WILDERNESS OF STILLNESS
We all know the value of the hustle; of "making moves and taking names." The go-getter mentality has been engrained behind every #girlboss and celebrated in our successful role models. But I want to admit something to you. For me, the difficulty is not so much actively fighting for what I want in life. On the contrary, my challenge is drawing the confidence to be still in patience and trust during the unsettling seasons of life.
After high school, I exchanged my safety blanket of home in Texas for the vast uncertainty that is New York City. A week into moving into my shoebox of an apartment on 61st and 1st, I was overwhelmed by the loneliness I felt in a buzzing city of 8 million people. I put on my best outfit to treat myself to an ice cream sundae at Dylans Candy Bar, hoping to channel my most fabulous "Carrie Bradshaw self". Instead I found myself overcome with fear and regret as I ran back home slipping in my high heels, tears mixing with the pouring rain. After trekking up the five flights of my pre-war walk up, I slammed the door and fell to my knees, ready to give up my dream in the concrete jungle.
"Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken." (Psalm 62:5-6)
Five years ago my dad was diagnosed with a tumor that had even the most skilled of doctors mystified. His was a one in a million case; so rare in fact that the medical field had yet to diagnose it with a name. Russell Diwa: Affectionate Husband, Loving Father, Loyal Friend. My father wore many names and the fact that this monster who threatened to take him from me was too cowardly to name itself enraged me. I flew home straight away from New York to be with my family; all the while wresting with God, pleading for him to work a miracle. I remember noticing something different about my dad's eyes during lunch one day. The usual steadfast certainty in his gaze had been replaced with a broken down weariness that can only come from the most relentless of storms. I kept gulping down the lump in my throat just long enough to finish my sandwich, run upstairs, and hide inside the tiny closet from my childhood. It was in the dark safety of that familiar private space that the tears broke. Violent streams of anger, pain, and despair flooded the floor. And I gave up trying to stop the tsunami.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:24-26).
I was about 17 years old when I stopped loving myself. I let a lie unravel in my soul that said exchanging my value for a few fleeting moments of flimsy, faux validation would be worth it. And so I gave bits and pieces of myself away to countless meaningless relationships until the loved and cherished girl my parents raised was no longer recognizable. "Just one more time", I would lie to myself, knowing all the while the ugly truth deep down. Not too many years ago a wolf in sheep's clothing came into my life, enticing me with promises of unconditional love. He was the Prince Charming to my fantasy fairy tale. Little did I know that the grotesque reality of his true intentions would not only break my heart but threaten to take my very life. Violated and worn down like a flower in the rain, I fell before God pleading for even an inch of his mercy and grace. To move on behalf of me.
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
The common thread in all these seasons of my life is that I was called to the Wilderness of Stillness. Many Christians love the unwavering confidence in the Bible verse, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..." (Romans 8:28). However; few of us dare to read further, finding that this promise is true with one vital caveat. God works all things for good IN THE END. We are so hell bent on our own selfish needs that we forget that the apex of joy is that His Name be glorified! That His strength be made perfect in our weakness! The main character in this life narrative is HIM, not us. We may never know the result of the painful seeds planted in our life. And YET; for those who love the Lord our future is eternally secure. Come what may.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
THIS, friends, is the secret to stillness. Knowing that we are forever safe in the arms of The One who holds the whole universe in His hands. In each of those seasons I have shared I was sure God had forsaken me when in fact, it was in the perceived quiet that He led me out of the fiercest of battles.
That move to New York jump started my dream career in fashion, where I graduated suma cum laude and went on to work for legendary companies like Barneys New York. The doctors who feared my father would never walk have been astounded at not only a benign tumor, but that my superhero is now biking 10+ miles a day with a ferocity fueled by Grace. My final breakup with Abuse catapulted me into the greatest love story I have ever known with the Lover of my Soul; and two years later I met my husband who's heart reminds me of Jesus.
Mine is one in an ocean of stories and as you read this, perhaps your heart resonates as you recall your own precious journey. So if you are finding yourself in your own season of suffering, knowing that the God of angel armies is at the front lines of your story, I ask what may be the most crucial question in this delicate time.
Do you have the boldness to be still?
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)
Xoxo, Diwa Doll
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