This refreshing guest post from Stephanie spoke deeply to me, as I know that it will to you, too. It needs no other introduction, so just read on…
For many years I have struggled under my own expectations, or a list of what I “thought” I was to do to flourish as a wife, mother and homemaker in a way that would bring glory to God. This list of expectations included lots of ideals that on the outside seemed good, but had slowly become a heavy yoke for me as I tried to carry it.
This list includes being a perfectly submissive wife who loves and honors her husband, have loving and obedient children, keep a spotless home that is clutter free and well decorated, home schooling my children with the best curriculum, finding the best deals on our family needs, baking my own bread, juicing my own juice, feeding my family the most healthful foods, growing my own garden, canning my own food and the list goes on and on. While none of these are “bad” in and of themselves, the expectation of myself that I can do all these things and do them consistently and perfectly was causing me to feel weary and overwhelmed. I have never lived up to the expectation I had of myself of a perfect wife, mother, homemaker and woman of God. Rather, I often felt loaded down and was tired, stressed, discontent, and unpleasant. In fact, I was more often accomplishing the opposite of what I felt was noble and good, and reaping a harvest that was not fruitful for myself, my family, or those around me.
Many times I would start my day out asking the Lord to equip me and show me how to do it all. Many times I thought He didn’t hear me, because I would go through my days with my goals and to do list and I would end it with much of it being left unchecked. I was tired of being tired, and began to really cry out to God for help. It was during this time that He began to speak to my heart and reveal such wonderful and freeing truths to me.
Taking Every Thought Captive
The first area that God brought to my heart was that I was not taking every thought captive to Him; rather I was impulsively going about things that I thought were honorable. These good things were slowly crowding out and taking over the best things. The good things were causing me to try reach for a standard and create a lifestyle that I thought was noble, virtuous and holy. Notice the “I” in these statements! I was trying to do the things that I thought were good and forgetting to ask Him what He wanted me to be and do.
Many of these things that I thought of to do stemmed from comparing my life with others. This is such an easy trap to fall into. We see Sally grinding her own grain and baking her own bread, and we feel we don’t measure up unless we do it too. We see Jane decorating her home beautifully, and we look around at our home and see all the things we want to change. We then begin to create a standard based on others lives instead of God’s will for us. We then add these things to our list and begin to carry a much larger load then God intended. By taking our thoughts captive, we will bring all things before him and seek His guidance in our lives. Jesus did nothing apart from His Father, and we should learn from that example. He cares about all things, big and small! It is great to be inspired and motivated by others, but to feel condemned and inferior is a trick of the enemy used to tear us down and defeat us. I continue to struggle in this area, but have tried to make a more concerted effort to simply say “Lord, this is what I want to do. Would you have me do this?” Then I must make the effort to be still and not do anything until I hear from Him. That is the hardest part sometimes!
Seeking His Kingdom First
When Jesus tells to seek first His kingdom, He is warning us not to place value on things to the extent that we seek those things first and not Him, or that we concern ourselves so much with the basics that we overlook the important. I learned that I was often running ahead of the Lord, starting where He meant for me to end. I was placing value on things that He would take care of once I put my priorities in order. Instead of patiently seeking Him and waiting for Him to add where He saw fit, I began laboring and building a kingdom on my own. By seeking first His kingdom and focusing on the things that He guides me to do, it will create an overflow in my life that will result in achieving many of the honorable and noble things I was striving for. By stopping and asking “Will this matter in eternity?” I have been able to gain so much perspective in my life on what I should do instead of what I could do.
Truly Seeking His Glory
This is a difficult one! As much as my mouth would say I was seeking His glory, He showed me that I was doing many things for my own glory. I would say it was for Him, but if I was to be truthful with myself, much of my expectations were in pleasing others and gaining their approval instead of God’s. This was quite humbling to me. Why did I want a spotless and well decorated home? Why did I want obedient and loving children? Was it really for God’s glory? When I took a long hard look at my list of expectations, I had to admit that most of them were for myself and not for Him. I have since learned to allow God to search my heart daily: Is this for me, or for Him? When I get off track in an area, I can quickly repent and ask Him to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.
Simple, But Powerful
These things may sound rather simple, but for me they have been powerful truths. If I am living my day going about my own duties, concerned with list of things to accomplish, and seeking my own glory, I will eventually have a load that I cannot carry. I try to stop and ask myself “Am I building a life based on what I think I should be doing, or am I truly living a life that He has called me to live? Is the list I have assigned myself one that will bring glory to me or to Him? If you are burdened, weary or frustrated it may be that you are walking in your own strength and leaving God out of your best laid plans.
As I have journeyed through these truths, I am amazed at how free and content I feel. I am now purposing each day to take my thoughts captive to Him, seek first His kingdom, walking in His strength and not my own, and seeking the things that will truly give Him the glory He deserves. I pray that I build a life and home upon Him and not on my own meager efforts. My hearts desire is that I become so in tune to His calling on my life that I can be all He has called me to be. I know that as I walk out these things He will equip me each and everyday with meaningful, kingdom minded tasks that ultimately bring Him the glory He deserves. That is a to do list I am more than happy to complete!
Stephanie is a home schooling mother of 3
beautiful children and a blessed help meet of 15 years to her husband
Scott. She blogs at www.ahighandnoblecalling.com,
a blog that exists to encourage, equip and inspire women in their roles as
wives, mothers and homemakers for God’s glory.