Back when I used to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show religiously, something that she said stuck out for me and that was the fact that every single person on this Earth has a story to tell. Every one of us has walked through some journey unique to us but that can motivate and encourage others. How and where you woke up today; which family you belong to; what you had to endure to get to your job or school this morning; any unnecessary and unkind attitudes/treatment you have had to endure; any ailments you had to carry throughout the day etc – all of this is a story that you can share with the world. It has shaped you into who you are today. It has made you stronger. And I strongly believe that to uncover who the black African woman (bAw) is, we need to look back and reflect on her story. It is in remembering where she has come from that we can better understand who she is and where she is going. So since we all have a story, “What is my story?” you may be asking.
My story begins at the age of 2 years old. One day my Mum noticed a strange gleam in my left eye and just felt convicted to take me to the doctor to get it checked out. We would later realize that it was God leading her because I was diagnosed with Retino Blastoma which is a cancer of the eye that commonly happens in children under the age of 5 years. The first doctor that my Mum took me to told her that all looked fine with me and she shouldn’t worry. But her motherly instinct (so grateful to God for her care towards me that she would notice something so small and persist in making sure I was fine!) told her otherwise, especially when she continued to notice the gleam in my eye. She sought a second opinion from another doctor who referred my parents to a specialist. The specialist informed them that it was a good thing that they’d brought me in because in some cases the cancer is not detected early enough and can spread to other parts of the body. He told her he had to act quickly and operate on me to remove the eye in order to save my life. It would later be told to my parents that mine was one of a few of the success stories at that time. I’d later also come to understand that the devil knew that God had amazing plans for my life and he tried to take me out from as young an age as possible. So understand this my fellow sister, if you find your life endangered or find that you face inexplicable challenges, it is because the enemy is afraid of you and what God wants to use you for! It just shows that God is grooming you for a greater life than you could imagine! Choose to see those hurdles as confirmation that you’re moving in the right direction and that you ARE making a difference in the world. The operation was a success and they removed my left eye and replaced it with a prosthetic one. With technology these days you can barely tell when looking at me! 🙂
Growing up, I was surrounded by a lot of unpleasantness, and I struggled immensely with self-love and self-worth. When I think back on my childhood it is filled with thoughts of darkness, rejection, depression (yes at that young age!) and feelings of being lost. I remember feeling as though I was just an outcast and an average person. In fact, one day I resigned to myself that I would be nothing more than average. I should have understood then that that was a lie of the devil! God has expressly said that each one of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made” in His image (Psalm 139:14; Genesis 1:26). That says nothing about being average or worthless. We are marvellous, powerful and amazing in so many ways because we are created by the King of Kings and in His image! The devil knows this better than we do and he’s threatened by it because when he looks at us, he is essentially looking into the face of Christ (someone he hates and knows he can never defeat). Satan will do anything to put us down because of this. So again, don’t ever believe the lie that you have nothing to offer or that you are worthless or average. There is so much more to you than meets the eye – most times, even to yourself.
I went through the motions of life all through high school and really felt like a shadow. I’d sit in my room day-dreaming about being out in the world and living. I’d look at other people’s lives and remark how fortunate they were. I envied them and their seemingly perfect lives. I got to university and I got into the wrong kind of behaviour with the wrong kind of crowds. I was what you can call a party animal, and again it just highlighted my insecurities and low self-worth. I felt that the only time I was good enough or valuable was when I looked good; got attention from guys; was on a dancefloor; and/or hung out with the “cool kids”. I wanted so bad to fit in, to be liked, to be “normal” and to be SEEN but I went about it the wrong way. Instead, I got hurt by the lies of others who were ready to sell me short for their own gain despite how much I would have given to them. Yet, even in the midst of all that nonsense God still reached out to me and spoke to me of a better, brighter and more purposeful life. He even used one of my ex-boyfriends to tell me that God was going to use me for His kingdom. That statement never left me. So my dear bAw, realize that even in the depth of your mess God is ALWAYS talking to you! He is always there to remind you that you are more than what your current circumstances dictate and that you are HIS. Always choose to hear the small, still voice of hope and encouragement from God despite the loud, screaming voices of rejection/anger/hatred etc that may be filling your world at that time.
I eventually came to my senses (like the prodigal son. Lol) and realized towards the end of varsity that I needed to go back “home”. I needed to return to my Father. I’d always wanted a more personal walk with Him and I knew deep down that with Him is where I belonged. After being in a couple of unwholesome relationships with guys I had no business dating; after selling myself short by dressing in skimpy clothes to try and get affirmation/approval; after spending so much time going to parties and clubs to fit in and be liked; and after finally waking up to the reality that I did not like what I was studying and was tired of doing what others wanted me to do instead of what I wanted to do, I began to wake up to God again. I’d spent December 2007 at home and spent time with my cousin, and saw her peace and trust in God. I told God that I wanted that for myself. I’d always known about Him (not the same thing as knowing Him) because I’d been raised in a family where we went to Church every Sabbath and my grandparents were sure to speak to us about God. But I had not developed my own connection to my Saviour which is so vital.
I asked God to lead me to where I belonged. It took years; tears; sweat; blood; humiliation; confusion; loneliness; failure; fear etc to finally end up on the road that He wanted me on, but it was so worth it. I’m still on that journey and it is still challenging. I still mess up and on occasion find myself wrestling with that young, hurt and insecure girl. But I’d rather be facing difficulty in the shelter of God’s Arms than great times in the wilderness of being without Him. I’d rather be moving towards the glorious end goal He has for me while stumbling along the way, than standing tall but stuck in fear, doubt and darkness. There is so much of my story that is still being written and I look forward to watching it unfold. What I’ve learnt in the short years that I’ve been alive is that each one of us is so precious, so dear and worth so much more than the world tells us. This is especially true of the bAw. Her worth, her potential, her power, her beauty, her contribution is not preached enough in our world today. I believe that this is because people are afraid of greatness, and just like the devil, they try to put down and discourage that which challenges them and has the potential to shine brighter than their light. And so let us share with the world that which they have been missing out on. Let us begin to tell the story of the bAw because there is so much that can be learnt from it. Let us start with yours 🙂
Please do share your own personal story below. In telling your story you will set others and yourself free to walk into who you are. Remember that I am praying for you!