No human life is immune from the fire. We must all, at some point or another face it. It will burn you, morph you, melt and twist your soul into something new. You cannot simply exit life in the same condition that you arrived.
There are corners that you turn that are marked with small flags, sometimes missed and sometimes seen. And whether you realize it or not, it is around those corners that your life will no longer be the same.
It is the feeling of running past the finish line, the ribbon still caught in your hair, only for a new race to begin. There is no gunshot to signal a break, and the only way out is to keep running with the hopes of an ending. And still then, maybe.
There is no life that has lived that has not been tested. The leaf dies to bud anew, with full knowledge that it has been born just to die again. The stagnant pond is pelted with a midnight rainstorm only to greet the morning as a running stream– flowing, transporting, changing. The layers and folds of earth pressure dead coal into perfect diamonds. There is nothing of worth that has not been first tested. If your skin was meant to eternally glow, your body would never wrinkle or spot, you would never turn soft and gray. Life is defined by change– and most importantly, growth. Life is the cause, life is the action. But life is also a Choice. And you are the effect, you can choose the reaction.
It is true, life happens to you. It does not ask before it does, it is not the polite neighbor who knocks on your door or calls to ask if you are free. It enters, it makes itself at home. You can lock the door but it will still enter through the floorboards. This is something we must accept. You are not in control. This will stop the asking of questions that do not have answers: “Why did this happen to me? Why am I not the same as I was before?” Because that is not the nature of Life.
The changes in life are inevitable and inconvenient. But when they happen, we often assume they are the first of its kind. We fail to remember that life is a compilation of painful moments that have healed over time. And so we forget our own potential. It is important to remind yourself that you are able. You have done this before. Do you remember crying in the lap of your mother, the pain of hunger overtaking your entire existence? Do you remember playing outside and tripping over your bike? You screamed bloody murder and your knees still have the scars to prove it. Do you remember what it felt like to lie, to feel embarrassed and disappointed at yourself, tangled in a web that you still can’t shake loose? Do you remember throwing your cap into the air in bittersweet crowds of good-lucks and good-byes? Do you remember what it felt like when you threw dirt over the new home of your loved ones, one too many times? Do you remember mending a heart for the sake of Love and breaking a heart for the sake of Love? Life has brought you through all these moments. The fire was never meant to destroy, but to transform. God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear. You have been through this before. There have been many moments when the Pain felt like it would last forever. But it passed. This too, shall pass, and you will only come out stronger.
The misconception that life is meant to be easy and comfortable was written by those who were turned bitter, who, at end of their lives, never learned that the most beautiful lesson that their Life was always meant to be difficult. When the expectation is Comfort and the reality is Struggle, the result is unhappiness. When you expect life to be a Struggle, you are met with a reality of Beauty and Meaning in every struggle. Shift your expectation, change your results.
When you accept this lesson, you are not passively accepting your situation. Through understanding the wisdom behind your struggles, you begin to sing praises for the opportunity to grow, because you know that you would not be who you are without it. This requires more action than wallowing in self-pity at every sign of distress. You should invest your time and energy (blessings!) into questions that do have infinite answers: “What did I learn? How have I changed? What worked? What didn’t work? What makes me happy/unhappy? Am I being purposeful? Does this have meaning?”
The entirety of human civilization has been built on these very questions, they are the small bricks that built the road into a progressive future. A more successful present and future is more likely to happen through understanding what brought you to this point today. These questions open troves of treasures within ourselves. Understanding anything greater than yourself must first start within. You must ‘Think globally, act locally.’ There is nothing more local than your own soul.
Through asking, understanding, accepting change, growth, and even pain, you build an arsenal to handle life. You become the Master of your Fate instead of the Victim of Life. You can transform yourself into an equipped warrior who is not always left with a sigh and an eternal question of Why? Instead, you can walk with your chin up, a steady gaze, a sometimes shaking jaw, but a determined resolve. So that when you are face to face with the Fire of Life, you will finally have the courage to reply: I am ready.