Yesterday I read The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. Yes, I read it in one day. Yes, I loved it, and I walked away particularly encouraged and challenged by this book.
As I read The Magnolia Story, it was easy to see God’s hand all over the Gaines’ lives. From their childhood experiences, to the formation of their dating relationship, to their skills and passions, everything about their lives was carefully and intentionally cultivated by the hand of God. And they readily acknowledge the fact that God was preparing them for their future their entire lives.
As I read the book, I had to fight back a sense of jealousy and despair. As is my normal tendency, I felt inadequate and lesser-than because my life looks so different from theirs. It is hard to see how God is piecing my life together in this season and to feel that he is preparing me for something. I don’t know what is coming next. I don’t even know how to begin to take risks and make changes in this phase of life. I don’t feel passionate or excited about many things. I don’t feel talented enough to even dream about doing the kinds of things they are doing.
But God quietly whispered truth to my heart as I read their story and reminded me that The Magnolia Story is just that: THEIR story. He reminded me that my story is unique and different because God works in each of our lives differently. So instead of wallowing in self-pity or despair, I decided to spend time specifically praying for God to move in my life and my family in the same way.
I don’t want the same life as Chip and Jo. Guy and I are very different from them. We don’t have the same skills and passions. Poor Guy gets frustrated hanging a picture on the wall, and I can’t coordinate colors to save my life. So I prayed that God would give us the courage to keep stepping out on limbs together and trusting that he would be there with us.
Jo talks about taking risks a lot in the book. Chip dislikes contentment and complacency, so they were constantly forced into new and challenging environments. That kind of lifestyle scares me to death, but I also see the fruit of it. God guides moving objects, and as we trust him and continue taking steps of faith, he will be there with us. It doesn’t mean we won’t fall and skin our knees, but it means he will grow us and bless us as we heal and develop.
As a stay-at-home mom, I have felt stagnant for some time. I don’t leave the house much, and it’s hard for me to feel like I’m making any sort of impact on anyone. My footprint feels so small these days. But I know this is a season, and I want to savor it. The only way beyond it is for my baby to be grown, and I want to be with him every step of that process. I don’t wish these days away. I just wish for more purpose in them. More sense of accomplishment.
In the book, Jo describes a period in her life where she felt as if she was surviving instead of thriving. We have all been there. I dwell there often. But the moment she realized she had control of whether or not she was surviving or thriving, she chose to thrive. It was as simple as that. She CHOSE to thrive.
And I so badly want to thrive too. I so badly want to thrive in my role as a wife, mom, and pastor’s wife. I want to use my gifts and talents in a way that benefits the people around me and makes me feel alive. I don’t know how to get there, but writing these entries is a start in the right direction for me. Choosing not to clean up after my son all day long is a step in the right direction for me. Putting away my phone, turning off the TV and actually listening to my husband decompress after work is a step in the right direction for me.
Chip and Joanna’s story reminded me of God’s faithfulness. It showed me how God works in the ordinary and unassuming moments of our lives to do extraordinary things in and through us.
And so my prayer is that God would start working in my living room. That something would happen in this old house and make me come to life again. That he would fill me with a sense of purpose and passion even as I chase my baby around the living room with a Cookie Monster puppet and keep him from falling off the couch for the thousandth time.
Even in this season, when I don’t see much purpose in my daily life, I know God is cultivating. So I pray that he teaches me to thrive; to choose joy and silliness over stress and frustration.
I pray that for you too. I pray that God would reveal himself to you and that you would see that he has a master plan for your life. Getting to the bigger picture often takes risks and heartache, but I pray you learn to trust him in the midst of it all. I pray that you learn to thrive even in the middle of the pain.
I’m so thankful for Chip and Joanna’s story. And I’m so thankful for my own.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” – Ephesians 3:20 NLT
Contributor: Kinsley Smith, MTS, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org