Four years ago, I found myself at something of an impasse. I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship and in speaking up, alienated myself from friends and my church. My job environment was quickly deteriorating into something I no longer wished to be part of, and a job prospect with my dream NGO was set aside due to an unexpected coup in the country.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had been stripped of everything I found my identity in back in those days. I couldn’t sleep. The nightmares that had started the fall before after I spent one hellish week watching my grandmother die, death rattling all the way, just wouldn’t stop. My family was struggling. The gym no longer brought the comfort it once had. I couldn’t breathe. I was wound up and burnt out.
Over the course of the last four years, I have held five jobs and moved eight times. Eight. Even adding all those up just now makes me shudder. I don’t mind change. I dread chaos. And chaos is what it was. I lost more friends than I can count. Walked away absolutely broken from a church I have been a part of since I first returned to the states in 2006. Became too well known by my doctor. Turns out they don’t make medicine for broken hearts.
Somewhere in the middle of the last four years, I found a church I loved after I moved for the last time. Solid theology. Solid people. I found a state I loved. My darling Texas. It took me a long time to get here, but I’m glad I did. I found a job I love with students I absolutely adore.
And yet. I’m still wandering. Still waiting for answers to prayers that feel so long dead I’m not sure why I bother speaking them out anymore. I still feel amped up. I sometimes liken myself to a gun with one in the chamber and that’s about how it feels most days. My stuff sits in two states because there’s nowhere to put it in this one room. I miss my kitchen table and having a front door to call my own. I miss my massive desk I refinished myself. I miss my coffee mug collection, one that is much too large for any sane person to own.
I miss quiet nights and long talks with deep thinkers. Because for all the goodness of this place, I have no community. And I miss that. I miss a tribe close enough to touch. Hugs and cheek kisses are two of my very favorite things. Things I haven’t shared with anyone in a long time.
I’m in the wilderness. And yet…for all the silence and loneliness and feeling like too much and not enough all at once, my God has been so incredibly near. Closer than breathing, as they say. I cannot adequately describe how He has rescued me from myself over these past four years, how He has made me endure and come out stronger on the other side, how He has made Himself known in grand gestures and ordinary bits both.
I want the wilderness to be over, but I don’t want the lessons I have learned here to be forgotten. I am loved. I am redeemed. I am not forgotten. My identity, the one I lost some years ago, is found in this incredible God who has been with me my whole life and wrecked my world some twelve years ago. In Him, I am found. In Him, I live and love and laugh with wild abandon because I’ve been on the other side of that and I wish that hell on no one.
So I’ll wander a little longer. Because God is with me. In the brightly lit, people-filled days of the past. In the wilderness, four years long, too.