pride. A meek & quiet spirit is just that…your spirit…your inmost being…your outward nature can be loud and outgoing and thinking of others and reaching out, and the meek & quiet spirit will quietly shine through in the midst of a belly laugh.

    March 15, 2013 at 12:22 am

  21. Kristy

    Thank you for this post.

    Before my surrender to Christ, I was the loud one, the opinionated one, the fighter. (It was a means of self defense). Although I no longer have to defend myself, because Christ does that for me, I am still loud, opinionated, and willing to fight (for God's Kingdom). I feel like I talk too much in bible study small groups, or community group or in private conversations. I feel like people don't look at me as having a quite, gentle spirit. Does it matter what people think, really? But, between "being above reproach" and "not conforming to the world", I get stuck sometimes. When a co-worker, who has only known me since my conversion, says to me "I can't believe you used to be like THAT!" when we were discussing what I used to be like, I'm shocked. They think of me as "nice, quiet, calm, secure". Really? I mean, really?

    And just when I read what you wrote, it occured to me "ya, where DID that old girl go? And when?" I appreciate your post so much, and look forward to embracing the "me" that God created.

    March 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm

  22. Oh my goodness. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this! You have captured exactly how I have felt in the past eight years and this has encouraged me greatly!

    Ngaio xx

    March 16, 2013 at 8:26 am

  23. Thank you so much for this post.
    I cant tell you how much this has touched me.
    I have had the hardest time with this.
    Given myself so much crap about this.
    This was so healing.
    Thank you, again.
    xoxoxo

    April 4, 2013 at 7:21 pm

  24. Ellegen1

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS! I'm in a close Christian community, and I've been feeling this way for a while, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. I'm really social so I tend to shine really bright, and I LOVE to debate. I've actually had leaders who have made critical comments, because I tend to be really social, doing everything, talking to everyone, and they question my "Christian abilities" if something like that even exists. Thanks so much for putting this out there.

    April 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm

  25. Art

    Wow. Reading this from all of you is very discouraging. It makes me think, "Will I ever find a truly godly woman?" A meek and quiet spirit … that's plain talk easy understood. There's no need to redefine it. And, one reason (I see) you all are redefining it is to make it fit into your unrepentant, cheeky "personality".

    "A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing." (Proverbs 9.13) A wicked woman (in the BIBLE) has a personality described as "loud and stubborn". (Proverbs 7.11) Now, although common experience proves this, but these are the words of the Spirit.

    You see, it's not you trying to fit into "traditional church culture" (you all sound like a bunch of atheists when you say this), but to the words of God Himself, whom (I'm sure) you claim to have as your Father.

    But a true child of God will keep God's word, and do it.

    April 11, 2013 at 8:28 pm

  26. I am proud to know you Taylor. Keep on living for Jesus . . . ignore Bible Guy. If he can't read your post and recall the scripture references you're speaking of in your discussion of a godly woman, then maybe he should change his name to just "Guy" because he clearly has no concept of a biblical woman, they're a lot stronger and more fierce than most men want to admit or condone. My wife is awesome and I am glad she is a strong fierce woman with her own beliefs and ambitions, she keeps me in check and I thank God for her :)

    April 14, 2013 at 7:12 pm

  27. KatlinSims

    To the two men here who seem to think a strong woman can only be “foolish, clamorous, and wicked” I have this to say:

    Anyone who reads the Bible and does not see example after example of strong and fierce women is clearly not reading it. Just a cursory look at the 4 women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ reveals that not one of them fit the meek “Christian” female stereotype. Not to mention Deborah – judge of all Israel who lead the Jewish army into a victorious battle, Esther – a woman who went against all the rules, charged into the chamber of the king (who could have had her killed on the spot) to save the life of her people, and many other women all throughout the Bible. Any person who uses the Bible as an excuse to put women down and try to silence us, clearly has not really read the Bible or chooses to highlight the parts that support their own bias views.

    Taylor, this post is great! From one strong, outspoken woman to another, being loud and outspoken and imperfect is nothing to be ashamed of or try to hide. No one is perfect and someone has to speak up and be loud if any of the injustice in the world is going to end. Don’t ever change who you are for anyone but God. Strong women change the world, and strong Godly men aren’t afraid of strong women.

    April 14, 2013 at 8:05 pm

  28. Sarah

    Abigail, Susanna, Joanna, Rahab, Mary the mother of Christ, Mary Magdalene who anointed Jesus' feet right in the house of the Pharisee… these are only a few of the women who stood up for what was right, walked differently from cultural norms, and did not keep to their culturally-determined places. Our personalities are God-given. That does not mean that every urge I have is Godly, but my whole personality bends in a certain direction, I trust that my Creator knew what he was doing when he Created me. I have walked with God for 30 years, and in all that time, He has gotten pretty good at convicting me about things that need to change. I have been convicted for being demanding and self-righteous, but never for being passionate about Godly things. I have been convicted for speaking foolishly, but not for speaking out. I have been convicted for bending to pressure, but never for standing for the things of God.

    Scripture speaks clearly. A woman can be beautiful and womanly and still be strong and advocate for what is right. In fact, I would venture to say that if we don't have the backbone to stand up for what God is passionate about, then we have missed the message that God does not give us a spirit of fear and we do nothing to further the Kingdom of God.

    April 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm

  29. Davina

    I've just started to struggle with this issue this afternoon, after having a conversation with someone (a Christian guy that I thought was pretty darn cute) about something that's really close to my heart: worship. And i just started having these thoughts 'he won't like you because you're too loud and too opinionated and too strong-willed'.

    Came across this article again and can I just say that this has completely liberated me? :D

    Thank you soooooooooooooooo much! xxx

    April 29, 2013 at 9:54 am

  30. Pingback: Oh, That You… | love is taking over

  31. I don't see having a quiet spirit as limiting or as a gender stereotype. From my understanding, both men and women who follow Christ do well to cultivate a quiet spirit. The word translated as quiet is hēsychios, which means quiet in the sense of calm, tranquil, at peace. It's coupled in I Peter 3 with meek. The picture is of someone who trusts God from the depths of their hearts and whose calm faith does not waver under trial. The whole book of I Peter tells Christians in general how to have hope and to endure during trials or persecutions. After Peter lays down the basic concept, he breaks down how we might carry this out in specific situations, and it's in that section that we have a passage addressed to wives and one addressed to husbands. We all have trials; meeting them with faith rather than fear; calmness rather than panic; love rather than a frantic battle to protect our own egos indicates strength rather than weakness. I, for one, find it far easier in my natural self to fret and panic than to trust and take calm action. For that reason, I greatly admire people who speak and act from faith rather than fear and seek to grow in that kind of faith all of the time. Right before the passage addressed to wives in I Peter 3, from which we get the phrase "quiet spirit", we are given Christ's beautiful example of how he faced the cross for our sake. I'm a long way from it, but I do so want to be like Christ. I do think that the most agelessly beautiful women I know have quiet, faithful spirits.

    August 30, 2013 at 11:47 pm

  32. Tsalached

    I think some sisters misunderstands having a gentle and quite spirit. Since a child my outward portrayal is that of a quiet person. And to be fair I am quiet somewhat. But I believe the Holy Spirit is identifying to me that although I may seem shy and quiet my inner man can become easily irritated, annoyed, impatient, opinionated, loud, etc etc. many ppl may not even agree with this. But while I admit the inner self has some renewing to do there's a part of my personality is quiet strong….I don't think the Holy Spirit wants to change that part of me, I have to be strong to lead in ministry, strong to live as a single woman in a ghetto in a country where majority of the ppl relates with aggression. Strong to do business, strong to survive, strong to lead strong will teens etc etc

    I have been trying to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit cos I see its precious in the sight of my God ( why wouldn't anyone, knowing this). Yet I know getting a gentle and quiet spirit doesn't mean curling up in a ball. With the wisdom from God I can rightfully be myself, stand my ground, defend the gosple and my rights without been hurtful, rude to others and inconsiderate. Cultivating a gentle and quiet sprit has also been helping to balance my strong will….now those under my leadership can know they have a no nonsense leader who also has a gentle and quiet touch to her leadership. Now the grace of the inner man plus my personality works well together. May the Holy Spirit continues to cultivate a G&Q spirit in me.
    Keep blessed

    February 4, 2014 at 10:26 pm

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