Operation: Pilgrimage

I love it when all of my recent convictions and revelations find articles and Facebook statuses and, yes, Pinterest pins that spur me on…

For instance, I saw this precious statement on Pinterest last week:

“This.” I thought. “This is it. We are, by the grace of God, waking up to this very idea…”

And then I read this little article from Desiring God ministries, that added a Biblical foundation to that thought up there, and spurred me on in what I have been learning this past year.

Which goes a little somethin’ like this…

Great and secret joy is found when the unseen worldview that has clouded your vision and deceived your heart is obliterated by the work of the Spirit and the truth of the Bible, leaving freedom and confidence in its wake. 

Let me explain.

I had no idea until recent years that, for the better part of my life, I was living, moving and breathing under a worldview that was much more American than it was Christian.

Let me explain.

Rat race. Social ladder. Financial security. College. Retirement. Success. Accolades. Comfort. Vacations. Fashion. Make more, spend more, consume more. Bachelors degree before marriage. Travel before kids.

Let me take that a step further, to the realm of motherhood…

Lavish birthday parties. Tricked-out scrapbooks. Matching Christmas clothes. A spotless house, Country Living style. High homeschool expectations (of wanting my kids to be a certain level of smart, in other words, smarter than everyone else’s kids).

And then into “church life”…

Majorly decorated VBS displays. Thousands of dollars on church camp. Wedding showers, personal showers, baby showers. GA’s, RA’s, Awanas, Bible Drill, Sunday School, Children’s Church, Discipleship classes, programs, programs, programs.

Please don’t get me wrong.

Most of these things, in and of themselves, are not wrong – there is nothing wrong with enjoying fashionable clothes (just ask my closet), there is nothing wrong with pouring your heart into decorating your Vacation Bible School room, there is nothing wrong with creating beautiful scrapbooks for each of your children, and there is certainly nothing wrong with hosting a lovely shower for your engaged or pregnant friend – obviously, many of these things are actually quite praiseworthy.

But when the line is crossed in these areas, and the master becomes slave and the inanimate becomes master, then, Houston, we most certainly have a major problemo.

One day, as I was completely stressed out and flustered over getting the house clean for a birthday party I was hosting, it hit me with startling clarity that almost 100% of the deadlines I run up against are almost 100% unnecessary and 100% created by me. I had this tendency to allow what was supposed to be an expression of love turn into a stressful duty that was ruling me, stealing my joy, and turning my children’s mother into a distant and harried psychopath. “I know its your birthday, sweetie, but go upstairs and get out of my hair before I go ballistic!”

My wordly worldview had deceived me into thinking I HAD “to have”, “to do”, and “to be” a number of things that were either extra- or unBiblical, and that I had to have, do, and be them NOW! In five minutes!!

But, by the grace of God, the reality has been creeping into my soul that hardly any of the things I was getting all flustered about were really essential to fulfilling my life’s purpose…

On the contrary, they were causing me to waste my life and to wish away beautiful moments and days on stress and self-absorption, sacrificing endless opportunities for worship and joy for the sake of nonsensical filler and busywork.

And, as my Biblical worldview continues to be formed, I see that all of those things that I had (at times) made myself a slave to are being replaced by ONE thing:

Pilgrimage.

The life-changing realization that life is a journey from point A to point B, from birth to death, with one goal, one purpose, as stated in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

What freedom is found in this singular purpose!

In other words, “so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

This beautiful truth takes my focus off of events and worldly goals, and places it instead on my attitude and my heart as I experience those events and work to achieve those goals. It reminds me that, whatever I choose to do today, my purpose is to do it in a way that brings glory and honor to God, in a way that displays Christian fruit, and in a way that brings peace rather than strife.

It gives me the freedom to say “no” to nonessentials, even if it goes against the way things have been done for years and years and years, and the confidence to opt out of what society says my family and my children need to be happy, whole and socialized.

It teaches me that, no matter what my culture says, I can be madly in love with my husband until the day I die, that I can welcome sticky fingerprints on my windows, that I can be poor and ridiculously happy, that I can host events without being uptight, and that worship of God is the most simple and beautiful (and, best of all, FREE!) pleasure that life has to offer.

It proclaims to me that I don’t have to live my life like the world has told me to.

And my life, when lived this way, looks a little something like this (yours might look totally different)

Impromptu dance parties after supper, shredded cheese and ground beef still littering the floor as we stomp through the house with our instruments.

Lunchtime picnics on the landing of the staircase.

Leisurely soaking in my slipper bathtub while my kids bang on the piano in my room (and the Baby throws Cheerios on the floor from her playpen).

Going to bed with my husband every night when there are a million things that could be done to the house or to the blog.

Postponing team sports for now, but always playing soccer or baseball in the front yard when our son asks.

Sweeping with a smile instead of a furrowed brow.

Watching my son take up the offering with a pirate eyepatch on and not freaking out or worrying what “people will think”.

Eating pancakes for lunch because I was grouchy and needed to apologize to my kids and start the day over again, breakfast and all.

Being prepared in my heart to greet class after class of music students at Vacation Bible School with honest gladness and sit in a circle and talk to them about Jesus, not a decoration in sight (until Wednesday with the help of great friends).

Supper: a giant watermelon on the porch with a fork for everyone. Dessert: popsicles.

Making hot dogs for a group of rowdy church kids every Wednesday night and not caring if they tell me “thank you”.

Training myself to listen to sermons with my kids beside me at Sunday worship, crayons all over the floor and on the pew.

Driving an old (free) golden minivan with gratitude and without wishing for a new car.

Buying one awesome dress per season rather than five.

Desiring one thing for my children’s future: godliness.

Shouting praise to God on the front porch as long-awaited rain falls on our town, and laughing as my children follow my lead and learn how to pray. For reals.

Learning to give my possessions away to someone who will find more joy in the object than I will. This is much more fun than I thought it would be.

Dying to myself. Dying to myself. Dying to myself. And watching with wonder as those around me learn to do the same thing.

These are, of course, on those glorious days when I remember my purpose and live “in the moment”. I long to have more and more of these days as I continue to grow in the faith.

So yes, I still get to host birthday parties. But if I am hosting birthday parties in a way that fails to display the patience and kindness of Jesus to my family, I’ve grievously missed the point.

I can still deck my room out for VBS if I want to. But if I am cross in the process, and get stressed as time runs out, I might as well have left that room empty.

I still HAVE to do the dishes. But I can perform even this seemingly tedious duty in a way that glorifies God. This might mean stopping midway to read a book to my child who is in serious need of some attention. It might mean doing dishes as a family so we can spend more time together, even if the floor gets wet in the process. It might mean doing dishes with a happy heart, while my kids make racket and messes all over the house. Or doing dishes while I mull over Sunday’s sermon. Or doing dishes during nap time so my kids can wake up to a clean house and a ready-to-play Mama. Or putting my feet up while my husband graciously does the dishes for me. Or giving away the dishes to someone who needs them. Or buying new dishes because we want to and have been good stewards of our money. Or, on rare occasions, not doing dishes at all.

But regardless of how things play out, days just take on a different hue once you realize you don’t have to live like they told you to live.

Freedom (in Jesus Christ) is sweet, is it not?

May we never waste a moment by returning to our chains.

~

So tell me…how are you going to spend this blessed day of pilgrimage?

29 thoughts on “Operation: Pilgrimage

  1. I am smiling, laughing, and–yes, even tearful, as I read this. My children are adults now. I needed you for a friend 🙂 when they were young, for I got far too caught up in that continual “striving.”

    Now, as an expectant grandmother, I so totally relate to this, hindsight being 20/20.

    Thank you for another marvelous post.
    You are dearly loved.

  2. Love this and its just what I needed. I am queen of deadlines and I am missing out on sweet moments because of it. I know I need to lay off the self imposed deadlines and let the Lord provide me a way to reach the rest! You have blessed me so much today, Thank you.

  3. Wow….you have really hit the nail on the head with this blog. I just returned to work after maternity leave for my third child, and I have been so STRESSED! My biggest downfall is I am a perfectionist and have been struggling to keep up with all my home “duties” and try to live in the moment while my babies are little. Thank you for helping me to remember where my priorities should be:)

  4. Great word and a much needed reminder. Thanks!
    P.S. I am one of your new readers via the Magic Mike post and I am thoroughly enjoying your blog.

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I find myself resembling all of your remarks for the strive to have everything exactly as the world thinks it should be. I needed the reminder to live my life, in all I say and do, to glorify the Lord. That is what I want to teach my kids. You are a blessing!!!

  6. I’m SO glad your MAGIC MIKE post went viral. I’m another of your new readers, and I can’t “amen!” this post enough. 🙂 Thank you for continuing to bring the everyday issues into the light to examine! Be BLESSED!

  7. Enjoy hearing a young mother state her heart felt opinion! Glory to God! I guess as my children grew I too was doing all the things the “world” tells us we have to do to be a “Good Christian”. After my first Heart attack, I took stock of what was most important to me and to my God. I moved to Co. made less than I ever have and along the way enjoyed some of the best times and had fun with my kids and grand kids. Now I start my day with prayer and wait upon the lord to show me what “HE” wants me to do and say each and every day. Some days are better that others, but now I know God is there each step of the way! Thank you for your posts, I really do enjoy them.

  8. I love this post! I had the same feelings/thoughts/goals many years ago, but somehow a lot of it has become lost in the busyness. Thank you for reminding me that I don’t have to live like the rest!

  9. You have no idea how much I needed this today! Even though I will likely not meet you until Heaven I am so thankful the Lord lead me to this blog and the blessing it has been to me! Thank you!

  10. Dito to the new readers via Magic Mike. Me too! 🙂 It has to be such a “God thing” that I stumbled onto that post through FB. Your blogs lately resemble me very much more closely than I wish. But I NEED your insight and encouragement. As my Norwegian cousins say it ..Tusen Takk! (A thousand thanks!)

  11. It is so refreshing to read your honest, pure, and truth-focused thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to share and shine your light so brightly.

    I get all excited when I see an email from Mrs. Gore’s diary in my inbox 🙂

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful truth. As I was reading it I began to think of a song I have not heard for years by Steven Curtis Chapman called “Remember Your Chains” for some reason. That song really touches me, but I believe just that statement is a reminder to me that we are not bound by any chains of this world any longer as believers. But I know that we easily lock ourselves up in the very types of “bondage” you speak of, trying to measure up to the worlds and sometimes even our own ridiculous standards. I often say, “choose your battles” or a friend has said “You have to decide if that’s a hill you need to die on”. Most of the time it’s not. We can create our own stress that is entirely unnecessary and this message you sent is a beautiful reminder to stop and simply enjoy the moment. To capture the joy in life instead of focusing on what’s not perfect. Thanks for the reminder in such a great message. Blessings to you!

  13. Another ‘Amen-er’ here! As a mom to 4 young children ages 8,6,4, & 2, I very much needed to read this. I’m much too high-strung with a very low tolerance level, sad to say. I know from experience that there is another way, if I am willing to humble myself and die daily/hourly/minute-ly. Thank you for taking some of your precious time to compose these blogs that are such a blessing and salve. (I’m also a new reader, due to Magic Mike. Thanks for writing that, else I would not know about you!)

  14. Wonderful post! I have a day off and was going to spend it cleaning house, but i will do so with a totally different mindset now, thanks to you. Wonderful post. Yours is my absolutely favorite blog! God bless you!

  15. How much I wish I had taken these truths to heart when my girls were young. I agree with another comment, I needed you for a friend when my kids were little:) Thank you for this reminder that is so true, no matter what stage of life. As many others have stated, so glad to have found you via “Magic Mike.”

  16. A friend posted this on her Facebook page the other day, and I’m so glad I wandered over to read it. I have a son who has ADD, and he processes time very differently than I do. It’s been the grace of God, revealing to me when I tend to get impatient with him, that my assumptions about the correct use of time are probably influenced more by America’s founding fathers than by scripture. After all love is patient, love is kind, love bears all things, right?

    I’m working through a series on pilgrimage over at my place, so your post helps me flesh out and add layers to my own thinking. Great post. Blessings.

  17. Thank you for putting this concept into words so well-spoken! My husband & I (36 years married) became Christians when our 1st-born was a year old, and since then have ALWAYS tried to honor God by how we live………………and I’m here to say that it IS possible to have a harmonious home life, and it IS possible for your children to think that spending time together as a family is normal, it IS possible to walk through the local mall with your teens without them thinking it is strange to be with their parents, and it IS possible for your children to grow up thinking the normal thing to do each week is spend time visiting at the local nursing home and delivering for Meals on Wheels, and guess what? You will see your children carrying on these activities and attitudes as adults, and you will understand 100% what John meant when he said “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John: 4) The way your children learn to do this is by following your example. If you live each day with the honest intent to honor God in everything you do, your children will learn to live the same way. The most important thing is to LISTEN TO GOD, NOT THE WORLD!!!

  18. I’m yet another new reader via your Magic Mike post. I’ve been reading back through your older posts and am now in March 2012. I’m really enjoying your words — funny, sweet, and challenging. I feel like I can relate so much with you. I’m 28 years old, a stay at home Mom to 2 littles ones, lived in Louisville my first 2 years of marriage while my husband finished up at Southern, and am now a preacher’s wife in a very small town in Kentucky. My preacher husband even has red hair! 🙂 I just want to encourage you to keep it up! You have encouraged me and have been a great reminder of God’s greatness.

  19. Love your perspective! And I can tell you from experience it will serve you well! Your blog made me laugh and then get weepy at the multitudes of memories I have of raising 7 kids for the glory of God. . . .all of us washing the kitchen floor in swimsuits and soapy water, eating dessert first ‘just because’, “jammie day” in home school when it snowed the first time or was particularly gloomy, loving on grandparents and great-grandparents, teaching VBS with my older kids, missions trips with each one as they get older. Am attending my 21 and 24 year olds baptisms tomorrow night and Daddy is gonna help baptize them. Talk about ‘No greater joy than to see my children walking in the truth!” God is good, has been good, and will be good in the future. Keep up the good work and keep glorifying God with it!

  20. I absolutely love this!! it touched my heart and warmed my soul! I read a devotional every night and this was my devotional last night!! thank you for sharing your heart and soul with us Leslie! I am so glad God is working in your heart and working through you to bless all of us! I love you and praise God for the great work he is doing in you and that you’re doing to bless so many others!! praise God!! May we always encourage each other to stop and put God first in all we are doing! a hard thing to do in this crazy, busy world! Keep up the great work Leslie! love you lots!

  21. You are on a roll my friend! I especially identified with going to bed every night with my husband no matter how many things could be done instead…and the one about your son wearing an eyepatch during tithe and realizing it just doesn’t matter what people might think! I also identified with how if I am stressed (and ultimately making my whole family stressed, too) while preparing for a birthday party, my focus is definitely misplaced (ultimately on me). Such good words!

  22. A very timely post for me, as we are preparing our house for sale. It’s all too easy to stress and obsess about making the house “perfect”. And even more stress about finding the “perfect” house to buy! With long work hours and long commutes, I need to remember that this is a season of life, and doesn’t have to be “perfect”. And I need to be grateful for what I have, and what I can do without.

  23. Beautifully written. We’ve been so incredibly blessed this summer. My two oldest children (ages 9 and 6) were both saved and baptized this year, one at church camp and the other at VBS. God has been so good to us. Having your perspective is probably not EASY but it is most definitely necessary!! Thank you for this. Now to begin my pilgrimage today. It’s my son’s 7th birthday. What a blessing!!!

  24. oh how I needed this… do you know me? it sure sounds like it 🙂 I must remind myself of all of this… do it w/joy… not w/ stress and if it does stress… don’t do it or do in differently…. thank you soooooooo much my sister

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