Beware the One-Dimensional Life

by Laura on November 30, 2013

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Beware of the One-Dimensional Life.

The seasons when your hours and conversations and energies become hostage to one dictator– however kind, noble or “right” he may be.

The gravity of a one-dimensional life is a strong one. It plays balanced for a while, but eventually pulls every conversation into a vortex about itself.  Hopelessly one-sided, it allows little room for other passions, different opinions, alternative pursuits.

And perhaps the most insidious side-effect? The One-Dimension begins to define you. Somehow, you’re not a gloriously complex human being with value because of the God-breath in your lungs, instead you become the cause, the one-dimension which morphs all else, Gollum consumed with his ring of power.

And me? I can speak on this imbalance with authority because my Fall has been woefully one-dimensional. I’ve taken up the cause of freedom and it’s nearly eaten me alive. I’ve sacrificed on the altar so much, too much. My kids, my marriage, my friendships, my health, my spiritual walk. And heaven-forbid, a hobby of any kind, good for my soul.

The swirling winds of girls in brothels and the money needed to rescue them has become a tornado that has sucked me from the Kansas of a balanced life and dropped me rudely into an Oz– a world with great beauty and greater danger, a place where every ounce of presence is consumed with defeating the Wicked Witch of the West.  I’ve spent four months, well realistically an entire year, in foreign territory fighting for social justice, while helping build a nonprofit to bring it, and I’ll be honest, I feel like it’s taken every shred of my ability, energy and margin. And while it may feel noble, I’ve learned that even the most noble of things can wreck your life and steal the things that are even more important— like the hearts of your kids, the care of your own soul, the romance of a husband, your very identity.

But this last month especially, I’ve found myself weary of Oz and longing for home. Clicking my red, sparkly heels, squeezing shut my eyes, and desperately wishing for the Auntie Em of a more balanced life. 

Mercifully, the Fall season of traveling is nearly over for us– the hours both Matt and I have logged in airports over the last four month winding down. We’re inching into a rhythm with the people we work with at The Exodus Road, and I’m finding that frozen meals aren’t the worst evil in motherhood. I’ve begun to put my phone down more often, check email less. I’ve read in the mornings, instead of worked. I’ve started having people over to dinner again. I’ve taken my kids rock climbing and pottery painting. I’ve called the sitter for a date tomorrow night. I‘ve begun to usher in other dimensions again. 

And, gratefully, so gratefully, after a week of vacation here as a family at home and with some intention, I’ve found myself transported back to that little house in Kansas– the place of healthier balance.

And Kansas may be black and white, it may even contain its own wicked neighbors on bikes, but it is where I belong– the only place I can live for the long-haul. 


Struggle with living a one-dimensional life? Is a cause of a belief dangerously becoming your identity? Which one? 


  • Wendy Willard

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I think sometimes that “thing” that makes life so one-dimensional can morph into a “bad thing” even when it started out so good… I just read another post with this quote:

    “So what do you call something that you talk about too much, separates you from other Christians, and makes you feel superior? You don’t call it urban ministry you call it an idol. For me, urban ministry was an idol in my heart for many years.”

    • Laura Parker

      oh, wow– great quote. SOOO true, right? That which began as good can quickly become the monster that eats us. Thanks for sharing that, Wendy. :)

  • Angie Washington

    Hm, good thoughts. Love the Oz references. You are a wise woman.

    • Laura Parker

      THanks, friend. Love you, lady. I know you’ve had to learn this tightrope walk for more than a decade . . .

  • Spark FiveForty

    You have just written my own story….just when I was beginning to feel alone in my dimension, I’ve discovered I am in the company of many like us. Fighters. I think I’ll log off and chill on the couch with my kids now….. thanks for the reminder, and the permission to let go. If only a little bit.

    • Laura Parker

      Oh, yes, you have permission to let go and watch a movie with your kids. :) I feel like so often the needs loom large and we can just lose ourselves in the fight . . . and then that fight becomes our identity. Anyway . . . yes, you are in good company, my friend. Hang in there– here’s to both of us chilling out a bit more. :)

  • pastordt

    And just like that, I’m getting your blog posts again. And this one is just terrific. I’ve occasionally wondered if you were doing okay, not burying yourself in this grand cause. And it is a grand cause. But it wins if it swipes you in the process. You become a slave of sorts yourself, right? Good for you for noticing and then addressing this very important truth. YOU and your mate and your family need care, too.

    • Laura Parker

      Haha, Diana– Yes, I’ve hardly written at all for “myself” over the last 6 months, thus the major blog-absence. And YES slavery can take so many forms, and it has most definitely taken me hostage of sorts . . . glad to be coming up, finally, for a bit of air. Thanks for your kind words, as always.

  • Kelley J. Leigh

    Once again, brave and authentic words here on your blog. Thanks for speaking where your heart has been, so others can do the same. Such important and vulnerable leadership with your words… I am
    cheering for your journey toward new & sustainable balance, Laura Parker.

    • Laura Parker

      Thanks, friend! Love that you’ve walked this path with me. :)

  • Sarah Bessey

    This is so my life right now, laura, it’s eerie. Thank you for this – I’m ready to usher in other dimensions again, too.

  • Richelle Wright

    praying… that you find rest, relaxation, reconnection in your black and white world with all its depth and dimension. i so respect you and your family – for your season of sacrifice but also because you recognize that it can only be a season and taking the necessary steps to move to a new season. thank you ~

    my struggle feels the other way right now – about 16 dimensions all pulling every which way. :-)

  • Teri Miller

    Precious words of ‘warning’ and wisdom, dear girl!!
    I’ve been feeling a little like I’m in Oz lately. So many different & strange things in this new season of life, as I bid farewell to the tender baby-years of children, pursue a master’s degree, and build a new business. As I haul baby swings and infant strollers to the donation center, part of me longs to go back to the “no place like home” days of simplicity and sleeplessness, diapers and nursing and babe-in-arms.
    I don’t think I’ve yet uncovered all the dimensions and depths of this new season, this new time and place. But I’m confident there is beauty, love, laughter, grace, and fulfillment to be found…

    OH – and I love the photo…that’s my bestest worship space, right up from our house!! I know every nook & cranny of that road & the trails around it – beautiful, glorious, Holy Ground!

  • BG Davis

    “I’ve spent four months, well realistically an entire year, in foreign territory fighting for social justice,”
    This is an awfully short time to feel that somehow you have redefined yourself; it’s also an incredibly short time to expect to see significant results. (And was it four months, or was it a year?) Grad students routinely spend longer living like monks and trying to write their dissertations. Authors or artists may spend far longer on a single work, neglecting most everything else in the meantime. Military deployed overseas, the same in spades. Etc., etc., etc.
    So although your basic problem is interesting, the blog post lacks perspective.

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