There will always be farther to go; but I’m proud of just how far I’ve already come. I’ve stripped away layer after excruciating layer of who I thought I was, what I thought I knew, and what I wanted to believe. I’ve cleared away the rubble and put out the flames, and discovered my soul buried beneath. I have faced fears and conquered demons. I’ve unveiled truths and illuminated shadows; and through it all I’ve learned that love will always prevail.
Broken and bleeding in a pit of fear, I was lifted up on the wings of love. I learned to love myself and my journey; and now I am in love with love itself. I love this earth and her creatures, the wind in her skies, the water in her veins, and the fire in her heart. I’ve fallen in love with the stars and the moon, the light of the sun, and even the darkness of night.
Like a star being reborn, I had to collapse in upon myself until my true essence broke free and scattered in an ethereal cloud of love, hope, chaos, and fire. I’ve died a thousand deaths, each time reinventing myself brighter, stronger, and purer than before. From the midst of destruction, I became the creator of myself. From the midst of darkness, I became my own source of light.
I wasn’t born with courage or strength. I had to take the path less traveled and pick them up along the way. When the time came, I didn’t stare down my fears like a natural born heroine. I trembled down to my bones and I turned back more times than I can count before I finally took one tentative step forward, followed by another and then another.
And I didn’t learn to speak my truth with grace. I learned it through countless failed attempts that ended in snickers and sneers that scared me away. Time and time again, I had to speak with a trembling voice and with my face flushed with fear before I finally figured out how to just let go and allow my soul to naturally sing.
I didn’t question my beliefs passively but catastrophically. My knees quaked and my stomach churned while I watched the world turn upside down. But I pushed on. Because I knew that there was something more. Something pure. Something unafraid. Something loving. Something true. Something that was within me all along.
With much time, many tears, and a good measure of trust, I slowly started to learn. I learned to embrace my vulnerabilities. I learned to laugh as I stripped away the falsehoods and uncertainties that cloaked my spirit. I learned how to follow my heart instead of my head.
And I’m still learning even today. I still have times when I instinctively try to hide or downplay my truth, my light, my flaws, my shadows. But now I believe in myself, I trust my divine guidance, and I trust the process. I know that beauty doesn’t come from perfection but from authenticity, that strength doesn’t come from hardened armor but from a softened heart – and this helps me overcome that instinct no matter how strong it may be.
I’ve learned, but I still have my days. I have days when I look around and it seems as if everyone else is much farther ahead. I see other people who never knew fear as intimately as I. I see other people who knew unconditional love earlier than I. I see other people who walk gentler, who love deeper, who are braver, kinder, smarter, stronger, and who see things more clearly.
I see them and I’m tempted to backtrack. I’m tempted to fall into those same old feelings of unworthiness, of insecurity, of self-judgment. I’m lured into questioning myself – whether I’ve come far enough, if I’m trying hard enough, or if I’m progressing fast enough.
But I no longer fall into that downward spiral because I understand that this journey is mine and mine alone. I know there’s no sense in comparing one path to another, no standard that can apply to different souls. I know that those who seem so far ahead were once just like me, and I can learn by paying attention to the clues they left behind.
This understanding has planted within me a burning desire to leave clues for others in much the same way, to help them navigate their own way through the wilderness. And so I do my part. I do my part by sharing my own story of survival, discovery, learning, and healing, by putting it all out there for everyone to see. I am committed to giving others what I once wished I had – a glimpse of what the process can look like, an honest portrayal of the struggles, and celebrating the triumphs. I will share what I’ve learned as I’ve taken down my own giants, faced my own monsters, and dispelled my own shadows.
I know now that the best way to help others is by helping myself. By continuing to grow and by refusing to compare. I understand that every journey is as unique as a single snowflake glistening in the evening sky – but one that’s taking place among countless others. Now I trust in the power of my authenticity to work in mysterious and profound ways; because I know that we’re all in this together, and together we can bring beauty and light even to the darkest of each other’s times.
© 2016 Cristen Rodgers
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