Saturday, September 21, 2013

Howling in the Wild

“Watch the ones whose only option left is to lean into the questions. The ones who are uninhibited by the unknown because they’ve jumped into that gaping hole and found themselves, by grace, unswallowable. Watch the ones who willingly stand with Feist and say, “I feel it all” even when it scares the shit out of them. It’s not brave to have answers.”
      — Mandy Steward, Spiritual Wanderings
I am tired.

I am tired.

I don't know what else to say, but -- I am so, so tired.

It's why I haven't been writing here.  I am so tired that the words I know I need to voice will not materialize on my lips, will not take shape in the soft and incubatory depths of my brain.

I am tired of fighting for joy, for hope.  I am tired of fighting to keep the faith that seems to be running out of my hands like water.  When will my faith fight for me?  When will I feel God do some of the heavy lifting with me?

Part of me trembles that I would write such a thing, share it for all to see and judge.  

But another part of me is tired of putting on a good face, of rattling off the right answers.  Because my right answers aren't helping much at the moment, and haven't for a long while.  I've been waiting, clasping these right answers close and hoping that they will somehow resuscitate my flagging spirit -- but they don't.  They haven't.  

Did I mention that I'm tired?

What it feels like is dying.  An invisible, daily, internal death.  I feel like my soul is dying.  Can a soul die before the body?  

And again, I tremble to write this, because I have so much to be grateful for.  Things that I am immensely, unspeakably grateful for.  And yet my soul feels like it continues to dwindle away.  

Much-loved ones in my life, they told me that they were sad that my husband did not share with them his spiritual flailings until after he'd already committed to atheism.  But I am trying to let them in on my own flailings, on my expiring soul, on how profoundly tired I am, and no one seems to hear me.  Perhaps they are unable to, or this is a burden that they cannot bear.  

But I feel alone.  I feel alone when I am vulnerable, when I share my questions, and the response is that I already know the truth, that I already know what I have to do or believe or [insert your own fix here] to get through this.  They don't hear that the doing or believing or knowing that I have done, that I am already doing, is killing me to do because how little it helps hurts.  

I hurt.  I hurt.  I hurt.  

This is my prayer to God.  The God that I feel nauseous when I try to read of in the Bible, the book that I used to see as a love story to a wandering people and now I can't help but see as an dysfunctional, abusive, look-what-you-made-Me-do "love" story.  I don't want to see these things.  I go to the Word looking for Love, and my chest tightens with panic when I find codependency instead.  I hope and hope that this is because the Bible is the perfect, whole, healthy God's story written down by imperfect, broken, and unhealthy men.  

But that doesn't make it any easier.

My chest is tight as I write this, too, and I wonder if I dare click "publish" when I've finished.  What will the cost of these words be, in my church, in my family, in my online community, in my self?  

But I've been realizing something that has brought me to my knees lately, something that necessitates the pouring out of these thoughts.  

And this is it -- I don't trust myself.  

Not even a little.

I don't trust my decisions, large or small.  I need exterior confirmation on every one.  I am terrified of picking "wrong" (even though if it was a friend who was sharing these fears, I would tell her that there often isn't really a "wrong" or a "right" in many of these choices, just "different").  I don't trust my intuition, my inner feelings, either.  And because I do not trust myself (my self), I don't know myself.

I don't know who I am.  

And then it hit me -- if I don't know who I am, how can I possibly know who God is?  The God who makes my sticky insides a home.  No, not just a home -- a temple.  A sacred space for Himself, for He and I, for all of us together.

I don't know if it's possible to know Him, to love or trust Him, when I have not taken the time to study and know and love His artistic creation -- me.

I am tired of sublimating myself in the name of religion or God, of others' expectations or comfort, of my own fear.  I'm tired of living as a quivering shell begging others to tell her how to fill up and come out whole.

I am tired.  I am tired of being afraid of what I think, of what I desire, of what brings me happiness.  I am tired of feeling so profoundly broken.  I am tired of the unspoken but clear messages from every corner that I am responsible for the salvation for both my husband and my child.  I am tired of giving the right answers when those answers cut into my heart like glass shards.  

I'm finished.  Finished hating my God-made self, tired of ducking my head and saying what I'm expected to say.

I'm trekking out into the wilds.  I am on a quest for a new way that will not keep on leading me back to brokenness and despair.  I hope I will find my God there in the wildlands, and the pieces of me that others convinced me to leave behind.  I pray He will surprise me with His grace and freedom, and maybe a bit of how He's also a She, of how He made woman in His image, too.

I'm tired, yes.  And I'm not giving up the fight yet.  But I need another way to battle for hope, because when I look down I realize that the sword I thought I'd been using for vanquishing has been cutting deep into my own flesh all these years instead.

I'm tired of having my own blood on my hands.  

If you want me, you'll find me in the wilds, howling grief and hope and freedom and healing.  And, if you're brave and hurting, too, I wouldn't mind some company there.  Just don't expect me to speak only in polite, right-answer whispers any longer.  


  1. yes. YES YESYES.

    holding your hand and howling in harmony.

  2. "But I need another way to battle for hope, because when I look down I realize that the sword I thought I'd been using for vanquishing has been cutting deep into my own flesh all these years instead."

    Yes to this, a million times. Oh, Beth, this is so beautiful. You are an AMAZING writer. I'm so sorry you're going through all this pain and hurt but I'm certain you will come out of it stronger! I'm howling with you too.

  3. Oh my gosh you are so brave, and I have been WAITING for you to make this move, and I am so proud of you (even as I keep floundering in my own truth-telling and questions). I love you.

  4. "And then it hit me -- if I don't know who I am, how can I possibly know who God is? The God who makes my sticky insides a home. No, not just a home -- a temple. A sacred space for Himself, for He and I, for all of us together." Ohmigosh...this. Beth, you hit something on the head here that I think I've been floundering around searching for myself. You are brave, dearheart, and I'm so proud of you! I love you, and I love the raw brave mess you are, because in that mess, there is a beauty that would be nothing with out that mess. if that makes sense. :-)

  5. Will the truth set is free? I don't know, but I'm dragging this hope as I wander into the darkness.......wade into the deep, murky abyss......I'll see you there.

  6. Into the wild it is. If you see me there, call out.

  7. It is scary to leave the world of pat answers and dive into the mess, the honest. But it feels so much more real! Love you.

  8. Oh Beth. I wish I could hug you in real life friend. I will sit with you and howl in the wild with you...

  9. Beth; I'm here. I am listening to your words. You are not alone. I love you. Hugs and blessings dear friend.

  10. Thinking of you daily...Elijah went to the wild, drank from a creek that dried up. Angel fed he moved to the mountain to finally her the whisper of God...may you hear that whisper and may it sound like love... I have been that tired, been to that wilderness, and today, this day it has been 13 years since he lifted me... a miracle, that humbles me even as I write...He won't give up on you, He/She?...won't... Dea

  11. Oh Beth, this speaks to my heart. Sometimes there's nothing left to do but head out into the wilderness to see what we will find. But it's terrifying to let go of the certainty I've had all my life. The main comfort for me is that I feel so much more real here... all I can think is that if God is here too, she must be so much more real than I ever could have imagined. That's my hope. I'm with you.

  12. oh love. i am breathless with you. thank you for your vulnerable brave. your wild is holy and beautiful. you are not alone. xo.

  13. I can relate to so much of what you have written. This is a weary road my friend and I wish I could have you lean on me until you feel stronger.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Sending you so much love. This life is hard, but we are so very loved. You are in my prayers.

  16. Oh my.... This is so where I am right now! I actually woke up grieving for myself this morning because of the realization that I don't know who I am either. I have lost myself before I even found myself. Thank you for voicing the words that I don't have the courage to say. So glad that Wild Rain had the link to your post today.

  17. i too am on this thrashing journey. i too feel nauseous when i think about reading the bible and talking about God with my kids. this journey is timely for me because i am a homeschooling mom and this year we are actually studying the bible. this has been very hard for me to do with my boys, but i've come to the realization that they must be able to forge their own path and i must stay open minded and supportive through it all. it may not be my path, but that's alright. i will thrash my way through this and hopefully find myself on the other side.

  18. Dear Beth, sounded like we all know what you are talking about. I, too, have been telling God I don't like living, I wish I could just go 'home'. I want to be where He is. He said to me He understands but I will not regret this journey I partake with Him on this earth and He is looking forward to seeing me home. Do you have Healing Room near your area? I help in one of their rooms in Sydney regularly. Great people there. Perhaps you can go and receive some prayers? They don't just pray, they really seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If God is not supernatural, He is not God. You may be amazed at what He show the helpers there when they pray for you. You will be amazing how real He is and how much He cares about you, not what you can do. The other day I was crying in the shower, and (sorry don't mean to sound creepy), I saw in a vision Jesus and His teary eyes. He said to me He also cries, in fact He cries a lot when He is interceding for us - in this present time. Will say a prayer for you tonight before I fall asleep.

  19. Beth, I am left breathless (as another commenter stated), every time I read this. And I've read it multiple times since you first posted.

    As always, thank you for your bravery, your honesty, and the awys in which you allow the raw and real to come through.

  20. I love this, Beth. I'm sorry I didn't see it sooner. You are a powerful voice, my friend. And your words need to be heard. I hope He is found where you are because that means I can find him there too. As always, thank you.

  21. Beth, hi. I read her at your blog but do not comment so often, not for any particular reason to not comment for I just haven't. I'd like to share with you from one deep, and dark restless soul to another that I can 'hear' you. You have nothing left within you. And, if you will not turn yourself away from the Lord, from the Savior Christ Jesus I promise, not because the Word says so, but from a personal testimony- for my testimony cannot be argued by you because it is mine, as perhaps you might argue the Words in scripture because they have yet to be your own truth. .....I promise you that should you not turn from a the confusion you read that God will honor that, for it is my testimony where I can say it is true. There'no other source other than the source by which you were created that can fix this. Think about that. You are not just a shattered piece, you are contrite -can a soul that is still living become more than contrite? This statement turned my life around "How can you be true to God if you can't even be true to yourself self?" God's not afraid of your word here, you've not become so contrite that it is too much for Him. My testimony springs from that very place. Who else can I turn to? Where else can I go? God is in the wilderness, if you must, you will find Him there too. Contrite leads to surrender, surrender leads to abandonment- one cannot abandon themself to death when they are still living. My testimony is that when I finally looked into my contrite soul I saw how lifeless I was, it scared me, so I cried out 3 words -Jesus help me. 5 years later here I am. I still saw that place again, why wasn't one time enough. Yet more times I am not there any more. The journey was so long, still going, but it took a while for me to believe Him when He He is with me until the very end of time. I know Jesus responds to big hurts, to tired soul... as well as to the small prayers that the broken have no strength for words, who have no life-ful words, but only the desperate, contrite, words that says I surrender "rescue me" and the soul that will believe a day is as a thousand years to my God, and a thousand years is as a day.


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King