It has been nearly a month since I’ve written a post, and I feel terrible about that. My husband keeps telling me it is ok to take a break, but I struggle to rest in his advice. We had quite an extensive discussion the other night about this “performance mentality” that seems to be so intertwined in my thinking. Even when I can “see” it and talk about it a little, I can’t seem to totally shed the grip it has over my life. I wish I had more freedom in this area, but admittedly, it is a daily battle within myself.
If I am being totally honest, I haven’t had a lot to say lately. At least nothing I want to post publicly. And maybe that is closest to the truth. The inner soul’s struggle is best left between God and man. It is best to be quiet on such matters, unless God gives you something to say. The word He keeps stirring in me is, “It is time to put on your working attire”.
This is something St. John of the Cross said in his writings on the “Dark Night of the Soul” in reference to growing up in Christ. He pictured an infant drinking milk from his mother’s breast, dressed in a fancy gown, sitting in the lap of luxury; until it came time to wean the child. Then the child must climb down from the lap, and eat like the rest. Common crusts of bread and water. Nothing rich or attractive or luxurious about it. This is how He says Christ works with us as He matures us in Him. There comes a time when He will wean us from the finer, babyish things of His Kingdom, and require us to work and eat like the rest. This is what St. John calls, “the working attire”.
I’ve used his words to describe what is going on with me right now. Overall, I feel God is requiring me to put on my working attire and get to work. The days are long and hard and endless. And I don’t feel a particular sense that He is giving me much to say other than that about them. I think I am being weaned from the pressure to “perform” by putting together a fanciful word. He is training me to listen and wait upon Him to move me to writing. And, not surprisingly, I don’t particularly like this position. (Cue the picture of the weaned child throwing a tantrum at his mother’s feet. Now you have a visual on what it feels like to be me on most days!).
This combined with the passing of one of my “spiritual mothers” this month has me right on the edge of a breakthrough, or a big fit, not sure which yet. Elisabeth Elliot passed through the gates of splendor on June 15th. I’ve been reading all of the tributes to her , trying to glean all that I can from the lessons of her life. Chief among them being this “working attire”. I’ve never known a more pragmatic, unpretentious example of living the Christian life. She mastered the concept of growing up in Christ. She lived a life of resting in God amid constant unrest and upheaval. And God gave her plenty to say about it. Her books are a treasure of wise teaching from a woman who lived and worked in the trenches (literally, the jungle, with a small child, and among the people who killed her husband). If you aren’t familiar with her story, I strongly urge you to pick up one of her books. One of the saddest realizations I have had lately is there are whole generations of women who have missed this extraordinary model of godly womanhood.
So, today, I have a special give away in honor of Elisabeth Elliot, and the working attire she wore so well. I have an extra copy of her book, “A Chance to Die” about the life of Amy Carmichael. Amy was one of Elisabeth’s “spiritual mothers”. Elisabeth’s work and life were introduced to me by one of mine. I would like to give away this copy of the book in honor of them both, and pass on this lineage of spiritual mothering. The spiritual mother work I have received is one of the greatest gifts in my life. One of the sweetest tributes I read about Elisabeth Elliot was a friendship she developed with a woman that began through written correspondence. Elisabeth signed her letters, “With my love, Mother”. How sweet to give yourself to another woman like this, how blessed to receive this type of mothering.
To enter, just comment on this post to let me know you are interested. I’d love to hear your stories of spiritual mothering. I will draw a random name from the entries sometime in the next week. Maybe we can read the book together this summer, and learn to love our working attire. It is a privilege to share life together, and I would be honored to walk alongside someone else in the growing pains of life in Christ.
Here’s to being weaned, whining (less), and winning the prize to which we were called heavenward.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
With my love,
PS. A couple of my other favorite books by Elisabeth Elliot: