Not Always Going To Be Like This

"There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven...a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to rebuild. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance...A time to keep and a time to throw away.A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak up." ~Ecclesiastes 3, selected portions of verses 1 through 8


As I continue to reflect on the path I have trod in the last year, I realize that often I landed upon this soft, warm spot in the grass where I believed that I would never be able to drag myself up from my seat and to my feet once again. I reasoned that although this was not the spot I wanted to be in right now, it was easier to stay there than to put forth the effort to get up and move.

The view from this spot isn't always so bad, depending on my mood. To one side there is a rainy forest area that reminds me of the tears that I have shed too often. As they land upon the rocks and dirt below, those tears become either streams that babble to me incoherently, lulling me into further complacency or water fledgling arborvitae that represent the past regrets I have not yet let go of.

To the other side, there is a wide-open field bountiful with every color and fragrance of flora. But the field is just beyond a rustic fence that keeps me from running barefoot and free among the dancing fairies of what I could become if only I could find the strength to get up and the courage to climb over. It serves to deter me in spirit, if not physically, and to remind me of where I remain mired.

Behind me is a cold, dark cave. Within the cave there is a pervasive dampness that chills my memory as strongly as it once cooled the temperature of the surface of my skin and the rocks that line it. It represents the past that I once dwelt in, bound as a princess waiting for a prince charming to release her from her captivity. Although I can see it there over my shoulder, I never consider going back to it. I trust that it is exactly the same within as I remember it to be, and the memory shakes me to the core of my being--every fiber of who I am is violently erupting in fear of what I used to be.

When I finally decide to leave my safe warm spot, it matters little where I go except that I must never go back to the cave of my darkness, captivity, fear and past. I may dwell in the tears of the past, of today, and for tomorrow and grow a babbling stream in the rain forest. I may find the courage and strength to get up and chase the butterflies and flowers of the possibility of all that I can be. I can do anything I want so long as I never go back within the cave and risk it all.

Never.

But I realize that I will never be free to frolic in fields of flowers of possibility until I face what the cave holds. I know that instead I could stay here, but I know that I cannot cry forever. I cannot stay here in my warm, soft spot eternally. I must move, and moving means that I must face the past head on. The only way to become free to climb that fence is first to face and grieve what I was once, deep within the cave.

As I being walking toward the cave, I chant the only thing that gives me the strength I need, "I'm not always going to be this. I'm not always going to live here. I'm not always going to be afraid."

For just a moment, as I approach the cave, my strength fails me and I stop. I hang my head low as I momentarily beat myself up for ever believing that I could do this. Realizing that I would not be me if I hadn't paused, immediately I reach my hands into my own chest and wring out the deepest breath from within my lungs and the last scrape of courage from within my heart. Although I'm still slightly ashamed by my lapse of courage, I tilt my head to the side and bite the corner of my mouth in defiance. I will do this.

Standing before the entrance to the cave, the realization comes over me slowly like a wave with no shore to crash upon. I have inhabited this cave before. It was my home in the worst ways possible. And yet, here I stand today looking over the despair of the past. I am not within the shadows of the despair. I am on the outside looking over it. Somehow, somewhere along the line, I was able to leave the bondage of my cave of despair and the past.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, I was able to leave the bondage of my cave of despair and the past.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, I was able to leave the bondage of my cave of despair and the past.

No longer do I feel the icy fingers of fear tracing the length of my spine as I face the past. No longer do I dread the journey to face the design of the cave and its effect upon me. No longer do I curse its existence and imagine it taunting me.

I lift my chin and squint my eyes to block the sun pouring down from above the cave's entrance. Ironically, I realize that it's always like that--light shining down to warm me even as I face the coldest, darkest moments. The revelation only serves to further brace my resolution to enter the cave, and my jaw protrudes forward with the insistence of someone to be dealt with, something to be afraid of.

I lift my foot upon the rock floor and press down too hard, stomping defiantly in case the cave has falsely believed it could master me again. The second footstep is just as heavy, although more intentional. One after another, even as the chills run up and down my spine, I step until I realize I am standing in the midst of the cave.

I realize today the cave is not the same, surprisingly; it is not dark here today, nor is it cold. Somewhere deep within me there is a fire burning, building, growing and warming me that seems to be lighting the cave and warming it as well. The cave--its darkness and coolness--it appears, was mostly my own creation of fear and the things I needed to help me survive I had possessed within myself.

Upon the settling of that realization, I turn calmly knowing that I have nothing to fear in the cave anymore and return to the grassy area. Around me lay the choices of my life, the rain forest of tears and mourning what has been on one side, the open field of flora on the other side inviting me to become all that I can possibly be.

Today, perhaps for the first time I've ever been aware of, I choose to move toward that fence and claim all that I can be. I may come return to this spot again to reflect. There is beauty in the quiet and solitude of the soft place, and there is much value in the expression of grief for a time. But today, today is for becoming more. I know I can do it. It's just a fence, after all, and not a high wall. When the time is right, I can always return again.

This place will always be here. But I will not always be where I am today. Both things are just as they should be.

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