Bring me into the wilderness.

This chapter is being written because I would much rather write & listen to Ellie Holcomb than study for a Spanish test because Spanish does not define me. Spanish is not my strong suit, not my calling.

And I’m in a desert. A dry, barren, lonely desert. There is nothing lonelier than being stuck in your own mind; if I have learned anything huge in the past few months, or even in the past few years of my life really, that’s it. Right there. There is nothing lonelier than being stuck in your own mind. You can dig your own black hole by dwelling & no amount of hand holding or back rubbing or tears or tears cried for you when you cannot form your own tears or dark chocolate or cups of coffee or mind-numbing sketches to pull your mind away from overanalyzing or caffeine buzzes or pages in a journal or letters can pull you from the funk you’re in. You’re stuck & there isn’t a way out. You want to pull yourself through with your own strength & even that isn’t possible. There are moments of joy, little glimpses into the Kingdom but nothing dramatic. You hear no voice of reason or voice of God, for that matter. Nothing that anyone says is anything you haven’t heard before. Words are only comforting to an extent. You cannot be physically alone because that’s the most terrifying thing in the world. The only thing that comes with physically being alone is your thoughts & they drown you. And the hardest part is not wanting to be around the one person you cannot escape: yourself. Nobody can convince you to love yourself or that you are even worth loving. You are stuck in a constant boxing match with vulnerability & unworthiness & feeling unlovable, and they knock you out time and time again & you are learning to be okay with that. It’s numbness. And numbness is better than crying every night. An empty stomach means no queasiness, which comes with the stress & anxiety, also in waves. It’s a series of highs & lows. A constant roller coaster that leaves you puking out your emotions when you get off. Extreme happiness only to be met by the downfall of utter depression & feelings of being alone in a room full of people who claim to love you.

You don’t know what it means to truly love people because you cannot love yourself. You cannot love others well because you do not love yourself well. Then you feel guilty for that. Then you cry a little more & get buzzed off of caffeine & then sink into numbness. And it is a constant & draining cycle.

You escape by staying busy. Being busy is like an oasis in this desert. Pile and pile and pile until the things you dwell on stay trampled underneath the superficiality of day to day life. To-do lists are your best friends. To-do lists never do you wrong. Planners & to-do lists & events & homework & work work & cups of coffee & skipping dinner because you’re “too busy” & running running running to whatever is coming next & you make sure there is always something coming next because if nothing is next then you are alone again. Back in the desert. Pulled from the oasis. And the water has run out. And God is not in reach. And your relationships are held at arm’s length because people are not allowed to unlock your door. You are safe with a locked door. Trust is not a concept because being vulnerable has gotten you knocked out before. Disgustingly beat up & staring at your unlovable self in the mirror. All the while, you teach girls that they are worthy & lovable & incredible & you. don’t. believe. it. You could never believe such a thing.

You are a person to be used for other’s gratification & satisfaction. And you tell yourself, “No no, it’s okay. Maybe God has made me to be used by others. Maybe that is my purpose.” And you are okay with that. If you’re okay, I’m okay. If you’re good, I am good. I am good because you are good. And if you are not good, my world is in chaos & destruction.

And this is what I know to be truth right now. This all makes sense to me. These words & not God’s Word, they make sense to me. And that is not a good place to be. But I am trying. I’m trying to pull myself up by the boot straps & move the heck on with my life.

“And I lift up my soul to You who makes things whole, oh mercy love of old, in You I place my hope, I place my hope. So guide me in Your truth, be my strong refuge. Oh, forgive my doubting heart & lead me back to You.

And this is how I feel. And I do not say this to make you feel guilty. I want you to feel full. And overflowing. But I say these things because hopefully someone somewhere feels this way too & these words mean something to someone. Not “hopefully someone feels this way,” but hopefully someone feels comforted by knowing they are not actually alone. I know I’m not the only one. And if that’s you tonight, I hope you surrender. I hope you pull yourself out & realize that you can’t do this on your own. Tell someone. Anyone. Because you do not deserve to be alone anymore. Alone is a dangerous place to be. And you deserve so much more than that.

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How lucky I am to have people so invested in my heart & my soul & my eternity.

Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
    and bring her into the wilderness,
    and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
    and make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
    as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

“And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” // HOSEA 2:14-19 ESV

And sometimes I doubt. I doubt a lot. And somehow, every single time, God pulls me back into His arms & speaks tenderly to me. He gives me the words I need to hear through the people around me. And I pray that he gives you those people, so you can look in hindsight & say, “God was there. He showed up in those moments when I needed Him & I didn’t even realize it. He showed up in these people & these words & these tears. He was there.”

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