I was scrolling through Instagram one morning, half asleep and feeling all the feels, when this quote from Hiba Fatima Ahmad suddenly appeared before me:
“How can you rise, if you have not burned?”
Perfection. Because my work these past several months has really been about choosing to rise. Choosing to come back from the hardest year and loss of my life. Choosing to return with all the wisdom and truths and clarity I gained from those darkest, hardest pockets, so I can create real alignment in my life, relationships, and work. So I can show up and serve in all the ways I’m being called to serve.
Back in November, as I clearly began to see where I stood on this healing journey, I realized I had a choice to make if I ever wanted to come back better and wiser than before. And messages about rising began appearing all around me. Like this quote… this one shook me to my core with it’s raw, simple truth.
How can you rise, if you have not burned?
Never before in my life had there been a time when I was more willing to let it all burn to the ground. In the years past I would resist… retreat… numb out… hide… or try forcing things to go a certain way. All because I was afraid of the flames. I was afraid to let go and I had no concept of trust or faith. So I would latch onto whoever and whatever was in my life with a white knuckle grip, petrified of loss. Terrified of the unknown that would come once everything known was gone.
But not last year.
Last year I let it all burn.
Sometimes I even lit the match.
And you know what?
It was the most amazing experience of my life.
I learned there’s freedom that comes from loss and massive power in surrender. There’s beauty and a depth of connection we’ve never known inside the voids that remain when people and things burn away. I’ve found that there’s clarity and guidance inside the deepest, darkest pockets of the unknown. There’s peace and joy inside the stillness and the emptiness as the ash settles at your feet.
I learned that the more I’m willing to release my grip, the more things begin to fall into place with ease. The more I’m willing to surrender and stop fighting, the more support shows up to carry me through. The more I’m willing to let go of the people and things I held so dear, the more I find my footing and connect with those and that which are meant to stay. The more I listen to what’s being asked of me – what wants to move through me – instead of stubbornly and fearfully “sticking to the plan,“ the more aligned my work becomes. The more aligned I become.
The more willing I am to let it all burn to the ground, the higher I begin to rise.
That said, this willingness to let it all burn didn’t come easily.
Nor do I necessarily recommend metaphorically lighting your life on fire.
This conversation isn’t about destruction. It’s not about making messes of things that are meant to be a part of your journey out of fear. It’s about recognizing when we’re resisting the natural flow of death and rebirth… big and small and everything in between. When we’re fighting the need for something to fall away so that another, more aligned something has the space to arrive. Which, when we let it flow as it naturally will, happens more frequently than we generally allow it to.
For most of last year, I didn’t have a choice.
Loss sucker punched in the back of the head and began stealing pieces of me, my life, and my business before I knew what was happening. It cracked me so far open, and that void acted like a massive black hole where things and beliefs and ways of being just vanished inside of, never to be seen again. Poof, gone.
There were some things I embraced fully and completely, because I simply didn’t know how to be who I was before anymore. I was just… different. Changed. Altered at my core, and because it happened so instantly, it was easy to let it be.
But my work, my business, and what I was creating?
These I resisted, and I resisted hard.
I tried to stay the course. I tried to write how I wrote before. I tried to stick to the plan. And as everything slowly and painfully died no matter what I did, I realized I had to let it go. I had to let it burn, there was no other way to move forward.
So I released my grip, and in that single energetic act, I lit a match.
I lit a match and I stood there, feet firmly planted in the ground despite how absolutely terrified I was, and watched as everything began to burn. I stood there, holding steady despite how much I wanted to run over and undo what I’d begun, willing to let go of everyone and everything that needed to fall away.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And while fully committing to my choice of surrender eased a lot of my resistance and stress, I was by no means graceful inside this act. There were many tears, several emotional breakdowns, a lot of anxiety, and more meltdowns than I can count along the way.
As I stand here today on the other side of total surrender, rising back up more quickly than I knew I could, I can see it clearly. The more willing I am to let it burn, the higher I rise. In life, love, and work. It’s the only way.
You can’t rise if you haven’t burned.
You can’t come back if you never fall. You can’t succeed without failing or floundering or flailing around a bit. You can’t truly heal if you never let yourself break all the way through. You can’t become whole and happy and healthy without some level of “rock bottom” from which to leave behind.
And just remember that your “burning” doesn’t have to mean full surrender while risking everything you’ve worked so hard for in your life… it can be as simple as getting a little uncomfortable and declaring that you want something more, something different. By leaning in and starting to do the work necessary to “rise” into what’s next for you and your life. Whatever it is, it’s time.
How will you choose to surrender so you can begin to rise?