It was a quiet storm This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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It was a quiet storm, but a storm nonetheless.  The thunder rumbled and the rain dripped from the canopy of leaves above my head.  It had snuck up on me.  There were no warning signs – no heads up.  I had entered into it just as an oblivious child wanders from her home. Unaware, naïve, and so totally unprepared for what lies ahead.
Then it began.
The wind came first, rustling in the trees.  It looked to me like an ancient dance with the trees dipping backward before rising once again.  The rain followed like a million little fairies tap dancing on the forest floor.  Then the thunder with a menacing growl.  And lastly – the lightning – flashing like a taskmaster’s whip.
I realized I had nowhere to go but forward, farther and farther into the storm. There was no use in turning back, I wouldn’t know the way.  A completely different person had walked those paths.  Forward was the only way; the only chance I had left.
I had spent my life running from side to side, pleasing one crowd while earning the disgust of another.  I was always trying to satisfy, to gratify, to reach a standard where finally – finally – I would be accepted, to reach a place where I could finally stop trying so hard to be someone I knew I could never be.
But then I looked up, and saw I was the only one there.  Everyone else had left and moved on with their lives. But I had been so busy trying to be part of everyone else’s that I didn’t even notice when mine left without me.
It was a quiet storm. It was quiet, because no matter how loud it was, the storm raging within me was louder. So much louder.
My thoughts howled like an unrelenting wind while the questions ricocheted like the echo of thunder.   All the regrets flashed across my mind like lightning. And the doubt… the doubt was as constant as the patter of rain.
I kept walking, the mud squishing beneath my feet.  The rain seeped through my clothes and settled in my bones.  The thunder boomed and crashed while the lighting flashed in the ever darkening sky.  Forward, always forward.  One step after another led me deeper into the unknown where I would lose who I thought I was in order to become who I am.
I am drenched in rain.
I am deafened by thunder.
I am blinded by lightning.
I am loved.
The wind howled. I am wet, I am deaf, I am blind, I am loved. 
The rain fell in torrents. I have questions, I have regrets, I have doubts, I am loved.
The thunder roared.  I’m lost, I’m confused, I’m scared, but I’m loved.
The lightning flashed, and I saw clearly for the first time.  In the intermittent flashes of light I saw myself more clearly than I had in years of sunlight.  My hair was plastered to my face, the mud had caked around my ankles, and my shoulders sagged with the weight of wet clothes.
And I saw myself as I am. Wet, deaf, and blind… broken, beaten, yet beautiful.
I am loved.
I realized forward was the only way to go.  There’s no use in turning back, because an entirely different person had walked those paths of defeat, shame, and unworthiness.  As the storm clouds rolled away and the rain slowed, I saw new paths ahead. I saw dry paths ahead. I saw the way of hope, and joy, and faith. They were steep, but they were always straight. 
The light illuminated the world around me, and I recognized this place.  This place was new, and wonderful, and warm, and bright.  This place was love.
It had been a wild storm, raging and tearing through all I had known.  The wind had whipped away my preconceived notions of what “should be.”  The rain had washed away all stains of unworthiness.  The thunder had deafened my ears to the accuser’s lies.  And the lightning had brought to light the truth.
The truth that I AM loved.






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