Image by Rebecca K Photography
By Emily Kuehl, Trinity United Methodist Church
A short time into my first year, my college roommate decided to move back home. Though sad to see her go, I was also elated; the dorm room was not large to say the least. Suddenly free from any compromises like my music volume or what time to shut off the lights, I eagerly awaited what this new phase had in store.
Not long after, my excitement about a room to myself and starting college turned to disappointment and anxiety. I struggled to find real friends among acquaintances. There were people to sit by in class, but no one to help unpack personal obstacles. Most days after class, I had little to do but go back to my silent dorm - back to solitude.
Anyone who has felt the pain of loneliness knows of the damage it can deal; every social interaction becomes the basis for over-analysis and self-criticism. I was in the wilderness and surrounded by beasts. Day in and day out, they told me I was boring, too awkward to make friends. That this was that start of a life alone, and it was all my own fault. I had no energy and no confidence and was powerless to break the isolating cycle.
When Jesus was in the wilderness, beasts fed Him lies too. He could have fallen into despair, or given in, but He didn’t - He focused on the angels. Our God doesn’t promise we won’t encounter the wilderness. When we find ourselves in the thick of it, it can be a terrifying experience that seems insurmountable. We can let fear, anxiety, and negativity suck us in, or we can center our energy on hope. We can trust that God hasn’t forgotten us, and we can look for signs of Him even at our lowest.
Back at school for a second semester, I eventually joined a church (I had to leave it and join another) and tried a new sport (almost quit ten times). It took patience, but there I found a best friend, a loving group of friends, and even a husband. I hated my time in the wilderness, but I know now that what I focus on is my choice - there are always beasts but there are also always angels.