Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful.
1 Peter 3:3-5
I confess that this has never been my favorite Bible passage. But I have come to realize there is something appealing about people, male or female, who are gentle and quiet at the core of their being. Such people have the ability to spread a sense of calm wherever they go.
The Amish have a reputation for being a peaceable people. Have you ever wondered what their secret is? One of their secrets to peace concerns a foundational value they call gelassenheit. Though it has no direct English equivalent, gelassenheit can best be understood, explains an Anabaptist minister by the name of Durand Overholtzer, through synonyms like “yieldedness, humility, calmness, composure, meekness, aplomb, tranquility, imperturbability, serenity, poise, sedateness, letting go, the opposite of self-assertion, a gentle spirit, submitting to God’s will.” Gelassenheit, he says, “is the union and agreement of the inner spirit with the outward response.”1
While many of us are attracted to ideals of calmness, composure, poise, and tranquility, we are not so eager to embrace ideals like yieldedness, humility, meekness, and gentleness. But what if the second set is vital to developing the first, much like physical training is vital to becoming a successful athlete? Or what if the second set is like the thread that forms the pattern on a quilt, making it uniquely beautiful? Join me today in praying that God will thread his character onto the quilt that is your life, making you a person of greater peace and deeper calm.
- Quoted in Suzanne Woods Fisher, Amish Peace (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2009), 108.