Unexpected blessings in the wilderness journey
Carol Holmes explains some of the blessings she has discovered during the lockdown wilderness of the last year.
This is not a path I would have chosen - to live alone, to feel estranged from family, to be restricted socially and unable to travel, to have all distractions removed, to have lots of time for reflection.
But this season has brought me closer to God, and to myself, than I’ve ever been; and this probably wouldn’t have happened unless it had been forced!
I have sought God earnestly through Scripture, using Lectio Devina. I have lived in Psalm 139, verse by verse, in contemplation. I continue on the ‘life-journey’ of deconstructing and reconstructing myself, with the help of the Enneagram. I have found a new and enriching contemplative path, studying the Christian Mystics with James Finley, which has led to intimacy with God in solitude that I’ve not encountered previously.
‘O God of my life, I’m lovesick for you, in this weary wilderness. I thirst with the deepest longings to love you more, with cravings in my heart that can’t be described. Such yearning grips my soul for you, my God! (Psalm 63:1, The Passion Translation).
This season has been uncomfortable - Vulnerability before God and man - Exposure of self before God and man. For me, my false-self prefers me to hide, rather than be seen, warts and all.
But true-self says that I have all I need within me, with Christ in God, from before time began. When there’s no one else to talk to, it’s down to talking to myself and God.
You could say lockdown has been one year of emotional and spiritual therapy! Fragility remains, and hopefully I’ll stay open to the ever-needed support of God.
I have learned that this short life on earth needs to be experienced from the inside out. External props (people, things, substances) will only satisfy momentarily. Our false-self will never be satisfied. So, finding our true-self, hidden amongst the false constructs we have erected, mostly in childhood, to cope with life, is a journey that must be made, preferably with a trusted friend/spiritual director, to process with.
This hasn’t been a season of purely ‘naval-gazing’ and self-centeredness. I’ve found the more God and I uncover my true-self, the more I empathise with and unconditionally love my neighbour. I love with more purity, and not out of a need for gratification etc. If my personal needs are met in God, then I can minister to the world without an agenda.
The quieter I become internally, the quieter the demanding voices of the false-self are. I’m less drawn to external fulfilment and more content with less; the simple, God-given pleasures of life. I’m thankful for His creation. I can find beauty in things I previously wouldn’t have seen.
Have I got my life sorted? No!
Is this path easy? No!
I still battle daily to do my sitting practice, where I come before God in silence, with no agenda, but ‘Be still and know that I am God’. I am a ‘doer’, so this is torture. But it’s putting my ego/false-self down, and saying to God, ‘Here we are, and that’s enough’. Do I experience anything magical in these 20 minute sits? No! Not externally, but internally, I’m growing more peaceful, and I’m more aware of God throughout the day.
So, I’m gradually learning to go in the direction of:-
From more, to less;
Instead of running from feelings, sit with them;
Instead of self-medicate, God-medicate;
Instead of hiding, there’s no shame needed, so show myself;
Rather than doubting I’m loved, to knowing I’m loved, by God and his family.
I would like to thank God for this wilderness journey.
The image above is courtesy of pixabay.com
Carol Holmes has been a worship leader for 25 years. She thanks the Lord for the Fountain of Life church family at Ashill, where she met Jesus 30 years ago. She is a ‘creative’, and loves to write in many forms; journaling, encouraging words for friends, and songs that reflect her faith and life.
The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate good-natured and constructive debate between website users.
We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted below, upon the ideas expressed here.
Click here to read our forum and comment posting guidelines