ARE WE OUT OF THE WOODS YET? HOW TO FACE A MENTAL STATE OF EMERGENCY.

Updated: Sep 23, 2021


I used to spend a lot of time trying to prevent fire damage, but now I realize where fire first tries to burns us,

it builds us into stronger, holier people.

 

This morning, I had a flashback to last October when my family and I packed up and trekked to Northern California to escape the statewide wildfires.


Looking back, I cringe at the difficulty of arranging that trip which had been postponed a few dozen times as any type of travel seemed to hit COVID roadblocks while we Californians were facing a local statewide crisis of nearly 100+ fires engulfing the state—salt in an already blistering wound.

By late August, we woke up to an apocalypse, to ashen streets filled with sulfurous-tinted air from wildfires burning hundreds of miles away.


August burned away to September, the temperatures skyrocketing into the hundreds. The raging wildfires coupled with a triple-digit heatwave brought smoke from every which direction and settled into every nook and cranny across the ravine-dimpled state. The weather channel showed the entire States were experiencing a thin layer of smoke crossing from sea to shining sea all the way up to Canada, warning us Californians had the most dangerous air quality in the entire world.


By October, after biting our nails to see if the fires would not burn our AirBnB down, my family and I were able to safely trek up to the Humboldt National Forest to snag a week of fresh mountain air. We stayed in a tiny red cabin nestled in a grove of oak trees with porch views of mountain crests, the maples pluming with mid-autumn colors.


Lingering among the trails of giants, I remember feeling so engulfed. The snippet of hard-won peace made me realize how I had been choking on the remaining smoke from a breakup that had left pieces of me charred, burnt, and scarred. I remember feeling so lost and unsteady with myself. I remember feeling a bit dazed and a bit lost.

Maybe that's how a lot of of us have felt after this past year has burnt, charred, and scarred our hearts. It sometimes feels a little hard to breathe.

This past year and a half has definitely been a journey toward healing, a full 180 toward surrender and wholeness. The year has been a pendulum of self-doubt and self-surrender and all the crazy moments in between.


So I'm here to tell you, babe, don't fear the fire, because it was never meant to break you but to build you.


There are mementos we collect on the paths we walk. Sometimes they end up on our shelves in the form of random knick-knacks or framed photographs, but oftentimes, I've experienced we collect feelings of places and the words of people that ultimately shape the narratives of our lives.


Here are the little tokens I'd press into your palms on your journey toward feeling complete and whole again...

1.

Give yourself space to reorient yourself.


On a morning walk through the woods, I remember staring up at the height of the redwoods only to be bombarded with thoughts of what-might-have-been's.


"I just want to move on with my life!" I heaved a core-rattling sigh.


The most difficult thing about coming out of a season of smoke and grief and becoming human again is that the pain doesn't have an expiration date. Healing doesn't have a set agenda. The progress isn't plotted by pie charts or color-coded graphs.


But I'm here to tell you this: you don't need to "get over it." You need to walk through it. One baby step at a time.


I realized that wholeness isn't an equivalent to happinesss. They're not synonyms. Wholeness is in juxtaposition to happiness. Wholeness connotes something a bit deeper, a bit more rooted and allowing that work of transformation is a slow and steady process.


Maybe it looks like five months, maybe it looks like two years. There are no daily goal-setting or monthly benchmarks to attain; just you and God and reevaluating who has the real set controls on your life.


So, go one then. One baby step forward.


2.

Dig your roots in community.


While redwoods are sturdy little creatures, their roots only dig down about six-to-twelve feet down. These sky-scraping giants weather the storms by intertwining their roots into their neighboring trees, reminding me how important community is.


When I faced the lowest point of the year of demolition, I jumped into my car and knocked on my best friend's door, arriving in true Love Actually the movie fashion, except instead of being dramatically sentimental on my crush's porch, I was springing all my sobs on my best friend's shoulder.


My best friend didn't say much - no "I told you so" or "It'll be ok." In fact, I don't even remember her saying anything at all. She just passed the tissues and held me until the waves of sobs subsided.


The only way we're going to keep our skin in the game is if we have a support system to cheer us on.


I've learned some of the best fire prevention involves digging deep with your community because we need people who can sit in our sobs and silences. We need people who can remind us who we are and Whose we are when the path gets tangled and the fog rolls in. We need people who wrap us up in love until we feel whole again.

3.

Reseed the Stories.


The thing that most amazed me about walking among those redwoods is that even though their cores had been scorched, the blackened giants still stood. The forest still towered even when so many trunks had toppled.


But more importantly, the thing that made me catch my breath is redwoods are the types of trees that actually need fire in order to reproduce. The redwood's seeds are bound by resin until they're exposed by fire. It's only in the fire that the cones open up and reseed a new generation of giants.


Like the redwoods, our hearts can be bound by resistant resin. We, in fact, need heat to open us up and cultivate the ground for regrowth.


We may not be called to put out a fire, but we are called to walk through it.

Because, we’ll walk stronger, more rooted on the other side.

I don’t think we will always have reason for the things that happen to us. As a Christ-follower, I think God is always orchestrating for our good, but sometimes that truth has a hard time settling into our hearts. All I cling to is the idea that God's a lot more interested in our growth than our comfort, knowing that what wildfires we walk through will help us heal and reseed the stories in other people.


And, babe, I can promise you this, people need the seeds you can sow in their own stories. People need the trail markers you leave behind. People need the your stories of survival you have to tell.


Now is the time to sow and reseed.

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I'm grace.

I'm the maker-dreamer-doer type of girl who is obsessed with the process of turning messy drafts into masterpieces. Whether you're building your social media or your faith, I wanna meet you where you're at. 

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