Finding Freedom: Lean Into the Hard

Every time I read quotes like, "Live your passion and you will never work a day in your life," or "Discover what you were born to do and you will always be happy," I have a knee jerk type of reaction. It usually involves me rolling my eyes and saying insightful things like, "Baloney."

The truth is that it is has taken me quite some time to get to a place of freedom and rejection of this mentality. My reaction used to be both guilt that I didn't live my passion as well as jealousy of those who did. And just in case you didn't know this already, neither guilt or jealousy are healthy emotions to live with.

I realize I am saying something rather counter-cultural to today's mindset, but I just find this way of thinking very limiting and unrealistic.  Life is full of the mundane, routine, non-passion-inspiring moments and activities. Do I have to fell "born to do" laundry in order to do it? Or am I just doomed to do it and be unhappy about it?

There is also an element of this philosophy that ignores the fact that God might very well call us to do something really hard.

His calling in our lives may or may not be in our area of passion. He might give us a job for which we are not naturally gifted. He may very well want to show Himself strong in our weaknesses.

Look at Moses. He was a man with a speech impediment who was called to speak to the mightiest ruler of the world. He lead people who were obstinate and who frustrated the tar out of him and it almost wore him out. He faced hunger, complaining, uncertainty, monotony, and danger with a people who questioned his authority. (Sounds like the life of every parent!) Leading the Isrealites for 40 years through a desert while trying to keep their focus on God was hard.

But he was living what God called him to do.

Look at Mary. She was a girl who was looking for the kind of life everyone else around her had- one with a husband and a family. But she had to face the unthinkable- a pregnancy out of wedlock which almost caused her to loose her betrothed. Then she had to raise a Son, who was the Son of God, which she must have felt totally unqualified to do. And then she was horrifically present at the moment He suffered and died. While being the mother of Christ must have contained unspeakable joys, every moment must have also been hard.

But she was living the life God had designed her for.

Look at Jeremiah. He was a man who, in order to follow the call of God, had to speak such unpopular words that he was beaten, put in stocks and imprisoned, thrown into a cistern, and was rejected by his own family.  He lived constantly with the tug-of-war of on the one side dreading giving the words the Lord had for him to say and on the other side the impossibility of not saying the words that were like a fire within him. (Jer. 20:8-9) To speak meant he would be reviled, but to not speak was inconceivable. His life was very, very hard.

But he was living the calling of God on his life.

And the point is? Just that if life is hard, and if you are not working in your sweet spot, and if your passion is on the back burner, and if being faithful means denying your desire.....that does not mean that you are in the wrong place.

Sometimes life is hard. Relationships are hard. Denying yourself is hard. Picking up your cross daily is hard. So lean into the hard. Don't assume that because something is hard, you are in the wrong place.

Find freedom in the midst of the hard by seeing Jesus beside you, in every crazy or mundane circumstance, showing Himself strong.

Life can be hard, but it may just be the exact life God has called you to and created you for.

What do you find hard? Is it what God called you to do? Lean. Into. It.

Finding Freedom- Laying Down My Dreams

Laying down my dreams? Are you kidding me?That sounds defeatist and melancholy. That sounds like giving up and settling for mediocrity. That doesn't sound like freedom- it sounds like failure.

So let me explain myself.

I am a goal setter, a planner, and a list writer. I am also a dreamer and a story teller- so I have, through the years, tried to give God ideas of how things should work out. Because I have really good dreams and plans and I always think He might want to use them.

But the truth is that God often seems to have other plans. And sometimes, when things are not turning out at all like I thought....well....

It happens to everyone. The dreams and plans of the young 20 something, when you really believe you can change the world by 30,  run head-on into the brick wall of the pesky realities of budget, school loans, illnesses, broken hearts, and all the other little adult issues that fall squarely and unavoidably into your life.

Maybe your dream job never materializes. Maybe a child is born with complications you never imagined. Maybe your marriage is not what you had hoped for. Maybe your salary is insufficient to fund your plans. Maybe your salary exceeds your hopes, but you have found your material possessions unsatisfying.

I have dreams that have never materialized too. I thought there were things I would do, books I would write, and places I would go, but they haven't occurred. I had assumptions and expectations and theories and intentions that have fallen flat on their face.

And that can be hard. Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick."

But while I want the freedom from the disappointed hopes, I don't want to find that freedom by quietly accepting defeat and calling it reality.

I want to find freedom by laying down my dreams and stepping with blind faith and wild abandon into God's plans. I want to find freedom as I quit trying to write my own story and live with hope and confidence in the one He has written for me. I want to find freedom by trusting what He has allowed to happen and what He has not allowed to happen in my life.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."         Is. 55:8

My dreams and goals and aspirations can't even touch the value of the treasure of the ways of God. What a waste if I keep dragging around the dead weight of shattered hopes when all I really need to do is abandon them to the rubbish heap and run headlong into the abundance He has prepared.

 "... no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him."  1 Cor 2:9

Why would I ever substitute my tinfoil plans for the solid gold of what God has prepared for me? He is the greatest Creator, Storyteller, and Craftsman imaginable. Why would I want to be in charge of my dreams, when He is willing to be?

His plans + His thoughts + His will = My freedom from false hope and shallow dreams.

That is some freedom I can live with.

 

 

Finding Freedom- Quit Trying to Fix Everything!

Do all women struggle with the burden of trying to fix their loved ones' problems, or is it just me?And is it just at my house that the first word bellowed at the point of need is, "Mom!!!"

On the other hand, does my family expect me to fix their problems because I trained them to? -if something can't be found in the house, I am the first one they ask....and I can usually find it. -if someone doesn't feel well, I am the one with the remedy -if their is a relationship problem, I am the one who does the counseling -if one of my kids struggles, I usually place the blame on myself -and if there is a holiday to celebrate, I plan, purchase, cook, and decorate.

Now don't get me wrong. I love to shower my family with love and help and assistance. I receive joy by seeing them have joy.

But the lines between serving my family and taking on the responsibility of their happiness can become hazy. Yes, I can minister to their hearts, but I can't fix their hearts.

"...we don't have to fix more than we can...We can enter into that wonderful rest of knowing that the One that can manage it all, is indeed managing all of it, perfectly. We don't need to feel any pressure to be super woman, or to see results according to our frail human calculations. We need to enter into His rest, and in that blessed rest, we will accomplish so much more. We can quit pushing, stressing and running ourselves ragged."        -Michelle Kauenhofen

It can be such a burden to be responsible for situations over which I have little or no control. I was never designed with the ability to fix other people. Not even the people I love.

I can't make them whole. I can't make them happy. I can't find make them smart.  I can't find them a job, or a spouse, or a life plan. That is not my job. I am not equipped.

So who is equipped?

No big surprise here- as with all major questions the answer is our Designer and Friend. The answer is God.

In fact, here is the list of actions the Lord takes on our behalf from Psalm 147:

  • builds
  • gathers
  • heals
  • binds up
  • supports
  • covers
  • provides
  • makes
  • gives
  • strengthens
  • blesses
  • satisfies
  • sends
  • causes

And that is from just one chapter! I think He's got this thing covered.

Which means I am free!  Free to cook, and love, and celebrate, and counsel, and teach, and encourage, and admonish, and cheer, and serve.  I am free to not rush through life trying to be everyone's answer or anyone's solution. I can just be an obedient daughter to my Lord.

God can fix and God will fix in His time.

And I find freedom.

 

Finding Freedom- Putting Down the Burdens!

Anybody tired of carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders? There are burdens we carry involving work.  Or car repairs, or mortgages, or difficult neighbors or bosses, or finances, or relationships, or world affairs, health, the state of our country...and the list could go on forever.

As a Mom I have fought this tendency  of burden bearing (another name for it is worry!) all my mothering career. I have carried the burden of my children's health, their choices, their education, the development of their talents, and more. And then they become adults- and if there were burdens to carry before, they just quadrupled. Because as adults, they are making adult decisions with adult consequences. There are careers, life partners, higher education, managing money....

I think I will stop thinking about it now....because there is an elephant stepping on my chest.

But 2014 is my year of FREEDOM. And I would really love to be free of the burdens of worry. I have already declared freedom  from the slavery of hurry. I am practicing the art of walking with the Lord, instead of running around like a crazy woman (well- i am TRYING to practice the art of walking.)

But how do I become free of the burdens that weigh me down and choke my happiness?

Blessed be the Lord who daily bears our burdens, The God who is our salvation.              Ps. 68:19

Head slap. Daily. God promises to carry my burdens EVERY day. And that is a good thing because burdens are hard, difficult, and cumbersome. I am not designed to bear the burdens. If I try, I will be crushed under the weight.

If God has been daily bearing my burdens all these years, why the heck have I been joining in? I think He is perfectly capable of burden bearing and doesn't need my help AT ALL. Considering that He is all powerful and all knowing- knowing the beginning from the end- I think He has got this thing covered.

But I must admit that KNOWING God is carrying my burdens doesn't immediately set me loose from my burdens. How do I find freedom?

Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.   Ps. 55:22

Oh yeah. I remember that verse.

I do have a job- not bearing burdens , but casting them. My task is to throw every single burden onto the square, strong shoulders of the only One Who is capable to hold them or do anything about them.

And when I am not bearing them anymore, I think I will have found some freedom. Freedom from hurry. Freedom from worry.

This could be a very good year.

 

casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  I Pet. 5:7

Finding Freedom- Quit Running!

Anybody need some freedom? Because our world offers us multitudes of conveniences but it cannot offer us freedom. We are chained to our computers, our TVs, our microwaves. We are limited by our mortgages, our car payments, our bosses. We are driven by our clocks, our appointments, our schedules.  We are hemmed in by expectations, by coveting, by having more than we can handle but never all that we want. Never in the world have people had so much and been so dissatisfied.

So I am declaring 2014 my personal year of freedom. Or as William Wallace proclaims in Braveheart, "FREEDOM!!!!!"

And the first area where I am claiming freedom is in the area of the hurry that is a constant companion to my every day. Because as every mom knows, there is never enough time. Ever.

I don't understand why everyone is not in a hurry at the grocery store. They meander down the middle of the aisle and stop to peruse the shelf in a way that I cannot get around them. Why do they want to be slow? I do not understand.

I cannot comprehend why people putt along on the road. A car is a device to get you from point A to point B As. Quickly. As. Possible.  Why drive under the speed limit? Why come to an almost dead stop to turn right? Why drive slow in the left lane? There are some things I cannot hope to understand.

But I want FREEDOM from hurry. Since Christ declares in John 8:36 that "if the son sets you free, you will be really free," He is where I am going for my freedom.

The psalmist states in Ps. 119:35, "Guide me in the path of your commands, for I delight to walk in it." In Isaiah 30:21 God promises us, "You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying, 'This is the correct way, walk in it." Deut. 30:16 commands to "...love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways..."

Walking. The freedom to just walk. Not run. Not strive. Not push. Just walk.

If God's instructions to me are to walk with Him, why am I so frenetic? Why am I so rushed? Why am I running and running and running?

What if I lived in the freedom of walking, believing that God will enable me to do what He wants me to do, without my hurried and futile attempts to make things go faster or get out of the way as I run through life with my To Do list clutched in my hand?

What if I walked?

I will find freedom quitting all my running, taking a big breath, slowing down, and walking.

Now this is love: that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning; thus you should walk in it.  2 John 1:6