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Finding Our Way Through the WILDERNESS

This article was featured in issue No. 5 of Tapestry Magazine entitled, Wilderness. I highly recommend you subscribe to this beautiful and spirit-filled print and online magazine.


For many years I woke up every single morning to begrudgingly face the same, exhausting question:

“Who do you want to be today, kid?”

The truth is, most days I’d drag myself out of bed in a fog of indecisiveness, barely making it a single step outside my door before the world began screaming at me that I wasn’t the right kind of anything.

I was never…

the right kind of friend.

the right kind of teacher.

the right kind of boyfriend.

the right kind of Christian.

I didn’t have…

the right hair.

the right threads.

the right bicep circumference.

I certainly wasn’t…

the right kind of millennial.

the right kind of sinner.

the right kind of truth-seeker.

the right kind of suicide survivor.

These messages were further propelled by years of trying to mold myself into the perfect, picture-framed Christian.

I projected the J-O-Y of C-H-R-I-S-T on my face like an over-caffeinated retail store greeter while one layer deep, I felt lost and alone.

I enthusiastically joined small groups only to discover I was too spiritual or not spiritual enough.

I made Christian friends and ran for the hills when they gossiped about gays and women and sinners.

I watched church staff members exclaim the power of God in a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art auditorium with little movement towards the least of these just outside our door.

And so the cycle continued: endlessly searching for my place and finding instead a world intent to exile me. After years of this cycle, the demons of depression and suicidal thoughts I had once conquered came back stronger than ever—the enemy whispering into the darkest parts of my soul.

I tossed at night wondering if my story would always feel like a life-sentence in the WILDERNESS with little hope of ever finding a home.

I wondered if there really was a God at all, for who would create someone so seemingly displaced and disposable as me?

This season of doubt and fatigue continued a downward, isolating spiral until one night—at my breaking point—I sat crouched on my faded bedroom carpet sobbing and crying out to God deep into the early hours of the morning.

I couldn’t bear another day living in the tension between the man the world wanted me to be and the man I knew God was calling me to become.

A few hours later I opened my eyes, tears dried and emotional stability restored.

I sat up and decided enough was enough—it was time to make the choice once and for all to stop looking to this world for my identity and finally look up to the one who created me.

I made the terrifying decision to go back to the help I desperately needed.

I chose to use the voice God had given me and to stop burying all the questions I’d been taught never to ask.

I chose to finally chase a life that was fully and recklessly alive.

Before long, I sprung out of bed with a new beat in my heart—a confident cadence that didn’t give a flying Kardashian what anyone else—besides God—thought of who I was, where I’d been, or where I was going. This new way of existence brought emotions I’d never fully digested—feelings akin to courage and happiness.

I barely recognized the tall, optimistic stranger staring back in the mirror. I arose thankful to be alive, eager to breathe in all the love and healing I was created to inhale.

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I am certainly not an expert on living, but I do know this: life is waiting for you to make a choice.

Life is waiting for you to accept once and for all that you were made on purpose, for a purpose, and nothing but your own self-destructive tendencies can slow down your God-given destiny.

You see my friend, it’s only when you confidently present your authentic self to the world that others will stop thinking they can endlessly change your identity. Only when you present the real you, the you God created you to be, will your relationships be rooted in the raw connection your soul most deeply desires.

When you wake up knowing who you are and whose you are, those truths change everything.

When you fully accept that God looks at mountains that touch the sky and waterfalls wider than the horizon, then turns to you and says, “You are the most beautiful thing I ever created,” that you will finally see yourself through the eyes of the one who created you.

And when you understand all of that, the WILDERNESS doesn’t feel like banishment, but rather an adventure, like an opportunity to finally find the people God meant for you to journey alongside. To see that the wanderlust of this dangerous unknown is actually what you were created for. In fact, it’s where you’ve always belonged.

It’s only out here the critical voices fall silent beneath the call of the coyotes.

It’s only out here the warm summer rain washes away the blame and the guilt.

It’s only out here you’ll ever fully understand that the years you felt lost and alone actually taught you to be the uninhibited, compassionate, fiercely loving dreamer that God needs out in the open.

This is where outsiders can wander and wrestle with the Truth for themselves without condemnation.

So, today, if you too feel like the wrong kind of everything, maybe it’s time you finally make your choice. Decide exactly who you want to be and never look back. Maybe it’s time you join the rest of us castaways out here and smile in the sunshine; be the incredible person you were meant to be.

Nobody is drawn to postage-stamp, wanna-be, shape-shifters who mold to the world around them. People are drawn to those brave enough to stand in the hurricane of this world’s chaos and whisper contently, “Here I am, this is me, and I’m a bad ass child of God.”

Maybe you were created for the WILDERNESS.

Maybe this is where you truly belong.

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