We are the ones who know what the shadows feel like.
We are the ones who feel the artificial sense of safety found in hiding.
And we are the ones who felt a movement of onward deep within and in a moment of intense and radical trust, we stepped forward.
We are the ones who have experienced the fullness of our inner selves bursting onto the scene of our very mundane lives, surprising us with our own capacity for wild and holy things.
We are the ones who have shed inhibition and have found that we are deeper, wiser, kinder, and more capable and daring than we ever thought before.
We dared to go beyond the boundaries set before us–the self-marked regions of who we are. We entered the wilderness of our untamed souls and we realized we are as vast as the roaming skies above us and as deep as the roaring oceans around us.
But we’re back now, back from our expedition and we are left to reflect. The memories of discovery pulse through us and we are busy wrestling with a drive to release and express all that we now know true of us.
But fear settles in, accompanied by a deep-seated sense of foolishness.
And in a moment, that daring piece inside of us that keeps us running toward oceans and climbing past barricades shrinks back and we are stopped, caught like words in our throats.
We don’t know how or why, but we retreat.
We turn our backs to the greatness set before us and go back to where we feel we will be safe. Before we know it, we’re heaping those limitations back onto our shoulders even though we remember well how much they make our bones ache.
And we grieve. We grieve the loss of everything we held inside our hands; we grieve the loss of a life that let us grow. We grieve for those moments that surprised us, awed us–those moments where we danced with freedom.
Despite all our grief, despite all our crying, despite all our heartache for the world we loved, we stay hidden.
Perhaps it is because we don’t know where else to go. Perhaps it is because we are afraid that if we step out of hiding, that world we knew once before won’t be there anymore. What if we never find that again? What if things will never be how they were? What if we will never again find the friendship, the adventure, the love and the freedom we once had?
We can’t guarantee that the world out there will give us any of that so we retreat.
But could we guarantee it before?
I am hiding, retreating. I feel frightened and foolish, haunted by a perpetual sense of What now?
I am tired from the strength it takes to believe in new things so I retreat. Pulling back every untamed thing inside me, hiding it out of fear and embarrassment and a crafty lie that tells me the world does not want it. There was a day I poured myself into the world around me with abandon and now I am running back for the hills of my hiddenness, desperately scooping up every part of my soul I see along the way.
Reign it all back in. Get it together. Contain the explosion occurring from that undaunted moment I dared to believe.
But here I am learning. I am learning that it is okay to grieve, it is okay to wonder if I will ever experience that again. It is okay to struggle and question. And in the middle of all this discontent, I realize: I am not made for hiding. I am not made for retreating. What if the things God has put inside me need to be shared and expressed? I pray for boldness. I pray for faith.
I pray for the trust it takes to see that my call of onward is not some circumstantial thing, a certain step to take in a specific direction; it is simply this:
A gentle rhythm of an ever moving God.
Even when I am hidden, even when I am still, I am not stagnate. I am not abandoned. I am not loved any less.
I pray for the courage to step out of these shadows and into the warmth once again, the courage to trust God wherever he leads.
To the weary retreatant: you’re okay where you are. It’s okay to be sad. Give yourself the freedom to mourn whatever loss you face. Allow room for all your “What now’s” and space for all your “What if’s” and let God craft because He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6).