In October of 2014, my husband and I packed up our things from Tallahassee, Florida, and we moved to the great city of Atlanta. We were confident that the Lord led us here and we were excited to “step out in faith”. I had all these expectations but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The glamorized “faith move” seemed to give me the gratification of feeling super-spiritual. Then, the real tests came when all the pomp and glitter began to settle. Life hit and I was faced with real issues, struggles, relationships, and you bet ya, the real ME.
My move to Atlanta was never supposed to be about my bold act of faith or how I could “inspire” someone else. As humans, it is easier for us to recognize the things that we think we’re doing right, while giving ourselves a pat on the back for everyone else to see. The not-so-pretty parts of our journey are the ones we like to hide or conceal. The truth for me is, God was using that season to pull me outside of the comfort zone I had known my entire life, while revealing to me the areas that weren’t fully surrendered to Him. One of the first things I learned after moving to Atlanta was that I was a people-pleaser. It was so hard for me to say “no” to certain people and things; I never wanted to let anyone down. I was a performer indeed. Talk about serious bondage.
Moving to Atlanta was one of the hardest transitions of my life. While I was trying to navigate this new enviornment and all the fresh relationships and opportunities that came along with it, I lost myself. I look back at some of the pictures of me along my journey in Atlanta and I think, who is she? At times, I wouldn’t even recognize myself. I was so excited to navigate and explore this unfamiliar territory, so much so that I lost touch with who I was.
Then, when I finally come back to myself, I began hiding. I was afraid to share every single part of me with the people I had met, in fear that they would reject the real me. I thought that if I was myself with them, I wouldn’t fit into the mold that seemed so prevalent around me. This bondage was on so many levels. Whenever I felt that I broke free from something as it relates to people, there was yet another internal struggle to face–another part of me that the Lord would reveal as broken, tainted, and desiring to be made whole.
I hid to the point of losing my voice, which was a very integral part of me in the past. I used to be so bold and unashamed for Christ, proclaiming the gospel truth without any shame or hesitance. For the past few years though, I’ve felt opressed, like there was a muzzle on my mouth. Certain things that I knew were wrong, I refused to defend; people being mistreated, who I didnt stand up for.
It’s crazy what I was willing to tolerate at the expense of being “accepted” and going along with the crowd. This deception went so deep, so much so that I actually started believing the lies and making excuses for sin instead of shaming and exposing the darkness. That opened the door for the enemy to have a field-day in my mind. I believed the lie that I needed a “follwing to be validated”, that I need material things and makeup to look “put together” or accepted, and that I wasn’t a good enough christian if I didn’t wake up early every morning to have dedicated, uninterrupted quiet time with Jesus. Of course I would have never claimed that these lies are what I believed. I knew the proper christian lingo to use and I could have conversations about sound doctrine and truth, but deep down inside, my heart didn’t truly believe the truth that I claimed. It’s sad that the same people who preach about not being in bondage to these lies, are usually the ones who are living them.
I can’t explain to you the freedom that I feel after surrendering all of the areas of my life that I had initially wanted to control, over to the Lord. I can’t say that it’s been a perfect “realization” in which I just changed overnight. Honestly, I am still working through this thing… but here are a few things I have learned:
– I can’t control who likes and/or accepts me.
– I can’t control who loves and/or supports me.
– I can’t control mean people or those who hate me.
– I can’t control people who judge, misunderstand, or misinterpret my intentions.
– I can pray for this generation relentlessly.
– I can know my worth and value in Christ.
– I can love and accept myself, as God does.
– I can speak the truth and stand up for what is right.
– I can live a life of full surrender, both in private and in public.
If God is calling you to move somewhere, I can’t promise that it will be easy. One thing I do know though, is that in every plan He has, it is for your good. Your journey of obedience may have it’s ups and downs but in the end you will be a better version of you and servant for His Kingdom. So don’t hesitate to go wherever the Lord leads, but just know that this christian walk is more than a spectacle, it’s a miracle. It’s not about you looking good, showing off, or stepping into a “new season” where everything will be perfect and handed over to you. You are bound to face some tests. So get ready for the ugly, the truth, the imperfections, the broke seasons, the growth, and the beauty of it all!