Friday, October 8, 2010

Weary of Wandering

Is it possible to feel homesick in your very own living room?
Lately it's been that way for me.
I've been doing my own wandering through the desert, looking for life-work that feels like home to me. Listening for God's voice to guide me.

I've been writing full time for several years now, and I want to write forever. I want to write about encountering God through the poor and through children, through the hungry and the forgotten, through the least of these. I want to write about motherhood and the poisonous way we compare ourselves to each other, the way we measure ourselves by an American culture bent on busyness and gathering stuff.
Writing makes me happy. It brings me to God's side.

But in the last few months, my heart has nudged me to search for more. To look beyond my computer screen, to the opportunity outside my window.
Even as I write, I need face to face work, something that will energize my soul and be yeast to my heart. I need to find that place my hero Frederick Buechner describes, "where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet."
I've put feelers out. I've told people I'm looking. I've wandered and searched. Where is God's answer?

In my fourth grade Sunday class at church, we've been telling the Old Testament stories.
We talk about Moses and his people wandering through the desert, listening for God to lead them to a home they've never known, a place God meant for them.

To tell you the truth, as I sit in our story circle and move the wooden figures through our sandbox desert, the people seem pretty whiney to me. Why did they moan and groan so much? Couldn't they remember that God took them out of slavery? Couldn't they keep their eyes on the future, on God's great promise to them?
But now I see me amongst the haggard group. I'd be the one complaining about my sore feet. Just a few months in, I'd be pointing to the villages on the horizon, saying "Look at them. They've got a home. What about us?"

I'm not a good wanderer. It's only been a few months, and I already get jealous of others. At times I feel invisible, ignored, left out. Sometimes the homesickness leaks out in tears. What have you got for me, God?
Sometimes I think I should just hang it up. Go back to the way things were long ago, when I thought more about finding something to use my degrees, rather than finding The Thing. I had a paycheck then. A job I could talk about.

But then I think of God's people, who did find home in the end.
I hang onto the liturgy of my life, the rituals that keep me going and feed me.
I write about God's presence. I take care of my family. I teach my Sunday school class and do my volunteering. I talk with my friends. I walk. I go to church and I search and I wait.

And I reread the passages of the wandering. God was with them, even as they wandered and fussed. He camped out beside them, and as they moved, He led the way.
I know God is with me too. I just hope it won't take forty years!

Have you ever wandered through your own desert, looking for home?
I'd love to hear about it.

Have a great weekend, y'all!
Love, Becky

Photo by iko, creative commons
PS. If you're wandering too, here's a psalm that helps me.
I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.

Blessed are you who give yourselves over to
God, turn your backs on the world's "sure thing," ignore what the world worships; The world's a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you.

Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
that's not what you're after. Being religious, acting pious— that's not what you're asking for. You've opened my ears so I can listen.

So I answered, "I'm coming.
I read in your letter what you wrote about me, And I'm coming to the party you're throwing for me." That's when God's Word entered my life, became part of my very being.

I've preached you to the whole congregation,
I've kept back nothing, God—you know that. I didn't keep the news of your ways a secret, didn't keep it to myself. I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough. I didn't hold back pieces of love and truth For myself alone. I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story.

God, don't hold out on me, don't hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn't see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.

... But all who are hunting for you— oh, let them sing and be happy. Let those who know what you're all about tell the world you're great and not quitting. And me? I'm a mess. I'm nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you've got what it takes— but God, don't put it off.
Psalm 40: 1-12, 16-17, The Message


steve said...

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Hey brother, love that & love you. In fact, I was singing the song last night when I was thinking about writing this post. The chorus kept coming into my head. When we were in France, Sarah's choral group sang it. Awesome song and very appropriate!

Alex Marestaing said...

I hear you, writing is such a solitary endeavor sometimes, but so many great thoughts come from that time alone. By the way, I don't think any of us wander very well :)

Sharon said...

Becky, I can see how you might like to have a venue for engagement in the midst of the solitude of writing.

I like to wander, until it starts to feel like I'm lost or have been set adrift. I have been blessed by some interesting, even miraculous, discoveries in the deserts I've dared wander around in if I can just keep from panicking and screaming out, "Who's in charge here, anyway, and why in the world is this taking forever?!" And that's where I find myself right now, so thanks very much for this post.

[Verification word is "derow" which I take to mean to put down the oars for a second and let it flow!]

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I like to wander, but there's much to be said for being home. And I've also read the Exodus and thought how whiney they sounded. But then I tried to imagine it--just moving, moving, moving all the time. No sense of control, destination, power. That gives me a little bit of empathy.

Sockrma18 said...

Oh, boy, have I wandered. Too long of a story for here but God more than came through and revealed to me many things....among them my heart defects, my selfishness and my sin. He also revealed to me how much He loves me, cares for me and has it all worked out. Patience is the key. I know for me, at the time I felt crazed, alone, desperate and scared. Looking back, I see God in every single thing. Today, I am reaping what I sowed (at the time mubling under my breath about how it was "all a bunch of crap. God surely doesn't know what HE'S doing!") during that hard season. Boy, was I wrong. HE KNEW.

HE IS GOOD and HE IS HERE. Keep heading towards the prize...whatever it may be.


Kat said...

I think we are always wandering. We are always searching for something else or something more. It is a lifelong journey. Maybe that is why we get so tired.

Susan said...

Also we have to remember that Moses suffered because he listened to the whining of the people instead of God's instruction and wasn't allowed to enter the Promised Land. We're in good company, even Moses couldn't get it right. Hang in there and try to embrace the silence that working by yourself can bring.

lotusgirl said...

I often search my heart for the best way to do what I can for this beautiful world we live in and the people who share it with me. I don't always succeed in finding the right thing or doing it right when I find it, but I'm still striving.

Graceful said...

Just finished a book called "One in a Million" by Priscilla Shirer (that might not be her last name!) -- it was about the wilderness journey...and it was excellent. Deidra wrote about it on Jumping Tandem -- here is the link:

Amy Sullivan said...

As a girl who has offically made it three years at a job (shocking! usually, I tire after two). Yes, I understand wandering. I understand the need for answers...I'm trying not to be demanding, but answers God, please, and make it snappy.

At times, all my wandering seems a waste of time when I could just being doing whatever it is I'm truly "called to do". But it is through that wandering, that I have discovered more about me and Him.

Just said a prayer for you...

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

Yes, yes, ... it *is* possible to feel homesick in our very own living rooms.

And yes, this God -- El Roi -- SEES you. You are not invisible to God. And you are not invisible to those of us who stop by to hear your beautiful and unique voice. I hope that whatever is "outside your window" includes writing. God has gifted you!

Mompriest said...

I am soooo waiting. and waiting. and waiting.....and....

Jean Wise said...

Oh Becky, this post struck my heart. Waiting is so difficult but your words also drew me to reflect on wandering.

Wandering is to be without boundaries; and may NOT be lost at all. I think as full time writers the boundaries of our work are invisible - we work alone, often rejected and writing can consume our morning, noon and night.

I too have prayed and felt the urge for a part time 'regular' job and realized I envied and even missed that structure. I know I can create that myself as a writer but somehow clocking in someplace on a regular schedule provides a degree of comfort. Let's both continue to ponder our wanderings and what God is teaching us at this moment.

Laura said...

The liturgy of life is where it really happens, Becky -- I too often forget that.

I'm wandering a bit, despite so much joy this year. Sensing change in the air, perhaps even thirsting for it. In one breath I long for it, in another I ask for patience and joy for the time in the desert.

Praying the same for you, my friend.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Thanks, friends, for sharing your own wandering with me. I really appreciate your encouragement and your own stories of wandering times. Love you!

Faith Hope Cherrytea ~ said...

henri nouwen has good things to learn about this time in 'reaching out'.
i'm also hearing matt 11.28 'come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]'
and further to that i would love to print out heb 4 for you :) but if you don't have an amplified translation, head over to when you have enough time and read it there just by entering the chapter and amp version :)
then be totally blessed in the very Truth that is the Living Word to us each day !
Much Love !

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Henri Nouwen always refreshes me. I will read that scripture from Hebrews too. I just checked out the commentary on Hebrews from my church library. Perfect timing! Thank you!

sleepinl8 said...

I have wandered great distances over the past year and a half. I am sad to say that the majority of my trek was into the heart of Death Valley, but I put the car in reverse just in time. I'm still making my way out of Death Valley, and I would like to say I'm halfway there. But, really, with my situation, there is no measuring.