I am half way through your book with lots of it being very pertinent. I keep reading out sections to my husband saying this is so true for me and he keeps answering - that it sounds exactly right. I am experiencing the 'comfort' that many of the people you talk of in your book get by knowing that I'm not alone in this struggle. Although nothing per se has 'happened', it has been good to have a shift from thinking of myself as a non-christian to a christian in the wilderness still assured of my salvation. This is a big step in the right direction. V.A. England
Dear Mrs. Cavanaugh: I read your book, From Faking It to Finding Grace. I was relieved to know that what I am currently feeling does happen. I really felt relief when I read about the Backpack story. ...I really felt that was me. I know that God has forgiven me, but I just keep picking things back up and some things are just too hurtful to even reveal.... to be honest, Mrs. Cavanaugh, I don't know what has happened. I am just in a sense of awe. I don't know what else to do or say to God about me. I do know that since I read your book, I realize that what I felt was not a dream. Feeling like a wanderer does happen in the Christian walk. I thank you for just being honest. K W
Thank you for your gracious understanding of this time of “wilderness” or as I have been referring to as my cocooning time of waiting....just as a butterfly before it finally emerges into a beautiful creature, has to be in a place of quiet and darkness to transform.....so am I in that place. I know that even in this journey, God is still able to use this vessel because as you know, there are so many other women out there on the same path. As an Area Minister’s wife, I am in contact with many women who are struggling from spiritual dryness, and so I not only cry for them, but with them because my heart feels their heart. It is in vulnerability that God is using my lonely journey to touch others and for that, I am “grateful”, although I would be quite content to have this journey come to an end.
Thank you for the reminder that it is in the “saying YES” to God that life starts coming back. It is like Henry Blackaby says, “To see where God is at work and join Him in that work”. I am seeking to keep my eyes and ears open to those opportunities and be obedient to His calling and at the same time be sensitive to my own needs to experience Sabbath Rest. B.T. Saskatchewan
Connie: I have been wrestling over sending this email for over a month now, but I know I need to send it now. Thank you for being so vulnerable and transparent as to write the book you did. My husband bought it for me in the fall and I read it over Christmas. As I started reading it I enjoyed it but could not connect what was being said to my own life. As I continued reading God began to open my eyes to see myself within the pages of your story. By the time I finished it I had to admit (to myself and to God) that I had been in a wilderness of some sort for a while now and was just realizing it for the first time. I also saw that I had been wearing the same mask you talked about and faking it at church, at school, and anywhere else that I felt the pressure to be the perfect Christian, the perfect Seminary student, the perfect minister…you name it. In a nutshell, God is doing a work in me right now to bring me out of the wilderness and back into a relationship with Him (even saying that is hard cause it is admitting that I have been out of relationship with Him). Slowly, the mask is being removed…person by person as I share my struggle. I just want to say Thank you for writing the book and let you know that God has used your story and journey to significantly impact my life. I am scared and fearful of what taking off the mask will look like. I am scared of being judged or condemned, but God keeps nudging me to do it and like you, I know I need to be obedient. Thank you again for being faithful to God's leading and obedient to share your story. In Christ, R M , Alberta
Dear Mrs Cavanaugh: I have just finished reading your amazing book “From Faking it to Finding Grace”. Wow! I would like to share my story with you and tell you how much your book has meant to me. My own wilderness experience, which I am still going through, started about 2 years ago. I was praying one night for God to really reveal Himself to me, because it felt like He was far from me and had been for a long time. I had just gone through about a month of fasting from TV and praying and committed bible study, and felt that I had been doing everything right to find God. My heart's cry was to get know on a much more intimate level (basically to fall in love with Him). I got so frustrated though, because even though I had been going through all the motions, I felt nothing and God felt further away then ever! I realized that night that I was sick of living a mediocre Christian life. My main goal in life at that time was to strive to achieve a daily devotional habit, but I felt that I had lost God somewhere along the way. So instead of drawing closer to God in this time, I retreated from Him. I told Him that I was tired of doing all the right things in my walk with Him – serving and worshipping and reading my bible – without the result I felt I needed: intimacy with God! All I wanted with my whole heart was Him, but had ‘lost the plot' somewhere along the way. So I put the ball in God's court and told Him He had to show up and do something, because I was basically through trying hard to find Him.
That's when I entered my wilderness. The first thing I experienced was anger at God. Then, once I realized that I was in a desert, came the guilt. Surely I should be doing something to get myself out of this?! Surely it was up to me to restore the relationship, because after all I was the one who had given up? So I tried to restore the devotional time, but found that I was indeed spiritually dry. I would read passages out of the bible and feel like I was reading a boring book; I would pray and feel like I was talking to myself and eventually grow bored; I would worship and never feel the familiar warmth of the Holy Spirit. Then I read Larry Crabb's “Shattered Dreams” and realized then that maybe it was God's will that I was in this desert. That maybe He had taken away the comfort zone of a superficial quiet time in order for me to realize that I was missing Him. I realized that I was measuring my Christian worth by how long I prayed for and how many bible passages I read in a week, and would say ‘Well done, Taryn, you just prayed for 30 minutes – you are a good Christian”. I reached a place where finding God, the real God, meant more to me than a 30 minute devotional time. So I gave up on the devotional time, and did not open my bible or pray for months and months on end. I did share this with my bible study group and friends. Their reactions and suggestions, although given in love, were to ‘do something about it!' I would hear the occasional ‘tut tut' when I told them that I was still in a dry patch after 18 months. Their advice was to keep trying, keep reading the bible, keep praying. That it was up to ME to change my life. I felt very misunderstood and very confused. Most of me knew deep down that God had me in the desert for a reason, but a small part of me still doubted whether I should be doing more! So I wrestled daily with the guilt of inactivity and the quiet voice inside me telling me to wait on God.
So that is why your book meant so much to me. To open it and read the echoes of my own heart – that God WILL pursue me, that there is nothing I can do to bring God back, that God loves me with an undying love and is walking through this wilderness with me! I felt like such a burden had been taken off my shoulders! When I read that other people had gone through what I am going through and, most importantly, that I was on the right track, was hugely encouraging! I am a leader in my church, leading a bible study group, a youth group and a Sunday school group. I did and still do experience feelings of hypocrisy when I serve in the church and feel so dry inside. I still wonder whether I should rather pull out of ministry while I'm going through this patch. But I feel encouraged now to go and talk to my pastor about it. So, thank you SO much for your amazing book, which God has used to free me from the slavery of guilt. I now know that I am pointed in the right direction and need to listen for my ‘wake up call' and obey recklessly when I hear it. at God's urging, I have applied to do my DTS at YWAM in England in September and trust that this will be the end of my wilderness experience. If it is not, then I know that my time will eventually come. I still love God with all my heart and hold onto His promises daily. I await the time where He will bring me out of this wilderness with a more mature faith and a deep love for Him. Thanks again, T K, 23, Durban , South Africa