“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.” -Christine Caine
Change is a process.
When I first started my journey to bettering myself, I thought that resolution would quickly follow my decision to change. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it doesn’t work like that. Change is a bitch, but it’s also extremely rewarding and transformative. As Zig Ziglar said, “Fear has two meanings. Forget everything and run or face everything and rise. The choice is yours.”
I ran for so long. So, so long. But I finally reached a point where I decided I wasn’t going to run anymore. I was going to confront my bad habits, my fears, the false stories I’d been repeating in my head, my defense mechanisms. I was going to unlearn what I learned. I was going to tear down the layers of pain and story, and make room for new things to bloom.
Did you know that forest fires are a natural and necessary part of the ecosystem? It might appear like total destruction on the outside, but inside, a restorative, beautiful effect is taking place.
All forests contain dead trees and decaying plant matter, and when a fire burns through them, these decaying plants turn to ash, which then returns nutrients to the soil. As the fire rages through the forest, it clears out thick growth, invasive weeds, thins light-banning canopies above, and eliminates diseased plants, which allows sunlight to reach the forest floor and rids of potential threats. Thanks to the higher levels of sunlight and a fresh supply of nutrients from burned vegetation, young trees that survived the fire actually have a growth spurt and become stronger. Native species begin to flourish. Wildflowers begin to bloom abundantly. Burned trees attract diverse birds and mammals. New plants are birthed.
A forest that endures a fire ends up being even more eco-rich, grand, and diverse than ever before. The unfavorable elements are cleared out, the good elements ride out the storm and grow even stronger, and new elements are cultivated.
You see, our lives are just like a forest fire. When we decide to change, the results do not come about easily and instantaneously. Rather, we must go through some crap. Sometimes a lot of crap. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun. It can even be downright terrifying at times. But if we can remember that so much beauty is waiting for us, the shitty parts don’t seem quite as shitty. If we can look at our journeys and make peace with what’s happening, knowing that it’s a necessary part of growth, we will eliminate some of the pressure, fear, and resistance and allow the beauty to make itself known much quicker.
I need to remind myself of this every day. Some days change feels hard. So damn hard.
In those days, moments, or weeks, I take a deep breath and remind myself that I am a forest. I might be walking through flames right now, but it won’t last forever. It’s temporary. It’s necessary. It’s not out to get me.
It’s simply clearing out the old and undesirable to make room for the beauty, peace, and presence that I deserve.
That we all deserve.