The Freedom To Form Standards, The Grace To Walk Away

Do you ever feel insecure and wonder what people think about you? I sure do! And it’s not just because I have an online presence and hope people online don’t think I’m crazy. I don’t worry so much about that anymore – I learned a long time ago that I can’t please everyone!

We were at the Midwest Great Homeschool Convention this past week, and every time I share online that we are headed to another convention there is a little part of me that cringes. People think we are on the road a lot, but we only did 2 conventions with our businesses this year and attended another one as a couple.

For years I had a stance to not attend shows or do parties with my businesses. I felt like I worked enough from home and I wasn’t going to leave my babies. And then we started doing conventions. What changed is that suddenly my husband had a product to bring along, and so it wasn’t all about me. We were in this as a family, and it has been worth it to travel. But it means leaving my younger children home with Nana or Aunt, and I always feel so guilty! It’s honestly not so much about feeling guilty for myself. I know they love spending time on the farm with Nana and she takes great care of them. It comes down to the age old question, “what must people think of me that I’ll leave my young children at home for the weekend?

Can you relate? Women crave to be accepted, and even though we stand firm as homeschooling mothers in stances that are not popular in the culture, we don’t want our friends around us to judge. For the record, I’ve never felt judged by my friends for leaving on business trips. I think it’s all in my head!

I think part of this feeling is just pride. We don’t want others to look down on us. Sean and I have changed our opinions on a number of issues over the years. We have deeply regretted how ultra conservative we were in our early years of marriage, because it led to us being critical and prideful.

We once used to be 100% quiverful. I even wrote a blog post about it years ago. Now we have a heart to have children for the Lord, but have seen the wisdom in spacing out my pregnancies so my health doesn’t totally collapse.  Do you know how controversial this is, especially online? To be truly committed to the Lord surely means to be 100% quiverful, right?

We used to be committed to the integrated family church model. Now we don’t have a problem with sending our children to a Sunday School class, provided we trust the teachers and feel it’s a safe environment.

I could go on and on about all the things we’ve had to admit we were wrong about. It’s humbling to admit that you have changed your mind. It’s easy to share all the super conservative standards you have among friends, because those are viewed as making you a godly family. It’s not as easy to change in ways that people feel like you must be going soft.

I’ve felt such freedom in letting go of some standards that I feel are more man made. There has to be a balance. Follow the straight and narrow path when it comes to true commandments from God. There are many standards that are black and white with no grey in between. But is the Bible truly definitive in its stance for or against Sunday Schools or even wearing skirts only? I know some of you believe that it is, but the case is difficult to make. Sometimes it comes down to every family deciding what is best for them, and then leaving it at that.

So with that being said, I’m not going to try to convince you to follow my lead and not be 100% quiverful. Your body might handle it just fine. I’m not going to try to convince you that it’s ok to wear jeans with a tunic shirt. That’s my own personal opinion as of the year 2017 with my husband giving me his input.

Let’s give each other that freedom. Hold each other accountable for the true standards found in the Bible, and give grace to each other for all of those gray areas. Makeup, modesty, dating/courtship, eating standards…we look to God for wisdom in all of these areas and try to follow how the Holy Spirit is leading us. But don’t try to pull one or two vague sentences out of the Bible and make it a gospel principle.

Hold yourself accountable before God, but also be open to changing. We have had to change our stance over the years. We used to not celebrate Christmas. Now we LOVE celebrating Christmas! Don’t fall into a rut where you never examine your convictions for years on end. But make sure you examine your convictions with the Lord right beside you, because it can be easy to get weary and you start giving up convictions out of fatigue.

Don’t give up! Keep pressing forward. Reject the man made labels and create a family environment that is full of God’s spirit.

 

 

Comments

  1. Allan Swinson says:

    Amen! Well-written and so true. We’ve had some similar experiences. Thank you for sharing! (My wife shared it with me ?)

  2. Caroline, You have shared a very important point. I applaud you to be so open in sharing your growth and stance. It is not easy to do what you have done.

    I have wanted to move to only skirts for years for really good reasons (it is feminine, modest, pretty, etc) but I just could NOT do it because I could not find any particular scripture that would fully endorse this. I even had a Christian family member say that I was trying to be super spiritual by wearing skirts more often (and I never once talked to this lady about why I wore them often or ever suggested to anyone to do as I do). This woman just assumed this all in her own mind. Thankfully, my husband knew my heart and what I was dong and told me to ignore her. So I did.

    Instead, I have found that in God’s Word does have some basic guidelines about modesty, but they are not law. I am thankful we are not bound by the law but by grace. God’s grace is freeing. And he leaves it up to us to follow the Holy Spirit. This is where I believe we all really need to do.

    I appreciate you and your posts. I wish we lived closer because I think we would get along nicely. I count you as a friend.

  3. Thank you for your honesty!

  4. Hi, Caroline! I so appreciate you sharing this perspective! It’s so important to measure our goals, decisions and accomplishments against the Word and not compare ourselves to others around us. By defining and re-evaluating our convictions as a family, we can help our kids understand this (very Biblical!) process and teach them to seek God when they’re unsure of what to do, rather than just doing what everyone else does! Thank you, Friend! Sarah

  5. YES!!!!!!! I was brought up in a fairly legalistic home that more-or-less claimed “the Bible says” don’t wear jewelry, don’t wear make-up, don’t go to movies, don’t play cards, don’t ever take a drink of alcohol, etc. etc. etc. etc. It has been freeing to grow and mature to determine our standards and beliefs based on what God’s word actually says, not what someone wants it to say. In the end, we have remained pretty conservative, but we do not tell our children that the Bible commands us to do or not do some of these things. We just talk about things that we do “the Walker way.”

  6. Rachel D. says:

    We have all been guilty of this; I know I have been. We have to be careful that we do not add to the Scripture (or take away). An imbalance on the Grace-Truth spectrum leads to a works based model of righteousness (which Scripture clearly doesn’t support). And we have to be careful not to be critical of what God has or has not laid on someone else’s heart because we don’t know. Thanks for your honesty and thanks for your blog.

  7. I loved this post… so full of love and spoken so eloquently..thank you!

  8. Well said!

  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have greatly encouraged me today!

  10. It was great to meet you this weekend!
    I, too, could not be entirely open to children, between multiple pregnancy complications and my own numerous health issues between. I feel so blessed with my four, and all the others that we welcomed for short times for several years. I’ve come to the realization that just as God cared for his Jewish peoples by forbidding certain diets, and then, revealed different guidelines to his apostles later for we Gentiles, that today’s modern medicine can be used for His glory. For me to be able to parent my children, I had to have parts removed, but thankfully, I could, safely. Remaining the same contradicts growth!

  11. Yes! We, as in my husband and I have grown and changed over the years. God has been faithful and leading us faithfully along. At first I wasn’t sure about the changes, but we now love doing a Christ center Christmas, we are not dress only as we once were, but modesty is still very important. I homeschool, but also a number of our older children now attend school. Big changes and a thought that really helped me through some of these changes was that our identity was not in the things we do, but in Jesus only. That was so freeing for me. We use to also home church, but now attend a local church and are very active in it and have been so blessed since joining.
    God is so good!

  12. Mrs. Allen,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I think so many of us Christians struggle with this and I’m so thankful that as a voice in the Christian community, you are not afraid to write about it. As someone who grew up in the Christian community her whole twenty years, 😉 I have found that the struggle doesn’t come in fearing what the world thinks of me, I have no worries about what they think, it’s what my Christian friends and acquaintances, and family members might think. Am I going liberal, am I becoming a Christian milksop. Like you said, it’s humbling but in the end, no human group or movement on earth can be followed absolutely, only God sets the standards and we need to have the grace to admit when we’re wrong about them. Anyhow, didn’t mean to preach, but all that to say, thank you so much for posting this. It gives me hope for the conservative Christians in America. 🙂 We have the freedom to form standards and the grace to walk away.

  13. Well written! I’ve relaxed some of my legalistic standards over the years too. When I was younger I equated loving and pleasing God with the strictest standards possible. If a man had a stricter standard, I adopted it. Then one day I looked up and realized it was all man and the Bible didn’t support what I was doing. The sweet freedom I found to follow the true Christ is beyond expression. I could relate a little to the move Tangled when Rapunzel touched grass with her toes for the first time :). The interesting thing is my parents didn’t force me into the legalistic standards, neither did my husband. It was all my own fault.

  14. Theo-ann Johnson says:

    I so needed this post today,and I appreciate all of the encouragement you gave. I have been trying to seek the Lord in an area, because of a new situation I am in. For many years (over 20 years), I have ministered in churches with music mainly as a soloist, as well as led choirs in both a Christian school and church. This past summer, our family moved across country to the southeastern part of the United States for my husband to take a job in a Christian school. His contract requires us to be members at the church that the school is connected with. After a few weeks of being there, we realized that the music was what I had been convicted of not being a part of (had listened to/sang years ago), and so I had to quietly remove myself from the choir. Because of my desire to serve the Lord in music in the new church, I asked the pastor how I could be a part of it still. He said I had to be “involved” (meaning fully supportive, in the choir, etc.). He later told the music pastor and then he called me in to a meeting that was just me and him and he told me I needed to “broaden my view” but gave no Biblical guidelines to help me. He also told me that even though he knew I could do a good job leading a new children’s choir, he didn’t want me to be a part until I supported their music ministry. I have never been told this in all the years I have been in ministry. I searched the Scriptures and prayed over this to see if I needed to change. And although I have changed slightly from my college days (over 20 years ago), I don’t agree with all that is sung or done musically. I’ve been doing my best to support in other ministries and get involved in other things, but because I’m a musician, it has been hard to sit back and not get involved only because of the differing views. I’ve been learning a lot through this, trying to walk this with grace, but it is still hard at times. Most of the songs in congregational music I do not know…( I feel left out) the special music sometimes weighs my spirit so much and it is hard for me to focus on the preaching later. How would you deal with this? I have prayed about this for almost a year now, not making others view things like me, being quiet about it, etc…but still wanting to be a part of music somehow.

  15. Yes yes yes yes yes. You go, woman! The gospel brings us freedom from the rigid standards that don’t necessarily equate to holiness. Yes. ??

  16. Dyan Croushore says:

    I understand completely! I, too, tried to be super conservative, wearing only skirts, and having my daughters do so as well. Moving to the country made it impractical to wear skirts all of the time, so I had to get us all some jeans. The Bible is clear that women are not to wear men’s clothing, and vice versa, but jeans and pants are not necessarily men’s clothing. As long as we do not look like men, and are not trying to look like men, or to look immodest, I think it is okay to wear pants. As a bonus, my husband is happier now that we can all work together outside more easily, and I also think that while he went along with me in the conservative move to wear only skirts, he is happy that we all look less “different.” Not that we look immodest, but jeans can be very flattering and modest if worn with the right kind of top 🙂

  17. Wow! This is really good! Oh, how easy it is to be critical of others! I used to be fairly anti-makeup…then my skin went embarrassingly awful. I figured we’d not “prevent” kids once we started a family…then I had a preemie via cesarean and got my fertility back in a month. Maybe I could have been pregnant before he came home from the hospital! Wouldn’t that have been great! Hardly! So I agree that changing our minds on our “convictions” can be ok.
    By the way, I think it’s awesome that you can leave your kids once in a while with family you trust! I mean it’s not like you’re traveling all the time and leaving grandma to homeschool them or something! Maybe I shouldn’t say that, ’cause even if you were, that’s you and your husband’s decision! Who am I to criticize, right? : )

  18. Such a thought-provoking post! Thanks for being honest in sharing your own struggles, and for pointing out the how pride can show up in our lives when it comes to our preferences and convictions.

  19. I love this. We have changed a lot over the years. I am thankful the Lord has used your blog to encourage others that it’s ok to change and grow. God bless you.

  20. Interesting post, sometimes in my own life I wonder if I am just following the letter of the law but not the spirit it was intended. Modest is a broad concept as far as clothing goes, but the Bible is pretty clear that we should not be only modest in dress but in spirit too. When your spirit is correctly inline with the Lord the rest will follow.

    • Yes that is totally true! Modesty is about more than just clothes, it starts in our hearts and then the outward example should follow!

  21. Annelise says:

    I do not know what the Quiverfull teachings are on having babies, but I am a Catholic Christian and I love the Church’s teaching on Natural Family Planning, which is the only morally acceptable way to space pregnancies! There are several different methods but it all involves tracking your fertile signs and abstaining during the fertile time of the month. The Church knows that there are times, even for the duration of the marriage, when avoiding pregnancy is necessary. P.S. NFP can also be used to acheive pregnancy as well, by pinpointing the fertile times!

    • We went through NFP classes together before we were married! It’s just hard to do that with nursing babies. 😉

      • Oh yes…charting while nursing, I did not even go there! I know that the professionals have ways to walk you through it, but we just completely abstained for months…and months…and months.?

  22. I absolutely adore this post! It is so true that when we start to change our minds and start really examining our convictions people can be rude and just so judge mental. People change, we get more information as we mature in the spirit and grow older. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to open up and share your journey with all of us 🙂 I know I have felt the same way over this past year and it’s wonderful to know I’m not alone. Always love the blog!!

  23. Sally Jensen says:

    I know this took some guts since you built your empire on being the “modest” mom, and no longer adhere to the standards of modesty. So glad you were big enough to admit being wrong all this time, thats very rare and you’ll probably grow even bigger now that you can appeal to more people and not just conservative, modest people.

    • Honestly, I still wear skirts almost all the time. I still hold true to my belief that skirts are more feminine, I just think it’s possible to wear jeans in a way that is feminine and modest as well. 🙂

    • “Built your empire?”, “no longer adhere?”, “wrong all this time??” “grow even bigger?”. I think you’ve missed the point of Caroline’s post and also don’t understand her heart at all.

  24. Thank you for this thoughtful post.

    Fulton Sheet once said, “Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.”

  25. Oops I meant Fulton Sheen (not Sheet)! 🙂

  26. Sally, I’m glad you liked the quote. I did not understand your earlier comment, but I am glad to know you like what Fulton Sheen said. I meant to be encouraging by posting his quote – sometimes it is hard to resist the world’s changing standards; sometimes it’s hard to stand firm against the tide. It can be easy to start questioning ourselves – are we too strict, should we give in to this or that (everyone else does it, watches it, wears it, etc). But, we know God does not change; He is eternal. The world may change, but God will not. Right is right, even if no one is right. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Truth does not need a majority on it’s side. It stands for itself.

  27. This is so beautifully written, Caroline. Thank you for sharing. There are many of us who love the Lord and have had similar experiences.

  28. Caroline, I read your post last week and didn’t comment, but have decided to come back to comment. I can kinda-sorta-agree with your post, and I love your sweet spirit. However, I’ve got to comment on one thing, and that’s birth control. I finally came to the place, about five years ago, when I finally had to conclude that the use of birth control was morally wrong. (I’d fought against it for years, since my pregnancies are so incredibly difficult.) Since then, my belief has only grown stronger. I am all for avoiding man-made teachings that tend toward legalism, but I have concluded that this one is biblical. Anyway, I would encourage you to keep this under study! I do indeed know how horribly difficult pregnancies can be, but it’s been such a blessed decision to be open to God’s gift of children as He gives them.

    I’ve read and enjoyed your blog for many years! Thank you for all you do!

    • Caroline says:

      I really do appreciate your thoughts! I’ve read every book out there (it feels like) that is written against birth control and letting the Lord plan your family. We went for years with zero birth control, and are still strongly against any type of hormonal birth control. I think the spirit of your heart is critical. Our heart is still to have children and to raise them up for the Lord, we just also have seen the wisdom in spacing them out a little bit so I don’t totally crash and burn, and I can give enough time to the other children we do have as well. I think the Lord sees our hearts and He knows the desires there.

  29. This is a great post. I’m 47 and have 5 great kids. I’ve gone through such a humbling time of changing my hard-line stances over the last 5-7 years. My oldest is a girl and finishing college now. I went through a period of wanting to keep her home until she was married. God changed my opinion on that. I used to think quiverful, family-integrated church, complete family focus was the only way. God took me through a time of showing me that family focus can be family idolatry. Now that same oldest wants to go overseas for missions and our family will be separate and we won’t be there to protect. It is a much safer, joyful place to walk in the will of God rather than my version of His will.

    I’ve watched this with others as well. I have seen long-held beliefs that were not clearly shown in scripture burn to the ground. One friend told me she has had to die to and grieve the plans she had once been so sure of.

    God is good, He is faithful, and His Word endures forever.

    • “One friend told me she has had to die to and grieve the plans she had once been so sure of.” Oh I can relate to that statement! You are so right, God is faithful!

  30. I didn’t see this post until now (many months after the initial post) but I am so grateful for your honesty. We learn and grow and become more Christ-like as we walk with Him. Especially in marriage and family life, being willing to allow God to lead to new attitudes, mindsets and behaviors is essential. Thanks for being vulnerable enough to share how this has looked in your own life!

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  1. […] minds on something we used to feel strongly about, and that’s ok. In fact, Caroline over at The Modest Mom Blog wrote a beautiful post on her family’s journey of redefining their views in several areas, […]

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