This Is What God Is Showing Me

Sometimes, when you look back at your life, you don’t really feel much, perhaps a vague sense of nostalgia. And then there are other times, like the story I will be telling you today, when you feel everything.

Hi, my name is Mariah and if you ask most of my family, they’ll tell you I’m stubborn, yet responsible. A studious soul that carries her burdens well. Ask my friends and they’ll reply with, “She’s a sweet girl, can be quiet at times, but she always means well.” Strangers see a tall, mysterious girl in passing, almost wondering about who I am before being distracted by their next thought. But asking me who I am, well, I couldn’t tell you. Until now.

This has been a long time coming for me. A heartbreaking journey still in the process of being written. But here’s what I can tell you. Over the past two years, God has taken my stubborn heart and my blind eyes and shown me things I couldn’t possibly discover on my own. He’s taken me to far away places, given me a love I was convinced I didn’t even want, and shifted my entire perspective on our world.

When I graduated college, I was a lost, scared, and completely unsatisfied girl who wanted nothing more than to find the meaning of life. And I was convinced I could figure it out. It’s one simple answer, right? Right…

And so my journey began.

Much to the discontent of my family and friends, I needed to get out. I couldn’t stay anymore. The world was begging me to know it, a dare to come see what I couldn’t possibly of known back then. And so I did. I left, bound for a grand adventure that would change my life.

I arrived in Yellowstone National Park in June of 2018. I didn’t know what I was doing. God had called me there for a reason I couldn’t yet understand. I was to spend my summer riding horses in America’s first National Park, living and working in the true wild west. I was enchanted.

If you haven’t seen the West, drop everything and go. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but hear me when I say it will fill your heart with a sense of pride that you won’t find anywhere else. Bison, elk, and bear will become your neighbors. Towering mountain peaks and endless forests of pine will become your commute. You will discover a community of people unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. You will relive history.

And fixing your eyes on God’s purest work is a serene, humbling experience. God changed me in four short months. And then it was time to head home. Well, start heading home at least.

My boyfriend and I decided we weren’t ready for our adventures to end so off to Arizona we went, but not without some stops. Yellowstone was my first national park and believe me when I say, they are wholesomely addictive. Zion, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t get enough. And each one changed me in a small, yet incredibly influential, way.

However, shortly after arriving in Arizona, our time there would come to an end. The Grand Canyon state just wasn’t right for us then. So then began the long trek home.

The holidays came and went and I was left with a choice. I could go to Georgia with my boyfriend while he attends school or I could stay home. For me, there was no right answer. Both would cause me heartache and in the end both did. But, I choose to go to Georgia and so after Christmas, I left.

Georgia, as it turned out, was not as easy as I imagined it would be. Depression and conflict filled my heart and I was forced to return home, but not without leaving a piece of my heart with the boy that I knew would keep it safe.

But home was no easier. Displaced by a house fire the previous summer, I was back with my parents, a dog, and three cats in a small one bedroom rental, with no end in sight. Heartbroken, love sick, and actually sick, I was at a low. Spring was a heavy season.

I was out of money, out of home, and completely lost. I wouldn’t find a job until March and it was barely enough to get me back to Yellowstone, the place I thought would solve all my problems. But I was wrong.

After suffering through an agonizing long distance relationship for five months, we were reunited again. But our problems were just beginning it seemed. Fight after fight ensued. Tears fell and harsh words were spoken. I wasn’t sure we would make it and there came a point I wasn’t sure I wanted it to anymore. But our love was too stubborn and I couldn’t give it up.

Our summer in Yellowstone wasn’t easy for us either. Our relationship was tested again and again and again. But we made it through, closer than I ever thought we’d be. We grew more this summer than either one of us were prepared for, but I know God has a plan in place we just can’t see yet.

But just as quick as the summer came, it ended, and it was off to make the long trek back to Arkansas. Closing up the corrals is always emotional for me. I can’t help but relive all the memories of the summer and wonder if that will be the last time I will see my home away from home. It’s bittersweet.

Yet, here I am, back home once again. My boyfriend isn’t always here with me, but he’s following his passion and I couldn’t be prouder to call him mine. It’s hard, but not as hard as before. We’ve both matured since spring and I’m grateful. He is mine and I am his and steadily, we are figuring out this adulting thing.

I have a great job I like and an actual home now, full of all the mementos of my travels. Things are slowly starting to look up, but through it all, this is what I’ve learned. Stressing over what you cannot possibly control will wear you down quicker than you think. Life isn’t about goals or accomplishments, its about the people you meet. And those people you thought you’d never hang out with can become a lifeline when you’re falling apart. They will make or break any situation. Don’t chase after money, it’ll leave you constantly searching and affect your self esteem more than you realize. And if all else fails, stop. Stop moving, stop thinking, stop reacting. Find a quiet place and just be there, in all your brokenness and hurt and confusion. God has a funny way of answering your prayers when you actually slow down enough to hear Him.

Life is a ride and you’re not going to know all the answers, you won’t even know 10% of the answers, but what you can do is following your heart, allow your intuition to guide you. The things that seem the craziest to do are often the things you’ll remember the most when you’re older. They are the things that will compel the most change in your life. Don’t be afraid to jump because even if you fall, having the courage to jump will take you places you never thought you’d go.

My story has been complicated lately, but somehow all the twists and turns have brought me to exactly where I need to be. I’m not my best right now and that’s okay. Growth is hard, but I’m trying my best, to see the sunshine even when it seems like I’m stuck under a raincloud. Life hasn’t gone according to plan, but I know my story is just beginning. Here’s to the ugly parts, may they bring me to the best parts.