Saturday, June 25, 2016

Stand your ground

I wanted to share something with you all I've been challenged on very deeply recently.

I first became a Christian at the age of 18. Not long afterwards, I was thrown head first into the spiritual wilderness. The wilderness has been a long, drawn out and often exasperating period of my life which I am only now just starting to come out of at 32 years old. There have been some very long and very demanding trials I have faced throughout this period - one of which lasted exactly 4 years. In fact, my experience in the wilderness has been so profound that it will be the subject matter of my next book.

If there is one thing that is consistently true about the wilderness - it's that everything is temporary and that nothing lasts. When the Israelites left Egypt on their journey to the Promised Land, they walked in the desert for 40 years - yet they were constantly moving. They would follow the Spirit of God through the wilderness which took form in either a pillar of cloud during the day or a pillar of fire during the night. They would be led by the Spirit of God to a campsite in the wilderness and would remain there until the Spirit departed - and they knew that the right thing for them to do was to follow the cloud wherever it went and not to lag behind or get ahead of it otherwise they would be in the wilderness without the presence of God, and therefore without the protection of God.

This has been my experience. Since I left home at age 20 I have moved house approximately 30 times. I have moved all over my home country of New Zealand to different cities and even out of the country altogether for a 3 month stint in California in 2007. There was no real reason for this other than I was moving where the Spirit lead me to move. Whenever things began to get really ugly where I was (this happened regularly and in a variety of different forms) it was an inevitable sign that it was time to move on. It wasn't always really ugly when it was time to go however - sometimes you would just get a sense that the favor was moving from where you were to somewhere else and though nothing particularly bad was happening you just knew in your spirit that it was time to go.

I am now planted in a full time job that I have been in for over a year now - working in a call centre. A job like this is very people-orientated as I am often talking to over 100 people every day. I am an introvert by nature- someone who does not gain their energy from people but someone who needs a lot of space and time to recharge, and my prime strength is in task-based administration. Needless to say - I find this job challenging. Over the last few months due to various reasons I have been extremely busy at work to the point where I am answering far more calls than usual and coming home each day utterly drained and exhausted to the point where I've barely had any energy to speak to anyone in my own household.

My experience in the wilderness has taught me that something like this means that it is inevitably time to resign and move on. The job not working to my strengths and being so overwhelmed with the constant busyness has had me questioning my future almost daily. I've spent time in prayer - going to God and almost begging Him to reveal the next step for me so that I can move forwards.

Finally, God did respond - but not in the way that I expected.

He responded with 3 simple words -

"Stand your ground."

These words caught me off guard as I'd never really heard anything like that before - but I knew that they were from God. From that point on, I've had days at work where I was so stressed and overwhelmed I wanted to walk out - yet those words resonated in my mind and gave me a strong, tangible peace within the chaos.

This was totally new to me - but I began to realize why they were significant. My whole life has been about the wilderness and with the complex trauma I have carried in my heart that has given me the constant desire to get away from where I am and be somewhere else, I've been perfectly designed for the restless, vagabond lifestyle that comes from walking in the depths of the spiritual wilderness for so many years. I know how to survive. But I don't really know how to live. And this is what is starting to change for me.

I am beginning to see just how much confidence in myself and in my circumstances has been lost due to the wilderness mentality of constantly abandoning ship and moving on. Confidence will start to grow again as I learn that I will actually learn more by staying somewhere than I ever would by leaving. I've had to learn to face my fears of what could happen to me if I stand my ground - confrontation, having to fight for something and the risk of loss that comes with that, and having to develop the necessary grit to dig my toes in and just say "I'm not quitting - I'm staying put." It's easy to run. It's familiar to run. It's releasing to run. And for so long, that's been what's necessary for me as it's been part of my journey. But that time is over now.

Standing your ground means that instead of bowing to circumstances as you do in the wilderness, you stand firm and wait to see positive change. Instead of being constantly focused on changing yourself as the wilderness requires - it's ok to now start wanting and expecting to see circumstances change. Instead of dwelling in a place of self to bring about internal change to end trials as the wilderness requires - it's ok to now start thinking more about others and about circumstances rather than just saying "this is just happening because I've got something I need to learn about myself and something is being pinpointed in my heart to deal with." This can still be the case at times and I'm sure will remain as a relevant thinking process over the years - but the over-excessive focus on self that comes from wilderness-based thinking must now come to an end.

Standing my ground is a new and very scary thing. But it's the next step in my journey to become a whole, strong and healed human being. I have no doubt standing my ground will require vulnerability and exposure of some sort at times. I have no doubt it will cost me different things and I will be forced to challenge others and at the same time, challenge myself. But I am slowly learning that the overwhelming desire to run and move on is not the right thing anymore and that I will see better results if I just stand my ground as God has said.

Someone out there may be experiencing something in their lives that they just want to quit. Sometimes quitting is the right thing, as I well know. But sometimes it's not. If that's you - ask yourself today - am I being challenged to stand my ground and endure as well? Will I really learn more by leaving or will I learn more by digging my toes in and staying put?

Food for thought.

Take care.


  1. This is a great article! Some insightful gems here. Keep writing. :)