Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan were just two internet friends raising their families and blogging about their lives. They’d trade emails and Skype occasionally, cheering one another and speaking truth to their hearts that felt connected for whatever God-ordained reason. Things were casual and lightly encouraging until 2012 when they both began to feel pulled out and called up by the Father – into leadership, mission, and living Wild and Free. What began as private mantra they’d push one another towards turned into an Anthem for our generation – a call to live out our liberty and an answer to one burning question: If God is Wild and Free, what does that mean for us? It’s a grace to welcome Jess and Hayley to the farm’s front porch today…
To say the burden on the women in our current culture is heavy is a vast understatement.
As if the crushing weight of all women are expected to do and be wasn’t enough, the situation is only made more precarious because the expectations change drastically from city to city, community to community, even person to person.
We start with the national assumption that women should look impeccable at all times – without aging or having their bodies change.
Inside that pristine temple, they should have shining and glittering personalities – boasting kindness, graciousness, humbleness, while also being strong and successful and self sufficient.
Then, depending on where you’re at or who you’re talking to – the expectations can shift immensely and without warning.
Some women are expected to work and build careers, but only the kind that their community deems meaningful.
Some women would be corrected for having career ambitions and are encouraged to stay home, caring for children and having dinner ready by five.
Some of you feel like you’re not up to par because you don’t make the most amazing treats and goodies for your kids, some of you would be shunned for feeding your children refined sugar.
Personally I’ve felt the whiplash of moving from community to community and knowing instantly that I didn’t measure up or fit in. I would have worked and strived to fit the proper definition of womanhood where I’d just come from and then have the breath knocked out of me by the staggering rejection from not fitting into the next place.
Our problem isn’t one caused by our mothers or the mothers that came before them; it’s a tension of Biblical proportions exacerbated by the enemy of our Creator.
The truth remains that we were brought forth in the midst of a battle regarding our worth, purpose, and our assumed role in this life.
At first glance, the battle lines seem clear, but in reality the voices and messages are complicated at best. The confusion lies in the deception that began with Eve partaking of the shiny beautiful apple because someone told her that was best for her. That deception is still active today.
From one camp we hear that we are to walk in a straight line – be seen and not heard, not disturbing anyone with our thoughts, dreams, voice, or the gifts the Father gave us.
Swinging to the opposite extreme there is a vocal group insisting we must stand up and take control: get what is ours, forcefully find our own place, and make our own way, at the cost of anyone and anything that stands in our way. And of course, there are all sorts of tensions, questions, and limitations in between.
Do you see it? Inside your friend groups and the halls where you worship? Can you feel the burden of expectation—of what women are “supposed” to be?
Mantles have been placed on us as women that genuinely aren’t rooted in scripture, and they are slowing us down. When a horse is finally tamed and trained, bearing the burden of saddle and human expectations alike, she is called broken. It is only then that she performs the duties expected of her.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that’s what God ever had in mind for Eve. And I don’t think that’s what God ever had in mind for you and me.
In the Bible, He speaks of yoke and submission and there are commandments and thousands of pieces of wisdom. But His authoritative mission in our lives has never been to break our spirits, but free them to give Him as much glory as possible.
But sometimes His gentle voice is drowned out by the demanding ones in our physical lives, the comments and commands of those telling us who or how to be.
No matter where our gaze is right now, we’re trapped by expectation and it seems like we’re destined to fail. Our eyes dart about from habitat to habitat, wondering what is wrong with us and looking for ways we can become more like the perfect woman, whoever she is.
But there is a way back. There is a way home.
In our lifetimes, we probably won’t return to the Garden of Eden to all live there peacefully together, but by looking closer at our good God, we can drown out the noise and hear a little more clearly.We can live wild and free, because our God is wild and free and He purchased our liberty on the cross of Christ.
We can look to Him for our identity and our purpose, our worth and value and mission and direction.
In Jesus’ name, we can throw off the burdens and expectations that culture has placed on us as we step into the wild and holy calling we’ve been given –
to live as daughters and ambassadors, calling others to the marvelous light we’ve been brought to.
We can live wild and free.
And we can bring our sisters with us.
Jess Connolly is a gal who is in the thick of it herself. She is the founder of the Naptime Diaries print shop, co-founder of the Influence Conference + Network, and she is passionate about using her words to point women to Jesus through writing and speaking. She and her husband planted a church in Charleston, South Carolina, where they live with their four children.
Hayley Morgan is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur who inspires women to create lives of more passion and less fuss. She and her husband started Wildly Co., an ethical children’s clothing line, and she is also the cofounder of the Influence Conference and Network. Hayley lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and their four sons.
Wild and Free is an anthem and an invitation in equal parts to find freedom from the cultural captivity that holds us back, and freedom to step into the wild and holy call of God in our lives. With fresh biblical insight tracing all the way back to Eve and a treasury of practical application, Jess and Hayley reveal how women today can walk in the true liberty we already have in Jesus.
Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. You don’t have to try so hard to button it up and hold it together. And you certainly don’t have to quiet the voice that God gave you when He created you to sing. Wild and Free will help you shake off the lies of insecurity in your life, and step forward to maximize your God-given influence for His glory and the world’s good.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan and their partnership in today’s devotion ]