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?