Friday, May 7, 2010

Simplicity- Releasing Yourself from the Expectations of Others

I can't tell you how many times while we were growing up, people from outside our family looked at us as though we were not allowed to do the same things they could. "What would people say?" became a constant thought (because people were always saying something- that usually happens when you are part of a high profile family in your church), regardless of whether I was wearing blush for the first time or straightening my hair for a bit of change.

Now, to a certain extent it is good to consider what others might think, after all we do not want to do anything that would give off the "appearance of evil" and we need to conduct ourselves in ways that are "above reproach". We do not want anyone to stumble in their relationship with the Lord because of something we have done. However, when you feel that you cannot do very normal things without someone saying, "Look what she did!" or "I can't believe you are doing that!", that is where caring about the expectations of others can become complicated. Pleasing everyone is impossible and can be very stressful.

Please understand, I am not trying to sound rebellious. I have come to see in my own life (and God has also used Brian, Joyce Meyer, Faye, and Kristi to show me) that for too long I have allowed others (and I do not mean my God given authorities) to impose their ideas, traditions, expectations, and thoughtless words on me and me family. For the sake of my relationship with the Lord, my husband, my daughter, and my authority as a mother, I have found that this is an area that I have to constantly work on in order to maintain, grow, and benefit the most important relationships in my life.

As women, there are only two people whose expectations should concern us- God and our husband (those who are single, it would be your parents).

As a single girl living under my parent's authority, their rules were important for me to follow. However, as a married woman, I can still follow the Biblical principles that the rules were based on (that is what our job as parents is- to lay the Biblical foundation for our children to follow by teaching them principles from God's Word. When they are younger, teaching the principles means applying rules to the principles but giving them the understanding that rules do not follow them into their own homes when they marry, the Biblical principles do.), but I am not bound to the same rules. I am now under my husband's authority (not a popular phrase but a Biblical one), and the decisions that we prayerfully make together. Also, as a married woman, some of those rules no longer apply.

A personal example would be in the way of movies. I had never been to a movie theater. Not only was it more cost effective to wait until the movie came out on video, but there were things that went on in the theaters themselves that my parents did not want us exposed to.

Unfortunately, I kept myself bound to those rules even after I was married. Yes, the purpose of those rules while I was single was to keep me out of a situation that could compromise my morals and values, but now that I am a married woman, the reason for the rule is null and void. The principle was to guard what I let pass before my eyes, which not only applies to the movies but television as well.

God has used Faye to help me realize (in many areas) that I need to release myself from certain rules and expectations that I had let keep me bound up. So on Saturday, Brian planned a big date day for the two of us. Addie stayed with her grandparents, and off we went. Our first stop was Chili's for lunch. Then we walked around a Christian bookstore (Victoria was busy preparing for and taking her final exam before graduation so she wasn't working that day....woohoo, Victoria!) and the mall before we headed to the movie theater to see Letters to God (I highly recommend this movie to everyone! It is not a religious movie; it is a Christian movie! All ten of us- literally- enjoyed it.). Brian bought a large popcorn and soda so I could have the full theater experience (I still think the popcorn Brian makes is way better than movie theater popcorn!). The movie was powerful and moving (I cried for at least half of it), and I had a wonderful time with my husband.

There are other areas that I am learning to release myself from the expectations of others so that my relationship with the Lord can thrive (the bull's eye of the target- figuratively speaking), Brian, Addie, and I can build our relationship together as a family (the next ring in the target) and that we teach our child(ren) Biblical principles without feeling the need to explain everything we do, and to mentally separate our family unit from the "family" (the ring outside of that).

It is definitely a learning process, one that in some cases must be tread on carefully in order not to hurt feelings of those who are important to us, and a growing in our family that requires prayer for wisdom in each and every decision that we make. Initially, releasing ourselves from the expectations of others may be complicated, but eventually it will make life simpler as the boundaries for our families are firmly established.


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