“I just can’t do it. I can’t remember why I thought this was a good idea.”
Right before monumental change in my life, I feel paralyzed. I am constantly committing to something, and then backing out. I am quickly overwhelmed and quick to bail.
Because I’m always making changes — charging ahead and pulling back — it never occurred to me I was afraid of them. Yet, in that gentle way of His, the Lord recently revealed the illness behind all this instability: I have no idea what it looks like to consult him, stop, and listen before implementing change. As a result, I’m on constant cleanup.
Just a few weeks ago, I stood at the collision point of two decisions. The first involved a job that, for the first time in our eleven years of marriage, allowed me to contribute to our income. That same month, I submitted a proposal for a book project. This book is most of my passion and a large part of my calling. However, unlike the job, this project pays nothing.
Still, finance and passion? I thought both sounded like reasonable pursuits. Never mind our five kids, four of which I’m educating. I’ll squeeze it all in between the women I meet with regularly for counseling and mentoring. And my husband? He can pastor that church solo without support from his wife, right?
Of course I didn’t have time for both, but I charged ahead regardless, figuring the details would work themselves out. Then the email came. They had reviewed my book project and, before talking further, needed to know if I was following the leading of the Holy Spirit in my writing. What? Who asks that question? My fingers froze mid-air in my response. I couldn’t honestly answer them. I had never taken time to ask God about the purpose of these words I write. I just sort of wrote.
The email made it clear I needed to seek God before getting back to them, so that’s exactly what I did. Having no idea how long it would take for the Lord to clue me in on the answer to this question, I took time throughout the week to sit and journal. I went on short walks, alone, giving my mind space to recognize the Spirit’s guidance.
It was during this week that God led me back to a scripture revealing the purpose of Jesus’ time here on earth. The day before this passage, Jesus had spent the entire day caring for people — healing and spiritual cleansing too many to count. The next morning He “went out and made his way to a solitary place. But the crowds were searching for Him. They came to Him and tried to keep Him from leaving them. But He said to them, ‘I must proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose'” (Luke 4.42-44).
His clarity made me long for that same place of solitude. It was a place of focus. A place where Father met Son and infused Him with focus. Focus, but not ambition. He didn’t teach for the money. He didn’t heal for the recognition. He didn’t perform miracles for accolades. He was focused on God’s purpose: He lived for the sake of the kingdom. That kingdom included people.
He had time for friendships, conversations, late-night dinners, and stories. His entire life was lived for the purpose of invitation. Come. Follow me. Into the kingdom of God.
For what purpose should I use my gifts? For the sake of that same invitation.
I was embarrassed when I realized why I straddled the fence between employment and passion: it was that much desired paycheck. Over the remainder of the week, the Lord sweetly gave me an ever-so-beautiful mission statement for why I write. I penned it down in my journal, and then logged onto my email to resign from the job that paid, apologizing for my flakiness.
As I turned off the computer, I made myself a promise: In the past, I had been excellent at letting wonderful things distract me from that which I was supposed to be focused upon. In the future, I was going to be excellent at protecting the relationships, ministry, and passion that the Lord has placed in my section of the kingdom.
Financial insecurity? Surrendered.
Fear of rejection? Surrendered.
Charging ahead without prayer? I hope it’s over, but I’ll admit I’m a slow learner.
Still, I have opened back up to the page in my journal several times already — memorizing the small statement of purpose God gifted me in regard to writing. And when I read those words, I’m overwhelmed that He cared to give them to me. For the sake of clarity, for the gratitude for purpose, and in a desire to be focused, I surrender all the good things that have distracted me until now. I will no longer live a life of over-commitment. I will stop walking down parallel paths, legs stretched and feet weary. Instead, I will stop to listen for that voice calling, “Follow me,” and it will be that path I choose to take.
The last thing I wrote in that embarrassing email — as I tried to explain my choosing a dream over provision — was this: I feel God leading, and while the future is unknown, I’ve never taken a risk with the Lord and later regretted it. Thus, as 2014 is in full swing, I pray we might take the opportunity for a quiet walk, or a week of prayer, and ask God: Am I using these skills — these talents — for the sake of the kingdom? Am I living a purpose greater than myself? Does what I’m doing matter to people and extend an invitation?
He calls to us. Let’s follow with unwavering steps. I was sent for this purpose.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
-- Sarah Martin, author of Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties in a Decade of Drama
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships5 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships10 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture2 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions