Our journeys through life don't always end up where or how we envisioned and an analysis of our peaks and valleys only confirm that. We can go from thinking and feeling like we're on top of the world one day to feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders the next. That's because life is a series of forks in the road. All decisions have the power to lead us to completely different destinations where we will encounter a multitude of situations, people, and outcomes. Every season of life is test and an ironic one at that. It takes us experiencing the negative to truly appreciate and work toward the positive, and us going down the tough, wrong, and lonely roads to truly fight and aspire to always stay on the right ones. Until we suffered from the pain and pressure from hitting rock bottom, we didn't have the strength, endurance, or understanding it entailed to rise above and claim our rightful place. Until experienced the effects of evil, we didn't truly understand the importance of staying near and growing in our relationships with God. Most of us had to fall in order to learn and acquire true alignment.
As adults, looking back can be bittersweet. As much as we can see and are proud of our growth, for some of us it's hard not to struggle with the hindsight. We find ourselves harping on the time wasted, tears shed, damage we cannot undo, trials and errors, or the pain and mistakes of the past. However, we have to remember that even though it wasn't part of our plans or even favorable experiences, it was always part of The Plan. Those wrong turns, if we learned from them, can still and will be used for good.
The thing about searching and trying to find ourselves in the world, is that we usually get there by finding out exactly who we don't want to be. What if the setbacks, suffering, and soul searching were stepping stones? It certainly didn't feel or look that way in the middle, but serves as a reference at the end. We wouldn't be the amazing artists, parents, Christians, friends, support, success stories, or people if we didn't experience all that we did. Sometimes it's drug addiction, going to prison, failures, becoming the worst version of ourselves, or drowning in depression that makes us open our eyes and realize that the direction we're going is not where we want to go or are meant to be at all.
Our view of life and The Ultimate Plan for our lives are more complex and bigger than we understand. Just because we experienced seasons of lack, depression, rebellion, or darkness that doesn't mean we can’t walk out of them on a path to abundance, peace, a sound mind and a greater purpose. The same experiences that seemingly broke us can provide us with the very tools and lessons to build us up or help someone else.
I was always the poster child for perfectionism, Type A personality, and a structured, people pleasing life. I believed I was in control, everything I had was from my doing, I knew best, and that my plan was the way to go, yet always looked for someone to tell me the way to go. Whenever I went into my dark season and off my track, I was all over the place. I was lost, confused, acting out, lashing out, depressed, volatile, and on the verge of losing everyone and everything I loved, my mind, and my life. My pain I thought I was feeling became minuscule in comparison to the pain I truly felt when it began to affect others. The pain, shame, and emptiness that came from hurting people through my actions, reactions, selfishness, judgements, ignorance, insecurities, addictions, and desperation not only showed me that I was down a dangerous road, but also that there was a serious problem and something needed to change.
I went to priests, doctors, ministers, psychics, a shaman, family, and friends in search of advice and a remedy, but nothing seemed to get me off the road I was traveling. It wasn’t until I was led to my now home church and pastor that things started to change. I began to realize I was looking for direction from anywhere but lacked discernment. I wanted perfection and lost sight of reality. I was my biggest problem. I was hell bent on perfection and things of the flesh when I needed to align with my purpose and get my spirit right. All that time I prided myself on my seemingly fairytale journey, I was simply traveling 100 mph the wrong way. I needed to grow up, open my eyes, and accept who was really in control. I can make plans and envision things for myself all day but if He isn't the center compass, I'm not going too far or anywhere of worth. Once I took the steps to let go of my control, failures, flaws, iniquities, image, pride, and plan, God began to turn it around for me. The process wasn't comfortable, didn't yield immediate results, and didn't make me holier than thou or an overnight saint, but the chastising shed light on and changed many things.
There are some roads I wish I never traveled, but I try to find peace in knowing that it led me on the path that I’m on today. A path that accepts change, embraces growth, and renewed my mind, body, and spirit. It took getting lost and depleted to see that the only guidance or help that can lead me out of life's situations, seasons, and spirals is God himself and everything I was looking for was already in me. No person, no pill, no possession can ever give me a lasting or healthy result. Nothing and no one of the world can fix a psychological, emotional, or spiritual problem.
Do I have times where I dwell or feel pain from past failures, shame, or regret? Of course, on a level that most people probably wouldn’t take it, but I’m learning to see the blessing in the lessons learned. Isolation, depression, and reflection acted as mirror that revealed a lot about myself that needed to be worked on and led me where I needed to be. It showed me that I once had judgment and ignorance in my heart for a plethora of things and people I did not understand. I’m now slower to judge, quicker to forgive, and see the value in paying it forward. I show mercy because mercy has been shown to me and my heart is now filled with more humility, appreciation, empathy, and wisdom than I ever had. I've learned that we don’t know what tomorrow brings and a person's present position doesn't define their final destination. Life can never go in reverse, but I can always align myself on a path to a better future.
My dad's motto has always been "It's doesn't matter where you've been or if you're at the bottom. All that matters is you get up, keep moving forward, and get where you're supposed to go." With that being said, low points aren't life sentences and don't have to become lifestyles. People may always remember us at our lowest, judge us for it, discount us, or mentally keep us there but it doesn't mean we have to stay.
At the end of the day, no one that walks the Earth is without blemish. We’re all humans trying to find our way. Luckily for us, the fork is always in our road. Even if we went the wrong way for days, weeks, years, or even a lifetime, we can still make the next moment and life thereafter different. We can either stay on the path of destruction and harp on our pains, problems, pasts, mistakes, failures, and remain conflicted, or we can align with our higher calling and begin the journey of healing, renewal, and growth with the strength and lessons we’ve learned. The choice will always be and has always been ours.