Cultivating a Quiet Heart

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a line of a psalm that I keep returning to ponder every couple of days. It says: 

I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.

— Psalm 131:2, The Message

I find myself reading these words over and over again. These words articulate one of my greatest desires and greatest questions. 

As desire, they speak of my longing for stillness, particularly before my God and as I go about my daily life. I want to carry around inside of me a heart that’s prone to peace and calm. I want to be a person who can sit before God in stillness and peace. I desire to be content inside myself.

But the words articulate a question, too. They cause me to ask, Is this true of me? 

The word cultivated” implies ongoing intent.

I think of a gardener or farmer who must cultivate his soil for optimum growing conditions. This may mean breaking up hard, clay ground. It may mean turning and turning and turning that ground so that is gets soft and loose and crumbly and so that his hoe or spade can go even deeper into the ground below, pulling the rich, dark treasures of hidden, moist soil into the mix with the crumbly remains above. It may mean watering that ground on a regular basis. It may mean giving certain portions of that land a rest from activity in any given planting season. 

Have I cultivated a quiet heart? Am I continuing to do so? These are questions we’ll always need to ask ourselves because failing to cultivate means leaving our hearts to become barren, wild wastelands, empty and devoid of life or the promise of life.

How do we cultivate a quiet heart? 

I’m curious to learn your experience of a quiet heart. I’ve found that a quiet heart comes about, for me, when a few conditions are present:  

  • When I’m given room to speak the truth inside me
  • When I feel fully accepted and loved
  • When I’m not worried about the future

In my mind, this comes down to being parented well by God. The psalm, in that same verse, speaks of resting like a weaned child on its mother’s breast. This child has no need to fear simply being where she is. She’s not worried about her next meal. She’s nothing other than her complete self in that moment. She knows her mother will respond to her cries and needs and desires. There is complete trust and satisfaction.

What is your experience or non-experience of a quiet heart? What are the conditions that allow you to cultivate a quiet heart? What are the challenges you face in this?