The Wilderness {guest post}

Elora Ramirez is a remarkable woman, full of passion and compassion. She is the founder of The Story Unfolding (offering story coaching and the excellent Story 101 and Story 201 online writing courses I’ve been enjoying), and the author of Every Shattered Thing, which I reviewed earlier. Her writing is fire and beauty, and I am honoured to call her my friend. This particular God and Suffering story is very close to my heart, because in June 2013 I remember crying along with her. It’s a privilege to share this story with you:  
[warning: contains swearword]


My husband was cooking when the roommates came home that day.  
I was sitting on the couch, watching something on the TV and desperate for some type of escape.
Their youngest walked up to Russ.
“I’m sorry about the baby, Russ. I wanted one too.” 

I breathed in quick and ran to my office for safety. I was past the point of hiding the tears, so quickly they came at a moment’s notice.

The apartment went quiet as I shut the door and sat down at my desk.

What the fuck, God. How is this you Fathering me?! How is this you — how is this not the one thing  you know would push me over the edge? 
My scribbles nearly tore through the page as I journaled and wept and forced myself to gain some sort of togetherness before walking out of the office.

It was June 2, 2013.

May 31, the baby who was going to be our son was born.

On June 1, twelve hours after receiving a text with his picture, his mother called me, telling me she was sorry and begging me not to hate her, but she needed to keep him. She needed her son.


I heard nothing from God in those moments. 
When my world was crashing around me and everything I knew wasn’t real, there was radio silence on the end of the One who told me a year earlier, just let me Father you. 
And I begged. I cried. I cussed and railed and thrashed and pushed against Him. I crossed my arms over my chest and curled into a ball in the corner. I questioned.
And still nothing.
The only thing I ever heard, in the midst of the journaling session I mentioned above, was a whisper I could barely make out above the roaring of my heart—

I know. This sucks. I’m angry too. And I’m here.


Without going into too much detail, my husband and I have experienced a lot of loss this year. This failed adoption placement was the icing on yet another cake of unexpected pain.
The other day, talking with a friend, she kind of chuckled and said, “you know there was a moment where the pain wasn’t even puncturing you anymore. It just kind of rolled off you in waves—like it was dripping off of you. There’d been so much there was just no more room. It was all just overflowing.”



I remember sitting in the audience during a conference a few years ago and a well-known preacher was talking of suffering—how we are never  as close to our Jesus as when we are in the midst of suffering. How He’s right there—comforting us through it all. 

And then he said, “sometimes? I wish I could go back to the wilderness. I miss the relationship I had with Him there.”


This concept of being in the wilderness came up recently with some girlfriends and me. I was being pretty honest with them, letting them know I knew God had some risks for me but I didn’t know what they were, it just looked like a massive mountain He wanted me to jump off of and I shrugged. 
“I just don’t know if I can—my struggle is unbelief. After this year? I know  He will catch me but what I feel is that I don’t know if He will after all we’ve experienced. It seems like all we’ve dealt with this year is Him saying jump!  and us jumping, and then us crashing against the harsh cement because He forgot to catch us.”
They looked at me, their eyes wet with their own tears. “So how do you feel about being in the wilderness?” One of them asked.

“Bitter. Tired…no, exhausted. I wrote in my journal today that I am tired of Him saying I’m here —I need to feel  Him. I need Him to touch me. I need to breathe Him in because it’s hard enough breathing on my own right now.” 

And then they reached forward and grabbed my knees and elbows and hands and prayed over me—refusing to whisper the words that make me cringe.
One day, you’ll understand. One day, this wilderness will be sweet because of how close you were to Christ. 

Instead, they wept with me. They whispered prayers and clinched tight my hand and said, “it’s okay to struggle with belief, Elora. I see nothing but strength in your eyes. You haven’t given up—I know it. I feel it. And I’ll sit here and believe for you until you can believe on your own.”


There’s so many things I can point to when it comes to suffering and keeping the faith. Instead, I want to look in the eyes of those who remember the wilderness. Too often, we put words in the mouth of others.
“You’re going through a horrible time—I get it—but this is where He’s closest. Trust me. You’ll be thankful for this moment one day.”

It’s called the wilderness for a reason.
More often than not, God’s whisper and presence are resolute in silence.  
And we can turn around once leaving and say “this right here? This is how He met me there…”
But more often than not, it’s through a stream far below the surface of that cracked and parched earth and not in a way we can see. 
It’s just the strength to thrash against Him as He holds us.
And the words to articulate how we feel. 
And the bravery to tell Him how angry we are in that moment.
And the hope that when all goes quiet and our hearts are roaring in our ears, we’ll hear something—anything—even if it’s the soft rhythm of His whisper against our soul not showing us the way Home, but saying “I know. I’m here. And I hear.” 


eloraElora Ramirez is the author of Every Shattered Thing and founder of The Story Unfolding. She lives in Austin, Texas with her chef-husband Russ and loves saying it holy & broken, midwifery of words, and coffee. You can find her on twitter, Facebook, or read more on her blog.
Buy the brilliant novel Every Shattered Thing (now also in paperback) from or (contains my affiliate links).

Over to you:

  • When have you been in ‘the wilderness’?
  • Did God’s voice and presence seem far away or close by in those times?

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    7 Responses to The Wilderness {guest post}

    1. Stephanie 10th October, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

      “you know there was a moment where the pain wasn’t even puncturing you anymore. It just kind of rolled off you in waves—like it was dripping off of you. There’d been so much there was just no more room. It was all just overflowing.”

      I’ve been in that place, numb from the pain. It’s like you just can’t feel anymore but the wounds are in such a deep place still.

      This post is beautiful and honest, and I can only say I wish that more people were not afraid to share their wilderness without trying to make it look like paradise. It’s not, it’s a hard place and it’s painful. Does it lead to paradise? We know it does, but calling it what it is….a breath of fresh air!

      I couldn’t help but say a prayer for you after reading, from one sojourner to another. Blessings.
      Stephanie recently posted…How To Help A Family In Crisis: Starting A Meal MinistryMy Profile

    2. Jo Inglis 8th October, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

      The greatest lesson I learned during wilderness recently was to stop saying those cliched christianese phrases to those who are suffering, and sit & listen & just be if needs be. And like the preacher some days too I hanker after those wilderness days for the closeness of the walk with Jesus.
      I’m sorry for your loss and grateful that you have written so beautifully about the days of darkness (not just here but on your own blog too.)
      Jo Inglis recently posted…stranger at the stonesMy Profile

    3. Bethany 8th October, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

      “Bitter. Tired…no, exhausted. I wrote in my journal today that I am tired of Him saying I’m here —I need to feel Him. I need Him to touch me. I need to breathe Him in because it’s hard enough breathing on my own right now.”

      Ohmygosh Elora…. THIS right here. This is how I feel, how I have felt over the last year and a half. Breathing on my own is too hard. I need to feel His breath again coursing through my lungs because the very strength it takes it even to stand some day’s is too much.

      This whole post just speaks of the beauty but scary/harsh reality of the wilderness. I think to myself as I type this comment “Would I be in the Story Community had I not entered into it? Would I have decided Thrashing was worth it, or breaking away from my family. Would I have chosen to walk away from an ultra conservative, unhealthy christian sphere if having having everything stripped away wasn’t the only option?”

      I hate it now and I’m tired but He’s here. Even in the silence.
      Bethany recently posted…The Study of SelfMy Profile

    4. Mark Allman 8th October, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      Most of the time when I am being bruised and battered I do not need well meaning Christians telling me how its all going to be ok and how I will appreciate it someday. I am not convinced somethings I have gone through that there will ever be a day I will think it was ok. Never on some of them. What means more to me and what I try to do to for someone that is getting hammered is to be there. A person’s presence can mean more than their words. That they take their time to show up and just offer their friendship is very encouraging. I try not to tell someone what they already know. They don’t need to be punched with truth at a time when they are just trying to survive. I believe what they need is someone who stands by them come what may.

      • Elora Nicole 8th October, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

        Ohmigoodness yes. This is so true, Mark. All of the moments in which I felt most held during this time came because my friends would stand around and help buoy me.
        Elora Nicole recently posted…clarity.My Profile

      • Stephanie 10th October, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

        This is really so true. I have actually said I felt more comfortable at times around non chrisitans because atleast they allowed me to feel my pain not come up with some pat answers that sounded great but rang hollow. I wish more people would get this!!!

    5. Suzanne 8th October, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

      This – “But more often than not, it’s through a stream far below the surface of that cracked and parched earth and not in a way we can see.” That’s pretty much how the wilderness feels to me. Parched and dry, with the sound (but not the sight) of water that’s running somewhere I’m not.

      Thanks for sharing this.
      Suzanne recently posted…Day 7 – Jesus Feminist, Body Image, and Related RamblingsMy Profile

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