Never Deserted

Never Deserted

The first time I visited Fayetteville, NC, I can remember thinking how dirty, ugly, and crowded it was, and how I’d never subject myself to living in such a nasty place. I had grown up in the country. But just before I turned twenty, I met a man who lived in Fayetteville and fell in love – well, I fell in something. And I followed him into the very city I had always detested.

The first couple of years in Fayetteville nearly kicked my tail. Unable to get other work, I hired on with a temp service as a secretary. They sent me to offices all over town for a week or two at a time. I was barely making minimum wage. One week, they couldn’t find me an office job. I was so desperate for income that I accepted a job in a meat packing plant where I lasted one very nauseating day before I quit. Within nine months, I was broke, broken-hearted, and alone in the dirty, ugly, crowded city that I still hated.

I have to give Fayetteville some credit. It forced me to grow up. Two years after I arrived, I started college there. I got my degree and my first “real” job – teaching at Fayetteville Technical Community College. All told, I called Fayetteville “home” for eight years, five months, and three days – longer than any other place I have ever lived.

Margaret Feinberg says, “Sooner or later, most of us find ourselves forced to live somewhere we would never choose, an inhospitable territory with unbearable conditions.” (ebook location 1146)

This week’s chapter of “Fight Back With Joy” describes Achsah’s exile in the desert. And I can honestly say that in those first Fayetteville years, I felt like I was in a desert. I moved there expecting happily-ever-after and instead, found myself in the middle of a nightmare that included poverty, heart-break, sickness, desperate loneliness, and abuse. I was most definitely in “inhospitable territory” and under “unbearable conditions.”

But Achsah does something pretty brave. Instead of curling up in a corner and crying, she asks for what she needs – a spring of water. And not only does she get what she asks for, she gets everything – including what she didn’t ask for.

I’ll admit that my process of asking for help in my desert wasn’t near as classy as Achsah’s appears to be. I whined, cried, begged, pleaded, made myself sick… But at the end, God gave me springs of water anyway. I got a degree I had never expected to be able to get, I got three jobs that taught me extensive job skills (and life skills) that I use today, I got to spend time a number of invaluable chunks of time overseas on the mission field, and today I’m living in a ridiculously beautiful city with wonderful friends and the best support system I’ve ever had. I do work I love, with people I love, in a place I love. I wouldn’t trade that!

Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” I’m living proof of that. How about you? Has God ever given you more than you could have imagined?

This post is part of a weekly discussion on Margaret Feinberg’s book, “Fight Back With Joy.” You haven’t got to read the book to talk with us! If you have written a response to this week’s chapter, go ahead and link it up below before you go visit my co-facilitator, Jason.

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About Sarah Salter


  1. Barbara Capps says:

    I have often heard that “Fayettenam” does that to people.. I have lived here all my life except when we were in the Navy, or Herman was…And hey, I got to meet you, so I am glad your “endured” Fayettenam..for those 8 years, five months, and three days… But like you say, now you are out there in that beautiful state…:)

  2. I have experienced that reality before. God turns deserts into an oasis. I’ve seen it many times, in fact, and yet here I am again believing and still struggling to believe He’ll do it again. 🙂 I seem to learn and then relearn, but He I know He’s faithful and sees it all through to His perfect end. Thanks Sarah.

  3. Love hearing about all the things you got to do and experiences you had in your “inhospitable territory,” Sarah. Thank you for your continued vulnerability.

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Margaret, thank you for coming by and sharing your encouragement! We’re really enjoying your book!

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