Monday, February 22, 2016

Who Do You Follow?

I saw this blog post come across this morning and to say I was nodding in agreement like some crazed bobble head doll would be an extreme understatement!

Don't Follow People, Keeper of The Homestead blog

All I can say is read it. No matter what your particular thoughts are on the actual situation she shares, you will definitely find truth you can relate to.

I am going to be REAL with you again.  Satan comes as an angel of light.  And if your button is that of trying to be more righteous, well, let's just say, he can lead you straight to hell in your pursuit to be unworldly.  He is crafty.  It is his job to get God's people to focus on everything else but Jesus.  Do not be fooled.
Every Christian knows this, right? We all know that satan is king of deceiving and that he cannot create anything on his own, but boy howdy can he turn situations around to suit exactly what he desires...pull us from Christ and cloud our view.

We can start off with great intentions. We may even be following what we see as God's clear direction in any given situation. Then all of a sudden, the little inconsistencies creep out into the open.  We see them...but do we truly understand them as being what they are? Sometimes we do. Sometimes we miss the first inklings that something isn't really going the way it should, the way it needs to be to truly follow Gods lead.

But we want it to be the direction to follow. So we continue on, thinking maybe satan is simply putting up some mini roadblocks to slow us our way. He likes to see us stumble after all, right? He doesn't have to put a full blown wall in our way to keep us from God, he can usually just throw a little pebble in the path and trip us up.

Religion is never satisfied, but Christ satisfied the law.  You never satisfy religion because it will always want that bar higher and higher.
 In our 20 or more years of walking toward a more Plain life, we have fallen over so many pebbles. I started covering because daily, my Bible reading went back to the same things. I fought it. I covered with the smallest bit of something I could. I was happy that I had "met the requirements" and went on about my way...only to find that about 6 months later, I saw things differently in that very same set of Scripture that moved me in the first place. My covering grew larger and onward I went.

I met with a few naysayers, telling me 'cultural' and 'time frame' were all that we needed to take from those passages. I was immediately pounced on by our church at the time. Literally, the Pastor prayed for me, the ladies group prayed for me, the deacons even came to my house to confront me on these wayward, legalistic ways I was adopting. To my husband, they made little they could now see who truly wore the pants in our family. I visited a friend's home fellowship and that really brought out the ire against what I was doing. Home church was a myth, dresses only was a tool of the devil, a headcovering was legalistic. You name it, they threw the argument. We were trying to be too Plain, too legalistic, too letter of the Law, too Old Testament, for the church folk.

We started to align ourselves with more Plain friends, thinking perhaps we needed that deeper connecting thread of like-mindedness and similarity in lifestyle. It's not an easy walk to go so far out of the 'accepted norm' of modern religion, no matter how off base that modern religion might be in many areas.

Still, we didn't find anything connecting us their either. We learned quickly enough that we were not 'plain' enough for the Plain folks.  We didn't always choose solid colors, we didn't always choose dark shades, our covering style was still changing, we weren't locked in to one design over another, we listened to the radio and dared to enjoy music that wasn't just of a religious nature...or worse yet, the religious music was too 'worldly'. We still had a television in our home, whether it was watched or not made little difference.

The apparent stumbling blocks to being more Plain were an ever-growing pile in that path as well. We were greeted warmly on many levels, but that soon changed to endless critiques of our parenting failures, our misguided steps toward Faith, and almost continued examples being shared of what our children did vs what they should be doing.

One Plain friend went as far as to write us a letter (of several pages in length) detailing in great depth, child by child, (several paragraphs each) listing every single thing they had done while we visited one day as a family, where we had allowed this or that and to what detriment this action was, and specific steps as to what we must do to try to allow an opening for God to repair the damage we had inflicted. Our repeated actions were blocking God from raising our children to truly surrender to Him. We were basically raising our children to be worldly and they would never have a hope of becoming Godly children.

Pebbles. Lots of them.

We continued on though, undeterred in our effort because we knew this was something The Lord was bringing into our lives. To what extent, with what lessons HE intended for us, we didn't see yet, but we were clear on what we saw as our path. Our dress changed, our heart changed, we started putting Christ in the forefront of every aspect of our life. Nightly family devotions at the dinner table, prayers with every meal, praying for family, for friends, for the world around us in general. Things that were allowed thru our gates and things that were guarded against with the greatest of force and attention.

Fast forward to now. To my daily self shaming, the last couple of years have seen a big casting away of a great many "rules" we had here. Truthfully, some were eased up on more than a couple years ago. My girls have been allowed to wear pants. This is something I am deeply not ok with, but that has become the status quo around here. With Dad not home to lead the family on the path we started those 20 years ago, things have gone to hell in a rather large hand basket. There are other things that have changed, but my deepest heart regrets are in the dress and attitude categories.

He sees our hearts and he is bigger than systems and principles.  He is much bigger than doctrines and rules.  He sees right into a man’s heart and no matter what, God is not man, and does not have human thoughts.  We on the other hand judge wrongly many times because we can’t see one’s heart.  People love systems, love rules, because it makes them feel more secure.

Should it matter that Dad is not here leading daily as he once was? No it shouldn't really, but it does. It isn't as though we were following Dad and his lead, we were following what we clearly saw as a calling from Scripture. Still, without Dad at the helm, we drift so much more easily. And we have drifted. A lot. And it breaks my heart in more ways than I will ever be able to verbalize. This family has walked away from so many things that I know were not pebbles in our path.

The past couple of years have walked me farther from The Lord on many levels. My heart is still there, and the thirst and longing is still there, yet I feel I have walked away from all HE has called me to do. I have failed HIM and am so totally not worthy of being redeemed on HIS level these days. As much as it grieves me, I can only imagine how grieved HE is at seeing my moments of being deceived and turned away from HIM.

I may not come to grips with the life we have now, the lack of the things I hold to my heart as being right. I am upset daily as I see where we have drifted. Yet here I am, uncovered more often than covered, and in skirts and shirts rather than the dresses and aprons I truly love. I feel like I am a shell of what I should be. I have allowed too many things, Dad has allowed too many things...and yet what do I do about that?

[Mark] Husband may not be a religious man practicing the letter of the law, but he will always be there for someone who is in need, he will always give his heart fully to serving others and his family.  He lets the girls wear pants, or shorter skirts (knee length, not mini—to those of you that would love to quickly assume!), not because he likes it, he does it because he wants them to exercise their own convictions.  He leads them in truth, tells them what the bible says but lets them make the decisions.  I would rather have rules but I see my husband’s desire to TRAIN the kids to handle the modern world that they live in.  He also allows more music and videos than what most conservatives would ever allow.  I can’t justify it.  I can’t sugar coat that.  I can’t make it better, either.  Like I told you before, a house divided against itself will not stand, so I have to stand with my man, I love him that much.  My tendency is to go all out on standards, I love them.  I have cleaved to standards because they feel so good, so right, but when you have a very practical and wise husband that sees through all of the vices religion has, well, you have to keep yourself from stumbling into that vice again.
 I cannot make it better.
A house divided against itself will not stand.

My confusion is deep. I have no husband at home to follow. I haven't got that security right now. I don't see it as a house divided, but I see the point. It isn't division when one has no opinion, or chooses to not have an opinion. I cannot follow what isn't here to lead. Can you even imagine how much that grieves me? I have to take the lead. And that is a role I truly, despite my seeming attitude on so many things (yes, I can so clearly hear y'all thinking out loud right now...the same thoughts go thru my own head believe it or not), do not feel I can do.

And from the downhill run of this family in the past couple of years, it is a role I have not yet taken. I have to. I need to. I honestly can't NOT take on the role, the circumstances here simply dictate that I do. Yet I hesitate, and the rampant, out of control run down the hill continues, gaining speed.

I covet so much the things of God, but women are different than men, we have to have that security in our lifestyle.  Men are different, they see things as they are, or anyhow my husband does, he sees through people’s outward adornment of religious practices.

This is why MEN are above the women in that umbrella of security in God's Plan. 

But my dilemma, at least where my mind (and maybe my heart too) is drawing so much confusion, is what do you do when that umbrella isn't there? Do you take the lead with what you feel is true and right? Do you continue on the path you started, even if you are seemingly walking it alone for a time? Do you fall back under the last position that umbrella was, MIA or not?

Of course there is still an umbrella of protection over the woman...JESUS. Surely that is all that is needed. So why can't my mind just grasp that and go with it? Why do I constantly battle the feeling that I am missing a vital step between here and there? If you've visited much, you know that second guessing myself is a huge thing for me. Perhaps a weak Faith, I admit. Perhaps it is my pebble in the path detector. I don't know. I do know though that the farther I walk away from a path I believe I should be following, the more unclear my vision gets, and the more the second guessing comes into my line of sight.

Funny how that works like that, isn't it? It's something we are preached from early on. We know it is a truth. Still, it happens all the time.

It is very embarrassing to me to realize how I fell in that trap, even though I knew better!  Even though I have so much to be thankful for!  I became very ungrateful and I started to hate who I had become!
I miss my headcovering. I miss my more Plain clothes. I find little comfort in wearing them right now because I feel very unworthy. Does that lessen the blessings I receive? Not a chance. It clouds my vision of those blessings many days, but I know they are still there even if I don't see them right off.
It's hard being the only one...truly, in our area, we are/were the only Plain family for several counties. Does that mean I shouldn't be that only one? Most days I would definitely argue that it means I SHOULD EMBRACE the only status, but some days, it's too much. My Faith is apparently fragile enough that being the only one hinders me more than grows me.
But the knowledge that even if I had a group nearby, one with shared vision, like-minded fellowship, true closeness of Godly spirit, I would still be an outcast by their standards is always in my mind. Same as the knowledge that if I found another 'regular' church to attend and seek fellowship with, I would be just as equally outcast there. I can't continue to fight the good fight and walk alone, but when you do not fit in anywhere, what option do you have really? Do I turn from what I believe to be true for my family because it is lonely to stay the current path? Do I accept that perhaps what I feel as kinship is really just another pebble satan is tossing in my way?

You can bet I will be checking in regularly with Keeper of the Homestead and seeing where her story goes. I need that sense of knowing that another has been on the same path, and grew closer to God and what they find value and worth in, despite the pebbles they have encountered.


Jackie said...

Oh Deanna. So many 'me too's and 'amen's.
I'm just going to pray for you. From one mama of girls in jeans and out in the world (and this mama has a day job as well now!) to another. From one plain person lacking leadership to another. Big, big love.
I'm off to pray for this lady. x Jackie x

joanie said...

Forgive me if I missed the answer to this question in your post, but does your husband mind if you dress plain? If he doesn't then, I would do it because you feel so led to do so. I can understand how it would lessen the joy in doing so when everyone else is not doing it and their being quite liberal compared, but you would be a testimony to them all. A testimony of the work God is doing in your heart. The old Quaker way - be a testimony and let God do the work in the others.

I am plain and I struggle mightily with it. I don't know one plain woman in this or any county surrounding us, outside of the Amish and Old German Baptist Bretheren ladies. They are both about an hour from us and aren't seen around here much. We have churched and attended a home meeting with German Baptists on and off for more than 12 yrs - they are wonderful people, but we are not German Baptists and couldn't be if we wanted because we were divorced and remarried ( we have been married 34 yrs on the 21st of this month.)and while this has been great it sometimes bothers me that I am so different. I can promise you, though, more than a few of them have children who are not following their ways. My best friend in that church only has only one child out of 5 who are plain. She is so strong - she inspires me. She is a testimony. I have seen her testimony touch the life of someone close to her in an amazing way. Someone who was dressing the part ( sometimes) but not walking the part in spirit. She did not abandon, she did not nag, she just lived her plain life cheerfully. I have seen this happen twice actually. We have not been able to fellowship at all for more than 2 yrs ( we have managed to go 2 times in all this time) because our youngest child, 24 yrs old, has been too ill. The only place we go is the grocery and I can barely do that without issues. So, I never see another plain woman and I sometimes feel weird and ugly. And my own grown daughter, a very solid Christian, is not plain at all. I hope I could encourage you a little.

Mrs Dewey Smith said...

Oh Joanie you cannot imagine how well that does indeed encourage me. Not that I like to hear others are struggling as well, but you know what I mean.
I am fluctuating back and forth between my dresses and aprons, and my long skirts. I am not comfortable with either these days it seems. I feel a bit like a traitor as it were wearing the dresses/aprons when I was just uncovered and in a skirt the day before. My own view of my testimony seems hypocritical. Still though, I'm no less comfortable in just the skirt. And that's not even touching on the way I feel standing out with children dressed in jeans around me while I dress more in my normal manner :-(
What a circle to walk in. I have lost time in my reading the Bible chronologically the past few weeks as well. This definitely all works together to keep my feeling out of sorts and off the path. I know this is a season of discontent in my life and I believe I will get beyond it...but the time spent on this part of the path is rough.

I so thank you for sharing your comment with me, and for visiting my blog home here! I do hope you come back and visit with me often and say hello!



Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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