Broken Open

I’ve been feeling this urge to write more frequently over the past few weeks. It’s like I’ve been broken open; all the parts of myself that I’ve tried to censor for as long as I can remember have all come rushing out and I’m completely uninterested in trying to block that out anymore. Now it’s not all good but it’s certainly interesting and in many ways, I feel like I am in the eye of the storm of a breakthrough.

For a long time, I’ve had this idea in my head of who I was expected to be and how I was meant to carry myself in the world. I’ve always been extremely sensitive to the emotions of people around me and I try my best to put myself in their shoes and respond or address them in a way that I would appreciate if I were in their position. Looking back and reflecting on wise counsel, I now understand that a lot of it comes from my childhood. I grew up the first child and grandchild from my father’s family. A lot was expected of me and so I expected even more from myself. I allowed my expectations of myself to be informed by the expectations of those closest to me. It wasn’t until very recently that I realized there are very few people that I feel free enough to be my most authentic self with. And it was because of fear.

I was afraid of not being accepted, of constantly being on the outside looking in and most of all that I would be called a fraud. At the core of it, I was afraid that I never really belonged. And so I allowed some things to happen; nothing serious, just a “not great” comment here or there, a snide remark or a rude tone. As long as I felt like I belonged, failing to set the right boundaries felt like a worthy sacrifice to make. I gloried in conformity. And that was a shocker to me because I often spoke about how I embraced the fact that I was different.

And it has hampered me in many ways but I think I can finally say that I am done with that at this stage in my life. I am a grown woman and I have a responsibility to God first and then myself to express all the gifts and wonderful aspects of my being that I have to offer. I have learned that I cannot be selective about the parts of myself that I try to suppress; it doesn’t work that way. If there is a flaw that needs to be addressed then it needs to be explored. It cannot be explored when it is suppressed and denied in a bid to be “perfect”.

More and more I am coming into myself. It’s not always pretty but it’s truth and that is way more important now more than ever. This life is to short and I honestly have too much to give. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I never imagined that I would get to this place.

Who Am I?

For the past couple of weeks, I have been going through an uncomfortable process of revelation and transformation (and I am still going through it). It has been brought to my attention that I still carry insecurities from my past. One of them is this need to feel like I am part of a group that seems esteemed to many. It’s the reason why I have continued to overcommit myself in many ways, failed to draw required boundaries in a number of relationships and felt the need to justify myself and my worth by seemingly giving so much of myself.

I have discovered that it is a trap that many of us fall into, especially women. We feel that we need to be strong and put every person or every cause that we connect to ahead of ourselves. And we end up feeling like we are trapped and have no choice but to make the best of our situation. Another layer of my issue was the fact that I didn’t really believe that I was truly a person of worth unless I worked hard to prove myself. And because I continued to belittle my achievements, I found it difficult to celebrate them. I was always striving to be humble because I was afraid of taking away glory from God and ascribing it to myself.

I discovered something amazing this morning. I started this exercise where I write 40 statements about myself starting with “I am”. And what I use to describe myself has to be a noun. Therefore, I write, “I am strength” not “I am strong” or “I am love” not “I am loving/lovable”. I was struck by the fact that I was initially uncomfortable when I started writing about myself. It felt like arrogance to write, “I am beauty” instead of “I am beautiful” but by the time I got to the 40th statement, there was this feeling of inner validation that sprung up within me. And when I was finished, I wrote, “AND ALL THAT I AM, GOD CREATED”. It was an “aha” moment.

I am free to marvel at all that I am because doing so means that I marvel at who God is. For the things that awe me about myself are the elements of the great God alive in me.

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Scars

I was just watching the TV show, “This is us”, and I was particularly drawn to the story of the daughter. Understandably so because I can relate to the struggles that come with being overweight and how we live in a world that is unforgiving towards people that are different.

It reminded me of when I was a teenager and how all I ever wanted was to be someone that wasn’t me. It was torture; I could see what I wanted right in front of me and I kept trying my hardest to get it, but it remained out of reach. There were brief moments where it seemed like I was on track towards getting there, but those cravings always won.

Many people think that losing the weight means you finally have all those struggles behind you and the pain of your “old life” goes away. But there’s a deep fear that takes its place; despair at the thought of ever putting on another kilogram and going back to that place. I remember a moment last year when I was in tears because I had put on about 4 kilograms. I was so scared that I would go back to where I was coming from and I didn’t think I had the strength to do what I did to lose 21 kilograms again. I don’t know that I have that in me anymore; that was a couple of years ago and a lot has changed since then.

This isn’t one of those posts where I talk about how I overcame and how God came through for me so that I don’t have to deal with it anymore. This is still a struggle for me and I carry it with me everyday (even on the good days when I’m happy with my weight). I’m in a place where I’m at my heaviest since I lost weight. I’m not as heavy as I was before but there are times where I worry that I won’t get to where I want to be. It has made me depend more on God, not just for the strength to do what needs to be done to lose the weight. But more importantly, the strength to keep being myself and not let my joy be dictated by my ability to fit into a certain dress or seeing lower numbers on the scale.

Each day I wake up, I am reminded that I have to fight for my joy and peace. The strength for that battle can only come from the Lord. My focus is to take it one day at a time and remember two things (1) It will always be a journey; I will never “arrive” and (2) I am not competing with anyone; my responsibility is to be the best possible version of myself.

GD.

Zoe

There is a certain quality of direction that comes from tragedy; it originates in a quiet manner from unchartered parts of the soul and eventually encapsulates your entire being. Its potency is not overbearing but its strength is undeniable. Like the love of a mother, it just is and cannot be dismissed or mistaken.

I gave my life to God some 7 years ago and have since been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I heard stories of people who had gone through unspeakable horrors and was amazed that they could still stand to speak of the goodness of God. There was a part of me that wanted to be one of those women but I remained afraid of the price to be paid.

Not too long ago, I became one of those women – and the fear is gone. I know now, that even more than a mother’s love, is the certainty of God’s love for me. It is just is. I have relied on my feelings for validation, but no longer. I may not have ‘felt’ loved but two things kept reverberating in my soul and spirit:

  1. God loves me
  2. God will never leave me alone.

I am now more aware than ever of the strength I carry and the fact that the calling I once felt upon my life still remains. Perhaps I veered off the path, searching for things in the wrong places but my Father has guided me by my hand and set me back on the right track. I still don’t know where this road will lead but I now understand that I no longer need to. He provides daily bread for a reason – to teach us to look beyond the gift to the giver.

And so I continue to lift up my eyes to the hills. Now more than ever I understand that is where my help comes from. I am not alone on this journey and of a truth it is well with my soul.

27/08/2016

Her

I remember like it was yesterday, the person that I used to be. I remember that I was never really comfortable with the concept of being me. I was very hard – scared of letting anyone know that all I saw was the many ways I didn’t fit in. It seemed like everyone had attended that very important class that teaches you how to live life…and I somehow missed it. I always felt like everyone was ahead and no matter how hard I tried, I was always left behind

I remember looking at her body and the way she fit in her jeans, and I was reminded of the many ways I didn’t measure up and the lengths I would have to go to reach what I believed was an elusive brass ring. I remember how all the boys wanted to be with her and none of them would spare a look for me….and it hurt. She was as lovely as they come, a sweetheart you see. And the only way I could feel better about myself was to find ways to bring her down. Until one day I realized that she had become stronger. She wouldn’t take it anymore. And so I retreated into a shell. I was incapable of seeing my own light because my eyes were veiled.

Over time, I became more comfortable with being different. I stopped fighting with that part of me that just refused to fit in. And when I finally got all the things that I had dreamed of all those years, it wasn’t as exhilarating as I thought it would be. I was more excited about the fact that I had grown to accept the idea of me.

Over that past few years, I’ve had this idea in my head of what God wants me to do and the type of person He wants me to be. I’m in a season where I’m starting to realize that I might have to let it go for me to move past His hand to His face. It’s very difficult; I worry that I will go back to the person I was. But deep down, I know that can never be, at least not completely. But it is possible that I will have to revisit portions of the old her to come into the next chapter of the journey of me.

I look back now and understand the beauty of her pain. If she didn’t go through all that torment, there wouldn’t be that base, that foundation that holds me. I’m grateful for her; in many ways she has made me far wiser than her years. Perhaps the lesson for today is to appreciate her and not make her out to be someone not to be.

 

 

15/07/2008

imageToday wasn’t so good. It’s one of those days when I’m particularly down about what I want and don’t have yet. It’s occurring to me to ask myself why I think that losing weight and then getting a boyfriend will only happen simultaneously or not at all. Aunty is even starting to question why I don’t have a boyfriend yet. I kinda see where she is coming from. I’m 19 and have never even had a casual relationship yet, not to talk of a boyfriend. Usually at this point, I say things that I need to do so that my life will be different but I’ve tried everything. I’m thinking maybe I haven’t tried them long enough but I haven’t gotten anymore time left. I know that now. I’m becoming old and my youth is passing me by. I need to hold onto it and enjoy it or I’ll regret it. The problem is that what most people my age consider fun, I can’t really relate to. I don’t want my life to be like this or remain this way. I know I want to lose weight and know what a relationship feels like but apart from that, I don’t know what I want. Actually I also want to be independent and make my money on my own so that I will have something that is completely mine.

I was listening to this Leona Lewis song about “yesterday” and how that can never be taken away from you. It occurred to me that I always consider the now and the tomorrow to be important but yesterday is already gone so it is totally insignificant. When you think about it though, yesterdays make nows and tomorrows more important because you know that the nows and the tomorrows will eventually become yesterdays so you want to make every “now” count so that yesterdays and tomorrows will fill you with as little regret as possible.

This weight thing isn’t easy. I know that and I know what I need to do to lose it. What I can’t bear yet is the fact that there are certain things that I can’t eat and that I may never eat again in order to help myself. I don’t know if I ever will and that scares me sometimes because it means I’m doomed to either avoid looking in the mirror or to looking at it and hoping to see something I know is already there. I also know I may not be ready to do what I need to do to lose the weight, but will I ever be ready? I think I’m waiting for it to be easier and I’m more sure everyday that it will never be easier. That means that if/when it happens, I’m quite sure that it will be the hardest thing I will ever do in my life

Evolver

About three and a half years ago, I started this blog. I was in a place where I had finally found the source of all wisdom and the answers to my most burning questions. The truth is that I had found the answers, but what I did not understand was that I had just set sail on a journey that was not going to end on this side of eternity.

I was super excited in the beginning…..I felt like I was sharing things with people that I wish someone had told me when I was younger. I was so relieved to no longer feel like the only person in the room that had not attended the class on how to live life. With every post and every comment came renewed zeal to keep charging forward.

But eventually I started to burn out. Writing became a chore; something I felt I had to because it was expected of me. In may ways, it mirrored my relationship with God – I would pray because I had to, and look at the clock to check how long I had spent. I would read my Bible because I had to, not because I was genuinely interested in what God wanted me to meditate on for the day. And I would judge my “performance” by the length of time spent in prayer or the number of chapters read. My attention had shifted from the heart of the work to the work itself and what it said about me as a “good Christian”.

This isn’t one of those posts where I end with how I made the right decision or did things better. It’s not one where the story ends “happily ever after”. I haven’t completely figured it out yet; it’s still work in progress. But what matters most is that progress is being made. Day after day, I’m doing my best, by the grace of God, to renew my mind and change the way I think. There were moments where I felt I needed to shut this whole operation down because I was a fraud, making people think that I had it all figured out when I was actually struggling.

But it was in that place that I received a new direction for this blog. The initial vision was for it to be a place where I could be honest and share this wonderful thing I had found which was my relationship with God. I now believe that the next step in that journey is to share more about myself, to be more honest about my struggles and where I am with them and to share my victories as well.

There are a number of ideas I’m thinking through on this but the first one is GD Chronicles, where I put up journal entries that I’ve made over the years. My hope is that it will encourage anyone struggling with similar issues.

I’ve also set out to be more active on social media – Grace’s Daughter is now on Instagram (gracesdaughter.ng) and twitter (@GracesDaughter1). You can also reach me via email on gracesdaughter.ng@gmail.com.

So that’s to guys. Let the journey continue….Lord help me!!!