I’ve followed the Influence Network for a few years now, and Jess Connolly (one of the authors of this book) pretty regularly on Instagram. All that means is that Wild and Free has been on my “to read” list for a while (Jess has a second book coming out this fall) so I was excited when I got the email from my library that it was available from overdrive!
It’s super hard thing to hear God’s voice in this world we live in. You have got to be so intentional. And I say “you” because I really me “I.” I have got to be super intentional in taking in information as “necessary” for my life. There are so many good blogs, podcasts, instagram accounts, etc. out there- but none of those, in and of themselves, are God’s message to me about how I should live life. Because friends, I can’t do it all, and I’ve so far not found anyone who can. Jess says in the book “The confusion lies in the deception that began with Eve’s partaking of the shiny, beautiful fruit because someone told her that was best for her.” It’s super important to take stock of who we’re letting speak truth and wisdom into our lives; if it’s only the podcasters and bloggers and instagrammers, then we’re probably off track or carrying a lot of weight and obligations God never intended us to hold. “They exhaust themselves as they serve out of obligation, not worship.” This is piercing to me because I’m a striver by nature, and my work can easily step in front of my worship and become the “thing.”
There was also a couple of points talking about what we look to for worth or value. One of those is other people, who we are quick to process things out through without talking them through with our Father. The other was how we gather and curate things to add “spice” to our life; “His love and presence are no longer what spices our life and makes our world sweet.” I’m not exactly sure what to do with the second one yet, but I thought it was an interesting thought.
The book’s point is that we are to walk wild and free because that’s how God created us to. They’re also after redefining “wild and free” because it seems to be opposite of what many of us think, consciously or not, about what our lives should look like. The freedom we desire is only found in Christ. “We are bound up by our own fears and self-imposed limitations rather than walking freely in God’s purpose for our lives. … Sometimes that means we need to let go of our tightly organized systems and plans.” This freedom is scary to me, and something I’ve been wrestling with lately because not having a set out list of how to get from point A to point B is scary to me because I’m super fearful of messing up. I found this to be convicting and encouraging and something I’ve written in my journal as I continue to wrestle with this: “We never need to be afraid of failure- not when God’s grace will always be there to break our fall. It makes me not fear accidentally wandering off the right path. I know we have a Shepherd who will come and look for us. His worry isn’t for the many in the flock who needn’t repent, but for the one who has gone astray. We can follow Him with abandon, never worrying that in following Him we’ll go the wrong way.” I keep being brought back to this point that it’s already done, the plan has been made and God will accomplish His plan; I can’t get in the way, because I’m just a humble one person in this grandiose scheme of His glory. There’s no getting it right enough that I wouldn’t mess up. This thinking is so faulty because it implies such pride in myself that A) I could be amazing enough to “get it right” with my plans and organizing or B) that I could be powerful enough to mess up the plan of Almighty God. When I finally got to the place of speaking that truth over my fears, it was humiliating to realize that I had believed such lies and merciful that God didn’t leave me there to continue on in that thinking. “We can’t go anywhere where He is not already. We cannot outpace Him, because He is already there.” (Psalm 139:7-10) “The good news is just as good for you today as it was the day you first believed. God didn’t suddenly expect you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get it done yourself. You don’t hold the power to save yourself or to make yourself good, and God didn’t start expecting that of you just because you met Jesus.” Hayley went on to talk about her story and I completely identified with it as an oldest daughter, Type A, people pleaser. She continued on in this vein of thought of what freedom looks like- not letting circumstances shake me, loving people but not living to please them, content and not striving. She said exactly what I was thinking: “Freedom feels uncomfortable sometimes, because the rules are stripped away and we have to rely on relationship over a set of manufactured to do lists.” But these lists were helping me measure my goodness, and God has already said “Christ’s righteousness is yours. Remember? It’s finished and it’s enough.” “Operating in freedom can feel chaotic. We are stripped of our measuring stick, our goal posts, and the world’s promises. We are left simply with the knowledge that when we are in Christ, we are His and we are free. We are pushed to intimacy with the Spirit instead of a set of to-dos or measurements. We are left to do business with a God who is invisible but omnipresent.”
As the authors looked to re-identify “wild” they talked about how wild women are secure in their roots in God and have no need to hide our humanity because the gospel we love and preach is what we need everyday. A wild woman works from approval, not for it, and doesn’t see life from a place of lack. “She knows that this life is not a sprint but a grace filled marathon. She also knows it’s not her strength, by the Lord’s that pushes her forward.” These are all things that I struggle with.
I also read in the book an interesting definition of “tolerance” which is a hot-button topic in our world today. “Tolerance is seeing people fairly, objectively, permissively. Taking interest in and showing concern for what they believe, even when their beliefs are different from mine. Yes. I can do that. And even more so- the idea that tolerating is the capacity to endure. I know I can do that because it’s exactly how I see my Jesus live and love in the Bible.” And I would add, thanks to my church’s current sermon series on 1 Peter that we are called to endure as exiles in this world by the power of Jesus name.
They also talked about calling each other “up” versus “out.” I love this because if we are walking securely in the freedom we have in Christ, we know the playing field is level because we are all in a mess, messing up, falling short. Often times, we’re not in a place to call each other out, but we can speak truth and speak life and cheer each other on upward.
So there are my crazy, not very organized thoughts about the book Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. It’s a recommended read for sure!