The Red Center, AustraliaAfter so long in the desert, a girl could learn how to survive alright in red dirt and starry skies. Key word here? Alright. I could survive alright.

I met a man who’d gone through some crazy stuff. To be honest, by the end of our trip, I was quite excited for his future. I’d only known about his past after I’d felt a faith prompting from God to share a very little, little, tiny bit of my own story. “Me too!” He said in response like there were no one else in the world but him and I now. “Oh, no. Oh no, no, no.” I thought. He told me when he and his fiancé split, he moved into a tree house in the middle of nowhere. He owned a wild dingo and fed koala’s for two and a half years before realizing he’d become The Crazy Guy if he didn’t get out of there. If he didn’t get out of nowhere, he would go crazy and I was moved by his boldness in knowing, and doing something about it.

He told me when they’d split he had gone off the deep end. And for two years he’d sleep in a treehouse alone, surrounded in growing seeds of bitterness. He didn’t say that last part about bitterness, I did. He agreed though. He asked me to stay in Alice Springs longer so he could talk. He put his hand on my back and nearly begged. Maybe in fact, he did beg. We could connect, he said. You could see his heart beat nearly out of his chest.

This isn’t my first Heartbroken Man Rodeo. I’ve learned just how to cut off this situation well enough now, unfortunately. I said no, I was leaving early the next day and certainly had no more time for Alice Springs. I’d moved to remind him not everyone gets to touch me like that. I moved further and he asked more. “Where will you be next? I could use a break, I’ll come see you on the coast.” He’d plea. A little too much Pale Ale, I’m sure. I declined, said I’d not even exchange numbers, and left for the taxi to the hostel with my new beautiful friends.

There’s purpose for seasons in the desert. Sure, to this harsh season of life, we could relate. I needed the desert after the heart ache began, and honestly think we all do in those tough times. I needed it, though, I didn’t need to go off the deep end. I didn’t need the healing process to be made any worse than it already were. If you’re going through the desert now friend, don’t go near the deep end. You’re treading in waters strong enough as it is.

When we were in the Red Center, staring at trees growing through red rocks at King’s Canyon, the guide talked often at the trees ability to adapt. The ability to adapt in extremes it weren’t originally used to; 45 degree days with little to no water, followed by two degree nights with red dirt rather than rich soil. And yet they adapt, they live, they grow. Even more so, they begin producing agents beneficial to mankind. “Rub your hands on this one here. It produces a pure cortisone- the main ingredient in sunscreen.” Or, “look and know this tree over here; it stores water in the trunk and can keep you alive if you’re stuck desert side.”

I get the desert process: sadness, confusion, depression, fits of anger, blaming, loneliness, sadness, hope, fear, confusion, bravery, defeat. I do, I get that. I also understand the surge of need to get out of the desert. But deserts are meant for seasons, and are supposed to be navigated with a heart after purpose. Otherwise, at best you’ll survive and at worst you go crazy, live bitter, or hardly live at all.

Done well, deserts teach us, help us adapts to extremes we weren’t originally prepared for, grow us, and even produce agents beneficial to mankind. And this is where the connection ceases. Men and women everywhere who’ve gone through this need confidence in this fact: when it comes to broken ladies or dudes, you can’t relate. You’ve conquered the desert; you’re whole. Not better than, but just whole.

I chose to put seeds of bitterness to the fire and watched them disappear at the beginning of that desert spell. I knew there were purpose, fought hard, and never allowed the desert to become home.

See the desert has a rare beauty all its own with starry skies and soft red dirt unlike anything else. It isn’t something to fear or dread but rather another season in which to find and appreciate the beauty of. Mind you, it isn’t a home either. Deserts are a season, a journey rather than a destination. You could learn to survive alright here, but why would you?

Half the problem of finding our self is the inability to work with the present season, whether desert, valley or mountain top. The other half is our unwillingness to share the desert seasons so others can say Me Too. Friends I hope you are able to see and know there is much difference between traveling through versus living a desert life. And if I could, I’d encourage you desert dwellers; adapt, learn, grow, and journey forward to life. Living a desert life you can survive. Well, you can survive alright, I’d suppose.