AWARENESS OF SELF
At 18 I had my first encounter with sexual assault (Read my personal story on behalf of the #MeToo Movement here) and was battling major feelings of anxiety and self doubt. I was on the verge of graduating high school and found myself torn between my dream to move to New York City and the boyfriend I was convinced I loved. Making hard life decisions was especially daunting because of my unstable and fickle view of myself. I remember spending hours piling on makeup in the hopes of covering the truth of the lost girl fighting for air beyond the cloud of confusion and regret.
Looking back on the last ten years, my heart is overwhelmed by a myriad of emotions: I cry for the atrocity I faced through a string of abusive relationships; I laugh with joy over the friendships I would meet seemingly out of chance that have forever impacted my life to this day; but most of all, I feel a bittersweet tug of longing to somehow travel back in time to tell my younger self to hang in my dear, because everything will be alright. Today, by the grace of God, both the trials and triumphs have worked together for good in the end. The result has been a deeper clarity in understanding my own heart and soul. I am able to navigate the complex ins and outs of life with more boldness, able to face fear and rejection. My secret? The unshakable value I have in Christ. I now spend significantly less time critiquing my insecurities and instead intentionally bring all my experiences to The Lord in prayer, eager and expectant for renewal and transformation. First and foremost, I attribute my improved self awareness to the profound truth that while I am seen to the bottom, I am ever loved to the skies. Flaws and all.
CAPACITY TO LOVE
A wise mentor once told me that you are only able to give the kind of love that you have received. Meaning that if you have been treated like crap all your life by those you care about, all that built up hate and resentment in your heart often manifests and bubbles up in your future relationships. On the contrary, if you have been showed a healthy and loving pursuit, it is much more natural for you to extend that same grace to others. In my case, while my parents exemplified unconditional love at home, I was so fixated on the high school version of love from boys who can shave (as my husband fondly puts it), that eventually I found myself a prisoner within my own walls of loathing.
My husband was actually my very first example of true love the way God intended it to be. Before we can understand the original design of affection, we first must look to the embodiment of Love itself. God is love. Plain, simple, and beautifully and perfect complex. When Emeka began to pursue me, he explained that our process of getting to know one another would be that of courtship, meaning he would take very seriously the value of my heart as not to cause further undue damage. I could hardly believe it at first, but through consistent and relentless pursuit, Emeka began to slowly but surely dismantle my stubborn self protection. Through our dating process and now moment by moment walk as man and wife, I find myself overwhelmed, brimming over with so much love that I can't help but invite others into the invitation for more. More of the ever satisfying, all encompassing and eternal intimacy that can only be found in and through Jesus. My newfound purpose is to the the hands of a hugging Jesus to a hurting world.