We will all face different struggles on this journey and every one of us will come to a fork in our road. In one direction, we can choose the path that is the easiest. Sadly, it is also the path where we stay the same – we don’t grow and aren’t stretched. This path leads only to a future where you simply exist. On this road, you wake up each day and remind yourself of all that was, and you drape yourself in sorrow. And even though you are technically going forward in life, you are really only looking back at what was. It’s as if you have turned around and are walking backwards. You see no hope, no joy – no real future with happiness in it. All you see is the past and what has been lost.
In the other direction lies a road that is hard. It is not straight and we can’t tell whether it’s uphill, downhill, flat or curvy. This road will challenge us. It will stretch us. There will be days where we will collapse and want to give up. We will be exhausted. We will wonder why we thought we could do this. We will often think, “If only I’d taken that other road”. But what you can’t see, is that while this road is more taxing, it also holds greater rewards – and the strongest and best version of yourself is standing at the end of this road encouraging today’s you to keep pushing forward. Willing you to keep going.
This ‘future you’ knows what’s on the other side of the challenges you are currently facing. Their insight gives them an awareness into what lies ahead, and they know that this road will eventually become easier for you to navigate. Not necessarily because the terrain changed, but because you changed. Your body and mind have adapted new strengths. You’ve learned to adjust to the challenges you come against. You have grown stronger and more capable of climbing the steep cliffs and hurling yourself over giant boulders. This path takes focus and determination. It can not be tackled lackadaisically. You have to pay attention, you have to be aware of you mind-set and be focused on where you are going, not where you’ve been. This path cannot be tackled while looking back. You can take breaks, and as you do, you can reflect on the past, and when you do, you remember all the good and beautiful aspects of your life, as well as all the sorrow. You feel it, you savor it – ALL OF IT – the joy and pain – always reside inside you – they are yours forever, and when you choose to, you can revisit them anytime you want. But what you don’t do – is choose to stay focused on them. You don’t live in the past. Instead, you turn your attention to your now and your future and you keep pressing on.
You will face your future on either path. For the future is where each tomorrow lies. The future is where new beginnings occur. The future is where you are going – whether you want to or not. Your future will happen, the choice you have to make is how you experience it.
One road will dull you, one road will sharpen your. One road will be easy and the other grueling at times. One will require little more than existing and the other will stretch you to your limits. But I can promise you, that the more challenging road is also the one that empowers you. That reminds you that you can do far more than you ever imagined or gave yourself credit for. The difficult road paves the way for a life that thrives, that hopes, that anticipates good things. It has places to sit and to rest. To reflect. To cry. But they are only stopping points along the way, they are not where the road ends.
Today, take the time and evaluate the road you are on. Look to the future you, you want to be in six months, a year, and five years down the road. Then have *that future you* write a short note to this you. Encourage yourself to keep going. Remind yourself that even though this is grueling, it is worth it. Remind yourself to reverently hold onto the past but to keep looking ahead.
Then take a minute and think about what your future will be if you take the easy path. Where will you be in six months, a year or five? Will you be in the same emotional place? Will you be experiencing joy? Or will you continue to live with the light inside of you dimmed? Seriously, take the time to make some lists of the person you want to be and the person you don’t want to become. Analyze your decisions, your mindsets, and see if they are taking you closer to who you do want to become (or continue to be). And if your choices today keep you stuck – you must determine what you will change. Complaining and whining about where we are – changes nothing – actions and attitude change everything.
I’m not suggesting that actively grieving is whining or complaining. I’m talking about down the road. When our pain has eased and when we can see with clearer minds.
Keep in mind, we have all suffered unthinkable things. Defining moments have crossed our paths. But these moments, these seasons of pain and suffering and sorrow, have shaped us – but they DO NOT DEFINE US!!! Regardless of what has been taken from us, the choice to define our own future is OURS!!!
How are you choosing to define what your tomorrow’s look like? What they encompass and what they won’t. Even though it doesn’t always feel like we have a choice about how we live each today we are given – we do. The wisdom comes in knowing when to pause, to reflect, to breathe deeply, to cry, to mourn, to feel all our feelings – and then to still be able to push forward – facing forward – and purposely walk into our future.
And remember that you are not alone on this journey. Look to those farther along than you are, or those who are facing similar challenges. Ask for help. Ask questions. Seek advice. Don’t be afraid to admit when you get stuck. Ask others how they got un-stuck.
We are brave warriors and we can kick the shit out life, even after we feel it’s kicked the shit out of us!!
Your life is yours!! No one can live it for you and no one can decide what it will look like except you. Be on your own side. Be your biggest fan! Be the you that shines brightly – even though you have weathered some dark storms, you have the capacity to be a beacon to others – but first you have to allow your inner light to guide you.
Be bright today my friend – not for your kids, or your boss or your parents, siblings or friends. But be bright for yourself!! You can’t lead if you can’t see where you are going 😊 so shine on my friend – shine on!!
And who knows…maybe one day I’ll design a T-Shirt that says, “I’m a widow shining brightly while I’m kicking’ the Shit outta life”
Peace and love to each of you ❤️
From my reassembled heart to yours,