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Wilderness Living

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

The in-between. That’s where I find myself today. If I’m honest, I don’t feel ready to sit down and make a list of things I want to accomplish this year because I’m not entirely sure in what direction God is taking me.

The in-between. It’s a hard part of life. It’s a scary place. It’s that wilderness sitting between what was and what is yet to come. You’re in the middle – you’re too far in to see the starting line and you’re not yet far enough through to see your destination. The middle is often where we want to turn around and go back to what is comfortable, what we know. We see it in Scripture when the Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt and slavery because they at least knew what life entailed. The desert was stripping them of every bit of certainty, and it was agonizing.

This middle ground, this wilderness, this is the becoming. In her book "Where the Heart Waits," author Sue Monk Kidd describes it as a place where you shed the layers of who you thought you were or have tried to be and instead fully embrace who you actually are. And who you are isa person with eternal value created by the hands of a loving Father.

Instead of looking ahead all of the time, what if you resolved to stay here in this moment, this wilderness, awhile to see what you could learn about yourself? What if you did that instead of making resolutions about how you want to grow or what you want to accomplish?

It won’t be easy work. Brené Brown puts it bluntly: Discovery equals discomfort.

However, embracing the process of becoming allows you an opportunity to take stock of the wilderness around you and turn it into a garden to nurture and grow who you are. (The first job for man in the Bible was tending a garden, and Mary Magdalene at first mistook the resurrected Christ as a gardener… coincidence?) What if we slowed down and took time to determine what needs to be pulled out by the roots because they are smothering other plants that are vital for sustenance? (My own life coach has talked to me about the thought patterns I need to rip out.) What seeds should be planted and which parts need nurturing?

I have good news as you as you sojourn: God is expert at new beginnings. “In the beginning…” God starts His story of Creation by bringing order from chaos. He will do it in your life, too. Just look at these beautiful words from Isaiah 43:19:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

You are not alone in this wild and wonderful place. God is with you. Others have walked this same path: Moses, Abraham, David, Jesus. They each emerged equipped and emboldened to live the life they were created for, serving others and serving God.

In order to reflect on where you are, I encourage you to try out one of these ideas (or create your own!):

  • Draw a picture of your wilderness (maybe it’s a forest, maybe it’s a playground, etc)

  • Journal about your wilderness (or garden if you prefer), describing all of its characteristics in detail

  • Write a letter to your childhood self as if you’re off at camp in the wilderness, tell her what you’re learning about yourself

Longer-term, you can also adopt habits that help you be more grounded in the present and connected with yourself and God. That may consist of a morning prayer and reading routine, glory walks, a new gratitude practice, learning meditation or anything else that feeds your soul.

But always remember, you are never alone.

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