Freedom to enjoy life, and monkey around a little bit.

Jessie Wilcox Smith  one of my favorite artists of children! Go make yourself a treat and monkey around a bit!Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery.” (especially stand firm in your ideals before God without letting someone else’s yoke slip around your neck unnecessarily.)

Today, I am going away for two whole days. A long time friend of mine, (a young man we have known since he was 15), works at a 5 Star Hotel and has arranged a beautiful, cozy, delightful place for me to escape for 2 days, so I can just spend time praying, reading, sleeping, eating and dreaming–pondering and planning for the season of life that is ahead. I feel like a little girl in a toy shop–I am so excited and anticipating this very rare time!

But I wanted to leave a few thoughts about starting the year out with freedom and joy–the freedom that comes from deciding to like who God has made me, understanding that it is enough and accepting my limitations. Dancing with my Father was about cultivating joy–choosing celebration and light and learning to dance to the rhythms He has already set in motion if I only hear His voice and see the beauty He has planted in my pathway. So I leave you a little bit of grace from my past posts and hope you will live in this freedom today and every day this year.

“And the work of righteousness will be peace and the service of righteousness quietness and confidence forever.” Isaiah 32: 17

I have seen some books and articles going around that suggest that moms don’t really need a break from their children if they are mature and have really accepted the mantle as a godly mother–and that it is possible to be around them all the time without going crazy.
“A real committed mom never needs to get away from her children.” or other such statements that create law and subjective standards for moms.
One such silly rule  I read when I was young that about did me in, was that “Mature Christian women always kept the insides of their drawers straight and orderly.” Really? That is when I threw this book to the Good Will pile, and I should probably thrown it away. Just never found that verse in scripture–thank the Lord.
Now, I love my children and I am very committed to family, and I hope I don’t step on anyone’s toes, but it is statements like this that put lots of burden and law on women and make them feel guilty unnecessarily. This is a very long term calling and I think all women need the encouragement of other women at times without having to feel guilty for leaving their children, or for having failed or for making different choices. And God crafted different personalities so that women could express different attributes of God and His strengths.

I have come to really question truths like the ones above because they come across as universal and sound wise, but in the end, I have to say, “Is this law? Is it an unshakeable truth that applies to all moms at all times?” Or is it possible that there is grace for each mom to conduct her own symphony, so to speak, with her family, circumstances and children in mind. “It is for freedom that Christ set us free, therefore, keep standing firm that you may not be subject to a yoke of slavery.”

I wrote a chapter in Seasons of a Mother’s Heart about legalism imposed upon us by others that produces burdens God never intended us to carry. I find it interesting that God purposely left many areas in scripture very vague. No lists about just how to discipline a child, how long to spank, at what age, and for how long, for instance. Or no rule book about what a mom should cook if she was really bringing health to her family or what exact music was acceptable and what music would indeed lead a child astray. Or what it really looks like to submit to a husband-(they are all different and have different preferences!)
Not ever a verse that says, “Every mother should stay with her children all the time every hour or else they are not spiritual and their children will go astray.” Or, or, or. There is so much in scripture about living by faith, trusting God and Paul and Jesus were so very clear about not having the heart of a Pharisee and putting heavy loads on people.

Now, I find that we are to use wisdom principles and have quiet times and grow in maturity and of course, I  came to the conclusion that if I wanted to pass on my life and beliefs and vision to my children, I needed to be the one who invested time in them and won their hearts, out of the integrity of my heart.

But, seeing my children do well in life and love the Lord and us and continue growing is not as a result of a list of rules that I followed, but as a result of following the Lord, praying, obeying Him and seeking His wisdom and then living by faith and watching His grace. God is in charge and will work in and through the personality and circumstances of my life uniquely, If I walk it with Him.

There are so many wonderful teachers and speakers who have such a good heart and love the Lord and want to encourage. But the bottom line is the word of God is to be our ideal and not just “wisdom” from others that is extra-Biblical and not scripture–and I find God to be a better task master than most humans I have ever known.

I find that so many young moms lacked good families and they want to “do it right” with their own children, and so they are willing to believe anything in print or that they heard a speaker say and then put themselves under great burdens, in the name of Christian ideals. And so these pathways lead to disappointment with self and with your own children because they will never ever measure up to someone else’s standard or measure.   Then, these sweet moms,  eventually find themselves wanting to give up ideals because they are very depressed or overwhelmed and unable to serve this impossible master. There is no grace and peace in legalism and a rules based life.I find that the longer I walk with the Lord, the more freedom I feel to be who I am. I don’t have to live by anyone else’s laws. Clay and I just have to answer to God and scripture,  not to an arbitrary list of someone else’s standards. I think that living overseas and traveling a lot has helped in this area a little. Every culture I see and each national that I meet has a different tradition of worshiping God and a different set of circumstances to deal with coming from a different culture in applying the word of God. When I meet people from all over the world, I realize that God is so much bigger and beyond my own box. And yet, he allows all of us, from so many different points of view, to enter into His rest and redemption and forgiveness because of His wonderful, gracious love.

My real desire in writing this article, though, is to give moms permission to be themselves. There is no “one right way”. Each of you has a different puzzle to solve–different children’s personalities, husbands and even a different personality yourself. Some of you are introverts and some extroverts. Some trained and educated in high spiritual values and some coming at it for the first time.

But the bottom line is, that as a wise woman, you need to figure out how you can best make it in the long run–loving God and loving your family, and finding ways to do this so that your own spirit is filled with life and joy.

You are just exactly the right person, the one who God picked to shepherd these children in ways that no one else could. So live in that freedom today and enjoy your own unique family culture. This is the day the Lord has made–rejoice in the moments and be glad.

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Comments

  1. says

    beautifully said and words I needed to hear as we head back into schooling and schedules in the next couple of days. Thank you Sally! Have a wonderful time.

  2. says

    Oh how happy I am for you!
    Will pray it’s relaxing and refreshing…
    I’m in the middle of Seasons…have been so thankful to get to know you (and the resources) through our Better Mom writing.
    Blessings,
    K

  3. Leigh says

    Thank you for this. I really needed this encouragement – I’ve come through a really rough year where I thought I shouldn’t take time away from my boys – because the more “me-time” I got, the more “me-time” I wanted. but then I realized that when I got the right kind of time – the kind that re-energized and refreshed me, the more of me I had to pour into my sons and I could actually spend more quality time with them. So it’s a delicate balancing act…. I can’t want more “me-time” just playing on the computer when it’s time to homeschool them, but I can ask my hubby to keep the boys on a Saturday morning so I can go snap some beautiful pictures of nature… a hobby I truly enjoy and a way I refresh myself….

    • Stephanie says

      Sally,a your blog has changed my life. I found it yesterday and have cried for joy at the truth you present. Your blog post about first time obedience has released me from the heavy burden of *making* my kids obey. Your post today has given me permission to be a joyful mom. And the biggest thing about you is that you keep pointing me back to the Lord. You’re not yet another self professed Biblical smartie telling me that this verse means my kids are supposed to do this or that. I have grown so weary and heavy laden under extra Biblical standards placed on me by those around me and even placed on me by ME! Trying to meet others’ standards is exhausting and unproductive. Thank you for giving me the courage to be free.

    • Stephanie says

      I’m sorry, I meant for that comment to go under Sally’s post, but I did want to say, Leigh, that your
      Comment struck a cord with me too. For a couple of years I have known that “me time” is a myth for the very reason you stated: the more I got the mores wanted. So I gave up on it and have been happier for it. But I like what you aid about well placed time on your own. At the appropriate time, time without children can be refreshing and not make us loathe going back home to our precious families.

  4. Tammy N. says

    Beautifully written! Thank you for the sweet words of encouragement. Praying that your time away will be refreshing!

  5. says

    Thank you for this encouragement! It is such a relief to hear someone that has raised great children and IS a great mentor give this release of freedom. Blessed my day! Thank you!

  6. Sheila says

    Amen. Beautifully said just the inspiration I needed to start out 2012. Thankful that God led me to you thru twitter. Many blessings to you! Sheila

  7. ashley veigel says

    Ditto what Kathleen wrote! Sally, you are refreshingly honest and real. Thank you for encouraging
    all of us.

  8. Colleen says

    Thank you, Sally for these words of encouragement. I loved the verse you gave from Isaiah….how thought provoking! May God richly bless your service unto Him in the new year….you are LOVED!

  9. says

    Enjoy your respite! You deserve it Sally. :)

    FYI, I think the moms who go around spouting the “I don’t need rest” stuff are only trying to convince themselves. Or be “extra holy” or something.

    Doesn’t work for me. I need, crave, desire rest every so often to refresh my soul so I can be the best wife & mother I can be.

    You can’t continually pour yourself out, if you never take the time to refill your cup!

  10. says

    Amen, Sally! And I say it again, AMEN! Legalism has troubled me many times. It can be very hard at times to distinguish what is of God and what is of man (especially if the hormones are raging). Thank you for this liberating post.

  11. Shelly says

    “without letting SOMEONE ELSE’S yoke slip around your neck” -these are such words of wisdom!
    Thank you so much!
    Enjoy your cocoon time and listen closely to your Abba.
    Love you, my friend.

  12. camille says

    Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom! Amen!
    THank you for speaking truth and life! I pray you are so filled these 2 days to carry on into the conference season. You are a blessing!

  13. Natalie says

    Thank you Sally! May you be refreshed and renewed!
    The Lord has been impressing this joyful freedom on my heart and this post was put so well. For years I was “following” the crowd but it was putting a huge burden on me and the results were envy, jealousy, competitiveness, depression…..just bondage. I felt I had to be someone different than I am. I felt I had to be like these women from the U.S. deep south when I was a western Canadian. Now try that! I’m so glad I’m free in the Lord to live His life through me. I can appreciate what other women do now and know that He can use me where I am at. Now I have time to focus on Him and not on trying to become someone I’m not which is very draining and disappointing.

  14. says

    Thank you, Sally, for allowing the truth to spring forth from your words!

    I am recovering from a very legalistic way of life. After all was said and done, I lost myself and struggled desperately to become the perfect wife/mothers/church member, you name it. After a few years of this, I was strongly motivated by the Holy Spirit to change these ways and to reject the thought-patterns and teachings of this particular movement.

    I feel so free now, free to be me. At the same time, the repercussions of living a legalistic life is causing the depression to come when I least expect it and it is hard to get out of my perfectionist lifestyle.

    Thankfully, God knows me and loves me. He will see me through.

    Can’t wait to see you in Texas!

  15. Sandra B. says

    Sally,
    I have read many of your books over the years and have been blessed, encouraged, and inspired by the wisdom and scripture contained in your writing. Thank you for this post…I have experienced A LOT of what you refer to here…the legalism, high ideals that are someone else’s ideals that lead to disappointment and feelings of failure, pressure to be everything to my children , etc. I actually homeschooled for 3 years, but had to walk away from it this year because all of those things you mentioned in your blog post created so much anxiety, stress, and depression for me that I had to back off. I am learning (by the grace of God) that yes, it is ok to be ME, that my family does not have to look like THAT homeschool family, or THIS family at my church, and that the only way I am going to thrive joyfully is to abide in Christ, let my children be who God created THEM to be, and to have grace with myself and others. I think there is a lot of legalism going on in the homeschool world that puts a heavy burden on mom’s. It takes the joy out of spending time with your children, which is sad, because our time with them goes by so quickly. I am thankful to be free of the legalistic thinking and pressure that was stealing my joy. Maybe someday I will homeschool again… :) Thanks again for your “out of the box” thoughts on all of this !!

  16. Ceri says

    Thank you for your timely life giving truth filled words and encouragement. It is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you for your example and your ministry. May God bless you this year.

  17. says

    Thank you so much for this article! You have no idea how much it encourages my very soul to read it, as God has uses the past 8 month to teach about my freedom in him to be who he made me to be. Blessings to you!

  18. Monica says

    How comforting you words are for me today. How amazing that God is in control and that I can rest in that. Knowing that He is holding us and guiding us especially when our children go through hard times and there are questions that come concerning the parenting choices we made, brings peace and confidence that he is before all things and in him all thing hold together. Thank you for reminding me that I can entrust my children completely to God.

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