Letters from Mentors: Will the Light in My Eyes Go Out from Not ‘Achieving All I Could Be?’

A few months ago, I had a discussion with RichardP at another blog about going back to school to get a simple training degree (2 years or shorter!) eventually when the kids were older.

RP said:

“I’d hate to see the light go out of your eyes because you one day conclude that you never got the chance to be all that you could be.”

I really don’t think he meant ill-will toward me at all, but something about his comment sounded odd to me, as if the only way the light in my eyes wouldn’t go out, would be pursuing more education and getting back into the working world (which realistically, this may not happen now that we’re homeschooling).  When something bothers me, I tend to ask women I consider friends and mentors what they think.  So I asked a few women who were older (decades older) to see what they thought of his comment, especially in light of our family situation of me needing to be home with our kids right now.

Stingray gave me just an incredible reply with lots of wisdom and encouragement; it gave me much to think about.

The whole point of having these “Letters from Mentors,” is to help other women out there who may feel the way I do, have the same questions or are looking for answers that aren’t readily available anymore in our sinful culture.  I hope her words blesses any women out there who come across this same sentiment like her words blessed me.

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From Stingray:

Hey Stephanie,

I’ve  been thinking about your email a lot over the past months and I can tell you, this man’s statement is incredibly irritating to me, as well.  I have to say, you need to go with your gut on this one.  The light in your eyes is there because of the joy in your life.  You get to decide what brings you joy.  Not some random man who only knows you from the internet.  It sounds to me like your family brings you joy.
What kind of light would you really have in your eyes if you went back to school, presumably went into a good amount of debt, and missed all of that time with your family?  And while much of the world these days tends to equate the piece of paper you would get for your degree as an education, is that really what it constitutes?
Many would say that since I’m a homeschooling stay at home mom I am wasting my life, but I can certainly tell you that I am FAR more educated now than I was when I got my degree (which was useful in finding me a husband and that was the very best thing that came from it).
Education is not a piece of paper.  It is a compilation of what you have learned.  What better age to live in than the internet age to get a true education. If it is knowledge you desire, you have it nearly free at your finger tips.  If it is status you desire, which is what most women want when the speak of career, then yes, school is the way to go.  But as you said, at what price and will it bring you joy?
You asked if I have run into this.  Not personally, no.  I mean, I’ve seen people who really resent stay at home mom’s and whatnot, but it’s never been said to my face.  (Well, when I was pregnant with my first a woman asked me what I was going to do after the baby came and I told her I was going to be a SAHM and homeschool.  The look she gave me suggested I had a foul stench, but I just thought that was funny).
But being a SAHM has always been my dream since I was a little girl.  I never had any career aspirations. I did go to college, because that is what you did at 18 those days.  I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t enjoy working for the 5 years I did. 
I get that some women are happy working, but I do not believe that it is true of most of the women who make that claim.  I think they say it because they think they have to.  They believe it, because the alternative is unthinkable.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not unthinkable.

The alternative can really be what maintains that light.

Yeah,  I know that in the midst of diapers and sleepless nights that it might not seem like it, but really envision that dream you mentioned.

Having those Godly children and watching their effect on the world.  In 50 years, in 100 years, what do you think will have a bigger impact in this world?

This is all to say, that man doesn’t know what he is talking about.  He’s mimicking back to you the standard knowledge so many of us were taught growing up.  But were most of us ever taught an alternative choice to this?  Were we ever taught that something else that might bring us great happiness is out there?  Why were we never given a choice to make on our own?  The very fact that you believe you do have a choice says a whole lot.  Don’t let him doubt yourself.  This is your choice to make and you have given it way more thought and have more experience to make the decision than vast numbers of people out there.  It is yours to make.  You know what brings you joy.
Block the rest of the world out and listen only to that still small voice and your husband in this matter.  You will figure it out that way.  The world is not in your home.  Your home is where this decision needs to come from.
All my best to you, Stephanie.  Make this choice in a place of confidence.  Follow your gut.  You know far more about this than most.  Trust that.
Stingray
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Can I Desire Personal & Spiritual Growth for My Husband?

I recently came across a question from a wife that was asking if it was ok to seek personal (and to me that also means spiritual) growth for her husband.  She wondered if maybe personal growth (desiring it) should only be for oneself, and if it was maybe wrong to desire it for someone else.

This is a great question, and something I believe God’s shown me even recently through the many lessons He’s taught me this past year of 2015. Not about my husband at all, but it centered around me desiring personal and spiritual growth for people I interacted with who were continually acting sinfully and in ways that dishonored God.  I’m so grateful and humbled that He’s done so much in my life in just this one year, and especially these last few months!

So without further ado, this is the answer I gave her:

Hey (Name Redacted), from what I’ve been taught and believe, I do think you can desire personal growth (spiritual growth as well) for your husband, it just has to be directed in a positive, respectful way, and probably not reminding him of his “goals” when he falls short constantly.

The best thing you can do is to pray for him in this area, but then don’t let it become what you focus on so much that this is what the majority of your time spent with God is about. If you are looking too much at the speck in his eye, and forget the “plank” in your own (not to say you have a plank-sized sin, just to remind you that we ALL sin), that focusing so much on someone else’s sin can be a distraction from our own spiritual and personal growth. Wanting him to grow more can become what you think about too much, instead of focusing on what God wants you to do, how God wants you to grow. I know it can be hard – even with people that aren’t your husband, we want them to change when we see them caught up in a stronghold that’s making them act sinful. It can be tempting to hear sermons and tidbits of wisdom and immediately apply it to them and think “Oh if only he/she was hearing that! Maybe then they’d stop their sinful behavior!!” It’s good to pray for others and trust God to work in their heart, but ultimately God wants you to grow in your own spirit and not be overly bothered by someone else’s lack of spiritual growth.

Satan wants to get you off focus of doing God’s will for your life, so he will use anything to achieve that goal, even good things like seeking personal/spiritual growth for your husband or someone else you wish was behaving differently.

Hope that helps you!

_____________________________________________________

Some more thoughts:

When someone you love, or know and interact with, is acting in a sinful and hurtful way, it can be extremely tempting to want to go in and “fix” the situation and “fix” them, and if we really love and care about them, this comes naturally.  Loving others means you want the best for them, that you want to see them become all that God desires them to be.  Giving them a loving, life-giving rebuke in a kind and gentle way can be extremely beneficial if their heart is humble and open and their spirit is desiring to follow God’s will for their life.  But what if their heart is hard and calloused, what if they mock the wisdom from God in how to treat other people, or mock your attempt to help them change and use it as fuel to further attack you for wanting to help them?

  • You have to step back, and realize if you’re dealing with someone spiritually wounded.  If they are reacting in hate or with mocking behavior, something is very off within their spirit, and they will not be able to receive wisdom most likely at this time in their life.  A reaction like that means they are generally in rebellion to God and against the Holy Spirit (if they’re Christian), and are grieving the Holy Spirit with their words and actions.  This may be because they’ve experienced a dramatic event in their life, immense pain they are feeling, anger, or a loss of purpose and belief that God can use them and their life experiences to further His Kingdom.
  • If they are spiritually wounded, don’t take their harsh and angry reactions or rejections to heart.  Try to see where they’re at and feel compassion and love for them, even in the state they’re in.  When you minister to other people, and especially the wounded and broken, they will sometimes “spiritually vomit” all over you because they are so far from God and His will in how He desires them to act. We need to expect this, and not be surprised when it happens with people who are Christian.  The saved are still depraved creatures, and we all need God desperately.
  • Keep your mind from focusing on their sin too much, pray for them, but have a peaceful confidence that God will deal with their sin – because He will and always has.
  • Focus on God’s will for your life, and doing the important things that He’s already put in your path for you to accomplish.
  • Don’t let other people’s sins become a distraction for you, taking away from the time you need to spend doing God’s work in your life and in the lives of those He’s put in your path to minister to.  Time is our most precious commodity, and how we use it matters so much!  Satan can use another person’s stronghold, your focusing on it, in order to stunt your own spiritual growth and spend your time wasted.  It gives him great satisfaction when God’s children are off track and ineffective.
  • Don’t give in to despair, have good boundaries around how much you allow other people’s sins to affect you.  Acknowledge that you’re only responsible for your own life, and are called to live at peace as much as it depends on you.  You can’t control other people’s thoughts and actions, you can’t ultimately change their minds or hearts to desire to act and behave godly.

 

Staying Focus

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am, and have been, having a hard time for the past few months in the discipline of staying focus.  There are so many times when I’ve been sorely tempted to stray off onto tangents, and even when these tangents are supposedly “good things,” it became obvious that in saying “Yes” to entertaining them, I was saying “No” to what I actually needed to be doing instead.

With every choice we make, we are saying “yes” to something, and then also “no” to something else.

When I choose to say “Yes” to reading something ugly or passive aggressive, I’m saying “No” to something that is positive or uplifting, something righteous and from God that could have helped me on my path.  When I travel down that road of entertaining things that stem from other people’s unrighteousness, I’m straying off the course that I’m supposed to be on, that God desires me to stay on.

When I was finally convicted of this constant temptation to stray off the path of being focused on the purpose of my life, God’s Will for my life, it came after a long, wonderful evening with my parents when I was driving home on a long stretch of open highway as the sun was setting and dusk was appearing.  The wonder of the peaceful silence, the lack of cars around me, and the speed of the highway suddenly propelled my thoughts as God pricked my conscience that this was what He wanted me to do at this time.  To stay focus.

There were many exits I was passing that could lead me to places other than my purposed destination, but they would only distract me from getting to my goal (home), and finding rest and sleep – renewal and rejuvenation.  These off-roads would delay me in my journey, and pro-long my eventual arrival.  And so it is with distractions and temptations to stray off onto tangents in our spiritual journey, or to go down roads we were never meant to travel.

When I got home, I drew out the picture I saw in my head of a road going straight that was my purpose and God’s Will for my life, and little roads that led off of it in different directions.  I named each of these little roads that led me down unrighteous paths, and each one, as I drew it out and named it, suddenly became so convicting to me how wrong it actually was, and how much of a sinful distraction it was to living a righteous, purposeful, and productive life!  The beauty of it’s clarity was breathtaking, and this picture has been burned into my mind ever since.

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Staying focus is not only a discipline of physically obeying by doing the right things, it is a mental obedience to adhere our thought-life to the right things.  Our thoughts eventually determine our actions.  If I am constantly (or even sometimes) thinking about things I shouldn’t be, wandering into places to look for contention with people I know I have friction with already, I will eventually end up following through on these thoughts with actions that take me off course.  I have to be mentally on course, staying focus, if I ever want to achieve and keep my physical obedience on course and staying focus.

Here are some verses that I’ve been dwelling on for the past few months regarding Staying Focus, from the Amplified Bible, because I love it and am a complete nerd who actually talks this way (with parenthesis because I’m awkward lol).  If you’ve never read the Amplified version, I encourage you to take a look at these scriptures with a fresh eye and mind attentive to hearing them explained in depth based on the actual language used in the text:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man) produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)