Faith, Purpose, and Slaying my “Sacred Cows”

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that created quite a stir. You can find it here: The Battle Cry of a Stay-At-Home Mom. And since then I have received numerous emails, Facebook messages, and Twitter comments that echo the cry of my heart in that post. It has been so encouraging! But there have also been many who can relate deeply with feeling empty, lifeless, hopeless, and “stuck” in life. Some have even gone further, seeking my advise for how to “escape the drudgery” of life and find joy again.

I have been thinking hard on these questions. They are near and dear to my heart. And I want to share some of the thoughts I’ve been tossing around. But I’ll be honest, I cannot do that without sharing my personal faith in Jesus. And so I am hoping that those of you who don’t believe in God or Jesus will bear with me and listen to my story. I’d sincerely love to hear yours.

What good is being whole on the outside when you are broken on the inside? 

How faith gave me purpose:

me and Ann Battelle, skiing in whistler

On the glacier at Whister/Blackcomb with Ann Battelle (4 time Olympian); 1999

I grew up in a very outdoor/active family. We camped all summer long, windsurfed, water skied, hiked and biked. In the winter we skied. I spent a chunk of my high school and college years competing in freestyle moguls. I was immersed in this world. I loved this world. And I still do. But inside I felt unsure and restless. I was still looking for that “something” that brought meaning to all of it.

 

Sometime in college, when the ache of emptiness was too much, I stumbled upon Jesus. I became friends with others that claimed they had found new life and peace in Jesus. But I was uncertain. Over time I noticed their joy was real and authentic. They had hope in this life, because they knew where they were going in the next life.

 

The bible says, “I write these things to those who believe in the name of the son of God so that they may know that they have eternal life.” James 3:15  It promises we can know where we are going after this life.  But it also says, “For all have sinned.” (Romans 3:23) We have all sinned and this has broken our relationship with God. The bible says the result of this “brokenness” is death (both physical and spiritual) but it also gives us a solution to the problem. “But the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
Long's Peak, CO

 

I heard Nick Vujicci say, “What good is being whole on the outside when you are broken on the inside.”  And this resonates with me. I was “whole” on the outside…doing all sorts of physical things I love, adventuring and progressing as an athlete but I was empty inside…until I accepted Jesus into my heart and let him fill my life with purpose. He brought meaning to a life that until then felt meaningless. All the perfect powder days, blue skies, rugged mountains, and glorious climbs only reminded me of how empty and alone I felt. All this changed when I became a Christian.

 

So in my experience, no amount of “perfect circumstances” or “living true to yourself” can bring happiness and peace without Jesus in your life.

 Lies, Rules, and Legalistic Living Sap your Joy…

sunshine, snow and skiing
By the time we had three kids, I wasn’t only disillusioned with life, I was disillusioned with God too. Good meaning people told me I needed to learn to be content in my circumstances. And often that is true. But in the bible Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10) And even though my circumstances were ideal, my life felt empty and joyless. I prayed and prayed and nothing changed. So finally, at my wits end, I told my husband something had to change.

 

So we went to talk to our pastor and his wife. Cause honestly I didn’t know what to do. And my husband was swimming in a sea of uncertainty. Sometimes people truly catch you off guard. This was one of those times. After hours of conversation and tears and answering questions, our pastor said two things that forever changed the way I think. I said, “I am scared I am wasting my life.” And he asked, “Why are you living like you are living?” I came up with all sorts of “canned” answers. But in the end I said I didn’t know. And he said, “Then you are wasting your life.”  He went on to encourage me to “scrap everything” and start over.

 

In other words, I had to start by slaying my sacred cows.

 

How did I do this? I started with, “do I believe in God and Jesus and the Christian way?” When I found my answer I moved on to, “Well, what does God say about being a [mom, wife, woman]?” And here is where life really began to change. Every time I encountered a belief I held, I’d ask why I think that. For example, I’d think, “Alyssa, you want to teach your kids to ski but you’d better give that up, cause your time needs to be spent in the home investing in your kids.” Belief #1: I have to give up my personal loves, unless they are in the home. Belief #2: Skiing isn’t investing in your kids. It is selfish because you enjoy it so much.

 

Looking back it seems so…stupid. But I really had these thoughts! As I questioned them – Does the bible say I have to stay home all the time? Does the bible condemn skiing? NO. Are their financial or physical restraints holding us back? NO. – I was able to break down the lie and fill it with something true…and inherently something that brought freedom to be who I am. See Jesus accepts you as you are – there is freedom in knowing you don’t have to “perform” to get his acceptance.

My life had become consumed with “do” and “don’t.” Instead of loving, enjoying, and truly living.

Backpacking in Indian Peaks, CO

Finding who I am:

After three years of babies and nursing and sleepless nights I told my husband, “I don’t even know who I am anymore. I don’t have hobbies. I don’t have passions. I am a caretaker….who isn’t paid.”  Yes. I actually said that. And I felt that…very keenly.One night, after drilling the kids through chores, and teeth brushing, and toy clean-up, we threw ourselves on the couch. The lights were dim and after a few moment of blessed quietness I asked, “When our kids grow up do we want them to have lives like ours?” Ah….there was only silence. And then remorse. And regret. See inside I knew the answer. My heart was screaming it. No! I’d tell them, “quite your job, moving somewhere you are inspired, climb some mountains, ski some crazy lines, run through the forest, drink good beer, watch a lot of sunsets!” I’d grab their shoulders, shake them and say, “START LIVING!”

And suddenly a little bit of the old me emerged. Because inherent in me and my expression of life, is being outdoors and exploring the world. I started asking , “Why not?” If you could just drop everything and being irresponsible for a day what would you do? Why not actually do it?! If you could grab your husband by the hand and conquer a mountain, which one would it be? And while we are talking about it…why not just do it?!

The Spirit gives life. – John 6:63

 

15 comments on “Faith, Purpose, and Slaying my “Sacred Cows”
  1. Thank you Alyssa for writing your journey of faith and life lived to the full. I loved read it, and it makes me look honestly at where I am as a follower of Jesus and as a mom/ wife/ sister, as well as to review the vision for our little family- I am excited for the future!

  2. Amazing post. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, but can’t remember a moment when I actually believed in Christianity. After university I went to Japan and wrote marketing copy for two years, and my brushes with Zen resonated with me. It took at least 15 years to reconcile my upbringing with what I truly believed, but today I describe myself as a Zen Buddhist. I also believe in an all powerful entity and at times find myself praying to it, but I don’t call it God. Jesus was a wise, wise man and I’m open to possibility that he was the son of God; being open to that kind of beauty is much more rewarding than being closed to it. After all, I don’t know either way. In the end we all–Christians, Buddhists and others–cherish the same values. It’s just how we live them that’s a little different.

    From someone who was raised playing in the mountains and turned my back on them as I “grew up”–and found myself when I started playing in them again–thanks for writing this.

  3. Awesome, Alyssa! Your faith is beautiful and inspiring. Asking the question, “do we wan tour kids to grow up to be like us?” Is very tough, but sooo good to do. I worry a lot that I am being selfish by wanting to be a scientist and a climber and a mom. Is that too much? Shouldn’t I give something up? But I would rather see my kiddos try to do everything and fail sometimes, than do nothing and succeed at it.

  4. So glad you four d your way out.of it. I often say my faith, love for the outdoors and Chariot (so i could easily get out with babies) are the things that keep me sane! 🙂 And yes, Jesus certainly gives purpose to the joy and trials. 🙂 Happy Easter!!!

  5. Alyssa,
    Thanks for sharing. What you described is exactly why I waited so long to have a child. I always felt like once I had kids I’d have to give up everything I loved. But now I look back and that seems really silly. And ironically we get out more now than we ever did before…go figure that the center of God’s will is the best place to be 😉

  6. Thank you for sharing. I have just recently become a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids after spending 12 years working in outdoor related jobs. Wow, what an adjustment. After much prayer and contemplation I am finding joy in discovering ways to share my love of the outdoors with my children. Blogging has brought back some of the structure I miss from my full-time job.

  7. Thank you so much for this post and for sharing so openly, especially about your relationship with Jesus and your journey as an at-home mom. God has given you an abundant life….and you have found in Him the courage to LIVE it! I too feel that I am at a similar crossroads as an at-home mom…thank you so much for the inspiration and encouragement that I need. “Courage” – that’s the word that keeps coming to mind when I think of you and your story. You are a courageous woman! God bless.

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