Through the Barren Places
It’s been a hard week, well…year… Ok, it’s been a hard couple of years. I feel dry and wrung out all while being pulled in multiple directions. One crisis settles and two more start. I’m tired, but I can’t sleep. I’m parched, and I try to drink, but the water only comes in drabs. I am as is usual for me lonely in a room full of people. It’s not the other people’s fault. I think it’s just something about my internal makeup.
The current crises are related to the health of my husband and my father. My husband has missed over a week of work due to lyme disease, and my dad was at the emergency room today due to blood in his urine. Andrew is slowly mending, and we’re hoping he can head back to work Monday. The doctor’s found a blood clot in Dad’s kidney. They don’t seem overly concerned, but he has to follow up next week with more test.
To be fair my parents do remarkable well all things considered. Dad works part time at our church doing hospital visitations. I think that part of his compassion comes from his understanding of what it’s like to be in that hospital bed, and he knows what it’s like to be beside the bed of the people you love the most. He does a wonderful job with it and planning our church’s senior groups events. He also teaches and runs our church’s Bible institute. He’s a busy bee, but I think it’s good for him. He spent about half a year in “retirement” once and almost drove us all crazy. I think even with the health stuff, he ends up taking less sick days than I do. He’s a wonderful example of being a blessing to those around you, and what focusing on the needs of others does for your mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical health.
Mom is less active due to the natural tiredness that Parkinson’s produces. She goes out with friends, makes meals for people when she feels up to it, helps dad plan his senior outings, watches the baby occasionally, and likely prays more before 8am than most people do all day. She’s a pretty awesome lady. I ask her advice all the time, and I don’t know many people that make me laugh more.
My dear sweet husband is my rock. I know people say that, but I’m not trying to be trite. I think this last round of stuff in life has been extra hard since he’s been so sick as well. There is also the worry of the financial stuff with him being out of work for a week. We were scrimping for a short trip to the mountains before the end of summer, but it doesn’t look like that will happen now. Harder than the physical though is the emotional and spiritual desert he’s in right now. He’s almost done with his Master’s of Ministry which has taken a lot of time and effort on his part, but he’s gotten a lot out of it as well. The problem is he doesn’t have a space to use it vocationally. He’s going to teach at the Bible institute at the church, but I think it’s stressful for him to have spent all this effort and money on an education because he feels the call to serve God full time, and his current job is a pest technician. We’re very thankful for the job and how it’s allowed him to provide for our family, but it’s hard to understand why God would call you to serve and then not open a door for service.
I’m propped up in bed typing this at 1:29am because my head won’t shut off. There is so much to do, and think, and pray about. It’s not proper worry; it’s just the whizzing of a million things all at once. I’m about ready to get really introspective here, so if navel gazing isn’t your thing, you may want to skip this bit.
I think that this desert is closer to the 40 years of wilderness wondering. My roaming started with the struggle to get pregnant, and I was throughly without a map by the time I had my second miscarriage. To be honest that almost destroyed my faith which has since I was a small child been a central part of who I am. I didn’t just lose that baby; I also nearly lost a major part of my identity, my moral compass, and had I walked away I would have lost my entire support community. It took almost a year after that loss to get my faith back. It was never really gone. I don’t believe that the Holy Spirit leaves a Christian though I do think he gets quiet sometimes and only uses gentle nudges while we figure ourselves out.
The streams in this desert are becoming more frequent. Time reading the Bible doesn’t just produce frustration now, but it again brings comfort. My prayers don’t feel as if they stop midair and tumble back to earth, and the love of Christ has been shown to me by many people. I’m also working on getting my PCOS under control, and I feel like the hormone levels and insulin is starting to balance out a bit which makes me feel physically better. We often forget how much the physical can impact the emotional and spiritual.
I can’t say that I’m anywhere near the end of the spiritual dry spell, but I think that may be a good thing. It’s allowed me to question things that were never questionable before. Some things have stood. Some have fallen. The important things haven’t changed. The risen Christ is still the center of my faith. To quote an old family friend, John, “Everything happens at the foot of the cross. The rest is just conversation.” I think that the main thing the desert wondering has taught me is that faith is ultimately a choice. I personally would rather have a life with it than live with out it. So here I am struggling onward and drinking the water where I find it.
How have you dealt with spiritual deserts? How have you coped with them? What have life’s barren places taught you?