What a journey the last six months has been. Well, maybe the last year and a half. But this is a post and not a memoir.
In the last six months, a few important things shattered.
The shatter became a landslide in which new days were born.
Over the next few weeks, I am sharing with you what I have learned when life stops. Consider the job of a door stopper. Or, the contraption that shreds your tires if you pull in or out of the parking lot through the wrong entrance. Both cause you to stop or to slow way down. This is what God did in my life. He stopped me in such a way that stillness and surrender were the only avenue to grace.
Of course, there was an alternative. I could have kicked against the series of events. Jesus says to Saul before he’s Paul, why are you kicking against the goads? I could have chosen that.
As you read this, it would mean a lot to me if you considered whether you’re a kicker. I didn’t find awe and stillness because I have the gift of humility. I didn’t kick because I was so desperate with nowhere to run that I just gave in to awe of the starry, moonlit night sky where he met me. It’s hard to know if you’re a kicker. Kickers usually don’t think they’re kicking. But, you my dear sister, I know you will seek him vulnerably to check your kicker rating.
My word for the year.
My annual journey began with a few phrases.
In early 2021, I began to think closely about these three phrases.
Shed the Overwhelm.
Shed the Need for Stuff.
Quit the Things.
Do any resonate with you? Are you tired from overwhelm? Have you had enough of stuff? Are you sure the things you are doing – the things you are currently committed to – are the things you are supposed to be doing? Are you burnt out by the rules you are living by that don’t equate to freedom?
Shed the Overwhelm
You and me, soul sister, we have a great desire to live a God honoring life full of love and service. We are passionate, thoughtful, present sisters. We don’t want to miss a moment of time here so that we can truly look in his eyes with peace and transparency there. This is a good motivation and a holy pursuit. We are blessed beyond measure to run the race and also to have a place prepared for us once that race has been won.
In my holy pursuit, I filled and filled up my life with good things. One good thing toppled upon another. I became tired from the overwhelm that was my life. I made the mistake of seeing my life as a race without a finish line. The pace of my life wasn’t a pace that my soul could thrive in. I had simply forgotten that seasons come to an end. I missed the loving writing on the wall of my wise brother Jesus.
There is a time for everything . . . a time to scatter stones and a time to collect them.Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 5
The stillness of the first few months of the pandemic brought this revelation to me. But I wasn’t obedient to the kind directives he spoke to me at that time. I liked what he said, but my pace was so entrenched in my routine and my worth that I didn’t have the skill or the courage to regroup and change. God asks less of us than we think he does. He is pleased with small, silent slow growth within us. Think about that.
In pursing his calling over our lives, many well meaning voices will catch our attention. What voices are influencing you? Are the voices louder than the simple, life giving words Jesus is speaking to you?
Overwhelm takes root in our lives when expand or add to the simple directives Jesus has given us.
Have you taken a few wrong turns in your holy pursuit to live a well done, good and faithful, servant life? Of course you have. So have I. That’s what shed has meant to me. Consider your life. Is there anything that you are putting energy into that may not have an eternally valuable end for the life God has given you to live? Not someone else’s life. Your life. If you are committed to something that appears good on the outside, but it’s not part of God’s long term plan for your life, it may be time to shed it.
Shed the Need for Stuff
Consumerism is way of life in America. I no longer want to live out a mentality of constantly adding things to our life. I have a desire to reduce our family’s carbon footprint, be kinder with my purchases and pursue a mentality of more than enough is what we already have.
– John Mark Comer, The True Cost
What if Jesus was actually right? What if more stuff really just means more anxiety and stress and distraction and discontentment and global oppression and slavery? And what if less stuff actually equals more happiness? What if “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions”? (Luke 12v15)
Click the button below for a list of how our family has been shedding the need for stuff.
Quit the Things
I hold tightly to the pursuits God sends me on. My nature has a tinge of obsessiveness and my past points to the unpleasantries of perfectionism. When it’s time to close up shop, I light a candle and keep going. This has proved useful in many ways in my life. But this season is for shedding. Not press on. Lord knows I don’t know how to quit. It’s awkward and intense for me. Potentially letting God down and/or others down is the thorn in my side.
My wise therapist and friend Dan recently gave me an eleventh commandment. This is the one that cures burning the candle from both ends.
Thou shall not do anything unless it’s holy spirit motivated.– Dan Houmes
Do you need to live by the 11th commandment? It may lead to quitting some things. I have done that recently. I quit books that I don’t really like even though it’s against my nature not to finish. I quit working when the night comes even when my work is not done. I quit or defer roles if they don’t fit the season. I quit trying to figure out stuff that God isn’t answering or delivering at the moment. My life is not becoming boring, empty or worthless. Instead, I feel his creativity and service in me more than I have in a long time.
Ask yourself, what can you quit?
I was fully prepared to follow his lead and shed. With the Lord, however, we rarely know how he is going to work out his will in our lives. But we can count on his love. As the last six months unfolded, I felt the shatter. One piece at a time. Until the stillness ran so deep and the eye of the needle so small that everything in me stopped in the silence of who he is.
That silence has found its was to joy and even to freedom. A younger me would have felt abandoned by my father. But the daughter I am slowly becoming is learning to defer to the landslide. When it’s time for the landscape to change, only he has the wisdom to know what to scatter and what to build. I thank him for that.
- Are you a kicker? Score yourself and meditate on Hebrews 3:7-12 & Deuteronomy 10:12-16
- Do you feel overwhelmed? Is there anything you know needs to come off your plate? Start to pray about your next step in obedience.
- View the Top 10 List of shedding things and pick something to try yourself.
- Do you need to live by the 11th commandment? What will you quit?