Our Desert, part 1
“He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow field and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.” –Psalm 107:35-37
I haven’t blogged for over a year. 1 year and 2 months and a week and 4 days, to be more precise. In fact, I almost deleted the blog completely, wondering if I would ever feel like I again have something to share in this space, or if that, the energy to sit down and write it. Over the last year and a 1/2 there were two wonderful new endeavors in my life (not to mention that we were getting used to going from a family of 3, to a family of 4) and I am just now decidedly learning and living the truth that when we say “yes” to something, we say “no” to something else. And that it’s okay to do so. My reasons for a lack of blogging, however, are not what this post is about. It's been a really good year and a 1/2 and a good break from blogging, but I digress...
Sometimes, when a change (whether welcome or not) happens, we live post-change as if we were made to get back to what was before the change. I am beginning to believe we were not really made for that. We were not made to keep clutching and grasping for one thing, one memory, one idea, one role, one clothing size, one daily view or schedule so tightly that it becomes what we worship and cannot live without. We were made to move forward with the change, walking by faith in Christ alone, and growing into what can only be or become, as a result of it. Easier said than done, I know, but beautifully true, nevertheless.
When I started this blog, the husband and I were deep in the midst of walking through a desert. I didn’t write much about being there or share how we were so thirsty for community, spiritual leading and in general, feeling lost and confused about the direction we had been set in; because it’s nearly impossible to write about that when you are in it. Writing posts of random thoughts, on being hapa, on what we were eating for dinner, posting instagram pictures and recording the things I was thankful for in this little blog space, helped me feel a little less lost at the time. I see now, how this space was a bit of a steady place when hope and direction felt rather unsteady.
Of course, we were not literally walking through a desert. I have yet to check that one off of my never-ending travel bucket list! The metaphor for us is simply one that comes from the heritage of our personal faith and biblical history. Many ancestors of our faith literally walked through deserts, lived in them, and both lost and found what they were looking for because of them.
Rewind to 6 years ago. We were in a strange time. Life felt like an afternoon of spring sunshine with dark storm clouds on the horizon and the air on your skin starting to feel eerily cool. We were living overseas in the most beautiful little city –the greenest city in Germany- a city I had lived in previously for 2 years before we were married. We were working with some of the most intellectually fascinating university students I’ve ever known, doing full time campus ministry. In this magical-to-me-place where we rode bikes and streetcars and walked everywhere; we were working hard to help others know and understand that He loves them with a team that we had come to love…and before I make it sound like a fairy tale, let me say it wasn’t. There were many long and difficult days there but that is for another blog post. So, there we were, finishing out our ministry year, trying hard to figure out where God was leading us or calling us to go next. We had been married for 3 years at the time. We were expecting our first child and it’s safe to say we were on the verge of way too much life change to handle all at once. Prior to this year, we had each felt as if we’d discovered what we were made for, how God wanted us to use our gifts and passions and had surrendered to a lifestyle crazy enough to show for it. No one told us that while those discoveries were valid, they could change.
I loved where we were geographically, but it was obvious that it wasn’t a long-term good fit for both of us. And the places we had been previously didn’t look like a good fit for both of us. Nothing made sense. We couldn’t hear where God wanted us to go. Neither of us wanted to leave full-time ministry. It is what we set out to do upon leaving our university years –however different of a “career path” it seemed, it was what we wanted to spend our lives doing. But the doors around us just kept shutting. And believe me, for all of those pat answers that can seem like magnets to those in doubt, I wasn’t seeing any dang open windows.
Every day in this spot felt like itchy or wrong-sized clothing, and with one stretch too big, something might snap.
Along with not knowing where God wanted us to go, we had lost so much funding that we didn’t know how we were going to make ends meet in the days ahead. Hadn’t God called us? Didn’t he say he would provide for us? Why did he so passionately call us to leave us in this place of thirst without direction?
Ever been in a place like this? The situation might be completely different. But the feeling is probably the same. If you can relate, can I say that I know it feels lonely? Scary lonely. But you are not alone, even when every “how are you?” that you face feels impossible to answer. Even if it feels like He, the one who knows, who led you into the desert, The One who held the oceans in the hollow of his hand at their making, is keeping you from drinking to soothe your thirst, I truly believe an oasis of His sufficient Grace will come. It will be what you need though you feel like it isn’t or that you need so much more of what it is. The oasis will most likely not be the end of the desert – is it ever? So, please do not give up and do not believe the lie that nothing is happening in the waiting. We Americans, at least most of us, are not good at waiting, are we? There is deep purpose in the waiting and in the very place where we are almost convinced nothing is coming yet still choose to hope…