I have been in a Bible study this fall based on Becoming a Woman of Simplicity by Cynthia Heald. Cynthia is a popular speaker and author who thrives at being a self-proclaimed “older woman” on a journey to help “younger women”. I have personally been moved by her book and recommend it highly. This week’s study hit home. It applied to countless conversations I have had with women, mostly mothers, lately. I wanted to pass on this excerpt and strongly encourage you to walk through this book yourself.
Thoughts From an Older Woman
Excerpt from Becoming a Woman of Simplicity by Cynthia Heald
Years ago as a young mom I baked clay Christmas tree ornaments, painted them silver, put a ribbon trough the top and took them to be sold at our women’s ministry fundraiser. This memory is vivid because throughout the process, I thought Why am I doing this? I don’t even like crafts. I have three small children and it is hard enough to cook dinner much less Christmas trees. As I look back on this experience, I realize the best thing I could have done was to contribute food for the day.
What I did was good, but my choice was not the best. I was stressed because I was doing something I was not gifted to do, and I was irritable with my children because I was stressed. At that time, I needed the cousel that Gordon MacDonald’s father told him: “Your challenge will not be in separating out the good from the bad, but in grabbing the best out of all the possible good.”
The turning point for me occurred shortly after that experience. After another particularly stressful day, I was ready to give up living in my own strength and let God “take over.” My description for this is that I gave “the steering wheel” of my life to the Lord and I moved to the passenger seat. I was no longer in the driver’s seat; my life was now His. Once I surrendered control of my life, it became easier to discern the good and the best because now I wanted God to choose His best for me.
. . . “It may take time for the Lord to answer or confirm your requests for guidance. One discipline I have is that I rarely accept anything over the phone. I always say, “Thank you for asking me. Let me pray about it.” It is amazing what a difference prayerful waiting can make when seeking guidance for what is best.
Other guidelines help me in the decision-making process. One is Chambers’ principle of “the good is the enemy of the best.” Many times I have taken a critical look at a commitment and concluded that although it is good, it is not the best for me at the time. Another principle of Chambers is “when in doubt, don’t.” This idea has been monumental in my decision-making. If there is any doubt, again, I must conclude that it is probably not God’s best for me. Also I have learned that it is wrong to try to make things “work” – to convince myself that it is right because it is something I want to do.
As a young woman I heard an older woman make this suggeston when confronted with choices to serve: choose one job at a time and do it well. This has been a wonderfully freeing concept for me. When asked to help with some activity, I will say, “I’m serving in this other area now, but thank you for thinking of me.” With all our responsibilities of family, jobs, and just daily living, it makes sense to commit to doing our best in one area of service at a time. And now you have an older woman giving you permission to just do one job well.
I don’t want to spend my life missing out on God’s best. So most mornings before I get out of bed, I pray, “Lord Jesus, I present my body as a living and holy sacrifice to be used as You will. I relinquish all rights to myself and ask for You to guide me and enable me to choose that which is best. May I, this day, continue to live in simple and pure devotion to You.”
Ladies, this book is amazing. Again, I recommend going through this book on your own or with a few other women. There is no leader’s guide and videos are available.
I will leave you with Matthew 6:33 (MSG):
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.