I’m learning this new thing called vulnerability. It’s new for me—the courage to share the most sacred pieces of myself. I’m afraid that if anyone gets a hold of that piece of me, I will lose power. If I share, I’m defenseless against judgment. I’d rather bury it and play pretty and aim to live a life that is satisfying to others, rather than live my truth. That is how I’ve been living for the past 24 years of my life, and that is over. Here is my story.
I fell deeply in love with God in 2013. Our relationship taught me a lot about people, the world and myself. While the relationship opened my eyes to a lot, which I am thankful, it also shifted me into a life of fear. Prior to finding this love I was in and out of relationships with men and women since high school. I lusted for intimacy and sex as a way to fill a void that only God could fill. I told myself I was having fun, but God showed me I was really searching for love. So with the help of close friends and a church, I removed anything that I felt would lead me down a lustful path: t-shirts, photographs, books, music, movies, clothes, etc. If it even started with SE–consider it trashed. It was during this time I decided I’d be brand new, no longer living a life of antiquity. It was in that time that I claimed deliverance from homosexuality synonymous with lust, which seemed to be the biggest issue.
For the next couple years I moved righteously through life, avoiding anything that would tempt me into backsliding. Whenever I made a mistake there was a terrifying feeling of fear that fell over me. But I saw it as a God’s conviction, protecting me from sin/hell. During this time life felt more like a battle, a constant pattern of sinning and repenting. A game of how long can I go without doing something wrong. I lost friends. Family didn’t get it. I judged others both outward and silently. There was a self- righteous behavior that was both lonely and empowering. These experiences meant, I was doing it right.
In 2015 my Grandmother passed away. She was my best friend, mother and biggest supporter. I was crushed. I was angry with God. How can me, Ms. Righteous be going through such tragedy? I got to know pain like never before. But losing my Grandmother— if nothing else—taught me empathy and not to sweat the small stuff.
In the time of grief, it was the small moments that meant the most to me. Hearing her call my name, getting the chance to just sit next to her or help her up the stairs. I wasn’t fixated on what type of music I should be listening to (in fact it was some of the music I rejected that pulled me through), the places I went, the food I ate, etc. I learned that my religious standards left me disconnected from people and the pain we are capable of feeling. Ironically the friends and coworkers who operated in similar mindsets had a hard time empathizing with my pain and those I previously judged brought me the most comfort. I was humbled. I learned to love others in a new way. It was the beginning to understanding deeper love.
Although growing, I strayed from God because of my anger. It took over a year to begin building up my spiritual confidence. While my experience taught me humility, and I was liberated from some religious cloudiness, I struggled with where does this leave me now. Wounded from religious teachings, but still knowing my truth. I had a hard time navigating both worlds. Deep down I was still judging myself for not living the way I did when I first started my journey with Christ. It was during this time where I suffered greatly from unworthy behavior—the desire to belong. Jumping from relationship to relationship, setting expectations for friends and when those expectations were not met, I felt confused and disappointed. My friendships began to shift, and I found myself alone often.
I couldn’t identify my personality because I’d just act according to whom I was around. I never felt I was being fully myself. I was so confused. There was a disconnect between my experiences and what I thought to be true. The only thing I knew to do was pray and confide in friends I trust (and some strangers, yes it got real), but mostly pray. I expected a renewal of previous expectations, but I instead was moved into a new perspective, which for me was a scary thing.
Here I am 5 years later from my falling deeply in love with God, and I’m feeling better than I have in a long time. God has unpacked and is still unpacking a change in perspective that is both freeing and scary. It’s scary because this new way encourages me to embrace my full self and disconnect from the desire to please people, (which is a mental stronghold I’ve had all my life), it encourages me to speak on my experiences of molestation, share my experiences with being in love with my now girlfriend, it requires me to be vulnerable, even if it doesn’t sound pretty—even if others disagree.
I grew up all my life with the best grades, I was athletic, cute, fashion forward, first to graduate college in my immediate family, I was so use to pleasing others. I am now 24, and I now strive to please no one but God. It is Him who I will answer to and He says He loves me. He says, I am enough.
Those around you will intentionally and unintentionally love you with the conditions of what you can bring, what you can do and what they expect of you. This is true for some parent and child relationships, once you stray or change your mind from that vision of who they believe you are supposed to be, their conditions of love change. And if you’re anything like how I was, it’s scary to disappoint others. And there is danger in removing love from others when your expectation is not met. I could write a whole post on unconditional love and unmet expectations. Maybe I will. Stay tuned.
Embrace your imperfections. Love you and all of you, because God does. Only strive to be the greatest version of yourself that He would have you to be. There is so much more life to live and so much more for me to learn. I won’t always get it right, but I will do my best. Embracing my story has brought so much healing and victory in various areas in my life, so spend time with Him find out who you are, stick with your convictions and share your story—it has the power to change the world.