Finding Faith in a Quiet Life
Finding Faith in a Quiet Life
by Esta Doutrich
How many times have I been told,
O Christ, by well-meaning people,
that it is my destiny and my charge
to go out into the world
and do great things for you?”
I rocked my tired, inconsolable toddler, the darkness hiding his red, wispy hair and scrunched up face. His screams coupled with my exhaustion made me fight anger and helplessness. I knew I would wake up the next morning to piles of laundry, a messy house, and fatigue that wouldn’t allow me to fix either one. The only major roles I had were wife to a loving husband, mother to a small son, and the keeper of a tiny, comfortable home. Easy. Boring.
Ironically, according to several mentors in my early twenties, this was the life they were concerned I would waste my potential on. Anyone could get married and live a normal, American life, but I had passion, depth, and giftings for ministry. I should stay single or at least marry a visionary man headed into international service, they hinted.
While I rocked my son, I scrolled through pictures and articles on the refugee crisis in Iraq and Syria that had just started to make headlines across the world. I was genuinely passionate and concerned about displaced people and the church's response. I knew if I was single I would be on the next flight across the ocean. My whole life up to that point would have made that decision easy. Deep inside my soul I felt less worthy, less holy, and less loved by God than the younger version of myself that I still idealized.
I also felt shame. Here I was living the most mundane life and I couldn’t even do that well. Motherhood was exponentially harder than I imagined. My normally energetic body and inquisitive mind had been taken over by overwhelming fatigue and depression. The simple tasks of caring for my son and home seemed to take more effort than my years of working as an outpost nurse yet seemed much less impressive.
Over the years I had unconsciously started to believe that there was a hierarchy to obedience. The more difficult the obedience appears to the people around you, the greater it is. This is what the books, sermons, and voices of my young adult years had subtly taught.
The process to disentangle that belief started that late night as I surrendered my shame and anger and began to allow Jesus to reorient my view of obedience and worthiness, It was difficult and took several years for the layers of unconscious motivation and “hero complex”, as I began to call it, to be stripped away. I never expected that invisible, faithful duty and obedience was exactly what I needed to grow spiritually--not more visible faith or dramatic sacrifice.
Scripture teaches us that we love Christ because he loved us first and that our response to God’s unconditional love should be obedience and faith. (1 John 4:19, Romans 5:8,Galatians 2:20, John 14:21, John 15:10) Jesus does say there are rewards for obedience, but every time people around him tried to measure the greatness of the obedience or size of the reward Jesus subverted their ideas-- a widow's mite is everything, the first shall be last, and it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest. ( Luke 21:1-4, Matthew 20:1-16, Luke 9:46-48)
On days when I physically cannot do great things, my worth and importance to Christ doesn’t change. On days when I cannot think clearly enough to articulate a passionate defense of my faith, my value in God’s kingdom is not shaken. When I look at my life and when I look at the lives of Christians around me, I no longer use an imaginary scale to measure the size or significance of obedience. I no longer idolize Christians who appear heroic and self sacrificing from a distance and miss the quiet, faithful believers around me. In the difficult mundane of a normal life I discovered God’s unconditional love was not contingent on the great things I did to change the world, and that my weakness and simple obedience was still valuable when I offered it up to Him.
Esta is a Canadian nurse who moved to Oregon to marry her husband, Justin. She has three small children and is currently living in Pennsylvania while her husband pursues higher education. You can find her writing occasionally on Instagram at @esta.doutrich about books, faith, and honest motherhood and her past writings on her blog estafaye.com.