The Wilderness


This week I had a vision. I was driving on that narrow, winding stretch of road through the canyons between Idaho and Montana. Mountain cliffs with dark outcropping of rock were on one side of the narrow, winding road, and a black abyss on the other side. I could see the way forward clearly, but only for about 200 meters as that is as far as my headlights shone. This is the kind of wilderness region that I love. There were lots of unknown dangers if I got off the road. I sensed that God was with me in the car, and I would get where God wanted me to go if I followed where I could see.

Later this same week I downloaded Braving the Wilderness from our online library in Canada. The library has a waiting list and I received an email it was my turn to read this book this week. Brene Brown studied why she and many others often felt alone, even in groups. She calls owning your own pain and developing compassion and empathy for people who think differently than you, the wilderness.

Brown interviewed thousands of people about loneliness and acceptance. She condensed her findings into four paradox truths. sometimes known as truths in tension. She expands on these paradoxes in the chapters of this book.

1. People are hard to hate close up. Move in.
2. Speak truth to bull*. Be civil.
3. Hold hands. With strangers.
4. Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

(Brown, 2015, p. 76)
Today we choose more and more to hang out with people who think just like we do, with our people, and yet there is reportedly even more widespread loneliness. “If our faith asks us to find the face of God in everyone we meet, that should include the politicians, media, and strangers on Twitter with whom we most violently disagree. When we desecrate their divinity, we desecrate our own, and we betray our faith” (p. 155). This week I was in the land office in Marabá when this family walks up to me. It was Tiago’s mom, sister, and niece. Tiago was a friend I had done some Discovery Groups with. He had experienced Jesus in Immanuel prayer. He was shot and killed after doing an armed robbery about a month ago. His mom had tears in her eyes in the land office as she told me, “He was such a good kid. He had some bad friends, but he was a good kid.” When I told this to another friend he rolled his eyes, yet I could see Jesus in Tiago. I could connect with him quite easily. For me it is sometimes harder to feel accepted by people who I assume think similarly to me. I get caught off guard and enter into an unknown wilderness zone. That is where the sub-title of Brené Brown’s newest book intrigues me: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world” John 16:33.

How is this working for you?


Brown, B., (2017) Braving the wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone. Random House, New York. Kindle Edition.

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