How does one survive in a desert? Earlier this Lent, I reflected on the image of sitting in the desert with the sun bearing down on me(Days in the desert.) I wouldn’t sit for long because I would likely pass out from the heat. How do those who live in the desert survive? Animal or person, they seek food, shelter and water. I’ve also pondered images of water, the living water and the rainstorm, water that replenishes and water that has the ability to destroy(Storm.) To survive in the desert, you seek water. Without water, you will die.
Part of my problem is that I’ve been sitting in the desert as opposed to getting motivated to seek water. The first week of Lent went well. The rest has been a struggle. That’s part of every human process. During lent, I’m turning it over in my mind. What’s happening to me, in addition to being pulled in the usual many directions, is that I’ve been complacent about my feelings. I have allowed myself to wallow in helplessness, hopelessness and frustration. Once I have accepted these emotions, I have to let them go. I have to fight their power over me. I can’t fight the people around me. That’s not right. It’s not my daughter’s fault that I’m feeling the way I do. It’s neither my partner nor anyone else. I have to get out of this by myself. I have the tools of prayer and spiritual reading.
During one of Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic reflections, he talked about learning to listen. He discussed listening to others but also listening to God and learning to listen to your body. I haven’t been listening. I’ve been focused on how different situations affect my state of mind. I’ve been experiencing those emotions and letting them go through and over me. It’s time to take action.
When I was in a different emotional state, I had lists, charts, and affirmations. I said these affirmations every single day. The affirmations I used to recite were good: I am loved and lovable. Good things happen all the time. I love myself unconditionally. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I had charts of strategies that I had to use every morning to get my day started in a positive, productive manner. I used to take 5 deep cleansing breaths when I awoke. I had charts where I rated different emotions I felt and how often I used different strategies to get past those feelings. I’m managing my anxiety better than I did all those years ago but I have to be sure it doesn’t control me. I need to be strategic if I’m going to leave this desert.
At this point, I would be dehydrated, possibly desiccated. It’s time to move within the desert and start to look for the water. It’s time to breathe, to affirm, to stand up, and to walk.