I have strongly considered starting a 2017 recovery group! Yes, it was that difficult a year. In fact, it was the loneliest year of my life.
What began with a bright pursuit toward a calling and a passion took me down a pretty dark road of disappointment and discouragement. What I would learn was not easy, but it was important for the growth and the plans God has for my life.
Over the next couple posts, I want to share some thoughts and dicoveries I made in 2017 in hopes that it might encourage you when you hit the lonely places. These are the lessons I was taught through a dark and lonely year.
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16
If you know me, you know I am passionate about soul care and taking people into deeper places in their relationship with their Heavenly Father. At many levels, this has become the focus and primary passion of the past decade of my life.
About a year and half ago, I had the sense that I was being called to step out and pursue this passion through the work of Write One Line and so I made this transition in 2017. When I took this step, I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but what I didn’t know is how senseless it would seem to become.
Doors would open, then close…
Doors would open, then nothing…
Relationships would deeply struggle…
God would become silent and distant…
I was doing my best to act in obedience, pursue opportunity and put my faith and hope in the calling God placed on my life as much as I could grasp or understand it. I believed that my heart of obedience would pave the way for a thriving company and deeper impact in the lives of people. It actually led the way to thriving frustration and a deeper interior impact that would grow me in some really important ways.
As I reflect on the year I would say the culmination of the work God needed to do in me came on a contemplative pratice retreat I was leading in late October. I had gotten the attendees off to their time of silence and was immersing myself in my own silent practice with a Bible and journal laid out on the bed.
Around 10:30 I started to feel the ache in my lower back. Several years ago I injured it working out and over the years a little arthritis has set in that often brings quite a bit of pain.
I knew I was in for a long night if I didn’t take a little something to fight the pain, so I reached for an ibuprofen to help take the edge off. As I did, the Spirit said to me “You know, you do this a lot.”
There was nothing condemning or judgemental in the tone, just matter of fact.
“I do what?” I replied. “Get a painful backache? I know! Do you think you could help with that?!” To which the Spirit replied, “No, not the backache. You are often quick to desire a pill before you desire talking to me about it. This happens a lot.”
I set my pills down and began to listen. As we processed, my backache began to fade and what came into focus was a consistent pattern in my life: I am often quick to desire the pills of self-sufficient means, hard work and the help of other people long before I come to my Heavenly Father and His Spirit in places of dependence and relationship.
Desiring the pill of something to fix the problem…
Desiring the pill of someone to provide an opportunity…
Desiring the pill of exterior success and noteriety more than interior growth and anonymity…
What became clear in the hours to follow was that I was missing the primary desire to come to God first and let these other desires flow out of my relationship and intimacy with Him. What I was seeking in the success of business and busyness, could only be found in the success of our relationship and my trustful obedience. This was a huge aha for me!
Did I enjoy the journey it took to come to this deeper understanding? NO. Do I appreciate the journey that brought me closer to the Father? YES. I can honestly say I don’t have any regrets about the journey. I have truly done my best to listen, learn and follow. Would I want to go through last year again? NO. Did I need to go through it? YES.
At the end of the day, we can only do our best to listen, learn and follow. At times, God leads us into a dark place and the humility and commitment it takes to listen, learn and follow is what He will use to teach us, grow us and lead us back into the light again.
There’s more I will share to this story in the days ahead , but that’s enough for today. Thanks for caring and feel free to reach out to me if I can be of help, or share this with others if you think it could be of help to them!