How A Tragic House Fire Transformed My Life Forever

featured image by  Andrew T. Kearns

featured image by Andrew T. Kearns

As the summer days are now fading away, a new season is upon us. Not only literally, but also as a new season of growth. At the beginning of August, Emily wrote about our monthly power word: self-actualization. You might have asked yourself, "What does that look like and what does that mean for me?" Our experiences in life have shaped who we are today. We are constantly evolving and transforming by doing bigger and greater things. Unfortunately, life can have a way of knocking us down. With the most recent tragedy of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, I knew this would be a perfect opportunity to share my journey with self-actualization and how that came in the midst of tragedy.

A beautiful summer evening took a turn for the worst when my father received a phone call that would change my family's life forever. Our home had caught on fire due to lightning.

Even though the fire department was two minutes away from our home, there was nothing that could have been done. My belongings that I had cherished and my sense of home was now in ashes. My then thirteen-year-old mind could not fathom why this was happening to my family and me.

As hard as it was to remain strong in my faith, trusting in the greater plan seemed foggy and unknown. I feared that I would never find home again.

Besides losing all of my belongings, I also began to lose myself.

I was slowly removing myself from social outings with friends, holding in my emotions, and allowing my closest relationships to strain. I had no idea where to begin to process all of the emotions that I was feeling. I didn't know how I would become stronger and I thought I would remain lost forever. Little did I know, I was beginning my journey of self-actualization and finding purpose to my life.

I began to attend therapy, where I started seeing a positive change in myself. Therapy seems to have a negative connotation to it, but for me, it was the best and most important thing I could have ever done for myself. Whatever your fears are about therapy, remember that your mental health is vital and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of yourself if you discover that's what you need.

When you cannot see the potential in yourself, sometimes it takes someone else telling you how beautiful and extraordinary you are in order to regain that confidence.

For a long time, I resented what had happened to me and my family. I couldn't bare the thought of having another love as great as I did for that house and all of our memories there. As I got older, I began to feel whole again. I realized that I could slowly begin to give pieces of myself to places where I felt the most home.

I also realized that "home" is not just a physical structure. Home became valued relationships with my family, the comfort of laughing and crying with my closest friends, and walking alone on the beach. The people who love and support me the most and the places that have changed me are my home.

Tragedy is a blessing and a curse.

In the moment, it's hard to see what the future can hold. Without my experience, I would not be who I am today. Losing everything provided me with growth and strength that I had never had before.

Remember that self-actualization is a life-long journey. You will not magically get better and grief effects everyone very differently. Do whatever you have to do to heal because I promise you, you will get better. You will see the blessing. You will see the transformation. Cherish your second chance at life and live it to the fullest. Allow the negative and positive experiences to challenge you and push you to become the person that you've always wanted to be.


featured image by Andrew T. Kearns