Thursday, October 8, 2015

Courage - fear that has said its prayers

In The Fellowship of the Ring, one of my late husband’s and my favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien writes, “not all who wander are lost.”  Even though I felt lost when Michael died, my time alone with God made me realize I was not lost but was on a solitary mission to rediscover life, regain strength, and clarify my purpose.  I found myself on a dark and winding course but I knew my purpose could only come from being near to God by following close behind him, and so I wandered with intention.

Courage – fear that has said its prayers.

After much soul searching and prayer I decided to move to New York State—from the Deep South of Jackson, Mississippi to the heart of the northeast in the Hudson River Valley.  From southern accents, family, neighbors, lifetime friends, sweet tea and grits, and a familiar culture to rural countryside, no connections, no family, no friends, and no sweet tea in restaurants. I could not even find black-eyed peas or grits in the grocery store at first. The change was difficult but necessary.

Courage – fear that has said its prayers.

My actions may have looked aimless, but I knew I was wandering with God and with intention. When people asked Why move? Why New York? I was not able to give a firm answer. Most of the time I simply said, “I don’t know yet but I know I am going to find out.” And every day I learned a little more about why God had took us there. Every time I looked out the floor to ceiling windows, I felt the weight of grief lift a little bit more as I breathed in nothing but nature—the trees, the mountains, the sunrises, the sunsets, the wild turkey, the deer, the change of seasons in the woods, the hush after a heavy snow. Each time I took in the beauty, I felt as if God was saying, “This is why I brought you here.” It reminded me of Rivendell in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, a beautiful, protected, hidden refuge in the misty mountains where Frodo Baggins and his band of companions pull away to rest, gain counsel, build strength, courage, and plan for the future.  The beauty of God’s creation and the peaceful calm that surrounded us while hidden in the countryside of the Hudson Valley was a healing balm to every ounce of my being and a constant reminder that He was with us. We had room for new emotions to emerge, we could recognize and deal with our pains head on, and His voice was easier to discern – all because He had pulled us back and placed us somewhere that forced the children and me to lean completely on Him and one another, without the distractions that came from all the familiar things back in Mississippi.

It was a refreshing change.  Refreshing to have a clean start, to be in an entirely new and different place and not have dark clouds hanging over us everywhere we went.  Refreshing that absolutely no one knew our story.  It was the bravest thing I had ever done and the hardest thing for others to understand.

My wandering served a purpose.  It helped me find a way to move forward without feeling guilty; guilty because as I moved on I was also leaving my grief behind.  I had to give myself permission to wander with God as my lead.  I trusted God to lead me through the wilderness and toward the plans He had for my life that lay ahead of me.

Courage – fear that has said its prayers.

Jesus wandered in the desert before launching ahead into his life’s purpose but his wandering was far from aimless. As the Holy Spirit led him, I hoped He could also lead me during my time of wandering.   It was through the wandering that I found my truest path and became wiser, I hope, for the wandering.  My wandering became a time of intense guidance from God.  It drew me even closer to Him and gave me strength, confidence, and a renewed purpose. It gave me courage.  At times this strength felt supernatural. It was as if God had placed blinders on me to help me plow straight ahead without slowing down to look to my side or to turn back.
This time of wandering added a new dimension to the grief process.  I was still experiencing the waves of grief that often swept over me, I was still walking through the darkness of what I refer to as the Midnight Hour, I was still making sense of my life as a single parent and discovering who Jene’ Barranco was without Michael Barranco. But now, I was also intimately in touch with God. I followed Him as closely as possible. The closer I walked to Him, the greater the courage. I had the strength to wander with Him towards our future and our complete healing, wherever it took us.  I chose to pull away from the noise and go against the mainstream to wander with God on this road to heal our wounded hearts and restore of our lives. We had to wander alone for a season, away from the familiar, in order to gain deep, pure strength. I trusted God that he would hold my hand—the hands of my children—and reveal to us the next phase and purpose for our lives.

God took the fear of the unknown during our wandering and molded it into the courage we needed to propel forward into the darkness, towards His plans for us - that lay on the other side of the darkness.

Eyes Straight Ahead….

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