Confused and discouraged by life, I sat down and cried again. I wept bitter tears… of regret, remorse, and utter hopelessness. “LORD, what do You want me to do?!”, I pitifully begged once more. Tears streaked down my cheeks as I crawled under my bed covers. I felt so lost on the path of life. As a twenty-year-old, I had followed the path I was supposed to take to be a dutiful Christian American female. I achieved okay grades in high school and got into a small private college and was on my way to getting a good degree in a field everyone appreciated. So why the tears and confusion?
Two problems: I did not know what I wanted to do for “a living” and I did not enjoy college. I felt awful because my father was paying for my education and I was not even sure that it was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. People assured me that it was okay because, even if I did not go into that profession, the college degree was a good thing to have when looking for a job. None of the answers I got satisfied my heart. I could do it: I could get my degree, get a good job and live independently making good money. But for some deep reason, I did not want to and did not feel it was right. Soon I came upon an even greater dilemma: the book So Much More by the Botkin sisters. I did not read it intently at first because it was so contrary to what I had been hearing my whole life.
I leant it to a friend and when I got it back, I devoured it. It was as if someone for the first time assured me, “It‘s okay if you don‘t fit into the world‘s pattern”, “It‘s okay if you have a desire to get married and have kids”, “It‘s okay that you‘re not academic in the world‘s courses but want to be in the Word of God”, “It‘s okay to follow God and not man”. I believe YHWH graciously began to open my eyes then and for the first time, I understood God created me for a specific purpose. I was not cut out to fit into the world‘s pattern and trying to fit into it was breaking me. That was the beginning of God freeing me from the world‘s mold, standards, and expectations for young women.
Under the banner of “I don‘t know if this major is what I really want to do with my life”, I took a break from the second semester of my junior year. I worked at a local pet store and tried to better understand what I was to be and to do in this life. I talked with my parents about being a “stay-at-home daughter“, working in the home under them, serving my family and preparing to be a suitable help meet. At first they were not receptive. My dad was uncomfortable with supporting me financially for potentially, the rest of my life.
My mom saw it as stepping on her toes, taking away from her position as a stay-at-home wife and mother. A greater decision was made that spring: to be baptized into Christ. I was twenty-one years old and led more and more by a faithful and loving heavenly Father.
It was tough. I was torn between submitting to my parents and following God‘s pattern for women laid out in His Word. Upon my parent‘s suggestion, I completed my college degree. I student-taught fourth grade in a local elementary school in the autumn of my last semester.
It was God‘s way of showing me vividly what He did not want for me and what He did not design me to do with this life. My dad asked if I would start applying for teaching jobs. Even my mom, who began to understand what YHWH was teaching me, prompted me, “Well, you have to do something. There isn‘t enough for you to do around our home.” Questions continued and I went to my Father in prayer, trusting He would provide a way for me.
I graduated that December. In January, I was finally “home“. Even though I had lived my whole life in my parent‘s home, my heart had been independent of my family—selfish and self-serving. God started to break down my self- centeredness and create in me a servant‘s heart. All that needs to be learned in character development can be learned at home with family. All the Godly attributes a woman of YHWH is to have can be taught and molded within family life. Home life is real life. Learning to love, forgive, care for other‘s needs, speak kindly, honour parents… all qualities I had not previously understood or learned because I did not have the instruction, time, or need.
Before, I was after the things of this world… my own desires, education, success. Yet, my whole life, it felt wrong. But in the midst of going the wrong way, God was able to show me the right way. I now could finally be the daughter I was made to be, the sister, the faithful daughter of YHWH. I was made to glorify His name, serve Him and those around me, and focus on pleasing Him and manifesting His character in the way He intended.
The little faithfulness I tried so hard to maintain was blessed by the LORD. He is faithful and true to His Word. The more I strove to fulfill my duty as daughter and sister, He gave me more opportunities to do so. Not only did I have opportunities to serve my family, I was able to serve the Body of Christ. I finally also had time to try explore domestic skills. I planted a small herb and vegetable raised-bed garden on our deck. I started a compost pile. I embroidered and sewed. I started a small publication to encourage my fellow Sisters in Christ. More importantly, I had a break- through in my relationship with my father. I forgave him for all I had been holding against him and let go of my bitterness. We now speak on a daily basis and I continually strive to try to be a better daughter. My mother and I were always close and our relationship has deepened. It was difficult for her at first to share her kitchen and teach me simple homemaking skills, but it got better as time went on. My brothers and sisters had to get used to me doing something so counter-cultural and had a hard time seeing the good in it at first. God continued to be with me and bless my meager efforts.
It is not easy, I will admit that. I still have my tear-filled prayers. I still from time to time, hide under my covers, overcome by my fears and weaknesses. But YHWH is faithful and merciful, always ready to help when I ask for it. I stepped out of the world‘s path in total faith, letting God be my guide. I had little parental direction, no outside support, many negative reactions, and at first, little to do at home.
All I could do was believe. And trust. And hope. And pray. And love YHWH more than anything or anyone else. He has never promised an easy life and I should not expect it. I pray that despite my untrained childhood, years of wandering, and previously undisciplined heart, He will use me for His purposes and mold me into a vessel fit to serve Him with His Son forever. Mark 11:22-24
It was a mountain—a spiritual mountain. Between my own weakness, my father‘s worldly ambitions for me, and the culture‘s heavy influence in my family—the mountain was overwhelming and seemed like it was impossible to get over or even around. I learned, though, all God wanted me to do was not to shovel pitifully at it, hacking at the huge mount day after day, but to pray, believe, have faith and trust. And sure enough, the mountain is now gone. God, in His mighty power and love, has thrown it into the sea! The great intimidating mountain that loomed so high! The mass that stretched on and on toward the sky that made me shrink back in fear… was erased in simple, child-like faith. Praise to be His high and holy name to care for His children and provide a way, not around, not up, not by my own hands, but through faith in the things unseen and hoped for.
Top 10 lessons God has taught me since returning home:
- God must be #1 in my life… loving Him with all my heart, strength, and might. (Deut. 6:5)
- Relationships take serious work, dedication, and love. (I Cor. 13)
- It‘s more important what you are than what you do. (Prov. 4:23)
- Trust. Hand over the past, present, and future to God. Worry kills. (Psa. 9:10)
- There is not a one-size-fits-all way of life. I must not judge others based on what God has shown me. (Luke 6:37)
- Deny my own desires, wishes, and ways and pick up the cross and follow Christ. Daily. (Matt. 16:24)
- Service without love is bankrupt and will only get self-righteousness. (I Cor. 13)
- Forgiving is easy in word and hard in heart. Mercy, grace, and forgiveness need to be continual. (II Sam. 22:26)
- Praying constantly makes the best of days! Without His help, all is in vain. (I Thess. 5:17)
- The Kingdom of God and His righteousness really do need to be sought FIRST. (Matt. 6:33)