Last February my sweet friend and triplet, Jenny, gifted me with the book Wilderness Skills for Women: How to Survive Heartbreak and Other Full-Blown Meltdowns, by Marian Jordan. She knows me too well and knew that I had been struggling since I moved home and that I was in a weird transition place in my life. I devoured that book and have since read it again. Marian shares her own story and speaks of the wildernesses we, as women, face and then gives four survival skills to live by. I think I about bent every page over to make note of for later. It was jam-packed with amazing nuggets of wisdom. I wish I could share all three pages of single spaced notes I took about it. I guess I could but that might drive you crazy. Instead I will share a few things I learned and some quotes; then I will highly recommend you pick up a copy. (Amazon has new and used copies for $4.90!)
The fact is that EVERYONE will face a wilderness season; maybe you are in one now. I feel like I’ve been in the wilderness for the past year and a half. After my schooling and internship I’ve been completely lost; nothing about my future is clear. I have no job, no car, no boyfriend/spouse, and I am back at home living with my parents. This isn’t exactly how I thought my life would go or where I thought I would be at 25, but as I read this book I realized that is okay. So here are three lessons that I have learned through this book.
Lesson One: Stop comparing. You are not alone.
I often find myself looking at someone else’s life and thinking they have it “perfect” or “easy.” Chances are they are in the midst of their own struggles and by comparing we often find ourselves having a little pity party. And I can throw a killer pity party, complete with sobbing and Kleenex.
As Marian said, “We are not alone. The question is not if we are waiting but how we are waiting. Most people have unmet desires.” What are your unmet desires? School? A career? A spouse? A baby? Healing from sickness? Freedom from debt?
Lesson Two: God knows best.
Sometimes this is hard for me to remember. I often think that if only God would allow things to happen how I think they should happen then my life would be PERFECT. God must be laughing at me right now. One of my all time favorite quotes from the book is, “What seems like rejection truly is God’s protection.” God’s plan for my life is PERFECT and I know my life will be better than I could ever imagine for myself. The place where you are right now, God has circled on a map for you. “God is good, and He can and will meet the desires of my heart in His timing…not mine. My only responsibility is to let God be God.”
Lesson Three: Place your hope in the Lord.
I’m just going to use a giant quote for this because I cannot say it any better.
“We must be extremely careful of what expectations we build in our minds and, ultimately, of where we are placing our hope. If I’ve learned one thing from this whole ordeal, it is this (and girls, this one is for free): unmet expectations that cause bitterness are often the result of a misplaced hope. The Lord is teaching me to be extremely careful where I place my hope. Most of us are unaware of how often we place our hope in what we expect to happen or how often we place our hope in what we expect to happen or how we expect someone to respond or act. Doing so always leads to disappointment. And disappointment can lead to anger, resentment, and, you guessed it, bitterness. The biggest unmet expectation is when we place the burden of our happiness or completion upon someone or something other than God…God knew if my hope was in anything other than Him, then I would ultimately be disappointed.”
This is probably one of my biggest struggles, but as I’ve learned from personal experience, placing your hope in anything or anyone other than God is a recipe for heartache.
I guess the bottom line is that my life may not be exactly what I think is should be, but I don’t need to worry about it because my life is in God’s hands and He has it figured out. After all, not all who wander are lost.
I could add so much more, but I will allow you the pleasure of reading the book for yourself. Before I end this I will share two more quotes and some Scripture with you that have stuck with me.
“In facing rejection…a girl needs perspective.
If in despair…a girl needs hope.
If living with unmet desires…a girl needs to rest.
If in the wilderness of temptation…a girl must choose to worship.”
“Am I bitter? No, I’m better. I’m a better person because of the experience, for…
through the pain I learned compassion,
through the doubts I learned to trust,
through the fear I learned faith,
through the rejection I saw God’s amazing hand of protection,
and through the darkness, I saw the Light.”
I wait for the Lord; I wait,
and put my hope in His word.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning-
more than watchmen for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord.
For there is faithful love with the Lord,
And with Him is redemption in abundance.