Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer


Leslie Verner -Doe A Deer3“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” –Mother Superior, The Sound of Music

Currently, I am in a season with many walls, few doors, and quite a few windows to the outside world—taunting me by what I’m allegedly missing. I’ve been here before—as a teenager trapped in my parent’s home, as a college student waiting for my life to begin, as a thirty-year-old single woman (with a sex drive and ticking biological clock) surrounded by families, as a teacher going on to the next year because it was expected. And now I’m here as a mother to three littles, walled-in by naptimes, temper tantrums and mind-numbing routines.

Perhaps you’re here, too, though your walls may look different than mine. Illness, job insecurity, infertility, a sick parent or another impossible circumstance may leave you feeling trapped against your will, walled-in and alone. You have underutilized gifts, unfulfilled callings and pent-up passions.

Part of what I’m realizing is that just because strength, intelligence or giftings are harnessed for a time doesn’t mean they are weakened or disappear. In fact, Old Mother Maturity is still at work on our juvenile souls, training us by her delays and uncomfortable restrictions.

Last week I eased my minivan out of our driveway into the cul-de-sac and caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. Poised like a queen was a huge doe, beaming her gaze directly at me. But the most alarming part was that she stood trapped inside my neighbor’s fenced yard.

How did she get in there? I thought. And how will she get out?

The image haunted me all day long. It took a while to decode my emotions, but when I did, I accepted this living parable as a gift to me in my current season. It was as if God was saying,

“I see you.

Yes, you are fenced in right now, unable to travel far or do so much of what you thought you would do with your life. But the fact that you are restricted does not diminish your strength. And it does not mean you will be here forever.”

That doe was strength under control. She was choosing containment just as I am choosing it now for the sake of my little people. And through forfeited freedom, I am learning the richness of soulful living.

Science calls this “potential energy.” Potential energy is the energy an object has because of its position, rather than its motion. It is a bicycle perched on a hill, a nearly poured-out pitcher of water or a book balanced on someone’s head. It is a doe behind a fence. It is harnessed energy, ready to explode into action. It is doors slammed shut, waiting for windows to be thrown open.  

One thing I’m learning is that just because we feel stuck doesn’t mean God is stuck. I’m sure people were baffled by Paul’s imprisonment. What was God thinking? Didn’t God know Paul was a useful teacher and preacher who needed to travel around and enlighten people so they could learn about Jesus? And yet if Paul had not spent those years in prison, we would not have Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians or Philemon. Being squeezed, trapped and limited forced Paul to search for other ways to preach the gospel and use his gifts. And so, with nothing else to do with his time, he blasted out four of the most powerful letters in the New Testament.

What I perceive as wasted energy, God counts as potential energy. God is adding strength. There is never a time when God is not tilling and cultivating the soil of our soul. Just times when we are too discontent, anxious or distracted to notice.

Because of feeling trapped and isolated in this season of life, I, too, began to write. Having these boundaries has also forced me to get creative to seek God and find him in ways I never would have otherwise. It has taught me that lessening is a gift, not a punishment. Slowness seeps into my soul and trains me to see, feel and hear what I would otherwise miss in a fast-paced life.

As women, we are stronger than we know. If you, too, feel trapped, know that God sees you in obscurity and that He is not only adding to your strength, but will one day give you the “go” to leap the fence into the next adventure He has been planning for you all along.


What gifts are you cultivating that you would not have had opportunity to cultivate if you were not walled in right now?

What (dangerous thing?) do you think God is preparing you to do?

Leslie Verner
I am a goer who is learning how to stay. I’ve traveled all over the world and lived in northwest China for five years before God U-turned my life and brought me back to the U.S. to get married to an actor in Chicago. I’m a former middle school teacher, mama to three little ones and like American cuisine the least. I currently live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and write regularly about faith, justice, family and cross-cultural issues at Scraping Raisins.
Leslie Verner
Leslie Verner

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  1. Stacey Pardoe says:

    Thanks for these encouraging words this morning, Leslie. I know how it feels to be a goer who is learning how to stay. I’m a former high school teacher and world traveler who now happens to be a full-time mom of two little ones. There are days when the potential energy in my soul longs for release, but learning to embrace this season is drawing me closer and closer to the heart of God. I’m learning there is no hurry through any of this. I’m learning that the next beautiful season will begin when the time is right, and I don’t need to pry open any doors that are meant to stay closed for now. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. “Just because we feel stuck doesn’t mean God is stuck.” Wow. That is some truth right there. We’re in the middle of summer togetherness (thank goodness for zoo camp this week!!!) and I’m remembering to be thankful for some of those stuck moments – and to remember that God is not stuck. I needed this today, thank you.

  3. Thank you for this. Really thanks. I desire to be a Christian wife and mother or maybe to adopt. But I feel trapped as a divorcee who left an unsafe marriage and feel like children are not going to happen biologically, my age is ticking on. I feel hedged in my own circumstances and sometimes I feel like I’m being punished, nothing changing significantly year after year and doesn’t look like it will change. At times it’s truly heartbreaking. But God is good and I wouldn’t be in this position if he didn’t want me to be. I have time – to spend with my parents, with friends who want to talk about things in their life, involvement with groups at church – that I wouldn’t have the spare capacity.

    • Lou, “hedged in” is exactly the way I was thinking about all of this. But I love your perspective. Thanks for sharing some of your experience.

  4. I receive so much retroactive comfort when you share your thoughts on the mothering life, because I remember feeling the claustrophobia of it all and thinking that it made me “a bad mother.” It was so good of God to send that doe into your story — and I love your conclusion that God is always at work, even when we feel as if our plot is stuck and life has ground to a stop.

    • Michele, I love that I can offer you “retroactive comfort.” 😉 Better late than never, I guess? So I’m assuming the claustrophobic feeling went away eventually?

      • Funny you should ask.
        I homeschooled my kids, so the sleepless baby years and the frenzied toddler years morphed into a different kind of intensely scheduled life of multiple math lessons and so much reading aloud that my voice sounded continually tired. At the time, I was so in to what I was doing, that I didn’t feel claustrophobic, and I’m grateful for that. So yes, it did.

        I think the repetitiveness of what we do for our kids when they are very tiny is so heavy that when it goes away and we realize that we are no longer responsible for 40 fingernails and toenails, a window flies open!


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