God's Brave Women - Katie's Story
Tomorrow is my birthday. I turn 36. For such a long time, I’ve focused on how I’m not where I want to be. I’ve not lived in deep regret necessarily, but the moments I’ve lingered too long on have added up and robbed me of hours of joy and peace I can’t get back. NO MORE.
Galatians 5:1 states, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” I’m not a “word of the year” person, but if I were, FREE would have been my word for the last five years. This verse is what I now choose each day, after having continually submitted, again and again, to the “should’s” in my head, which enslaved me.
“I should know _____ by now”.
“I’m in full time ministry, I shouldn’t struggle with believing God’s promises.”
“For all the times I’ve shared the gospel, more people should be coming to know Jesus.”
“I shouldn’t respond so immaturely in my spirit when I am wronged. I should be more gracious.”
“I should be more organized/patient/thoughtful of my spouse…”
And the list goes on…
Why am I my hardest critic? Can anyone relate? God has freed me, and I have the most amazing identity in Him. I don’t need to prove myself to anyone, especially not Him. Where does this come from?
Maybe it’s because I’m super-introspective or because I’m about to become a mom. Maybe it’s just time to dig in. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
I first became aware of the fact that I wasn’t living free many years ago while reading a magazine article written for young adults about faith and culture. The author talked about wanting to bring her art or story or whatever it was exactly – I think she was a singer – and not care what the audience thought. I pictured myself standing on a stage speaking freely from my heart, without caring how it was received, and it was truly refreshing. I wanted to live like that! I wanted to be freely authentic. When I considered why I wasn’t, I made a discovery: The idol of living for others' approval was a reality in my life.
"I wanted to be freely authentic. When I considered why I wasn’t, I made a discovery: The idol of living for others' approval was a reality in my life."
I was in my second year working for a campus ministry, through which I had come to know Christ as my Savior and experienced a crazy amount of spiritual growth. My life had been transformed, and I finally had a lasting purpose to live for. Somewhere a long the way though, I got caught up in a performance mentality. This was new territory because I hadn’t really experienced this growing up. I didn’t have super high-achieving parents that put pressure on me to excel in school or athletics (thank goodness because I was very content being a B student and quit every sport eventually!)
You would think working a job where you’re constantly talking about the grace of God and the freedom Christ offers would make it easy to live that out. And yet, I struggled. I constantly compared myself to others, was perpetually dissatisfied in many areas and kept striving to know more. THEN I would finally have arrived. Even as I write, these things are still true, but now I’ve learned how to stand firm, and that makes all the difference. Even amidst these struggles, I’m living free.
Ephesians 6 is one of the places in scripture that talks about the battle raging against God’s people from an Enemy who is relentless. And I have so needed to practice these battle tactics as I regularly step out in faith to lead women (and sometimes men) to follow Christ and make Him known to others. Each week I engage in any number of things that require me to set aside my preferences, the approval of others or the convenience of a comfortable life so that others may truly know Jesus. I ask strangers really personal questions to learn their stories and hear what they think about God. I model ministry for girls I mentor when I don’t feel adequate, prepared or am anxious. I do this not because I am brave or smart or because I have to. I do it because God has shown me following Him is the best way to live, and I don’t want people to miss out on that. I’ve also learned in the thousands of conversations I’ve had with college students over the years that so many people are saying ‘no’ to Jesus because they think what he offers is very different than what he actually does. And I’m just not okay with that. (Read the book How Good Is Good Enough? by Andy Stanley if you want to learn more).
When I try to do these things or respond to the needs of others without relying on God’s power and wisdom, it becomes about me. I want to fear God more than I fear men. I want to forget about all the critics and people whose opinions really don’t matter, and be obedient to the work God has called me to. I don’t want to carry undue pressure that God has already lifted from me by giving me a new identity in Christ.
"I want to forget about all the critics and people whose opinions really don’t matter, and be obedient to the work God has called me to. I don’t want to carry undue pressure that God has already lifted from me by giving me a new identity in Christ."
As I lead, I will let people down. I’m sure I do every day. I’m texted/Facebooked/emailed at most hours of the day with small and big requests, needs, concerns, creative ideas, prayer requests – you name it. I can’t meet all the needs, and that’s OK. Balls can drop. Maybe they were never meant to be carried! As I transition to motherhood – oh man, I know it’s going to be hard! I will have to let so many things go, but I am hopeful that because of God and his faithfulness, the “should’s” will not rule, and freedom will reign.
At 36, I have a lot to look back on, but there is hopefully so much more ahead! I want the coming years to be full of all the freedom and grace intended for the much-loved child of God that I am.
Katie lives in Madison, WI with her husband Ben where they serve with Cru. She is an adventurer and creative spirit who loves the outdoors, and hopes to one day convert her husband to the same since he is an avid indoorsman! Katie and Ben are anxiously awaiting the birth of a sweet baby girl due any day who will make them parents through adoption. You can connect with her on Facebook to follow that journey and hear how God is using her ministry on campus.
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
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