During the IF:Gathering, the Lord showed me three specific ways that I have been allowing myself to be distracted from fully being the Woman of God and the leader that He has called me to be. Today I will be sharing two of those distractions.
Distraction #1: Too many voices.
“You don’t even realize what a secular world you’re living in as a young mom. And part of that reason is the internet. The problem is that online, every voice carries equal weight.” ~ Sally Clarkson, Mom Heart Conference, 2015
I have shared before how I often get overwhelmed by the noise of the internet, so when I read this quote on Sally’s Instagram, it really grabbed me and led me to ask the question, “Who are the voices I am allowing to speak into my life?”
I have written before about how I tend to wear the hand-me-downs of other women when it comes to my identity. Unfortunately this is also true in my identity as a Woman of God. Like so many in my generation, I have often found myself with more questions than answers when it comes to my faith and erring on the side of acquiescence rather than ownership of what I truly believe.
And while I think it is good and necessary for us to pop our spiritual bubbles and listen to the stories and beliefs of others as we work out our own faith with fear and trembling, I also believe that a time of spiritual maturity must come, a time when we begin to tell our own story of faith and own what we believe.
“So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine…” Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)
This video was posted by IF:Equip the morning of the IF:Gathering, and Ann Voskamp spoke straight to my heart as she reminded me not to fixate on a spiritual leader. Her message was so perfectly timed, because I was already anticipating who, in just a few short hours, would become my IF:Gathering favorite. You know, the woman I would want to emulate, follow on social media, read every blog post, buy all of her books, and try to make my calling look like hers.
But Ann Voskamp said in reference to Joshua 24, “Leaders die, but their God does not die.” She said that it is okay to take faithful disciples of Jesus and let them build into our lives and nourish us, but ultimately, we have to come back to His Word and who Jesus is.
We must follow Jesus alone.
Distraction #2: What others are doing.
“I didn’t value the gifts that God gave me because they didn’t look like the gifts that I valued in others’ lives.” ~ Angie Smith, IF Gathering 2015
I am a creative and eclectic person with a variety of interests and talents and this is part of the reason I have felt stuck and unsure of where to aim the extra passion and energy that I feel. For a while now, I have tried to find my identity in my creativity, but to no avail and with no sense of peace. And I know it is because, deep in my heart, I have long known where my aim should be, but I keep getting distracted by all of the creative things that others are doing. And if I could be really honest, I have a lot more confidence in myself as a creative person than I do as a Woman of God and spiritual leader, so I have continued to allow the creative endeavors of others to distract me from things the Lord has spoken to my heart.
I see someone selling refinished furniture and I think, I can do that! I see someone with a cool DIY blog and I think, I can do that! I see someone creating printable quotes and I think, I can do that! I see someone running a successful handmade shop and I think, I can do that!
And the thing is, I really believe that if I gave it my all, I could be successful at any one of those things. But those pursuits are not to be my aim, and since the IF:Gathering, I can say that with confidence.
The Lord spoke to my heart so clearly on this matter and told me that my creativity does not define me. It is a passion and gift to be used simply for my enjoyment or as a tool in my calling, but my creativity does not define me.
I feel such a sense of freedom and peace about laying aside many of my creative ideas to pursue the God-sized dreams He has planted in my heart.
BUT…the distraction of what others are doing doesn’t end there for me. You see, whenever I begin to lean into my calling, I start to look around at other women who are doing things similar to what I feel called to do, and I am immediately discouraged. I see so many women leading and doing great things for the Kingdom of God and I begin to wonder if there is room for me and my calling. And compared to all of those women, I am not ____________ enough.
I know it sounds so silly, but then again, most of our insecurities sound foolish when we really acknowledge them.
As I look back over my notes from the IF:Gathering, I am reminded to be who God created me to be and to do the things that He has called me to do. And instead of feeling discouraged and insecure by what others are already doing, I am encouraged to be part of such an amazing army of dangerous women who are building God’s kingdom across the globe.
“Be who God created you to be in the season He has placed you in. Don’t look to the right or to the left to see what everyone else is doing.” ~ Angie Smith
“We can’t live into our purposes because our mindsets hold us captive.” ~ Jo Saxton
“You don’t have to have full confidence in yourself, just have it in God.” ~ Jen Hatmaker
“It is not just about you, it is about His church.” ~ Christine Caine
So how do I stop allowing myself to be distracted by the voices of others and what they are doing?
I have a choice to make here. I can default back to my normal and allow these words to get lost in the archives of my blog, or I can allow these words to change me and move me forward in the call that God has on my life.
I desperately want to move forward and I know that will require intention and action on my part, so here’s my plan…
I am going to listen to the voice of God and do what He tells me to do. It sounds so simple, but for some reason I haven’t been doing a great job of it, so here are some practical action steps of faith and obedience that I am taking to be intentional about listening and obeying.
- Eliminate the voices that are truly distracting me and/or feeding my insecurities. That means reading less books and blogs, following less people on social media, and listening to fewer podcasts.
- Turn down the voices that I continue to allow, receive them with much wisdom and discernment, and eliminate them if I feel that they are in anyway distracting me from God’s plans and purposes for my life.
- Turn up His voice. Way up. Remember how I told you I felt like an arrow pulled back in the bow, ready to be released with swiftness and force, yet unable to locate the target. Well, the target is Him. So this passion and energy is going to spent in His Word and in prayer.
- Act on whatever it is that He tells me to do. I am not going to overthink it or over-analyze it. I am not going to compare myself to others. I am going to have faith and take action and own it.
- Trust that as I listen and obey, He will order my path. I must remember that my life and my calling are not necessarily going to fit inside a box or fall under a neatly labeled category. Even when things may not fit together in my opinion, I have to do ALL that He has called me to do and trust that He will connect the dots.
I couldn’t be more excited! I am taking a creative, new approach to studying the Bible and prayer and I can’t wait to share more about that soon. But first, I have one more distraction to share that is very different from the ones I wrote about today, so be on the lookout for that post later this week.
In the meantime, I encourage you to think about the voices you are allowing to speak into your life. Are they propelling you toward God’s purposes or serving as distractions? Are you busy looking at what others are doing instead of taking action on what God has called you to do?
If so, join me in getting into His Word and spending time in prayer. Let’s make 2015 the year we position ourselves to listen and obey!
“We need a generation full of the Word of God!” ~ Christine Caine, IF:Gathering 2015