“What does wilderness look like for you?”
Often, I find it hard to describe the wilderness I feel myself in, because I don’t want to journey there more than is necessary. I don’t want to walk into the vast, open space where the air is sucked away from me. Where my clothes are stripped bare and I stand exposed and vulnerable.
The wilderness is the place where I cannot pretend to have my life together. Where I must admit my deepest struggles, if only to the open air. In the wilderness, I lack direction. I cannot busy myself, because the farther I venture, the more lost I become.
If I close my eyes, I see myself exactly there – in the middle of the dry, arid desert, looking into the horizon and seeing nothing but the same wasteland. If I look too long, I can even feel the clouds penetrating me, like a deep fog.
So, I must open my eyes. I cannot bear the wilderness any long. I cannot stay long enough to meet my thoughts. I am not strong enough to wrestle with the divine being who will meet me there today. Surely if I keep my eyes closed, I will return with a limp.
“What does the wilderness look like for you?”
Just last week, someone asked me this question and I stuttered and sputtered in my attempt to answer her.
I knew that I needed to meet Jesus there. I knew I wanted to encourage church members to do the same. I even offered a great soliloquy about how we don’t need to be too quick to try and leave the wilderness, because it is the place where we meet Jesus; And we do not find true wholeness unless we let him rest and wrestle with us there.
The wilderness is the place where the dark night of our soul is also exposed and vulnerable. The longer I stay and open my heart to the divine presence, the less power my dark night has. Even the bleakest struggle cannot stand against our wilderness redeemer.
But I. Don’t. Want. To. Go. There.
There is some level of comfort in pain and struggle. The voices in my head and heart that tell me I’m not good enough have become companions on my journey. I don’t know who I would be without them, and to close my eyes and venture back into the wilderness would bring me face-to-face with them. I would have to name them. To see them for who they are. To release them for a truth I am not yet ready to accept:
I am enough.
What does the wilderness look like for me?
I close my eyes, and out of the fog, I see Jesus walking towards me. I fall to my knees, and even in the dryness, my eyes begin to water. “How did you know I would come back?” I ask.
He gives not response, but continues to walk toward me as I shake and stumble to get back on my feet. But Jesus does not require me to stand. He places his hand on my should and sits by me, waiting for my questions to begin.
For now, I just want to sit here and find my breath again. Even in the wilderness, I begin to close my eyes, rest my head in my savior’s lap, and allow his peace to still my soul.
*To be continued*
This post is a part of a Lenten discipline I am participating in to write each day on a specific word. These posts reflect daily thought processes and conversations with God as I journey through this season of repentance and reflection. I hope they will be meaningful to those of you who find this space and journey with me.