When I am following Christ and learning how to live from him, the exact opposite of my lived experience would be true. That Christ would lead me away from and teach me how to live free of hustle, burnout & overwhelm! (gasp!)
1 Samuel 16 tells us the story of how David came to be anointed as king in place of Saul.
Jesse presents his sons to Samuel in order of his assumption of who was most likely to be chosen. In their culture, men divided the privilege, power and wealth of their households to their sons according to their birth order, so Jesse leans into his culture’s values and perspectives when choosing who to present to Samuel for his consideration, and in what order.
It appears as if David’s own father didn’t think he was king material. Not only did his own father not even present him as a candidate to Samuel - he wasn’t even invited to the banquet being hosted at his own house. According to the people who “knew him best” his place was in the field with the sheep.
Or what if it had nothing to do with whether or not he had potential to lead a nation - Think about his track record as a shepherd: David could kill lions and bears with his bare hands. Maybe it’s not that his dad didn’t think he was good enough to lead a nation, maybe his dad just didn’t have anyone as good as him to care for the sheep. Ie: my theory anyway is that MAYBE he wasn’t invited to the party, or presented to Samuel for consideration because his dad was protecting his own interests, and his decision had nothing to do with what he saw/didn’t see in David (later, when David kills Goliath we see how David was able to go to the battlefield with a care package for his because his father did in fact, have people he could delegate the responsibility to :P)
Samuel (the prophet/man of God) looked at each of Jesse’s sons and evaluated them according to what he thought a king and military leader should LOOK like. It literally took the voice of God to be like: seriously... how well did that work out for us last time - There is someone else.
Friends here’s what I’m seeing:
- People keeping you in their place for you is probably more about it being convenient for them that you stay there. Ie: it represents a truth about them, what they think they want/need; and may have very little to do with you at all.
- If God wants you in a certain room, he will get you in there.
- The fields in which we feel “stuck” shepherding can change everything...
The most popular song of all time.. (Look it up) is psalm 23, even notorious BIG/gangsta rap has a version!
A hymn, written by David, inspired by his time as a shepherd about HIS shepherd.
That psalm has gone on to bless and inspire and change the lives of millions of people around the world for thousands of years.
There would be no Psalm 23 without David’s season tending to sheep.It went beyond and into places he could not have even begun to comprehend.
Don’t limit yourself, your ideas or reach because you can’t see as far as God can.
Just create it because it’s what’s coming out of your heart in adoration, in worship, in service. Put it out there, and let God take care of the rest.
In my own life I have spent way too much time feeling bound & held back by what I believed to be other people’s perceptions of me. I have stood aside, waiting for others to see, name and celebrate what I had been hoping was there all along. My hunches about David’s father cannot be substantiated - and I guess that's the point of the story- we can never know for sure what's going on inside someone’s heart & mind - and we don’t need to: our challenge or our act of faith is to proceed along the path we have been called to in spite of our fears, assumptions and desire for acceptance or approval that we may never get.
if you would like to join an incredible community of women pushing through their unbelief and transforming it into confidence and calling then consider joining a free Facebook community I moderate called "Succeed past the self-sabotage" - and check out free training, resources, great discussion and more!
For years I was praised & rewarded for being and giving and doing anything anyone needed.
For years I stretched myself to just shy of my breaking point:
Working anything from 2-4 jobs to pay the bills
While completing my bachelors degree remotely (but still traveling back and forth to a major city for 3-4 days at a time every month)
While volunteering every other additional hour I had at our local church.
I was losing weight rapidly.
I was frequently sick.
I was anxious - and experiencing extremely painful and debilitating chest pain more and more frequently.
I angry, resentful & bitter.
On the outside I was the model church goer, basically embodying the checklist of requirements that was implicitly and explicitly given to us in exchange for what I was so desperate for: Those elusive feelings of belonging.
On the inside I was a completely different person… but a polished exterior can only get you so far for so long.
Sooner or later the mess on the inside starts to seep through the cracks, and as much as I tried to prevent that - one day mine did too.
That was when I learnt that what I was doing was far from selfless - sure, the actions checked all the boxes - but on the inside it was completely selfish, it was all about me and for me, basically exchanging labor for love, exchanging commitment for community, exchanging every fibre of my being for belonging.
My box-checking was motivated by fear - not compassion - and the more I allowed myself to be propelled forward by fear, whatever compassion was left inside me was being suffocated by comparison.
I was merciless and gracless on the inside, and I was starting to use the same standards of “never-enough” as my ruler on the people around me too.
It wasn’t until after an explosive emotional meltdown at work that I started to see the truth of who I was, and who I was becoming for what it was.
I was hustling for my worth, trespassing on the emotional property of the people around me in a desperate attempt to discover who I was, and whether or not I mattered…
Here’s what I learnt about “doing the right thing” - It's not about what it looks like outwardly, but what's going on inside. I did the right things, but for the wrong reasons. Its also not just about the actions themselves. It's also about the fruit that those actions bear. My outward “right thing to do” actions were bearing fruit of bitterness, jealousy, strife, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, gossip and illness.
We need to be so careful of what we call faithful. Good. Christian. Are we talking just about behaviors or about the orientation of our hearts? My good, faithful, Christian actions were putting men on a pedestal and my own belonging was my god. The beliefs that were driving my actions were completely devoid of love, faith, trust. I believed that I had to earn my place in the world, in my church and in heaven - I was completely engulfed in the quest for self-righteousness - I was far from grace. In fact, I looked down on grace, was repulsed by it even. How dare I or anyone for that matter rest in the truth that they are loved as they are, and that in Christ, they are enough - that whoever and whatever they bring to the table - in whatever condition - is all they are expected to bring.
My choice was simple - continue on the familiar path I was on, journeying on toward a lifetime of brokenness and dysfunction driven by fear… or choose a new one, completely uncharted, armed only with faith and the hope that on that new road toward wholeness, I would not be alone, and that there was indeed a person of value worth discovering out there. I would need a completely new set of navigation tools, deeply held beliefs, and as it turns out - new traveling companions out there, but my options were basically new and scary - or death.
I chose new.
If you would like to hear more about my story, and the tools/skills & wisdom I discovered and nurtured on my journey as a recovering people-pleaser - why don’t you sign up to receive the introduction and prologue of my new book, “The Hearted-Centered Woman’s Guide to Healthy Boundaries” - you can do that HERE.
One of my and my big kids (6&8) favorite things to do is go on hiking adventures in the woods together.
Today was the first time I took Ellie, who turns 2 next week for a walk in the woods by herself, without the comfort of her stroller and the companionship of her father and older siblings.
You guys, the second she lost sight of the car she wanted to turn back.
I spent a good 5 minutes gently convincing me to follow me into the woods in between her asking where her brother, sister and father were.
Once she agreed to follow me, holding my hand, the farther in we got, the more unsure she became until she finally asked to be picked up.
We were in the middle of one of the most beautiful trails that we had been on as a family before, in the middle of a flock of hundreds of migrating songbirds and she kept looking back to see if she could see the car, and while I was mesmerized by the birdsong, all she seemed to be able to hear was the traffic beyond the trees.
How often are we like this? We are beckoned into wide open spaces of beauty and adventure only to look back to the comfort of the spaces we know. A dirty minivan vs. sunlight dancing in the trees. Four wheels and 7 seats vs thousands of songbirds fluttering overhead.
I hoisted babygirl onto my shoulders and I pointed upward. LOOK! Look at the mama squirrel and her babies in the hollow. Look at that one just two arms lengths from you chattering away. LOOK at all the birdies Ellie, listen. Look at the river dancing in the clearing ahead.
Then the moment we were both waiting for… that sweet little toddler gasp..
Mama! Me go down!
Mama, let’s run!
And we spent the rest of the hour wondering off the path and into the trees, picking flowers, investigating fallen branches, watching the water and flat on our backs enjoying the birds overhead.
At the end of our adventure I had to coerce her back into the car.
Friends, don’t mistake familiarity with destiny. Don’t get too attached to the minivans inside yourselves.
I am a human parent, need to recommit to my ideals on the REGULAR, and I choose to lovingly lead my daughter down pathways (although unfamiliar) that are for her good, her joy, and for her flourishing.
I was not angry that she was afraid, I was not upset by her attachment to what she knew. I did not disparage or judge her tentativeness. I just embraced her and invited her to trust me.
Some of you may feel led into the woods, past the point you’ve been before and without the people who usually go with you.
Just because all you can hear is the hum of the traffic beyond the trees, doesn’t mean thats all there is to hear. Listen.
You are not alone out there. You will not be left alone in there. If you need to, raise those arms and ask to be lifted up onto your fathers shoulders. Ask for some perspective. Ask him to show you things you are unable to see or hear from where you are.
You’ll be running out ahead of him, picking flowers and marveling at the beauty of your path soon enough.