Welcome to the Wilderness
Do you hear that?? Silence. Somedays, the silence is too short, or it’s been too long since I’ve heard it. Other days, I feel like that’s all I hear, and it can be deafening. When you’re walking through a difficult season, the waiting for it to end can be hard. You may feel like God is silent, like your friends, your spouse, your support system is silent. The important thing to remember is “how we feel is not how it is.” Wendy Pope says in her book, Wait and See, that “The wilderness makes us desperate to end the wait before we are fully equipped to receive what God has prepared for us.” Boy, can I relate to that. Let me give you an inside scoop for those of you who don’t know me as well. I like to be in control. I like to have a plan, for things to go according to my plan, and I don’t like to wait.
The irony is not lost on me that the two things I like to do: be in control and accomplish things quickly; are the two things that are NOT being done in this current season of mine. Whether you go back two years when I was first diagnosed with Crohns or you go back almost a year when I lost my job and officially began my search for my calling and what was next, either timeline will show you two distinct themes. One, everything in my life these last two years has been accomplished very, very slowly and two, nothing that has happened have I had any control over.
The interesting thing about living in this wilderness time is that I’ve found a peace I never knew existed before. There’s peace in having to rely solely on God in ALL aspects of my life. It is BECAUSE things are outside of my control and because tasks are moving so slowly that I can either choose to be miserable, worry and stress over each day, or I can take a deep breath and say, “God, you’ve got this. Only you can open the doors. Only you can heal my body. Only you can provide the answers I need. Only you can allow our 5 loaves and 2 fish of money to be enough to meet the needs of our family. Only you God can sustain us.” Either I breathe that in and out each day, all day long, or I allow the darkness to consume me.
As a mom, I’ve realized that my time in the wilderness is a gift. I can use this time to strengthen my relationship with God and model what it means to live fully trusting Him to my children. I can teach them through my actions how to handle the stresses of the wilderness in such a way that it doesn’t consume you, and you can still find peace and joy. I can also use this time of quietness to strengthen and build my relationship with them. It is because I don’t know what the future looks like I am keenly aware that I may never have this gift of time with them again. I have one shot to be their mom, and they may need me to be more engaged than I’ve previously had time to be. I can spend my wilderness time filling my life up with ‘stuff’ to keep it from being silent, or I can embrace the silence and allow God’s peace to lead me and strengthen my relationship with my children unlike ever before.
When I look at it through those eyes, my wilderness becomes a welcomed gift. I have spent the bulk of my adult life being busy. Putting things as a priority above my family that never should’ve been. That’s the great thing about the wilderness. It creates a vast openness that didn’t exist before and the freedom in it is limitless. There’s space; there’s time to create the life slowly and intentionally I want to live. There’s freedom in purposely selecting how I fill my time and not having to add things out of habit or because of a prior commitment.
If your life is overflowingly full, the wilderness and silence might not seem so bad. While there is great freedom here, there can also be great fear if you allow it. Everything about this space is new and uncertain. There are no guarantees of what tomorrow brings, but that’s the ironic thing about where I came from. There were no guarantees there either, I was just too busy to realize it.
If you’re currently in a wilderness season of life, can I give you some encouragement? Take a deep breath and believe that God IS at work. You may not feel it or see it, but it doesn’t mean He’s not. He’s bigger than our circumstances and bigger than our feelings. NOTHING you are walking through or will face is a surprise to Him. Press into the promises He has for you and look for ways you can grow in your wilderness season. Trust that this “pause” is for your good and not to harm you. He has a GOOD plan for you and your life and this season may be the only way He can accomplish it. There is much to learn and to teach you during this time. Lean into it and look for where He is speaking to you. I promise, even though He may seem silent, He’s not. Sometimes it’s just that there’s too much noise and distraction in our life to hear his whisper.