Stumbling Through Life: Wandering in the Desert for 40 Years

PA’s words of wisdom: “God gave us two hands and one mouth for a reason.  It takes less time to show what you’re about than to talk about it”

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LB’s Thoughts: 

Ezekiel 34:6: “My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”

 I left Ohio in 2005 in search of a solid career and armed with the hope that all the pieces in my life would fall into place because I had worked so hard to get to the point where I was free to live my life on my own terms without the guilt of having to save people or use my back as the last beam to prevent the inevitable collapse of the old guard.  I thought I had life figured out.  I was so full of foolish entitlement and baseless expectations when I left.  Even though I physically left, I brought all of the emotional baggage I had yet to unpack.  I had learned to stuff my baggage in closets, under beds, behind couches, and anywhere else they would fit in order to pursue a career and create the life I wanted.  I had been in school for my entire life, and I never stopped to work on myself.  I figured that as long as I slayed every dragon and push through every concrete wall in my way, I’d make it to my destination.  Everything was a fight and often accompanied by major setbacks.   That’s all I knew, and I literally fought through each stage in life.  Finally, I had graduated and all of the adversity I wrestled with would be a thing of the past I thought.  I was nothing but wrong.  Not only was I slapped out of my fantasy, but I was punched in the gut with the same disappointment and grief I had in Ohio.  What had I done?  Why was God punishing me?  I thought I did everything He told me to do, so why wouldn’t he give me the desires of my heart?  He revealed to me that my desires were idols.  Plain and simple.  I was enraged because I saw the other children dancing around the golden calf, and they weren’t struck down.  I could not understand why it seemed other people were allowed to have the desires of their heart, but mine were elusive.  Every time I believed I had reached the shore of my dreams, I knew deep down in my heart it was only a mirage.  So I kept wandering in the desert.  God always whispered warnings that urged me to keep walking because I hadn’t found my new home yet.  I’ve met wonderful strangers in the desert.  Over a decade has transpired, and I am still revising my plan in order to meet shifting demands and new challenges.  I’m accepting that life is not linear, and just because I thought life would go one way, doesn’t mean life ever agreed to those terms.  My pride and ego are forever being injured, and I do believe it is by design.  Do I have an ego problem?  Am I prideful?  What would I be like if I was granted all of my whims with little to no resistance?  Would I be lazy?  Would I lose sleep over maintaining my integrity?  The most confusing part is  that this whole conversation takes place in my head, and I absolutely agonize over it.

Responding out of emotion has caused some of the worst mistakes I’ve made in my life, which makes me gun shy about making the next life altering moves.  I hate making mistakes, even though they’re unavoidable.  Sometimes this causes me to sit on the fence.  I’ll punish myself well after the situation has gone by, because I’m very hard on myself.  I do pray for clarity, but sometimes I worry I either don’t hear God, or He hasn’t gotten around to responding.   Since nobody can rush God, where does that leave me?  There is the presence of wisdom and discernment, but the fear of making the wrong move sometimes causes me to sit on the fence too long.  I still have problems with letting go of the mistakes I’ve made throughout life, and sometimes my desire to be understood overrides all rationality.  I have a deep need to express myself because for a large portion of my life, my voice was stifled.  I insist on marching to the beat of my own drum, and I don’t believe I was created to follow someone else’s definition of what it means to be a black woman.  This fight is in direct conflict with what the world tells me I am, was, or will be.  I wonder what life would be like if I didn’t fight so hard to see my dreams materialize?  What if I just rolled with the punches and assimilated into life?  What if there was no voice inside of me that urged me to fight back even though I hate conflict?  Am I hiding behind past hurts in order to prevent myself from moving forward?  I know I deliberately do and say things to put myself in direct conflict with the world around me to ward off situations I am not interested in handling.

I’ve paid a large price for trusting strangers, and I’ve paid larger ones for sharing with those I’ve known my entire life.  The greatest transformation has occurred in my life when I dared to trust a stranger.  The reason I made it to college was because of a stranger.  The reason I survived in college was because of a stranger.  The reason I am no longer in Ohio is because of a stranger, and the reason I have a career is because of a stranger.  Oddly enough, the reason I am writing this blog is because of a stranger.  When I’ve risked being vulnerable with a stranger, my life has literally shifted, and pushed me to grow.  Strangers have been absolutely life altering, and I do believe there is a reason for this.   I’ve recently accepted that home is no longer where it used to be and sometimes God’s sends messengers into the desert where I’ve been wandering.  I’ve spotted a place to pitch a tent, and I think it is on high ground and has plenty of shade. I’ve found a home after 40 years of wandering in the desert.  God has shown me people that I can take refuge with that won’t abuse the fact that I was vulnerable and showed my true self.  After years of wandering in the desert, I think I finally identified an oasis that has fresh water and shade from the brutal sun.  I visit this oasis frequently, and continue to unpack my baggage.  If I remove my “Comedy/Tragedy” mask to get a better view of what’s on the other side, and I am met with rebuke, I quietly place it back on and return to my oasis where I’m free to be my true self, and nothing less is accepted.  I don’t have all the answers, and I’ve made so many mistakes, that I cannot count them anymore.  What I did say yes to this year was listening to the feedback I received from others.  I trust that I can bear the criticism (for the most part), and my discernment will let me know what to process and what to disregard.  This is a process, and I am learning everyday to open my ears and eyes back up to God’s message.  Even if it hurts, there may be something in the feedback that will allow me to grow.  No matter how much the feedback has hurt, I’ve welcomed it in an effort to grow and move forward in my life.  This is a painful journey, and I embrace the fact that I am allowed to feel and cry.  Growth doesn’t feel good.  There are no cliff notes in life, and frankly I’m not interested in lying to myself in order to front like I have it all figured out.  I’m literally doing the best I can each day.  Everyday I’m blessed to wake up means I get one more day to improve and learn from yesterday.

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