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the wilderness

November 23, 2014

I get really annoyed when bloggers go on a many month/year hiatus and then dive back in as if you who are invested in their lives didn’t realize they disappeared. Tonight I admit, I am a hypocrite. I am about to do that very thing to you. I’ve been longing to write these past few months but for a reason that has no logical explanation, I haven’t.

But tonight, as I lounged in a hot bath I read these words from my $3.99 Barnes and Noble cheap bin book, in a scene featuring a dad and his daughter and their recently deceased dog…

“I am sad, Dad.”

“Me too.”

“My body hurts, Dad.”

“That is called sadness.”

“What is sadness?”

“A feeling, my love.”

“It hurts, but what is it?”

“I don’t know, but I feel it too…”

Last year, this Sunday before Thanksgiving, the fam and I were in Rome together, watching the Pope preach in Vatican city (see Pope Francis on the big screen above my head??)



I wonder what you think as you look at the blonde chick on the right of that picture… any number of things I’m sure.

When I look at her, I know she’s sad. In the days in and around the time this photo were taken I was in the middle of “my body hurts” sadness the little 6-year-old girl is talking about.

I had just experienced 3 of the loneliest months on the planet, I was in the middle of questioning everything I believed to be true about my life (except God), I was NOT a fan of the personal character I was displaying during such difficult days (it is true what they say “the real you comes out when things get tough” and I wasn’t really happy with the “real me”), and the love of my life had dumped me via email.

Like I said… body aching sadness.

This morning I was reading in Exodus 14… ever hear of the story about Moses parting the Red Sea? Well these verses are pre-sea parting. The Israelites were escaping from the Egyptians and they were scared as all get out. I’m sure they were feeling some serious body aching sadness, fear, doubt, worry. SO much so that they actually said to Moses “Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone while we were still in Egypt? Our Egyptian slavery was far better than dying out there in the wilderness!” (Exodus 14:12 NLT)

From this verse we can tell that if the Israelites knew what was in store for them in the short run (the wilderness), they never would have moved their little bodies out of Egypt. If I had known boarding a plane to Italy last year would be a comparable wilderness to the Israelites leaving Egypt I NEVER WOULD HAVE GONE. I repeat…. never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever would have gone. I would have stayed in my “cushy” “safe” “comfortable” “happy” life.

Thankfully, God doesn’t play around in the short run…. His focus is the LONG run. And in the long run, the wilderness does wonders for building character, strength, determination, faith, and a whole bunch of other positive qualities. It did it for the Israelites and it did it for Virginia Lee Belt.

My wilderness lessons:

  1. I am incredibly selfish. As a first born child and grandchild, I’ve lived my entire life getting my way… one way or the other. I don’t do well with “no” and find all kinds of manipulation techniques to turn that no into a yes, even at the sacrifice of hurting people. This is something I must fight DAILY and continually surrender to the One who gives me the grace to be selfless.
  2. I have a problem with intimacy. I don’t believe I had ever had a truly intimate relationship because that would mean letting people see me sweat and be wrong and me potentially not getting my way (see lesson #1). Romantic relationships are affected by this, but more importantly are friendships and even more importantly, my family relationships. Points 3 & 4 are helping me get better at intimacy.
  3.  ENJOY. ENJOY. ENJOY. ENJOY. Whatever… WHOEVER is in front of me. I will find enjoyment out of the experience or interaction.
  4. Be thankful. Be thankful for anything and everything. Even if it’s “Lord, I am thankful” because even the prayer “Lord, I’m thankful I am breathing” is not one that really makes sense when even breathing is painful.
  5. Every day, every moment I have a choice. To make the same ones, or to make different ones… it’s up to me. Either way, I am who I am and where I am based on MY choices.
  6. I am strong as hell. But am nothing without Him. There is no way I can love people well, enjoy every moment or be thankful for nothing if I don’t feed my Spirit regularly, all the time, and often. Every choice (see lesson #5) gives me the opportunity to choose flesh or spirit… there is no middle ground or easy road.
  7. When God is IT, literally IT because there is nothing else around, He is enough.

You know what Moses’ response was to the Isrealites?? “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you…” (Exodus 14:13-14 NLT)

Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you.

My prayer for those of you experiencing body hurting sadness, just let it hurt. I know it feels like if you give in to it, it will consume you, it will break you, it will kill you. But it won’t. I promise.  I can only make a promise like that because I’ve been there… when even brushing your hair hurts and if you had a chainsaw you’d gladly take your foot off just so your attention can be off the pain on the inside. The wilderness won’t make sense, not one stinking bit because we are humans and our perspective is always the short one. BUT there is One who’s perspective is the long one and He is asking you to stand where you are and watch Him rescue you. The wilderness won’t last forever but numbing it, running from it, or pretending like you’re on a beautiful tropical island instead of a really crappy wilderness will only prolong His rescue. Email me ( if you want more details on how I survived but I am giving you a fair warning that my answer won’t be A+B=C.

Actually it’s more like…

A + N – U & asdflkjfds ^ 19238r5 + 3 + – 5 (2348 + hgjwpsnnttt) ^ 98 – #ouch + 793 – 9*9*9* + 34 = 1

xoxo, va

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Virginia permalink
    November 29, 2014 11:29 am

    Just returned from a wonderful Thanksgiving with “family” and read your blog.. It was written beautifully and wish relate to you how grateful I feel to know you and see you grow from that baby that’s picture was on the refrigerator to the lovely, brave and caring person you not to mention how smart you are, in knowledge and even more important is wisdom


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