“A Walk in the Forest”

from 'Love Letters from Poland' by Sarah de Orlando

Posted by Nancy Lee on February 11, 2023

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I have something better to offer you than chocolates, flowers, or a romantic dinner. God’s love. Well, at least, an excerpt from an inspiring book I just read which is all about God’s pure, unconditional, and transformative love, and a chance to win a copy of it in a drawing.

Please welcome guest author, Sarah de Orlando. Sarah was raised in a Christian church, but she lived her life under a dark shadow of shame, insecurities, and depression caused by childhood trauma. At Sarah’s most vulnerable point, during an eight-month assignment in a foreign country far from her family, God reached down to her with love and patience, helping her to fully embrace His love and forgiveness. 

Sarah has written about her journey of discovering the transforming power of God’s love in her book, Love Letters from Poland. It is her hope to help others fully embrace the love of God in their lives. I feel blessed to be able to share an excerpt from her book, a portion of chapter 7 with you.

“A Walk in the Forest”

I found Jesus in Poland, in the quiet of the forest.

Suddenly, I realized the stillness of my heart was the Lord’s gift to me, and a way he spoke to me. As I walked and prayed in my beloved Polish woods, he freed me from seeing his Word as a list of rules I had to obey to earn his acceptance and love. Instead, he showed me the Bible is a powerful tool to reveal his character.

His love letters. Written to his treasured daughter.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

God loved me so much he wanted me to know him intimately, to enjoy him, to love him, to have a relationship with him. But first, and foremost to be loved by him. I struggled to understand how to love the Lord, and especially how he could love me. He previously felt elusive as I was burdened with seasons of crippling depression and the sin of performing for affirmation. I couldn’t love myself, others, or the Lord until I felt safe in his love for me. Just as a child cannot thrive without a secure attachment to their caretakers, I first had to see God meeting my physical and emotional needs to rest in his love. As he reminded me of his faithfulness giving me a loving church community, multiplying my financial blessings, and quelling my loneliness, my heart was softened to his fatherly care. He did see me, his beautiful daughter. 

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Exodus 34:6

Before Poland, if you were to ask me what the first character trait, I’d use to describe God, I promise it would not be “compassionate.” However, that is exactly the first word the Lord used for himself after he created a loving, protective agreement with his people, the Israelites, in the Bible. The word in Hebrew also is related to the word womb, showing God’s nurturing care.[1]

I felt his nurturing Spirit meet me in the woods and recreate my child-like wonder. He drew me in close, looked me in the eyes, and treasured who I was. I felt his joy and peace in my heart as I literally walked and built our relationship in the forest, my personal sanctuary.

I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:11-12

Aching for freedom from my harsh inner critic, God paved the way for my heart to receive his Word and revelations of love. I wanted to know God’s heart and he was my priority. He led me humbly into his presence. I was desperate for him to comfort my loneliness, heal my depression, and give me rest.

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. Proverbs 8:34. 

I welcomed him and found deep satisfaction as I let him nourish his mind with his Word and presence. Sometimes his voice came as a verse that popped into my mind, perfectly applicable to my day, other times as a profound thought that hit my heart. Those revelations were packed full of wisdom, abundantly more than I could ever reason with my twenty-seven-year-old mind. His Spirit emboldened me to speak truth and love to myself, Andres {Sarah’s husband}, and my new polish friends. I was not afraid or fearful of how I would be perceived as a “church girl” or “super religious.” God’s love changed me and I couldn’t help but share the overflow with others.

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Psalm 25:9

Called. I was being called by Jesus. In my sweet spring season, in my forest. I was called to know his heart for me and to find myself in him.

From the depths of my soul I knew this was where God wanted me to be; walking with him. To abide in his love, his Word, and love others through the outpouring he lavished on me. I had unshakable hope for my life and experienced the soul-nourishing love of Jesus. He was gentle, knowing I was but a sprout, longing to finally delight in the day he laid before me. I kept seeking, and he kept giving me more and more of his beautiful heart.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13

More about Sarah: Sarah de Orlando is an author, speaker, and the Chief-Hope-Giver of Sarah de Orlando Coaching. Her debut memoir, Love Letters from Poland, was released in 2021. She is married to her college sweetheart, Andrés, and they have one super-cute daughter, “Bug.” She bravely left her engineering career after an encounter with Jesus in Poland revealed her true purpose: to live rooted in Jesus’ love and lavish it on others. Her passion is to coach women to discover and embrace their vibrant calling so that we may impact nations and generations for Jesus. Connect with her on Instagram  @sarahdeorlando and at www.sarahdeorlando.com.

Enter to win a copy of Letters from Poland: If you are a faithful reader of this blog, you will be automatically entered in the drawing, but no worries, new readers can sign up by signing up for my email list at the end of this page or messaging me from the contact page. Drawing will be held on February 18th, 2023, and the winner will be notified. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be drawn. 

Do you wish to purchase Letters from Poland? You can purchase Sarah's book from her website by clicking here or on Amazon by clicking here. (This is an affiliate link. I will receive a small commission if you purchase a book through this link.)

de Orlando, Sarah. “A Walk in the Forest.” In Love Letters from Poland, 85–89. Sarah de Orlando, 2021.

Resources: 1. “The Womb of God?”The Bible Project, October, 25,2020. https://bibleproject.com/podcast/the-womb-of-god.

Background photo by Image by Klamczynski from Pixabay