I started blogging over eight years ago, innocently enough. A group of women I admired posted about writing for five minutes every Friday on a one-word topic. Having loved writing all my life, I thought, I’ll start a blog so I can join them. My early blog looked like a 1980s kitchen, themed in calico florals and very homemade. The farthest thing from my mind was “growing an audience,” gaining fans, or making sure my SEO rank got Google’s attention.
I simply wanted to write and to bless others with my words.
The Pressure to Be Something
Over the first year, I joined some small blogging groups online. As I shared my posts, I found myself yearning for people to like what I wrote. I started looking at my stats – you might say it bordered on obsessive. What had started as a sweet hobby to cultivate my love of writing, quickly careened into some form of self-validation. Before you know it, I was taking courses, building a “brand,” and trying to add people to my subscriber list. I sacrificed joy and peace, trading them for striving and discontentment.
I want to assure you I’m not against anyone building an online business, writing for profit, or being strategic about reaching people. In my case, my priorities flipped and I lost my original sense of purpose. Another thing also began to happen. I started to focus more on what I could gain than on what I could give. This shift came subtly, but soon took root in my thinking and approach to almost all my time spent online.
The Expectations of Motherhood
Now, you might not be a blogger or writer. In that case, you haven’t experienced the immense cultural pressure that springs on us when we begin to write online. I would guess, though, that you have faced this sort of pull elsewhere in life. Motherhood is a fertile ground for discontentment.
We step out of a birthing center at the hospital holding our first child along with an invisible pack of expectations. We have hopes and dreams for ourselves, our husband, and this small human entrusted to our care. Not only do we have a laundry list of thoughts about what mom life will entail, but we also find others have some strong opinions too. Some people even foist their beliefs on us while we sit sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, just hoping for a shower.
Those Extra Ten Pounds
Another source of highway robbery of your joy and peace might have been with your post-baby body. I mean, face it, we carried a child for nine months, had our hormones go through a blender, gave birth, and then, most of us did this repeatedly. Yet, we look at our stretch marks, pot bellies, or cellulite with disdain.
We spend our days teaching, loving, disciplining, driving, and cleaning up after our little people. By evening, our minds can be filled with remorse, longing, or sheer exhaustion. Still, we critique ourselves for not maintaining our high-school prom figure. We are so hard on ourselves, saying things in the quiet recesses of our minds that we wouldn’t think of saying to an enemy, let alone a friend.
God’s Sweet Lines
Sometime this summer God brought this verse to my attention. I don’t remember when, and if I knew how powerful it would become to me, I would have marked it down in my journal. Psalm 16:6 says, “He has drawn my lines in pleasant places. Surely my inheritance is rich.” Have you ever had a verse brought to mind, and then over time it becomes woven into your heart? As I traveled to Texas to share my book, speak to groups of women, and teach a writing class this past November, God really made that verse a source of deep peace for me.
You see, we all often want what’s outside the lines God draws. For some reason, as I pondered Psalm 16:6, God brought Eve to my mind. She lived in the most perfect environment, with intimacy and freedom abounding. God drew one line. He said, “Don’t eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Satan whispered in Eve’s ear, and when he did, he kindled the doubt that lay dormant in her heart: God is holding out on me. The goodness I long for is elsewhere. When I get that, I’ll be happy and fulfilled.
Since that time, we have fallen for the sin of Eve. We all have thought, “When I lose those ten pounds …” or “When I get one thousand followers …” or “If my husband were more …” and “If my kids were less …” We believe that goodness will come elsewhere rather than within the lines God has drawn right here, right now. Yet, this sweet verse says He has drawn my lines – your lines – in pleasant places.
Even Through the Storms
Take my word for it, I deeply know that what goes on inside our lines is not always pleasant. Sometimes extremely hurtful and damaging experiences come our way. We have to walk through grief, rejection, and loss. In hindsight, I can assure you, the lines around those experiences remain pleasant.
God knows our deeper needs. He touches on the internal and eternal, while we want the temporary and external. He aims to make us more like Him, with hearts fixed on our real home, not swayed by the values patterned in the world. When He allows a trial or tragedy, He sees beyond it. He walks with us through the hardship, providing His presence, care, and provision as we endure. God doesn’t waste a drop of our suffering. He makes a beautiful mosaic from the broken pieces of our lives.
We can surely strive for goals – I love doing that, and it’s not sinful at all. We might work out, eat well, and even ask people to subscribe to our blog. What we must resist is the urge to believe that any good we lack somehow lies around the bend. God constantly gives goodness in lavish amounts right here, right now. His abundant life, His peace, and His joy are possible today, right where you are.
Did you resonate with this post? If my words blessed you, I don’t want to “collect” you as a subscriber. I want to continue to pour into your life. Will you allow me to do that? If you would like access to the vault of freebies I’ve created for you, and a twice-monthly email of encouragement for your motherhood, feel free to join me. I’d love to have you.
loretta gjeltema says
“He has drawn my lines in pleasant places.“. I love this. You are so right about both the pressure to do and be more and the places God would have us go. Thanks for sharing your words.
Thank you, Loretta! I’m so glad you came by. Come back anytime. I am still pondering your words from this week. Very poignant.
Sarah Butterfield says
These were wonderful words on contentment! And thank you for acknowledging the storms and tempests that knock us off our feet. Yes, even there, God is with us.
Thank you, Sarah! I’m so glad this blessed you.