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When the wilderness is your becoming.



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







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Hey Hannah, 

Just wondering- have you ever written anything about being in a wilderness season of life? If you have, I’d love to read it. I’ve searched your page but can’t find anything specific, even though all your words hit me in the gut.

If you haven’t written anything yet, here’s my question. 

What would you say to someone who feels stuck in the wilderness? Because I’m feeling like Israel wandering in the desert and I can’t find my way out of it. 

This is an SOS, literally. 

Grace and peace from Kentucky,


Dear Abby, 

I’m currently reading about the life of Jesus in the book of Luke.

The book of Luke is written by a doctor. Doctor Luke wanted to be credible and thorough with his writing and so you know instantly he is not wasting any time. He is only including what he deems to be necessary and certain as he chronicles the life of Jesus.

In chapter 4, Doctor Luke tells the story of how Jesus is baptized and then immediately is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. I can’t help but think what a bummer this had to be. You get baptized in front of a crowd where God bellows out in a Morgan Freeman voice that you are his son and he is well pleased with you only to be transported straight into the wilderness to be tested by the devil for 40 days and 40 nights. That’s not exactly the baptism afterparty I would have wanted. 

This sequence of events makes me believe that even though Jesus was designated by name, there was still transformational work that needed to be done before he could fully step into his calling. 

Just because Jesus experienced the revelation of who he truly was, did not mean he’d undergone the transformation yet to fully embody that role.

It’s here– in this wilderness– that Jesus becomes himself. It’s here that he transforms into the man who will go on to rock the world for the entirety of time with his 3-year ministry. And if Jesus needed the wilderness to prepare him for the greatest mission of his life then who am I to try and avoid the wilderness that beckons me to abide and break and bend into something new?

In the wilderness, you are set apart.

In the wilderness, you are pressed from all angles.

In the wilderness, you face what’s really there and come to grips with it.

In the wilderness, you figure out who or what you actually depend on when life caves in around you.

When you break down the word “wilderness” in the Scriptures, it means something different than what you might expect. 

It refers to a desert. An isolated, desolated, and uncultivated place. This is not the wilderness I imagine where trees surround me and their bushy tops swallow up my view of the sky. No, this is a stretch of fallow ground. This is a place that knows death and depravity. This is a place where you are tempted to say, “God isn’t moving in this place.”

There are things happening beneath the surface of every wilderness story. There are bigger things taking root. There are shifts and changes happening inside of you and while you may think everything is on pause, this might end up being one of the most meaningful and fruitful periods of your life. 

Before fruit can actually grow, there must be a process of burial. There must be a stretch of time where all feels dark and hopeless. It’s there– in the dark and maddening wilderness– that you figure out what you’re actually made of. It’s there, when you’re tempted to discount the mess of your own circumstances, that God uses that divine mess to bend and stretch you into something new.

There’s only one thing Jesus leaves the wilderness with that Luke thought was important to note: power. Jesus leaves the wilderness with the power of God ready to explode out of him and into the world.

That was the power that changed absolutely everything.

The momentum never really stops for Jesus once he emerges from that 40 days of desert time. 

It’s all lights-camera-action from there to the point where he carries his own cross.

But on necessary and intentionally placed occasions, we see Jesus stopping for a moment and getting alone to regroup and pray.

Imagine this for a second– you’ve had a Jesus-sized itinerary for the day. You’ve spent the daylight healing people and performing miracles. You’ve spent the last 17 hours talking with people, hearing their stories, laying your hands on them, and bringing them back to life. Now it is time to go home. If this had been my day then truly nothing could stand between me, my sofa, and some mindless reality TV show that would allow me to shut my brain off for a little while.

However, Jesus decides to get alone with God. 

He doesn’t just get alone with God. The scripture says he “went into a desolate place.” That word ‘desolate’ is erēmos in Greek. It’s the same word that is used to name the wilderness Jesus entered into before his ministry began.

This is the God I love: one who didn’t erase the wilderness from his own story, but one who kept going back to the wilderness when he needed a moment to return back to himself. 

He goes back and we don’t really know all the why of it but I like to think he never wanted to lose the memory of the harsh yet beautiful conditions of the wilderness. I like to imagine he always wanted to be in touch with what it feels like to be in the wilderness so that he could better walk with the ones who are meeting those desolate places for the very first time. I like to imagine Jesus returning to the wilderness to pray became a kind of comfort to him, a place where God’s presence was as tangible as it possibly could be on this side of heaven. 

No matter what his reasons were for choosing the wilderness as his hiding place, the wilderness became a part of Jesus’ being the day he walked out of it and began his ministry. The wilderness was stitched on his sleeve from that point forward, a reminder that the tough stuff would make him ready for whatever was to come next. The wilderness is a place he would choose to return to often, not because it was a punishment but likely because it was the place where the rest of the world’s voices would slip away and he could tune his ears to the slow, sweet hum of a father who called him “Beloved” before he ever did a miraculous thing.

We think the wilderness is God’s absence but what if…

What if the wilderness is a rare and wild invitation to press into his overwhelming presence?

Press in, love. 

Press all the way in.

I wish I could hand you a map and a way out. I wish I could text you step by step directions or at least drop you a pin to a place that feels more comfortable than this. The only thing I can really do? I can tell you to press in. And keep pressing in. 

In my own life, the times where I felt stuck in the wilderness were the times when I felt tempted to step back from God. And plenty of those times I did step back from God. I closed my Bible. I stopped praying. I went through the motions of my faith but I was angry and bitter with God, like, “Why would you leave me here in this place?” But the distance only ever hurt me. It only ever sucked the glow from my skin and the beauty from my days. I had to reach a point in my faith where I was able to say: No matter what does or does not happen– and even if you leave me here stuck in the place for the rest of my days– I will still come close to you. I will still press all the way in. 

That’s when things began to shift. That’s when lessons began to emerge. That’s when I started to find the breadcrumbs on the ground, the little scraps of hope that I would one day walk out of this desolate place but that I would never want to forget the valuable work done here in this place.

This wilderness is your becoming. It’s a destination you don’t want to avoid on this map of yours. And when you decide to fix your eyes on God rather than this place on the map, you’ll start to see him moving everywhere. Beneath your feet and in the atmosphere all around you. You’ll start to feel him coming close. And that, my love, has the power to change absolutely everything. 

Keep fighting forward,



I love, love, love answering the “Dear Abby” letters of readers on my blog. Have a question you want to see answered in the future? Submit it in the form below. I’ll be reading and choosing the ones I feel most equipped to tackle in this space.



  1. staci ainsworth says:

    your way with words is simply inspired. every time i read your writings, i feel so much more connected to Jesus. bless you and your ministry.

  2. Summer says:

    I want to be a writer like you when I grow up!! I don’t think it’s too late for someone who’s 5 years past half the century mark.

    Profound words. Even more so because they tell of our Savior and amazing things about Him.

    Thank you, Hannah. God bless you, girl!

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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