Faith in the Wilderness

It has been four years since my faith bubble burst and I began my journey into the wilderness.
Four long years of deconstructing what I actually believe.
Four years of questions why I do the things I do.
Four years of doubts if this makes sense at all.

Many months of anger at people, the church, God himself.
Many months of loneliness when I just couldn’t go back in there.
Many months of exhaustion when I was about to give up.
Many months of fear if it would always be this way – uncertain, tiring, grey.

Yesterday I spoke with a friend about our journeys and she said: “If I had to boil down faith to one word, it would be still.” 

In the midst of all the questions, I still come to you for answers.
In the midst of the broken down buildings of my faith, I still find new treasures in the rubble.
In the midst of all the unknown, I still experience a peace that is not of this world.
Even though there are a lot of lonely moments, I still discover you in the least expected moments and people.
Even though there are days of exhaustion and surrender, you still surprise me and encourage me to keep going,
Even though there is a lot of grey, I still learn that it has more colors than I could ever imagine.

So I still make my way into the wilderness and find that you’ve been waiting there for me.

I’ve discovered something beautiful: the loneliest steps are the ones between the city walls and the heart of the wilderness, where safety is in the rearview mirror, new territory remains to be seen, and the path out to the unknown seems empty. But put one foot in front of the other enough times, stay the course long enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness, and you’ll be shocked how many people already live out there – thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, belonging. It is not a barren wasteland. It is not unprotected territory. It is not void of human flourishing. […] The walk out there is hard, but the authenticity out there is life.

Jen Hatmaker in: Braving the Wilderness . Brené Brown 2017.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Have a Little More “Ting” in Your Life

A couple of years ago, John Mark McMillan was asked what his greatest accomplishment was. He said the following:

The thing that brings me the most satisfaction is sitting on my porch with people I love and talk. I can build big organizations and people can know my name – But in the end, none of that stuff feels as good as sitting across a table from somebody, telling a story, laughing a little, crying a little, raising a glass and hearing that little “ting”. All of life is inside that “ting”: fellowship and love and laughter, and you can hear Jesus in that “ting”.

There have been quite a few moments in my life when I just stood there, dumbstruck, wondering at what had just happened.
Two people had just talked, and yet, an ocean of thoughts and beauty and depth had opened up between us.
A bond had been forged, a sense of knowing and being known.
A safety of having your soul held by someone else.

I walked away, deeply satisfied and the sound of “ting” ringing in my ear and heart.

Since I am a reflective person, I often wonder how such encounters come about.
What can we do to have them more often?
Even though I don’t believe that every of our talks has to be super emotional and long, I am convinced that deep conversations which show our raw honest selves are essential for our inner well-being and growth. 

You can’t fabricate depth.
You can’t will yourself into having a deep conversation.
I can’t give you a five-step action plan to create good talks.

I guess it comes down to simplicity.

Going for a walk with a friend.
Sitting down for a meal together.
Inviting others to your table.
Spending time intentionally.
Practicing gratitude together.
Sharing more of your life, your thoughts, your heart.
Simply being yourself and taking off the pressure to perform.

Telling a story, laughing and crying together.
Feeling the soft covers of fellowship embrace us.
Hearing that little “ting” resounding in and around us.

Where can you hear the “ting” in your life today? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

It Begins at the Table

It’s Friday night and I’m in my kitchen carving what’s left of the turkey.
My thoughts wander back to last night when my apartment was filled to the brim, every last seat taken by friends and family to celebrate Friendsgiving.

The smell of cranberry sauce, roasted meat and pumpkin had exuded into the entire house. The food was rich and heavy; and we stuffed ourselves until we had to hold our bellies. We laughed at new jokes and smiled dreamily at old memories. We talked until the last bottle of wine (and there weren’t few) had been emptied.

And yet, my favorite moment was when we sat down at the table to share what we are thankful for. Such a simple and yet challenging practice.
A healthy body.
A job that fulfills you.
Protection in the chaos of busy schedules.
Fellowship with colleagues and friends.
Faithful, authentic relationships.
Healing and hope in the midst of pain.
The gift of new life.

The abundance we have been given has nothing in common with materialism. In a culture that wants to sell us fast and cheap deals, we need moments when we sit down and think about what really matters – People, unexpected grace and time are the things we truly value.
We find life, community and belonging when we sit down at the table.

In moments like last night I realize that faith was meant to be more like that.

A God who invites us to his table and all we can bring is ourselves.
A story that has nothing in common with what we do or where we come from.
A conversation about the darkness and joys of life.
A celebration of the beauty that embraces us all.
A place where we find true belonging, honest community, abundant life.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
If you have any good Thanksgiving leftovers recipes – hit me up!

What If?

Sometimes I wonder how stupid we as human beings can be.

In the attempt to understand our world and with our innate desire for everything to make sense, we have simplified so many of life’s big stories and happenings. We have put everything and everyone in boxes, sorted all the world’s mysteries into logical categories.

We seem to have done everything right.
And maybe gotten it all wrong.

What if there is more than one answer to the nagging questions in all of us?
What if issues are more complex than we wish them to be and we need to wrestle with them for days, months, years until we experience a breakthrough?
What if “I don’t know” is actually an honest gift in a conversation?
What if people are more than they let on initially and we actually need to take the time to dig deeper and uncover the treasures inside them?
What if the ‘others’ are more like us than we allow them to be within the walls of our hatred and prejudice?
What if God has more shapes, faces and character traits than we have boxed him in and we have barely scratched the surface of the truly divine?

What if we miss out on so much beauty, color and abundance if we narrow our view to just the one thing?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

The Greatest Gift to Your Soul

What are you grateful for? 
When does praise come across your lips easily? 
When is it most difficult for you to give thanks? 

A friend asked us to ponder these questions this week and I realized that gratitude starts with the perspective. Before we open our lips in praise, we have to tune our hearts and focus our eyes on beauty.

In a world that propagates hatred, destruction and suffering, it’s difficult to find things we could be grateful for because all we see is negativity.
In a week when my calendar is filled to the brim and I am stressed on the outside and constantly nervous on the inside, it’s a real challenge to take some time out and give thanks.

And yet, it is crucial to our entire physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
If we speak praise into our busy schedules , we open up space for rest and restoration.
If we give thanks in the midst of the shadows, we unlock strength and courage and a deep well of joy inside us.
If we call out beauty in the places and people around us, something inside us will change.
We will see light in the darkness, hope in the brokenness, divine in the mundane. Gratitude is the greatest gift we could give to our souls.

So, here’s the challenge:

  • Watch out for beauty today. Look at the environment you’re in today. What do you see?
  • Look at the people around you. Tell someone they’re beautiful. Praise them for what they do and who they are. Acknowledge their presence in your life.

Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
featured photo: Yeshi Kangrang on unsplash

Wanderers and Wrestlers

(Picture credits go to wonderful friends who dragged me up a mountain a few weeks ago. So exhausting, but so worth it).

A few weeks ago, Addie Zierman started to pick apart the meaning of the all-too-familar phrase “Let go and let God.” And she put out the challenge to process this concept for September. So I’m linking up with my two cents on her blog today.


A few weeks before my twentieth birthday, I left my family and flew to South Africa to do ministry in townships for a year. As a Third Culture Kid who had spent her teenage years in Uganda and lived through a difficult re-entry to Germany, I couldn’t wait to get my feet onto African soil again. Little did I know that this year was about so much more than curing my fernweh for this continent.

When I arrived, things weren’t the way I had expected them to be. I shared a room in an open space with little to no privacy; we had to improvise our youth programs with the little material we had and worked in diverse teams. Living with people from all over the world and working together in the South African culture (which, in itself, is already a conglomerate of cultures) led to quite a few challenges.

It didn’t take long until I began to resent my environment, including the work and the people around me. I was knee-deep in culture shock. 

When we transition between cultures, we tend to experience a sequence of emotions.
On arrival, everything is new and we take in new places, smells, tastes. It is fascinating meeting new people who are so welcoming and different from us.
Over time, though, these differences rather exhaust than fascinate us. Communication, daily work and even downtime have suddenly become hard work. We run into conflicts and quickly become angry at the people around us and the circumstances. Everything seems too much, too overwhelming, too tiring. The new is no longer a gift but a burden.

IMG_8280Sadly, there’s no timeframe how long this period of exhaustion and struggle will take.
For some people it’s only days, others need years to adjust to a new place. As a TCK, I have had my fair shares of transitions: I have moved from place to place, from university to a proper first job, in and out of friendships. I have experienced the beauty of the honeymoon phase, battled the depths of culture shock and basked in the joy of coming out stronger on the other side of it.

And yet there is one transition that seems to be unlike all the others.
What happens if the faith we grew up with is no longer this safe haven, this firm foundation, this comforting conviction we sometimes need so desperately in life? 
How do you deal with an evolving belief system that feels like a completely unknown territory to you? 

Leaning into the battle of culture shock is both scary and liberating.
When we enter a new culture, we don’t just leave behind our familiar environment, food, people, jobs. We lose parts of ourselves and the way we used to function in our home culture. Not knowing how to speak a different language or adapt a new style of driving, working or relating to others is like taking a billion steps back in our development. We once again become little children who need to be taught the basics of survival in a new environment.
This is a stressful, enduring and often exhausting process – a journey we often aren’t willing to embark on.

But if we practice patience and presence, we might observe the changes taking place in and around us:
The first time we connect with a stranger over food, laughter and sign language.
The beauty of making a friend who opens up the mysteries of this new culture to us.
The moment we realize that our differences are what make us truly beautiful.
The strength of finding new words for new experiences.
The comfort of learning that we are still here, behind all the struggles and unfamiliarity. The joy of discovering new facets of our own personality and the richness that is now embedded deep inside our souls.
The peace that sweeps over us when we understand that this new normal is our new home.

mountain 1

And I wonder if culture shock can teach us something about our faith battles as well.
When the honeymoon phase is over and we learn that the world is darker, more lost and broken than we could imagine.
When our questions and doubts have become so big that easy answers won’t do.
When that hunger inside of us has turned into this giant hole eating us away.

When we wrestle with our beliefs and the nature of faith itself, we might have to lean right in rather than run away.
We might have to get lost for a while and return to the basics.
We might have to let go of who we used to be in our old lives with our old selves and grieve our losses.
We might have to fight for survival, keep asking, seeking, waiting and feel exhausted most of the time.

mountain 2
We might have to practice gratitude and patience and presence to observe the changes taking place in and around us:
The first time we connect with people from other backgrounds, belief systems and lifestyles to find out that our differences are what make us truly beautiful.
The strength of speaking our thoughts out loud and putting new words to new discoveries.
The beauty of meeting others out there in the ambiguity of it all who hold and protect our thoughts and questions.
The comfort of encountering God in unexpected places and learning that He is so much more than we could have ever known.
The pure joy of allowing him to unearth the depths and richness that are still inside of us.
The peace that sweeps over us when we understand that this new normal is our new home – the beautiful wilderness, the familiar unknown – the place where He has always been waiting for us. 

Longing for Completion

I keep drinking, eating, stuffing myself
and yet I can never get enough
I clean out the junk I buried inside my heart
only to find
that there is nothing there
just emptiness and this hunger burning inside
eating me away

There is a gap in my life
a void in my heart that cannot be filled
an unsatiable hunger for more in life
because this cannot be
it
there has to be something
deeper
higher
richer

There is this feeling of discontent and unhappiness
lingering in the back of my mind
and in the depths of my soul
silenced by busyness most of the time
but once in a while it rears its ugly head
and reminds me how needy I really am

There is this idea of being incomplete and unfinished
there is still so much learning and growing to do
so much more transformative work
to be done within and around me

There is this still conviction
this silent prayer
that one day
all hunger will be filled
and my soul will
finally
be
complete

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.