At the beginning of 2007, I had plans for my life. These dreams included a variety of comforts: relationships and love and meaning, income and stability, smiles and music and laughter. I dreamed of a tidy existence, from a job that I loved all the way to a front-loading, designer-color washer and dryer. I had mastered the art of keeping everything under control, including my reputation, my caloric intake, and my hair-do. I was fun at parties. People liked me. I giggled and grinned and elbowed and had terrific posture. Let’s be honest: Annie Parsons had it goin’ on.
But all of a sudden, through a variety of circumstances, I found my plans dissolving. I panicked as I thought, “My life is so not turning out the way that I planned.”
And then and there, Jesus took my hand and said, “Follow me.”
For the past year or so, I have been on a bizarre journey – one in which I have felt alternately fully alive and totally numb, inspired and despairing, buoyant and lead-like. I gave up my life of comfort and security, heading out into the unknown and keeping my eyes open for whatever I was supposed to see.
Most of the time, I have had no idea what I should be looking for.
Those closest to me have sometimes been confused. I have been confused.
Do not be fooled by my usually-sunny blog persona. I must tell you that I am currently walking through a hard, hard time. I would call it a “rough patch,” except for the fact that rough patches don’t include inconsolable sobbing and emotional paralysis. Rough patches do not include sitting at a green light, staring straight ahead, oblivious to the fact that I am blocking traffic. No, this is more than a rough patch. This is the desert, arid and lonely.
But I am beginning to suspect that this is not an accident. No. I believe that I have been led into this desert for a purpose. I have been progressively stripped of all of the things that I have looked to for meaning and comfort, and now it’s just me: poor and wretched, but somehow beloved. Can it be?
We live in a culture with a quick-fix mentality: when the going gets tough, shoot some tequila and buy a new pair of shoes. (Yahoo!) But maybe sometimes we’re just supposed to dwell in the desert – to engage the hard questions and to develop a thirst and to simply let it be.
I believe that I have not been abandoned in the desert. I believe, I believe, I believe. This is a season. And when it’s over, I will look back and see the fingerprints of God all over every part of the journey.
Therefore I am now going to allure her. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.