I don’t get lost very often. I’m the type of person who, when traveling to an unfamiliar destination, will plan ahead, examine my route, observe landmarks along the way, and use Google Maps religiously. Taking unnecessary risks isn’t in my vocabulary. Instead, logic, critical thinking, and careful preparation are my modus operandi.
Despite these precautions, sometimes one ends up in Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas at 2 AM, in pitch darkness, with a dead phone, a developing fever (from the unfortunate combination of international jet lag, Red Bull, and dancing), and not a single human being or settlement in sight. Getting lost is part of life, and in situations like the one I just mentioned (which I thankfully survived), I’ve noticed that the most difficult part of it is coming to the realization that one is truly, and helplessly, lost, with little to no options for recovery.
Last year, I once again found myself lost, yet not geographically, but rather professionally, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. A potential romantic relationship had not turned out the way I wanted it to. The campus ministry I had spent years serving with made some major changes that were out of my comfort zone. I felt very disconnected from God and struggled to see His purpose in this time. All of these factors combined into a season of frustration, anxiety, and mild depression. I came to the realization that
I was quite lost.
I had entered the quarter-life crisis all too familiar to my generation.
In response to these problems, the critical-thinking-side of my brain was determined to solve them. I threw myself into grad school the week after I finished undergrad. I tried to do ministry on my terms, by myself. I switched churches for no particular reason. Not all of these strategies were bad per se, but at my core I knew there was a deeper problem that I just couldn’t put my finger on, one that I couldn’t solve myself.
“For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” | C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
After months of unsuccessfully trying to deal with this lostness largely on my own, with minimal improvement, I noticed my prayer life begin to steadily improve. Over the course of these difficult, frustrating, depressing months, I slowly developed a deeper and deeper dependence on God. I gradually began to let go of my strategies and problem solving and learned to lean on God in my desperation. Psalm 145:18 often came to mind in this time:
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
I clung to this promise.
I felt distant from God, and it seemed impossible to hear His direction in my life, but the idea that God is near to me, despite the evidence and my senses telling me otherwise, was all I had left. I remember praying “God, I might be dealing with these issues for the rest of my life. But I don’t care. I trust you to carry me through it.” As I increased in prayer, my problems didn’t go away, and I didn’t feel better, but God was working in my life nonetheless.
At the end of the year, as I scraped through my second semester of grad school by the skin of my teeth, I had less of an idea of my future career path than ever before, and I was still frustrated and depressed. I poured myself into the Word and prayer, and it was growing harder to see any light up ahead.
But God miraculously showed up
when I needed him most.
In winter 2016, it was like a light came on and illuminated God’s handiwork. Through my struggle with depression and anxiety, I learned that there were aspects of my fallen brain that I couldn’t fix on my own. Through my lack of clarity regarding my career, I learned to trust God to lead me one step at a time, even if I didn’t know what the following months would entail. I was humbled to a point that I had never been before. God blessed me with opportunities and adventures I had never thought possible. I found myself broken in my sin, lack of trust, and powerlessness, yet God chose to show me the life, blessings, and peace that He had to offer me.