Unstuck, or Walking Through the Desert

We’re reading Unstuck: Your Life. God’s Design. Real Change. by Arnie Cole and Michael Ross in Sunday School and I decided it might be nice to discuss it here. It is absolutely not necessary to read the book to participate in these discussions. Besides, I’m pretty sure I can summarize the whole book in three words: Read your Bible.

Not that there isn’t a point to reading the rest. I’m enjoying it enough to want to discuss it here, after all. So if you are looking for extra encouragement to read your Bible more, the link above takes you to Amazon where it is only $6.

As I read this first chapter, I kept asking myself, “Am I stuck?” Is that really what my issue is? I feel drained. Exhausted. Like when you’ve cried all the tears you have to cry and still there’s still no relief.

That’s mostly because we’re coming up on my little Tiggy’s fourth birthday and it will be the third one we’ve celebrated since he went to heaven.

I feel like I am walking through a spiritual desert, but I’m not sure that is the same as being stuck. I am not apathetic. I am not standing still. It isn’t like those times when you feel like your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and you aren’t sure whether God is really there or whether he really cares.

I’m walking forward, it’s just that it is such a hard journey. I know God is there because he has carried me every step of the way. For I worship a Lord who wept at Lazarus’ funeral though he knew the miracle He was about to perform.

The images of that night are burned into my mind. I still see him lying there on the floor. I still see the blood. I still hear the labored breathing. I still feel the fear of touching him lest I hurt him more. And sometimes I wish I had known that it didn’t matter so that I could have held him in my arms one last time while he still held the breath of life within him. But as I cry at the foot of his grave, I also know this isn’t the end.

I just don’t always know where to go from here.

After some time of reading the same passages of Scripture over and over, I thought perhaps it was time to move beyond that. I wasn’t up for any 90 day challenges, but decided to read along with the reading plan I gave my daughter.

So I found myself listlessly reading through the great stories of the Bible the same way I used to get though assigned books for school. Where you can read every single word and not remember a single one.

Scripture is supposed to feel alive and meaningful and relevant. But somehow every passage felt as dry as Chronicles (which is where I stumble in every challenge).

So I wonder. Am I stuck?

On page 26, Arnie Cole writes,

“Jesus forgets our yesterdays and reminds us not to worry about our tomorrows. Yesterday is there to be learned from, not stuck in. And the worries of tomorrow must be released to God. We can’t tightly clutch tomorrow no matter how hard we try to grasp it –God owns tomorrow.”

Living in the present has become somewhat of a survival strategy for me. Thinking about the past brings me to that night. Thinking about the future shows me all the days ahead of me without him. If I focus on right now, I don’t get overwhelmed.

That is easing to some degree. For the first time, I am looking forward to our plans for spring: training my new puppy, starting my herb garden, adding onto our orchard, starting our aquaponics system. But I also want to be careful not to seek to fill the dryness of this journey with the “water” of busyness.

At the end of each section is some research notes, encouragement and three days of scripture readings with questions to consider. The very first one is Revelation 21:4.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

A passage I have read over and over these past two years, because these words are water to parched earth. Living water from a spring that never runs dry.

What challenges do you face in your faith? Where do you find encouragement?

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Michelle
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Hi Dana, I started following your postings about homeschooling and gardening, and I believe it was a little while after you lost Tiggy. I had been dealing with grief and trauma in my own life, and found your blog inspiring and comforting in a way…knowing that we are often not walking alone. As I read your post today, and have read it in the past, I have wanted to share with you about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (I hate the word Disorder because the leading researchers know that it almost always results from an injury/accident/something painful or scary that has… Read more »
Dana
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I have read a bit about that. Not sure if any of it is from him.

I don’t like the term disorder, either. Because I think it is pretty normal to struggle after dealing with traumatic events. And for longer than the month that most people allow others to grieve before expecting them to start “getting over it.”

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[…] by Dana Posted on February 24, 2013 Lat week, we started discussing Unstuck and I shared some of my faith struggles. In a way, chapter two is a second introduction as we meet the second author and how he got stuck […]

Troy WeebleDad Eckhardt
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Troy WeebleDad Eckhardt

I think Jennifer and I are stuck. Tomorrow is the second anniversary of “the day,” and in many ways I feel like I’m never going to get back up to full steam.

Laraba
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Thank you for your raw honesty. I pray God will be there in your grief. I don’t think there is any way around what you are experiencing. To lose a little one that way is intensely traumatic and sad and you’ll never entirely get “over it” nor would you wish to. The lady who cleans my teeth at the dentist lost her 7 year old daughter when the girl was hit by a car. That was more than 20 years ago and she says the pain does ease over time. I hope and pray it eases for you all but… Read more »