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I SURVIVED THE WILDERNESS

A dear friend emailed me about 8 weeks ago and invited me to take an online class with her. When it comes to spiritual growth, learning more about the character of God and doing as the Spirit calls us to, I trust her. And though the class has a Holy Yoga component to it (not for me), it also had a journal component (right up my alley). I jumped at the invitation to walk this path – I said yes!

Only after we’d completed the course did I laugh at myself for accepting this invitation. Here’s why:

  • Nature is not my most comfortable habitat. Okay, it’s not even a habitat that makes sense to me, especially at night. (I watch Criminal Minds, just sayin’…) I could write a class on how to avoid the wilderness, the outdoors.
  • “Wilderness” sounds like those survival shows where people end up losing a ton of weight and eating rats. Thirsty, hangry, losing one’s mind. Not appealing.
  • When the end result (how I will come out on the other side) is not clear, my little ‘need to be in control’ voice gets quite sassy with me. She will not shut it. She instantly tries to keep me comfortable and appearing as if I’m in control. She’s crafty that one.
  • Whenever I’ve attempted to do holy yoga, I spend most of my time giggling at how inflexible my body is or simply laying on my mat weeping at the revelation and love God pours over me.

But, I did it. And I’m certain I finished because we did it together.

Dear friend would watch it on her own time and schedule and do the holy yoga exercises (because she’s beautiful like that) and we would set aside about an hour or so each week to discuss what the classes and lessons taught us. Sometimes we would pray, sometimes we would listen, sometimes we would challenge/question the other. While the class does not require you journey together with anyone into your wilderness, it was certainly helpful for me to have the accountability of a friend who wouldn’t be fearful of hearing what was in my heart and responding to it.

THE ONLINE COURSE.

Created & led by Stephanie Moors.

Includes:

  • 6 Bible Study Videos
  • 6 Yoga Practice Videos
  • Journal Download
  • Private Community Forum

Cost: $60 for the entire package. There is an option to purchase the classes individually for $15 (this was the option I chose for scheduling & planning purposes – I would recommend saving the $30 and purchasing the entire package at once).

MY TAKEAWAYS.

Week One:

I identified the awareness of behaviors and tendencies/patterns I am not proud of. Things I do to avoid willingly following God into the wilderness, broken and open, ready to bend to His will & His love.

Isaiah 35:8-10

The biggest things for me were escaping into TV (binge watching Netfix in particular) and the obsession with time on social media and being “in my phone”.

Week Two:

This week was about getting reverent, quiet and still. Creating a ritual that would help me embrace the spiritual wilderness I’d been called into. To really embrace what was happening in this process. The call was to practice genuine solitude. To look for God in the wilderness. To expect Him to be there.

Genesis 28:16-22

This was clear to me on the job front. I was so caught up in all of the work, experience and training that I had, that I just expected that I should return to education though my heart truly was not in it. For so many reasons, I knew that I needed to end my traditional education career (of working in schools) and look for something different. Besides, NO ONE was hiring me.

Week Three:

Here I was challenged to look at the multiple seasons in my life, the wilderness (where there has been betrayal and heartbreak) and ask myself if I had really left it all behind. I was invited to embrace the threshold of this wilderness season. To recognize that the length of my stay would be extended if I kept holding on to the past. To view this spiritual wilderness differently.

Exodus 14:14

As a result of the wounds I’ve suffered, I’ve gained wisdom about God and His love for me. One of the realizations I had to be honest about is that “I can tend to settle for what I can see and do not hope or dream for bigger things.”  Past happenings have deeply affected my ability to receive the good things God promises to those who love Him.

Week Four:

Plain & simple: God is not mad at me. He is not calling me into this (or any other) season of wilderness to hurt me, but to heal me. To clean me out.

Hosea 1

This was likely the toughest teaching of the course for me. I had to admit that I didn’t believe that I deserved to be healed. That the power of Jesus’ death & resurrection could not fix all of the mistakes and pain and hurt that I had caused others. That the hurt and the unanswered whys were supposed to be carried from day to day so I would remember. So I would do better. It was so much about me realizing that even though I did and will continue to make less than righteous choices in the life that God gives me, that it is the perfect love of God that saves. That heals. That gives life. That in my grief, then hope, then desolation, then promise, God is loving me. I don’t have to stay consumed by the pain of the grief. I can move on. Forward. Full. Free.

Week Five:

During this class, we were asked to consider what God might be beginning to build for us. To see the blessings in the wilderness. So very eye opening…

Exodus 15:22-27

Encouraged to remember that the wilderness is sweet (I know, right?!? – say what?!?) and that God would not lead me out here to die. That He is cleansing, healing and strengthening me. I cried, because it was so true of our lives. We left a huge, largely supportive community in Wisconsin when we moved to Texas. And I had my doubts about whether I was running away or toward something of value. Though we miss a lot of our people, it is the latter y’all…for real.

Week Six:

This short class was a perfect ending to the course! I was uplifted and inspired and knew the action I was being called to.

Isaiah 52:11-12

In this class, I began to grow in the belief that my discomfort and mess, that all of my yuck, could be of service to others. That I could offer comfort and compassion having done this good work of releasing the shame that drove me out into the wilderness in the first place. I was lighter and ready to leave the wilderness cleansed because of all the things I identified needed to be relinquished and left behind.

This was the class that confirmed my steps toward blogging here in this space. To be brave in sharing our story off of the pages of my journal; making His hand in the happenings of our lives public.

There was so much more. More teaching, more scriptures, more encouragement. Taking this course was such a valuable use of my time.

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Here is an idea of what it’s been like since coming out of the wilderness. This is what was on the other side all along. Sure, there will likely be other times in the wilderness. After taking in this class, I will be more quick to enter in, meet God there and embrace the healing that will come.

You may be in the wilderness and not know it. You may be being called, summoned, invited. My encouragement to you is to step into it. You will not regret the refreshing on the other side.

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I did not receive any compensation for writing about my participation in this course.

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