Rebecca Duvall

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Reading Maps

IMG_5533I’d like to introduce you to Renee Ronika. She commits to honest faith and bold vulnerability as a writer, speaker, event host, and minister. She publishes poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. I hope you enjoy this lovely piece she is sharing with us today.

How I Learned to Read a Map

I’m the girl who likes to ask questions, especially when I need directions. I’m inclined to trust others’ judgment over my own. When I was 21 and lost in Edinburgh, I stopped a local—a man about 90—to get directions to a restaurant. He’ll know, I assured myself. Old Scotsmen have wisdom. His accent, however, was thick and his speech, hurried. I thanked him and stood squarely on the cobblestone street, wondering how I’d pinpoint the few words I could decipher to reach my destination.

I took out my map again and navigated myself. The streets, wound about the city, felt haphazard and bleak. It was December. I found my way to the restaurant, and I warmed myself by the fire. I ate stew with a baguette.

My life story remains the same from there: I doubt my way and seek out someone’s help, only to find their communication foreign and obfuscated. So I wait in the quiet and scrounge up some courage, maybe patience, and seek out the answers myself.

“It then occurred to me that this was not the first time I had been given a map that failed to show many of the things I could see right in front of my eyes. All through school and university I had been given maps of life and knowledge on which there was hardly a trace of many of the things that I most cared about and that seemed to me to be of the greatest possible importance for the conduct of my life. I remembered that for many years my perplexity was complete; and no interpreter came along to help me. It remained complete until I ceased to suspect the sanity of my perceptions and began, instead, to suspect the soundness of the maps.”– E. F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed

In my twenties, I prided myself in honoring others first, in deferring to an elder’s wisdom, a pastor’s authority, a friend’s insight. I heard Jesus’ voice through the prophets, priests, and kings surrounding me, and my dutiful obedience lit my path.

By my thirties, I saw the road behind me illuminated by a lamp that I did not hold. All those years—of trusting, deferring, rendering others as more able—dimmed my trust, my strength, my ability. I was hard of hearing and poor of sight. I could not read maps because I had dropped them along the way of consulting others.

As I lay silent and blind, the prophet within me spoke and saw. The prophet foretold a story rife with conflict, wanting resolution, with ambient light and a stalwart protagonist.

Once the story began, the priest within me emerged. The priest listened for the voice of Jesus and heard it in the crisp autumn air. His voice remained through winter. It arrived again in spring and stayed through summer. After I listened, seasons begetting seasons, I could speak.

When I spoke, the king within me stood. The king was draped with all that had been heard and said, all that had been obeyed and rejected, all that had been fought against and won. The throne was lit by a light that was entirely mine yet not mine at all.


People stop to ask me for directions. Sometimes I’ll advise on a few turns, but then I refer them to their maps. I know enough to know their maps are accurate, if not entirely legible, and my perspective might skew the horizon. I don’t want to confuse a journey, particularly not someone else’s.

I know enough to know the Jesus I heard at 18, at 21, at 25, at 35, really is the way, the light, in every manner imaginable, and authentic, and real. He’s my map, and I don’t want to trust anyone else to read it for me.


Renee is Prism Women’s founder and visionary. Renee resides with her husband Gregory, a pianist and composer, and their three children in the Wild West—her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona—where she’s discovered green grass and true community after fifteen years of living abroad and throughout the country. To read more from and about Renee, visit You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram as @reneeronika or @prismwomen.

1 Comment

  1. Alice says:

    Renee is as beautiful and articulate in person as her words are on the page. Thank you for sharing this. From one who knew her “throughout the country.”

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