GPS, Vehicle Navigation systems, and Google Maps. Ahhh the luxuries of the technological age.
I remember many nights spent printing out directions on MapQuest before leaving for a trip. Even more “ancient” than that….a few vacations involved pulling out an atlas and figuring out a new route.
A few short years ago printed directions and paper maps were our only ways of navigating the roads. Boy am I thankful that’s not how it is anymore.
I don’t “do” lost. Sure, I’ve been lost trying to find somewhere plenty of times. Toria and I have made more than our fair share of U-turns attempting to find our way around on spring break.
But we were never truly lost.
We weren’t where we were suppose to be. We couldn’t find where we were suppose to be. But we knew our navigation and our phones both knew where we were. We could type in somewhere to go, and it would take us there. It might not be exactly where we wanted to go, but we knew we could get somewhere.
And we could always get back home.
There’s comfort in that. In knowing that you can always get back home. Because, to me, you’re never truly lost if you can find your way back home.
But what happens when you can’t find home anymore?
Recently, I’ve been reading a book by Jenny Simmons called “The Road to Becoming: Rediscovering your life in the not-how-I-planned-it moments”.
As I’ve said before, I am a “make a plan, have a plan, stick to the plan” kind of girl. I need all of the help I can get when it comes to letting go of those plans and trusting Him in times when things don’t go according to plan.
In the section of chapters I’ve read most recently, they are focused on being lost and what that truly looks like.
Jenny begins the section by talking about how her military dad explained to her and her sister the procedure they should follow if they ever found themselves lost in the woods by her house.
“If you get lost, the best thing you can do is to stay where you are and let someone come find you. Don’t keep walking around. Just stay put.”
I, too, was taught this as a child. And Jenny and I, well, we’re on the same wave length when it comes to our response.
“I always found this to be an absolutely terrible idea. Terrible. It seemed so paralyzing and hopeless. Sitting still? In the woods? Waiting for nightfall, waiting to be eaten? Trusting someone else to come and un-lost you?
I’d rather get more lost. And be more terrified. And keep repeating the senseless cycle. Anything but siting in the lostness. Anything but waiting for someone else to come and find me.”
Anything but sitting in the lostness. Anything but waiting for someone else to come and find me.
I so relate to that. I’m suppose to wait for someone else to come find me? I should just trust that someone else will notice I’m missing, come look for me, and successfully find me?
I’d rather just try to find my way out myself.
At this point in Jenny’s story, she finds herself lost in her own life. The Christian band she was in her with her husband just dissolved, meaning her career vanished, she has become a full-time stay-at-home mom, and feels as if she’s doing nothing she ever dreamed of with her life.
But what’s even worse for her than feeling like she’s doing nothing, is she can’t even find any answers or directions about where to start. She’s begging to be pulled out of the lostness and offered some direction, but nothing is happening. No doors are opened. No stellar advice is given. And no clear path is shown.
She’s sitting, in the middle of her life, completely and totally lost.
And here’s what she has to say about that season of her life, now that it’s over:
“Had it been up to me, I would have become a lifelong barista. Not because I dreamed of pulling the perfect espresso shot, but because it was an answer. And sometimes, desperate people will take a wrong answer over no answer at all. But that really isn’t the answer either, is it?…I dreaded looking at a blank calendar; I hadn’t seen a blank month on the calendar in over a decade.
“I was neither virtuous nor interested in patience…And being lost along the way was definitely not taught in school or church. Self-reliance, fully mapped-out futures, and divine epiphanies, these were the things that young adults should strive for- not lostness. Accepting lostness as a viable way of existing, even for a short season, is not a mantra our culture is familiar with. It certainly sounded backwards to a girl who was desperate to move forwards. Yet time and time again the same message arrived at the door of my heart. Just be lost for awhile. My husband, parents, preachers, friends, therapists, random books I picked up to read, even song I heard for the first time, all echoed the same sentiment. Lean in to the lostness. Don’t find your way out too soon. Riches hidden in secret places. Treasures in the darkness. Stay. Find them. Be lost. So many voices were reaching a fever pitch and the exhaustion from trying to un-lost myself was evident- so one morning, I gave in.
“It was time to embrace being a lost girl. Time to accept the seemingly insignificant nothingness of the blank page in front of me.
“Want to unnerve someone? Make peace with your lostness. When they ask ‘What do you do?’ respond like this: ‘Well, I wake up and take a shower, sometimes. Then I look in the mirror and remind myself that I have no job, no future plans, and no 401(k) account. I tell myself this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now and I contend to do absolutely nothing about it because I have decided to be lost for a season. Then I usually go eat a bowl of cereal and watch The Today Show. So- I just do lostness. What about you? What do you do?’
“They will be horrified! Horrified! It is quite entertaining to watch. I once told this from the stage to a group of young, twenty-something Christian adults. They looked at me with disgusted shock. Their glares told me everything I needed to know about our culturally ingrained idols of productivity and purpose….Pity and judgement oozed out of them as they looked at me suspiciously, wondering if I was one of those people who lives off of the government instead of my own two hands! I instantly felt the weight of our generations disdain for lost people. And I smiled. Maybe I was doing the right thing after all.
“Did it ever cross their minds, I wondered….that the abundance of pity they felt for me could have just as easily been given to those in the room working jobs they hated, for companies they didn’t believe in, simply to avoid being lost?
“Lostnesss is just a season, I told them. ‘For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven….A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.’
“Lostness is a season, says the writer of Ecclesiastes.
“We would rather focus on the other seasons in Ecclesiastes 3, like planting, building up, and harvesting, while disregarding the less attractive ones like quitting, dying, and throwing away. Our basic instinct tells us to hold on, not let go. Perhaps that is why we have become a culture of doers who would just as soon accept a wrong answer than quit searching and inhabit lostness for a time.
“Making peace with my lost state in life happened in small ways. Refusing to apply for a job at Starbucks- a job I knew wasn’t meant for me. Shutting down the calendar and not looking at blank days as shame-driven motivation to just move on already. Learning to quiet the frantic voice in my soul that kept telling me THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD END if I did not figure out what came next. Replacing that voice instead with a simple prayer: You alone are a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And relearning how to tell the truth to others about myself. This was hard since most people expect you to lie. When asked how life is going or what the plans for your future look like, no one expects the person answering to say, ‘Actually, my future looks really bleak right now and I have no idea what comes next and I am a bit scared.’ This kind of vulnerable honesty terrifies people. Especially Christians. What type of good Christian doesn’t have a Jesus answer readily available?…I got the sense from many believers that in their opinion, I was a woman of little faith. Somehow my sitting in the dark reflected poorly on my faith in God.
“But I think it is the other way around. A person who is willing to inhabit their lostness has the faith of a great army. People who don’t have faith don’t allow themselves to get lost. They do not trust God to show up in the darkness and shine a light on the path that leads to being found. A faithless person holds on because they cannot control what happens when they let go. They are unwilling to follow anyone into the dark.
“As a person of deep faith who believes I have a good Guide who delivers lost people to found places, I no longer go the wrong way just to avoid impeded streams. Impeded streams bring me face-to-face with God. That is where the real spiritual journey begins.
“God sees what I cannot. He leads where there is no discernible road. He Himself is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Here at my impeded stream, after the dying and burying. I make a crucial decision to allow the season of lostness into my life. And I put the onus on God to un-lost me.
“I get the feeling He has been waiting for me to do this all along.”
Our walk with God looks much different now, than it did for people like Noah and Abraham. People who had direct communication with God.
God led Abraham to a new land. And God led Noah to build the ark.
But the God of Abraham and Noah is still the God of today. He is a God who is still there, offering to lead us, maybe in different ways today than He led in the days of old, but still there. Still willing to lead us to the path He has prepared.
Don’t settle for a wrong answer just because you want an answer.
Be patient. Settle into the lostness. And wait for Him.
Excerpts taken from: The Road to Becoming by Jenny Simmons https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XNPCIMC/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1