I’m so delighted to welcome back my friend Allison Vesterfelt today, who is ALSO giving away her new (and first) book, Packing Light:Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage. Here’s Ally…
I haven’t always wanted to have kids. I went through a phase in my young twenties where I was desperate to have children, but by the time I was in my late twenties, I started to wonder if I really had anything to offer as a mother, anyway.
Then I went on a road trip.
It sounds like such a silly thing to change my mind about being a mother, and the truth is, it didn’t really change my mind right away. But a few years ago I was inspired by the story of the Rich Young Ruler from the gospels and decided to give up everything to go where I felt God was calling me to go.
So I quit my job, sold all of my stuff, and moved out of my apartment to travel across the country with a friend for six months.
What I found when I gave up everything was that I had so much more than I realized.
And as I’ve reflected about the trip over the past few years, I realize everything I would want to give my daughter I accumulated when I gave up everything. It’s ironic, but it’s true. Everything I want my daughter to know about life — everything beautiful I have to offer her — I gained when I let go.
I don’t have a daughter yet, but someday I hope I do, and when I do, here is what I hope she knows.
1. You have nothing to be afraid of.
I was so scared of failing, so afraid of messing everything up, so afraid of wandering in the wrong direction. The thing I didn’t realize was that fear was the very thing steering me the wrong way.
I had nothing to be afraid of.
No measure of failure, no loss, no wrong turn has stolen me from the bigness of God’s grace. I pray my daughter will feel safe enough to explore, to ask questions, to learn what it looks like to grow into herself.
2. Following the “rules” won’t protect you like you think it will.
I thought that if I just followed all the “rules” of life, I would be sure to succeed. If I went to college, got good grades, got a good job, bought a house, found a husband, and paid all of my bills on time — everything else would work out perfectly.
So when it didn’t work out like that, I felt like I had been cheated.
What I wish I knew was that blindly following the “rules” was actually numbing me from a relationship with Jesus. Not that boundaries don’t exist, but I was leaning on the rules more than I was leaning on Jesus.
Someday, when I have a daughter, I hope I can teach her to trust her discernment, to listen to the quiet whisper of Jesus in her life.
I hope I can teach her to lean into it.
I hope I can show her what that looks like.
3. You are not defined by your stuff.
It wasn’t until I gave up everything that I realized how much I actually had. So much of the stuff I owned I was using as a coverup for insecurity, using as a kind of pedastle for my identity.
It wasn’t working, and I was miserable.
No amount of clothes or furniture, no “perfect” car or job, no amount of praise or affirmation from people you think are important, is enough to make you satisfied with the life you are leading. It’s all just baggage you’re carrying along for the journey. It’s all holding you back.
It’s weighing you down.
4. Most of life is not an outcome.
I was working so hard to measure my life based on outcomes. I would compare my life with my siblings, and with my friends, and was always trying to compete with their circumstances. If I could just get a good job, or a good car, or a good group of friends, then my parents would be proud of me.
Then my life would mean something.
But most of life is not an outcome. The “outcomes” change as fast as our circumstances. If we measure life by outcomes, we will ride the roller-coaster of that ideal, feeling the rise and fall of “success” based on our circumstances.
To read more about my adventure and what I learned, check out my book Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage. I hope you’ll discover, like I did, that less is more.