A switch flipped in me after traveling all around the world. Desires that had been a part of me for so long that they had become a part of the very fabric of my being disappeared completely. Those desires packed their bags and left, and there was no forwarding address. It was such a strange vacancy, because they had always been there: my desire to be a wife and a mother. I couldn’t decide whether the sudden departure from these desires was a very welcome change from something I had no control over anyway, or if there was a deeper issue going on that needed to be addressed.
Coming back to the United States I was fresh with vision and purpose, and armed with the realization that God opens doors when you move in the direction of your desires instead shutting the door on them and running the opposite direction. I finally realized that if I am abiding in Christ, then He is placing the desires in my heart that are consistent with the plans that He has for me, and therefore by shunning these desires I’m not allowing Him to place me on the path that He has for me! Ironically, by doing everything I felt like I “should”my whole life in order to obtain the life I thought I wanted was the very thing that was keeping me from living out the purpose that God has for me. I broke free of that cycle the moment I took a giant leap of faith and quit my job and traveled the world solo.
Once I was home, I felt I understood who God created me to be and who God is in an entirely different way. I spent a lot of time compiling what I learned about myself and God and asking Him about what direction I should head next. I’ve started planning my next around the world adventure and I’ve got a book idea that I’m thrilled about and can’t wait to put into motion.
Talking with one of my mentors about those plans tonight, she was asking me how being a wife and mother fit into the future I had so elaborately planned for myself. The very mention of becoming a wife and mother made my skin crawl. I think I may have visibly shuddered when she broached the topic. I told her that I was very unsure that I wanted those things at all anymore. She cautioned me not to be drawing such a specific future for myself and closing myself off to things that God may have for me if it doesn’t fit into the version of my future that I have in my mind.
OK, with that violent of a reaction maybe this is something I needed to probe a bit deeper.
Journaling about the prayer session with my mentor, God revealed the root of this abrupt departure from my long-held desires for a family of my own: fear.
Fear, isn’t it always you? You’re always the one that makes us run in a direction contrary to our hearts desires. Fear was dressed up in different clothes now that I’m back in the United States, so for a while I didn’t recognize him in the line-up. Prior to my departure fear looked like me doing everything that I always thought I “should” in order to gain love and approval and the life that I thought I wanted. Now fear looked like me killing my deepest desires because I didn’t understand in my finite mind how it would fit with this new version of myself that I believe God revealed on my trip.
You see, I don’t believe the problem is me currently making tentative plans and starting to move in the direction of the dreams and desires that God has put in my heart (that right now look like Around the World Part 2 with an amazing book idea). Although, that could become a problem if I moved from a place of “Lord, I believe these are the desires you’ve placed in my heart that are consistent with how You made me and that based on the last direction you’ve given me I am moving in that direction. I’m asking for your wisdom, guidance, and direction, and for you to put me on the right path and to help me hear Your voice” to “This is what I want to do and I will make it happen at any cost, and I’m not asking for Your input”. God already established that moving towards the desires of my heart is a good thing and it allows Him to open the correct doors for me.
The problem is allowing the fear of me slipping back into my old, monotonous, suffocating way of life to frighten me so much that I completely kill off my desire to have my own family because in my finite mind I can’t see how the life I desire would leave any room for those things to co-exist.
The fear of returning to the life that was previously so suffocating to me was so severe that I would rather disown those dreams entirely because in my limited vision I couldn’t foresee a future that would allow my desires for travel, adventure, writing, photography, a husband, and children to co-exist. In my mind I thought I could either have travel and adventure and this exciting life OR I could be stuck in the same monotonous life that nearly suffocated me and be a wife and mother. I could not have both. I had to choose. And quite frankly, I was going to choose the life of adventure, because I had already suffocated for long enough.
What if it’s OK to chase after all the desires of my heart even when I can’t see how they all fit together? What if the healthy place to be is to allow all of these desires to co-exist without fear even though I can’t figure out what a life containing all those elements would look like? What if it’s not my job to figure out exactly what it would look like, but it honors the Lord to step out towards those desires boldly in faith, not shutting the door on them out of fear, but holding them loosely in my hands, giving them back to the Lord, and asking Him to construct the life that honors Him that contains all these desires in it and allows me to fully be myself so that He can use my life for His purposes more readily.
After all, if I shut the door to the desires of being a wife and a mother out of fear of slipping back into my old life, I’ve in fact already slipped back into my old life. My old life was me shutting doors to my desires and running the other way out of fear that I had to do something other than step through that threshold of desire with trust in God to fulfill it in order to live out the life I thought I should. My old life was spent slamming doors and keeping order and shutting every desire up tight that didn’t fit with the plan that I had for my life. But real, true life was never found there. Life was found by swinging the door to my desires wide open and stepping through it, trusting in God to meet me there-perhaps not in the ways I expected, but to show up and look me in the eye and say, “I’ve been waiting for you for a long, long time. I’m so glad you finally decided to come.”
Perhaps my dear friend Leticia said it best when she told me, “we don’t have to be alone to experience freedom”.
When you look at your own life, what ways do you think you may be allowing fear to motivate you more than faith? Will you dig deep with me and ask yourself what your true desires are, in your heart of hearts, buried underneath all of your fears? It’s OK if you don’t know how they all fit together. Instead of trying to figure out how all the puzzle pieces fit together, will you simply join with me in giving those desires to Jesus and beginning to walk in their general direction, even if it scares you? Will you join me in believing He is able “to do superabundantly, far over and above all that we (dare) ask or think (infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams).” Ephesians 3:20 AMP