Quiet is something the soul craves and the mind rejects. Getting quiet grinds against our nature, doesn’t it?
Not that long ago, I found myself in a season of quiet. At first, I resisted what God was doing inside me. I felt empty. Hollowed out. All I wanted to do was go on with my life. Leave everything as is. But deep down, I knew that wasn’t an option.
My life lacked quiet, and it was crushing my soul.
When this season of quiet began, I was in the middle of reading Myquillyn Smith’s The Nesting Place, a wonderful guide to making a house a home. (If you’re not a reader, this book is a must-have just for the gorgeous pictures inside!)
About three pages into Chapter 9—appropriately titled, “One Room at a Time”—Myquillyn claims that quieting a room is one of her favorite things to do. I’ve always pictured my heart as a series of different rooms, so this whole quieting process sparked my curiosity.
To quiet a room, follow these two basic steps:
1. Find a holding area.
“Find a holding area near the room but out of the way enough so you can stack or stuff there for a day or so without driving everyone in your house insane or scaring the dog.”
2. Remove everything.
“Remove everything that isn’t a rug, piece of furniture, lamp, or somehow attached to the wall (drapes and wall art can stay). Take out all the little junk on your tables, mantel, and ottomans; the baskets of magazines; the picture frames; the papers; the bills; the clay owls your daughter made. Remove the throw pillows and the blankets and the stack of puzzles and books. Take out the plants and candles and toys and everything else. Now you should have a quieter room.”
As I read Myquillyn’s simple instructions on quieting a space, I found myself wishing it were as simple as quieting my heart. It isn’t. But during that season, God taught me what quiet is and isn’t, how quiet feels, and why quiet is good for my soul.
Quieting our hearts is intentional surrender.
Quieting is the opposite of striving. God begins the work within us, but we have to cooperate. God helped me evaluate all I had allowed into my heart. He showed me what needed to be removed, what needed to stay, and what needed to be rearranged. Being honest about what’s in our hearts isn’t always easy, but it’s the first step towards freedom.
One by one, God began to remove all the things with which I had adorned my heart in an effort to make myself look better. The idea of a holding area reminded me that even though I felt empty, God wasn’t finished. His quieting would rid me of fear and shame and anger and myself, so that He could fill me with peace and passion and purpose, and most importantly, Himself.
Quieting our hearts is revealing.
“Quieting a space” allows us to see what is underneath all the stuff. When we quiet our hearts, we’re uncovering. Coming out of hiding. This takes time, and it can feel very uncomfortable. Quieting our hearts reveals when we’re relying on our own effort instead of Jesus.
Many of us are afraid of quiet. We fear no one will like what’s underneath—or worse, that God won’t love us without all the effort we believe it takes to approach Him. But it’s His love that quiets us, and His love can never be earned. Our effort only gets in the way of receiving His gift.
Quieting our hearts is an intimate blessing.
God eventually began to fill my heart again. He repositioned only what was good for me and what helped me glorify Him. He showed me what was really there underneath all the effort. That’s where real beauty is found. Underneath. In a quiet heart without any unnecessary junk, I found this: I am fearfully and wonderfully made. So are you.
Jesus loves you. He loves the real you, not the try-hard you. He loves the you that you sometimes don’t. Jesus loved you long before you knew Him. Long before you loved Him. Jesus loved you first. Trust that His love is enough and experience the blessing of a quiet heart.
Quieting our hearts isn’t just a one-time thing. We’ll need to let God clear the space of our hearts over and over again throughout this life. It will require intentionality. It might even feel uncomfortable; surrender usually does. But it will always be a blessing to have Him quiet us with His love.
“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” Psalm 131:1-3
Jesus loves you,