This fall, I’m planning to release a book I’ve spent the last few years meandering through. (Sign up here if you want to make sure you know when it comes out!) It’s literally a diary of my journal to living “led, not driven”. Before 2018 began, I was feeling accomplished on paper, but frazzled and bone-weary on the inside. I knew something needed to change.
It’s been easy to blame a lot of my issues with ambition on a driven personality type but I couldn’t neglect how it left me feeling or what Scripture tells us about following after God and not usurping His lordship. What I’ve found is that God’s not asking me to abandon all the strengths of a type-A, go-getter personality.
He’s just asking if He can lead me in it.
If you’re tired of living by your planner…
If you measure your worth by what you do…
If a day where nothing gets checked off leaves you sad…
If you equate slow with boring…
If you equate doing nothing with wasting time…
Here’s a rough cut snippet from “Led, Not Driven”, a memoir-ish journey to slowing down and following God above my own agenda.
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December 22, 2017
Chick-Fil-A on a Friday at noon was the site of my major epiphany today. With 5 kids between us in tow, all 4 and under, it could only have happened by the grace of God. Amid the shrieks and shrills, my friend and I talked about what different types of moms we are. She was adjusting to motherhood with three and commenting that she officially didn’t have 5 minutes to herself a day. I listened in complete horror as the introvert I am. Horror isn’t for dramatics. I simply couldn’t fathom not getting alone time. That need drove me to parent differently including set nap times and separate beds.
I learned there that it’s our fear that many times drives what we do. I was more afraid of the crushing feeling of no alone time. My extrovert friend was more afraid of a rigid schedule.
Both fears led us.
As I work on this whole being led by God thing, here’s another checkpoint, another place to pause and ask, am I being led by God or fear? I’m sort of afraid of what I might discover.
December 23, 2017
I feel silly for the fact that 2018 has not even started, yet my word for the new year is already wreaking havoc in my thoughts. Driven I guess? I’m reading Max Lucado’s book Christmas Stories. I love his storytelling ability. I’m immediately drawn into that night and this age-old story takes on new meaning as I think of what ordinary and what little fanfare Jesus arrived to. The one who deserves it the most didn’t have any. Why?
What a counter-culture God we serve. It makes me want to rethink my definition of success and see how maybe those things I strive for don’t really fit into the humility of a quiet night in Bethlehem. If this, of all places and all ways, was how God planned for Jesus to enter the world, it’s certainly worth my attention.
And really, I don’t think the message is that this is the only avenue for God’s plan. Sure he uses mangers and mansions. But, Lord, help me as I forget the former way too often. As if great things only happen on boulevards instead of back alleys. It takes a lot of pressure off to know that the amazing things I think God has in store for me aren’t always just out of reach, on the other side of that hill or far off in the horizon. They happen where my feet currently stand. No speedy pace required. Maybe just an open pair of eyes and vision to see what’s right in front of me.
Tonight that midnight clear reminds me God’s plan may not require more than some hay and what feels like a last resort option.
December 26, 2017
I am noticing how anxious I start my prayers sometimes just yearning for the Lord to change something in me and to do something in me. They can sound something like this:
“Lord, change me.”
“Make me more like you.”
“Transform me from the inside out.”
Have you prayed these prayers? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with them, but I realized how even talking with the Lord, I kept moving forward and strive so desperately even in my prayers when maybe He just wanted to sit with me.
Surely, He must be thinking, “Child, just sit still.” Mommas didn’t invent the phrase “be still!” for overactive toddlers. God did in Psalm 46:10 when he said: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
But how do we shift? Or should I say, how do we stop shifting and fidgeting and get still before the Lord.
I took a big gulp and exhaled. Here’s what came to mind. Simply say to God, “Let’s talk about you.” I was out of the spotlight, that one I create for myself many times, and back to the One who can light up this whole world. It totally pulled the focus (and pressure) off me. No longer was I lined up before the firing squad thinking about what I should be doing. Because if we are just going to look at me, we’re gonna see some opportunities for change, some spots that need to be cleared away, some chances for advancement. I will not be able to look at me without seeing all I lack. That is until I set my eyes on the one who lacks nothing.
Truthfully, I want my life to be more about God so this should be natural, but my ambitions for myself get in the way as if I’m saying, “Hey God! We know you’re perfect. Let’s get to work on me since I’ve got places I want to go.”
Ironically, the more I know about God, the more I’m transformed. So the outcome I kill myself to perform for, there’s another avenue to get there and its burden is easier and lighter than mine.
*Hands map over to God.
December 28, 2017
I hop in the shower before bed. This is my first shower in months. No, I’m not completely filthy. I just prefer baths. And here’s what I can’t stop thinking about in the shower – the 13 (I kid you not) empty bottles of shampoo, conditioner or body wash that my husband let accumulate. All I want to do is throw it all away and give the shower a good cleaning. I recall what I’ve been thinking on the last few days and decide to chill the heck out and learn to leave things undone. But as my mind follows this trail, a complete mess doesn’t seem like the golden path that we all like to pretend it is. Sure there’s value in leaving some things undone but we can’t have that laissez-faire attitude about everything.
My thoughts from yesterday are seeping in and making progress. What if the things I do were completely filled with the glory of God? What if I was grateful for the chance to serve my family, for the muscles I had to do that very thing, for the little progress made in the pigsty we call a bathroom? It’d replace that low dull roar in my gut that told me to keep driving forward and gain more and more with an oddly pleasant neutral position.
December 31, 2017
I’m reading Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. It’s actually what helped birth this idea of being led, not driven, so it shouldn’t have surprised me how explicit today’s chapter was to my journey in figuring out how to practically do this. John shared about his Soul Experiment. He challenged himself to begin each day with this thought: “How many moments of my life today can I fill with conscious awareness of and surrender to God’s presence?”
Here’s what he said: “I’ve been trying to make this the goal of my day as opposed to a list of things I have to get done. Can I just keep God in my mind today, regardless of what I’m doing?”
Gold! Gold! This seems simple to me. Almost like it’s cheating. Do I really not need to do all the things I’ve been trying to do?
He goes on to say, “Then this thought came to me: ‘John, let’s look at the next two hours. You will go through those two hours of your life with me or without me. You can continue doing life without me, and feel stressed, pressured, angry, sorry for yourself, impatient, and be a pain in the neck to the people around you. You can do those two hours that way. Or you can do those two hours with me. You can be glad you’re alive. You can be grateful you were given a life. You can be joyful you actually have work to do, and you can recognize that I, not you, am running the universe. Actually, I was doing pretty well with it before you were ever even born, and I’ll probably manage whether or not you think you get your list of things to do done in the next two hours.”
The fact that this lifts any weight off my shoulders shows just how vital I think what I do is.
But John makes it super clear just in case we are still missing the point, “The ‘with God’ life is not a life of more religious activities or devotions or trying to be good. It’s a life of inner peace and contentment for your soul with the maker and manager of the universe.”
Now if that doesn’t sound like a life that is led, not driven, I don’t know what is.
January 2, 2018
My morning reading was Genesis 3. (Get comfortable ladies. I’m reading the Bible through the year so expect lots of Genesis lessons for the next little bit!)
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” – Genesis 3:6
That sounds fairly noble to me. She wanted wisdom. Proverbs is shouting from the rooftops to grab hold of wisdom. But how often do I want wisdom not for the sake of being truly wise but because ignorance forces me to be dependent on something besides myself? She didn’t just want wisdom. She wanted to know what God knew. She wanted independence from the creator and autonomy of her life. How’d that work out Eve? How does it work out for my little girls? How has it worked out for me?
Progress!! Tonight I wanted to pull out my computer and write. Instead, I hopped in the tub with a fiction book. This is rare, I tell you, but it felt good to choose. The irony is, I semi-hate fiction. Well, actually, I think I’m just really bad at fiction. I like light-hearted stories where nobody’s marriage is in shambles and no one cheats and no one gets cancer. The real world is enough for me. It’s why Frasier and Cheers are on repeat and I haven’t even attempted Stranger Things or heaven help me, Game of Thrones! The book I picked was a total flop but I had no guilt that I should be accomplishing something. And no guilt over picking a flop. Progress.
January 3, 2018
Our team has a webinar planned in a few weeks. I emailed Kara, our Social Manager, this today:
I want to postpone the webinar. I feel like I do not have time to prepare well and I know the goal is to get new subscribers and we are killing it this week. I’m working on learning when to stop and not just keep going to keep getting more.
Ok had this drafted yesterday and just read Proverbs 1:18-19 this AM. Basically talks about how people ambush their own life when they get greedy for money! 🙂
This is the lie I believe a lot. And y’all, I KNOW THIS!! This is, “Jesus is the Answer 101”. My 4-year-old could probably tell me that more money won’t make me happy. Learning to recognize it at the moment feels grander than it should, but I’m gonna revel in it.
I loved Kara’s response:
I think that’s a wise decision! Let’s (don’t) do it! 🙂
Can we start getting just as excited about when we choose not to do something as when we choose to do something?
There you have it! A little peek into one of the biggest areas God’s been wrecking me over the last few years! Lots more to come!
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