I am just now taking the time to write the second half of this story about my Spiritual Pilgrimage. You can read about the first half HERE.
My goal was to eliminate the noise in my life for 4 days to face my fears and find God on a beach. That’s what led me to San Destin , FL. I made a commitment to myself to go without tv, radio, music or conversation other than a few calls to Emma & Jacob. I chose this path based on the book by Henri Nouwen, “The Way of the Heart”. It talks about connecting with God through Solitude, Silence and Prayer. These 3 little words had me overwhelmed with emotion and terrified of what I might actually discover.
It was a rough 3 hours after I turned off the music and Twitter. No outside noise allowed me to hear what was inside. There it was in the blinding light of day no less, all of my sin and shame and doubt. Things I had buried so deep that I was shocked to recall them. All the mistakes, the horrible decisions, one bad choice after another, time and again. It was like Clockwork Orange torture. A video in my head played years of men, lies, sex, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxieties and neediness. So much neediness wrapped up in despair. There was a reason I hated to be alone. I hated to be with myself.
All of my denials and delusions were brought to light those hours. I was sick to my stomach as I cried until there was nothing left. I didn’t feel human. I felt robotic without the benefit of a human soul. That was gone. My soul was an emotional void, negative space. I was an empty, hollow shell functioning purely on rote skill. Performing functions just to get me to the next step. And the next step was to run.
I ran that night on the sidewalk by the beach. It was dark, but I heard the water washing up on the shore. With very few streetlights and a lot of construction dumpsters it was eerie but oddly appropriate. I had to run to dispel some of the energy from the drive. On one hand I was spent and on the other I was wired. Thus, always the dichotomy in my life.
The next 2 days I continued my ritual. Get dressed, go run, talk to God. Sit on beach, read, write, talk to God. But it was never what I was hoping for. I’m not sure what I expected. But there was no bolt of lightening; no overwhelming sense of God coming to my comfort or aide.
On the final day I made another trip to the beach for one more shot at finding some direction, a connection. I wrote for a while feeling overwhelmed by life, past and present. As I did, the tears came as I apologized over and over for the mess I had made of my life. I didn’t ask for forgiveness. I wasn’t thinking in terms of what I needed from God. It was more about how poorly I treated Him and the life He gave me.
I studied the water and the sun. Soaking in how vast it was, how small I felt. How humbled I was that this great and incredible God who made all of this actually loved me. Me, with all of my sin and shame and doubt. There was no bolt of lightening. But instead, it was the faint sensation of a weight being lifted and replaced by peace and joy. I think it was during those moments that I realized that while I had been waiting for God, He had been there all along waiting for me.
I walked to the edge of the water. As the tears rolled down my face, I was overwhelmed and terrified and thrilled all at the same time. Then I uttered the words out loud, “I am Yours. Whatever it means, whatever You want.”
Some how, by the grace of God, I was able to trust. For the first time ever, I was actually going to give up complete control and trust. Because when I said ‘whatever’ I really meant it. And a slew of wild thoughts flooded my head, like selling everything I own and moving to Africa with my kids.
Now before I start getting emails and panicked phone calls from my family, please understand, I have no plans to do that! But the point is I know if that is where God wants me, that is where He will have me and I’m ok with that.
Does everyone understand how freeing that is? It’s a huge burden lifted. It’s incredibly relieving to just let go of the fear and embrace the unknown.
Some of you understand what I am saying. I’m sure there are others who shake their head in doubt or those who wish they could understand, but don’t. I’ve been in all these positions. What I can’t explain is why it took me just 3 weeks shy of being 40 years old to get it.
I really have no idea how or why I ended up on the internet pouring out my life to a world of faceless people. This certainly isn’t why I started a blog or where I intended it to go.
But I do know one thing for sure. Every step I’ve taken along this cyber path has led to new people in my life that have inspired me, challenged me and opened doors for me to take the next step. For instance, out of this trip came a couple more big questions: How do I know what is truly God’s direction for my life vs. my own desires? How do I listen to Him and not let His calling for me become diluted with my own wants. The beauty is, I have been able to turn to two beautifully blessed Christian women to ask them how they know. Oddly enough they gave me just about the same exact answers – not just scripture, but input. They live 1,000 miles apart, have never met or interacted nor do they have the same background or careers. Two completely different women gave me the same answer. Women I met because of my blogging journey.
Where am I now? Well, God may or may not intend for me to be huge blogger, but connecting with people who share their stories with me is enough of a reason to continue to share mine. I have started volunteering at church in the media team, which I have never done before but am very excited about. I’ve joined a study group to learn more and have people to do life with (that’s kind of their slogan – gotta love that!). I recently had a door open to do some work from home. It allows me to still be with the kids as they are so needing mama right now, so this is a huge blessing! I’m developing some new healthy relationships and letting go of some that are not.
More than anything I’m excited about the future now that I truly understand that God is enough. That’s about as simple as it gets.