Maya Angelou once said, “Every storm runs out of rain.”
I am not the biggest fan of rain, but this year in particular I feel so much gratitude for the moisture that has graced the valley that I call home. Now that the winter months have come and gone (the ones I seriously never thought would end), I feel such delight in seeing the vibrant wildflowers on my morning walks, the full creeks around my house and the lush hills propped up against a blue backdrop of clean air.
Without those gloomy, wet days, nothing would have changed. The hills would be still be brown, the creeks would still be dry. And California would still be in a drought.
The past six months for me personally have been a real doozy, to put it plainly. I’ve been here (clearly not writing), but not really here. While the clouds hovered and rains did their thing, a relentless storm took hold inside of me, pouring buckets of fear and uncertainty onto my fragile psyche and, to add insult to injury, pounding me with heaps of shame. Upon coming out of the fog (kind of how I would describe overcoming morning sickness in pregnancy and feeling like a brand new person at the arrival of the second trimester), I can now see that I was a shell of myself, collapsing under the weight of a faith crisis I never saw coming. Alive, but not present. Surviving, but most definitely not thriving.
The arrival of Spring in all of its radiant glory has aligned perfectly with the arrival of a new self, a rebirth if you will. It feels a little like I’ve been holding my breath for months, a dormant tree yearning for the sun to provide me with its warmth and new life. And now, finally out of dormancy, I am letting out a giant exhale. Showing up to each new day with an intention and presence I’ve never really known before. So much gratitude and relief there.
Had I known I would eventually shed that shell of myself and return to my life stronger than ever, I would have endured my faith crisis with more hope and lightness, less fear. But of course, that’s never how it goes, is it? A caterpillar doesn’t see the end result of its transformation; it just relies on its instincts and trusts the process. I guess that’s how I would describe my deconstruction. I didn’t will it or even want it to happen (I was happy and comfortable; who in her right mind chooses to have her whole world obliterated before her eyes?!) and surely it brought a heaviness with it that is downright impossible to convey in writing. But it’s a journey I took with hope, and one that I would take again without hesitation, having now experienced the fruits of my labors. I can’t imagine a loving universe that wouldn’t offer some pretty amazing gifts after a complete life upheaval. Give me punishing morning sickness and endless rainy days if it means that sweet babies and brilliant wildflowers will greet me on the other side. Rebirth.
Enjoying the Fruits
What are the fruits of a faith crisis…from deconstructing from a high-demand religion, you may ask? Well, for a fierce feminist at heart who was tamed into playing the part of a religious good girl for the better part of 35 years (think: accommodating, self-sacrificing, people-pleasing, pure and modest, self-doubting, never questioning authority and stuffing down uncomfortable emotions), I can tell you with a newfound confidence that the most glorious and unexpected reward–the brightest and most vibrant of the wildflowers to spring forth–has been freedom. I’m not talking about physical freedom to do as I please (though that feels like a new perk, too).
No. I’m talking about the radical freedom to trust my own mind; the delicious freedom in being able to believe or disbelieve whatever I want, guilt-free; the well-earned freedom to be wholly and unapologetically myself, fully able to embrace all the parts of me that I was taught to be ashamed of or keep hidden.
To me, freedom means to be human. And actual, real-life humaning—not chasing perfection or playing a part—is the kind of freedom I want to know. Imagine that. I see now that it was waiting for me all along, this seemingly-elusive freedom. As Glennon Doyle writes in her masterpiece, Untamed: “What is wrong with me? Why did I stay and suffer? The door wasn’t even locked.”
Stronger Version of Me
All during my free-fall, I sensed a stronger version of me waiting at the bottom of the mountain, ready to catch me. The girl I was becoming, there, with open arms. And I was right. She not only caught me, but embraced me and has been holding me close since the moment I understood that freedom is my birthright. Even at 36 years old, that’s a truth that can still be uncovered…who knew.
I think clarity comes when we are brave enough to take off our armor, to admit to ourselves that something isn’t working, to get curious and painfully honest. No more hiding or pretending. No more outsourcing the wisdom that lives within us. It’s the real, gritty work that life demands of us as women, if we want to live fully and freely. Life with new eyes.
We All Have Our Storms
But…back to rain and storms. I am not here to go into the depths of my faith crisis and transformation any more than I have. Though I do consider myself pretty much an open book, I also feel that a great deal of my journey is a sacred story to be held close to my heart. Also, if we are honest, it would take a book to delve into all the complicated and messy nuances of a faith journey.
I just want to say that we all have our personal rainstorms. No human being is off the hook. We can never be sure when those chaotic yet sacred journeys of growth and transformation will unfold for us, but we CAN be sure they will show up time and time again. I think the dark night of the soul (that we all experience in our own way and in our own time, sometimes multiple times) will always lead us to higher awareness, greater compassion for self and others and the radical freedom to step further into our own authenticity. To me, that’s the point.
The Universe Has Your Back
The universe knows when we are ready to level up, to accept the invitation to honor our soul path and clear the debris of our conditioning that has kept us trapped, even if just in our own minds. Saying YES to our life is 100 percent a shot in the dark. But coming from a girl who has just endured multiple years of a very messy dismantling of everything I thought I knew, I lovingly offer you the wisdom I have gained: to have faith and trust in yourself. Healing awaits. The universe has your back and will reward you with those sweet, undeniable breakthroughs just when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom.
To quote one of my favorite spiritual songs:
“Hope has a way of turning its face to you just when you least expect it
You walk in a room, you look out a window and something there leaves you breathless
You say to yourself, It’s been a while since I’ve felt this
But it feels like it might be hope.”
Believe me: there is light–YOUR light– gloriously shining like it does at the end of your deepest, darkest tunnels. In fact, it’s been there all along, you just couldn’t see it.
Keep going… for every bitter, unforgiving storm does indeed run out of rain.
And your rainbow awaits.
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