Have you ever walked through a desert? I have, and it is not a fun experience unless you happen to be riding downhill on a sled. Whether the desert is in the natural or things feel like a desert in your emotional or spiritual walk, it is an exhausting endeavor to continue walking forward. Walking in desert sand is hard and tedious because each step is not on firm footing, and going uphill takes much longer than one perceives because your foot sinks each time you put your foot down. I remember climbing a very tall dune in the past and thinking to myself, “this is so hard to keep climbing the hill; what’s the point?!” Recently, while looking a picture of a desert, I thought to myself, “thank God that deserts end when we keep walking forward because they do not go on forever, although, at times, it feels like they do.” If you are walking through a desert time in a relationship, your job, your emotions or any other hard experience, here are some helpful tools to carry you through the walk through the desert.
1. You need a hat and sunglasses to keep the heat off your head and to protect your eyesight.
In other words, you need a “covering” of safe of people who will support you and protect you as you walk through difficult times. We need others to help keep us focused on our end goals and protect us from the elements that will “burn” us. One of my primary goals for empowering people walking through difficult times is to help them build a safe and supportive support system because we all need a hand to hold onto whether we are walking through trials or not.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
2. You need to drink a lot of water.
In other words, you need to be drinking in more life because it is easier to dehydrate while walking through the desert. As a therapist, I am always encouraging people to figure out what brings them life and to pursue this more. People start struggling with the walk through the desert times when they stop taking in the life they need to sustain them. Be it time listening to music, reading, creating, being with friends or anything else, you need to take in more life water when the walking through the desert because it is a draining journey.
Proverbs 25:25 (MSG) Like a cool drink of water when you’re worn out and weary is a letter from a long-lost friend.
3. You need to rest a lot on a desert journey.
When you are going through hard times, it is physically hard on your body, and you will find you need to rest a lot. Walking on sifting sand uses muscles you do not commonly use, and it will tire you out quickly. As a counselor I watch people walk through emotionally difficult times, and yet people fail to understand how much emotions can physically drain them. People perceive that they must keep moving at all times, but I encourage them that rest will enable them to continue walking.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 (MSG) One handful of peaceful repose, is better than two fistfuls of worried work—More spitting into the wind.
4. A compass
What are the standards and values of which you are going to move through the desert you are walking through in life? How do you evaluate you are making the correct directional choices that will not cause you to be off course later down the line. I frequently help people evaluate what their values are so that we can accurately gauge whether they are on target now and later in their journey.
Psalm 119:105-106 (MSG) By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself, and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order.
The good news is that the desert will eventually end as long as you keep moving through it. Walking through the desert is hard on us emotionally, physically and spiritually and our challenge is not to give up! Deserts end and will not go on forever as long as you use your desert tools.