thank you for the wilderness

thank you for the wilderness
where I learnt to thirst for your presence
if I’d never known that place
how could I have known you better

thank you for the lonely times
when I learned to live in the silence
as the other voices fade
I can hear you calling me Jesus

I’m an extravert.  I’ve always known it – I love people.  I am a talker.  I excel in places that are bustling.  It’s partially why I get more work done in coffee shops than alone in my apartment.
But I’m also shy.  If you’re reading this and you’ve spent time with me in person you are probably surprised by that statement.  But I am. I haven’t always been shy.  I used to be very outgoing.  But somewhere along the way I lost that trait.  I’m sure it had something to do with fitting it.  I realized somewhere around middle school that I was not like everyone else at school.  I didn’t exactly fit in.  So when I am placed into a situation where I am surrounded by peers, I shrink into myself.  I default to the people around me that have bigger personalities.
Again – if you’re reading this and you really know me, you’re surprised.  I have a larger than life personality when I’m comfortable.  When I feel loved and valued, I am a little over the top.  I’m a little much – and it’s great.
But the problem is, I’ve been told that I’m a little much – and that’s a bad thing.  I’ve been told I’m intimidating.  I’ve been told that my confidence is off putting.  I’ve been told that I feel like I’m entitled to something.  These critiques of my personality have created a negative thought pattern in head.  When I feel resistance, I tell myself these lies – over and over again.
In my last post I wrote about finding a way to claim the freedom that was freely given to me.  I realized after I wrote it how much of my life has been spent being less free than I could have been.  Because I’ve bought into these lies.  I’ve given into my life circumstances rather than giving into the one who created me.
As Lent was starting, I put myself into the wilderness.  I followed Jesus’s example and purposely turned down the volume on some voices and turned up the volume on God’s voice.  I purposely placed myself into situations that were lonely in order to find fulfillment in Jesus.
In doing this I realized something about myself.  I’ve learned to drown out the lonely with people, tv, music and other things.  I’ve learned to numb the pain of feeling alone through these other things.  When those negative thought patterns arise, I don’t fight them with the truth, I simply drown them out with other things.
But doing that doesn’t make them go away.  It simply quiets them for now.  But they will always come back.
But they don’t have to rule my life.  They don’t have to be the loudest voice because the Truth is – I’ve been healed by the Healer, made new by the Creator, stronger because of the places where I was weak and needed him.
God gave his Son so that I could be free.  Jesus sacrificed his life for my freedom.  And as I’ve been in the wilderness this Lenten season – as I’ve leaned into the truth and given control back to God, I am thankful.
Thankful for the loneliness because it shows me I’m created for community.
Thankful for my Too Much-ness because is shows me I’m alive and unique.
Thankful for my messy story because it gave me the moxie I need to live this crazy life.

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