I’m writing this article today in response to an excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, "Eat, Pray, Love."
This is a book I had picked up eight years ago as a teenager. It's a book that made me want to be a writer and that when read eight years later, still discovers a special place inside my mind.
This part of my story is not a happy one, I know. But I share it here because something was about to occur on that bathroom floor that would change forever the progression of my life – almost like one of those crazy astronomical super-events when a planet flips over in outer space for no reason whatsoever, and its molten core shifts, relocating its poles and altering its shape radically, such that the whole mass of the planet suddenly becomes oblong instead of spherical. Something like that. What happened was that I started to pray. You know – like, to God.
This isn’t an article about religion or God (whichever God comes to your mind when reading that word). This is a post about change; change that arrives at the most inconvenient and undesirable times.
It's the kind of reformation that has been tiptoeing behind your every step from the moment your mind conceived it.
In Gilbert’s case, it came to her during a cold November when she found herself crying uncontrollably on the bathroom floor, unhappy with her marriage, reaching for any voice other than her own internal dialogue, leading her to pray, “You know – like, to God.”
Change feels the worst when you’re suffocated by it, unable to escape the fear attached to every thought of how you’re going to survive the new elements of your life.
Sometimes, it’s not all that dramatic, and simply involves being uncomfortable for a little while, (or a long while). Sometimes, it’s not feeling ready for the necessary new. And, sometimes, it’s just being lonely. All of which never feel good and are never things people want to experience.
But, when does necessary change ever come knocking at just the precise moment we desire it, in just the right shapes and colors we want or need so we can rush through the hard parts and get to the good stuff?
I label it as “necessary change” because necessary change is never the kind we want. It’s the type we know we need, but it’s the most uncomfortable and heart-wrenching.
Yet, as much as we hold back and hide from it, we undoubtedly know we are eventually going to have to go through it.
It happens when we muster up enough strength to take the big leap, or when life/fate/the Universe/God creatively orchestrates just the right scene on some random day that we blindly walk into, forever redirecting the course of our lives forever.
Everyone at some point has experienced this kind of blindsided transitioning. It’s the unforgettable “normality” we learn to adjust ourselves with while going through it, and the blessed transformation when time has done its job, healed all wounds and birthed something anew.
Initial, taken-off-guard change is the scariest, yet also most beautiful and grateful kind of change. It awakens and enlivens you, strengthens and restores you, until you realize that in some rooted part of yourself, you silently asked for it all along.
Oh, but it wasn’t all that bad, those few years… Because God never slams a door in your face without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies (or however the old adage goes), some wonderful things did happen to me in the shadow of all that sorrow. – Elizabeth Gilbert