Living Life: Practicality vs. Wisdom

There’s a certain thing that happens when you become a parent.  It happens in different degrees and forms for everyone, but we all experience this phenomena:

We become practical.

It’s just natural for a certain amount of practicality to set in once that bundle of joy lands on your doorstep.  Suddenly life takes on a whole new meaning.  That money you used to spend on late night Sonic runs now gets applied to diapers or formula or a set of plastic keys for your little one to rattle.  And you forget what it was like to dash out for a snack at 11:00 at night anyway because, you know, practically speaking it’s not wise to leave the baby home unattended.


Where life was once an adventure, now you have to think about jobs and income and houses and schools.  You have to consider how your decisions will affect not only yourself or your spouse, but also your child or children.


Some people are very good at remaining spontaneous, even with children in tow.  Have you heard about the family that is driving around the world, living nomadically, raising their children on the road?  They’ve been on the road for 11 years, all four of their children born in a different country.  I don’t desire that life, but I envy their courage.  What they’re doing isn’t practical, but it’s pretty dang cool.

Or this family, whom Lee met recently on an airplane.  After adopting a little girl from China, they felt a strong prompting from the Lord to return to their daughter’s birth country and open up an orphanage for special needs children.  So they went.  They packed up their three young children, sold all their possessions and went.

“What organization did you go with?” Lee asked.

“No one,” came the astonishing reply.  “We just asked the Lord to provide and He has.”  Through charitable donations, they have raised enough to build a five story building where they currently house 34 children with various special needs from cleft palates to cerebral palsey.  And they’ve never asked for a cent.

That’s not practical.  But it’s pretty dang spectacular.

I used to fancy myself a bit of an adventurer.  I didn’t think twice about hopping on a plane as a 20 year old and exploring the former Soviet Union on my own.  I didn’t flinch when I spent 36 hours on a train to Prague by myself, half the time trapped with a horny Iraqi German (I know…).  I relished walking the streets of London by myself.

When Lee and I went to Europe last year, I once again found my adventurous roots.  I loved not having a plan, living in the moment, exploring, living.

But I’ve felt trapped in practicality for awhile.  This isn’t a bad thing, in some regards.  Obviously parenthood requires a certain amount of practicality.  We have to provide for our children.  We have to give them stability and they do need a certain amount of material possessions to feel secure.  Of course, our Western world children (as I’m sure yours as well) have far more than they need for security and stability, but as a parent I want to give them good things.  Just as I know the Lord wants to give me good things.

But I’m a little tired of feeling held back by practicality.  Because there’s a very fine line between practicality and fear. And I think that sometimes?

I blur that line.

I’m not going to act on passion because I tell myself it wouldn’t be practical for my family.  But really, I’m just too scared to try it.  I’m not going to follow a dream because it would be terribly impractical to do so.  ‘Fraidy Cat! As a couple, Lee and I always talk about all the cool things that we’d like to do with the kids and expose them to, but most of them seem too lofty and impractical to really pursue.

We’re scared.

What will people think?  What if it takes us out of our comfort zone?  What if we fail?  What if it requires us to leave all that we know?  Where is the practicality in that?

Here’s the thing: I don’t think God calls us to be practical.  I think He calls us to be wise.  We are not to live in fear.  “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do  not anxiously look about you for I am your God.”  Isaiah 41:10.  We are called to wisdom, not practicality.  Men are called to provide for their families, and that will look differently for everyone.  For some, that means a stable job in a good home where they can minister to, and meet the needs of, those in their local community.  For others still, that means selling all you have and leaving.

One of those scenarios is practical, one is not.  But for the two men who are guiding and leading their families according to God’s calling placed in their hearts – both are wise.

Does that make sense?

So Lee and I together are working on, and learning, to let go of the shackles of practicality.

Walk in faith.

Live in wisdom.

Cry out to Jesus.

Do not be afraid.

That last one’s a doozy.


  1. I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but…I love your heart and your spirit (and your writing style)! I am amazed at the depth of what comes out of your 29+year-old heart and mouth. And by the way, I think it’s common to blur that line you’re talking about…and I don’t want to be common. : )

  2. From one ‘fraidy cat to another, I hear ya!

  3. One of my favorite lines from a movie is “safety is the greatest risk of all, it doesn’t leave room for miracles”. Many people pray for safety, I pray for God to be glorified, because sometimes we have to take risks for that to happen.

  4. Amy- considering you were one of my spiritual mentors as a youth, I take that as a high compliment and with sincere gratitude in my heart for the way you poured into me all those years ago. 🙂

    Megan- I’m glad to know I’m not the only fraidy cat out there!

    Amy #2 – yes, risks are important…and scary…and exhilarating. And I was thinking about what I wrote and realized this curse of practicality doesn’t apply only to parents. I think it’s the nature of becoming an adult. Being grown up stifles so much of our freedom, doesn’t it? 🙂

  5. I completely agree. We don’t have the freedom that we did as kids. We tell ourselves that it’s because we know better now, but really, do we? Sometimes I think we are just protecting ourselves. (I do it too, too often!)

  6. Rebecca says

    Thanks for sharing your heart Kelli! I feel this way a lot. I’m going to really meditate upon this and see where it leads.

  7. You don’t know how much YOU and Lee are ministering to US!! I have my days where I feel empowered and secure. Then there are the other days where the fear creeps in. One thing I know is life is too short. Let’s take chances and truly feel alive in the Lord and what he has created for us to enjoy in this life!! Doors WILL open where He wants us to go…will we choose to go in or walk by them??!! It is one thing to SAY we live by faith. But do we REALLY?? God wants what’s best for us ;). I am writing all this to you, but telling it to myself as well. What awesome testimonies of faith we will have if we jump in and do it!! Maybe encouraging others to not live so safely or practically. Let’s live our best life!!!! 😉

  8. Preach it, sista! 🙂

  9. Amen.

  10. As one who took a big risk a few years ago, sold (almost) everything we had and radically changed our lives, I can say it’s worth it. It’s not easy. It’s not smooth. It’s not without loss or cost. But it’s worth it. I think God honors our willingness to risk practicality. And the adventure He takes our heart on is pretty exciting. 😀

  11. One of my favourite phrases that helps me in difficult situations is “Be brave, even if you are not, pretend to be. No one can ever tell the difference.” Fear mustn’t rule in our lives. It’s a bad companion. Only wisdom is a good partner.