I can’t see the path I seemed to have wondered off from, and clearly I have been traveling off the path for some time now. I must have been walking absent-mindedly, for as I look around, I finally start taking in my surroundings for what seems like the first time in a while. I don’t necessarily think much of being off of my path, at least not at first glance.
In the depths of the forest I find myself among trees. Some are large and years older than me with bark that shows its age like skin on the back of an older person’s hand, revealing a long life but not giving indication if it was well lived. I do not see many young trees in this forest, however. I find that strange, for in order for a forest to flourish, it must yield growth. This was the first sign that maybe this forest was different. Perhaps this forest kills life, does not signify growth, and takes those who enter and fail to escape as hostages. Maybe I didn’t take a minor stumble off the path but am deeper in than I realized.
I look around for flowers, animals, or anything else that God’s hand would have touched, but I oddly don’t see anything of the such. However I do notice green, soft looking moss creeping up the side of a tree. But upon further inspection, I find that it is not nearly as pleasant as I thought it was from afar. As I get closer, I realize it is an ugly shade of green and turning black, as if it is rotting from the inside out. The tree seems to be dying as well, if it is not already dead. The long limbs of the tree, probably once elegant and strong now seem to have a sadness about them. Some of the bark has been chipped away, probably due to various storms that it endured, and some of its branches lay scattered on the ground like remains on a battlefield. As I look at the poor tree branches that have lost the fight of living life, I notice the moss is not only on the side of the tree, but on the forest floor below me as well, comsuming everything in its path. I start wondering if it is toxic and how I even got myself to this spot where I am now. How did I not realize how far I have gotten from my path?
Once I opened my eyes, at first glance I thought the scenery was simply different, but now I see it is more than just different, it is destructive. I look up at the sky and realize it is getting dark out and the clouds above are threatening as if warning me to get out now while I still can. Feelings of anxiousness overcome me and I realize I am uncomfortable and can almost feel the moss slowly crawling into my blood stream as it starts to take the life out of me, just like the dead tree. How did I get to this place and how do I even get back to the path I seemed to wonder from?
I move. I do not know exactly where to go, but I do know that if I don’t move, I may not make it out alive. I use my instincts and memory of what has worked in the past when I have found myself lost in woods similar to these. As I move forward, I feel thorns dig into my clothes and scrap my skin as if to try and keep me as their prisoner. But I don’t care as long as I make it out alive. I don’t expect the journey to be easy to get to where I was before, I am simply overwhelmed with the sense of urgency that it must be done. I know I may have to fight, claw, climb, and pull my way out of this to get myself back to where I know I belong– back on my path.
There are creatures along my journey that try to drag me back into the woods where they live off of my failure and struggle, but I refuse to let them win. I am a fighter and I will survive. As I keep moving, I also find creatures that help me. They guide me and give me clues to where my path is located. Some simply show their faces as if to say we may not be able to help you get to where you are going, but we are here to support you; we have your back. I may not be on the once well lit path I started on, but I will get there. I will find my way out of the forest.
As I come closer, I can sense it. I feel it in my blood; the positive happiness that is my path. There is a glimmer of light shining through the last line of trees and I realize I have somehow made it back to where I belong. This is my path and with a smile on my face and warmth from the sun pumping through my veins, I continue my journey on and up on the path that is me. I am a fighter, I have survived, and now I will triumph.
Have you ever come to the revelation you are not where you once were or where you think you should be, whether it is your attitude, life situation, your personal life, etc? The first step is becoming aware of this. The next step is finding out how to get to where you want to go. Life is full of surprises, disappointments, and other storms you must overcome. This is reality, but it is when we find ourselves stuck in the woods for too long that we may notice life slowly seeping out of our pores and if we don’t get out, it will engulf us completely.
In the depths of our struggle we may encounter people in our lives that drain us farther, try to push us deeper into the woods, or tempt us to give up. But in the woods there are also people that will help guide and be there for us as we try to make our way back into the light of who we are truly meant to be. Find those friends. Use them as aides and occasional shoulders to lean on, but realize that is all they are. It is not their responsibility to get us out of the darkness and into the light, for only we can do that ourselves. I know I have found myself using people to make me happy when I have struggled, only to find my happiness disappears once they were gone. I believe the hardest part is realizing our struggles and attacking them head on with a positive mindset. Life is all about mindset. For it is our thoughts that determine our actions or inactions, and our actions or inactions determine our life.
Don’t think you are alone in the woods. We all enter it at times, but it is important you realize when you have gotten lost in your way in order to swiftly move back to who you were meant to be: a happy, prospering individual living life to the fullest. Sometimes that means cutting out bad people and bad habits from your life, taking time for yourself to de-stress and pray/meditate on the positives in life, and taking action to make a change.
Even though when lost we may not know where to go or what to do, sitting in our struggle is worse. Take action. Make a move. For those that try, will eventually succeed.