Oh dear, it’s been a while!  And my, has the last 5 weeks gone by in a flash!

This being the first official weekend of football, I am pretty content while making my first batch of chili for the season and feeling the cool breeze whip through the trees and in my kitchen window.  When the middle of August rolled around I was so not ready for fall–no way.  Oh, but my soul is beckoned to the comfort of autumn leaves, warm tea and rain boots by these familiar sites of a changing season and I am more than ready for what’s to come.  More than ready…

We’ve rounded the corner and now this family of 5 is headed toward the last trimester out here in The Woods.  When I think back at where we started last late December, it’s incredible to see how much we have changed.  A man and a woman who have learned more about each other and their marriage in the last 12 months than they have in the past 6 years (We had our 7 year anniversary in August!); a mother and a father who have experienced parenting in a way that only seemed possible in idealized visions that had long been discarded; 3 brothers who have learned to love each other and want nothing more than to be together; and a family that has been molded and shaped through trials and challenges, joys and sorrows, and most importantly through faith in an unseen, loving God.

Much of what has been holding me back from finding contentment and having willingness to follow the Lord and His promptings were rooted in the fear of others.  The need for approval.  The need to be accepted.  And the horrible consequence of living in this fear of others and what they might think or say or do to you, is an inability to follow God’s will.  Why?  Because you have preset parameters for God:  I will do a, b or maybe even c, but don’t even think about 1, 2 or 3 because so-and-so thinks that’s wrong or that’s only what weird people do or I won’t have any friends if I do that…and thus begins the other consequence of living in fear of others:  you become extremely judgmental.  Critical.  Sarcastic.  Insensitive.  And even angry.  Because, let’s face it, living a life against what you know God wants you to do is hard.  Proverbs 13:15 actually says it.  You posture that if others aren’t doing it the way you are, they obviously are doing it wrong.  Even worse, you begin to rationalize they aren’t following the Lord.  This sin will penetrate all that is in you and you will slowly become what you are fighting so hard not to be:  unlovable.  

The Lord used these Woods in the middle of New England to remove me from everything I had ever known, and He removed me from everything that I used to give me an identity.  And what did He do?  He showed me that I was becoming a judgmental woman who was so insecure about who she was, she was incapable of finding contentment in all that He had given me.  Out here, in The Woods the Lord has revealed to me an identity that was found in only one place:  Him.  Family, my husband, kids, people, church, clothes, event planning, the gym–all of that does not make up who I am, Jesus does.  They are all part of my life and are used by Him to shape me but they do not make up who I am.  

I’m just barely scratching the surface of this new, deepening understanding of my Father in heaven who created me to be His, but I am diving in head first never wanting to return from whence I came.  Trying to please others is a common struggle I see in many of us women.  Comparing against one another–trying to determine who’s way is the best way to look, dress, mother, be a wife, be a Christian…it’s a losing battle.  Choose the Lord and His will for how do those things, not others.  There is such promised freedom in letting go of this world!

Love,

Dani

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