Two Christmases ago, I knew that I was entering into a brand new season of my life. I knew full well that things would be changing profoundly and significantly. And I was ready. I welcomed the change.
But I wasn't prepared for the "other" that came along with the change. After the change. The seemingly innocuous ripple turned into a tidal wave that swept me out to sea...foundering, treading water, searching for the shoreline.
The logistics of the change in question were wanted and expected, but the after-effects were not.
What I did not realize then -- sputtering and flailing in that expanse of emotion -- was that I would never go back to that familiar shore. Instead, my friend Jesus navigated me to an island to rest my weary soul, collect my bearings, find a new compass point and just hang out with Him awhile.
I don't regret it -- even in the toughest moments when the loss of The Before feels the keenest. Without that personal and spiritual tsunami, I would not be the person I am today -- stronger, more myself than ever before, anchored, known and kept.
But I can't deny that this has been one of the most challenging seasons of my life. And to say "season" is actually a misnomer. It's fundamentally changed me from the inside out and completely reoriented almost everything in my life.
What do we do when everything we thought we could count on (friends, health, financial stability, family, faith, community) is suddenly and shockingly gone? What do we do when all that sounds doable is to crawl back into bed and huddle into a ball of grief at such a loss of great magnitude?
This is where the rubber of our beliefs meets the hot asphalt of reality.
This is where our true faith and belief is forged.
It's in the dark loneliness of night.....the closed confines of our car when we hear a song that brings it all back....the text messages that never come or are never returned.
This is not the first time I've walked through exquisitely painful emotional trauma. But it's the first time I've also walked through spiritual trauma. And that makes it all the more cutting, isolating, bewildering and....
Wait...bewilder? I know what it means, but I think I just saw something new:
to confuse utterly; puzzle; to perplex or confuse especially by a complexity, variety, or multitude of objects or considerations.2.
(archaic) to cause to become lost; lose one's bearing
- Word Origin and History for bewilder
- 1680s, from be- "thoroughly" + archaic wilder "lead astray, lure into the wilds," probably a back-formation of wilderness.
The words "wild" and "wilderness" have been especially dear to me during this last year. I have seen God coax me into the great expanse, to breathe in the fresh air of His freedom, and to come out of the safety of the paved and climate-controlled world I've been living in.
To be Wild and untamed and my truest self.
I literally lived a life of wild-ing this past summer as my family embarked on a month-long trip around the western and middle parts of the States in our restored vintage cabover camper, "Manzanita."
We went without reservations or firm plans (which is extremely out of character for this obsessive planner.). We followed a vague itinerary and made things up as we went. We were wild in almost every sense of the word.
It's was immensely liberating.
So maybe being bewildered isn't a bad thing after all. In fact, I think this may actually be the very path for me right now. Could it be that God is asking me to choose to Be Wild-er?
I've always understood "bewilder" to mean "confused" or "befuddled," but maybe not knowing exactly what is going on or what to do is exactly the point of all of this??
Could it be that giving up my need for control and understanding -- to lay that aside as unimportant to pick up the mystery of the unknown is what I've needed to do all along?
I understood that this summer as we traveled. I embraced it. It was a side of myself I had never experienced before.
But somehow that part of myself faded back into the shadows with fall schedules of school, activities, housework and the quotidien sameness of life.
Yet there are glimmers. I recently read Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown and felt transformed by her message of being willing to leave the security of the village for the vast untamed unknowing of the wilderness.
A few months ago, our family spent a weekend in Yosemite with Manzanita.
I realized how much I missed exploring the wild places of my country. So much so that I am preparing for a hike down into the Grand Canyon this spring and a family camping trip in Arizona.
And maybe just now...in this space of writing...I am realizing that I have missed the wild places of myself.
Right now, it's not practical for our family to take to the road for a long stretch, but I can still be wild living within my day to day life. And that's a quest worth pursuing.
I think I shall.