With the separation of church and state, I believe spirituality got a little tougher for me. Growing up I attending mostly private schools until I was in the 6th grade. At that time, I went to a Chicago public school and entered into a foreign world. While I knew that I didn’t necessarily fit in with a lot of people, being thrust into an unusual atmosphere further confirmed my awkwardness.
In retrospect, attending private school could have been the best thing for me. For the first time though, I experienced girls wanting to fight me for no apparent reason. It’s tough when you’re unliked because of another’s perception of you. I would always hear “She thinks she’s all that.” In my 6th grade year I also relaxed my hair for the first time in an attempt to conform to the standard ideal of beauty.
Over the years, I can honestly say that I left my christian roots at home. Though raised as a believer, being in an environment where I was not required to take a religion class was great. So I thought. From 6th to 12th grade I remained in the Chicago Public School system and wandered aimlessly in search of my identity. I didn’t find it then however, but it became more apparent that I would not be accepted by my peers/
In undergrad, I attended a small liberal arts college in Mississippi where I believe I started to embrace God again. I was dating this guy who regularly went to church, and I felt the need to go to church too. Now, my intentions were completely wrong, but God knows how to make them turn out for the best. In fact, that relationship pushed me closer to God. Secretly, I was insecure and jealous of the women who attended his church and I wanted to make my presence known as his woman. <– Talk about jacked up, smh. Anywho, I went to church until I developed a routine and thirst to have my own relationship with God, divorced of anyone else.
During that time however, I still lived a double life: club Saturday night but church Sunday morning. I reasoned that if I could stay out late, I could wake up early. Granted, the logic makes sense but it didn’t account for much, because my heart was the furthest away from God. In fact, more times than not, after church, my boyfriend would come over to my apartment and the rest is history. But, I wasn’t convicted yet.
When I left Mississippi and went to grad school in St. Louis, I got baptized a year later. I want to say that was the start of my journey, but not the meat of it. At that time, I decided to try to live for God and most of the time did so successfully. However, when you get saved, you become aware of wrongdoings that you never imaged were necessarily wrong. This was a season of course correction for me. I attended church there, but still struggled with being sold out for God and a normal 20 something year old. Sometimes I went to the club, turned up, but was in church on Sunday morning. Still, though I was now saved, my heart wasn’t right. I wanted to feel a part of the crowd, and it seemed like the crowd as equally attracted to me.
Then I moved to Alabama to pursue a PhD and this is when I figured out who I was. Actually, I’m still figuring this out. However, through the years, though I still have moments where I slip, I’ve learned that I was never made to fit in. I was always called to stand out, even if no one else was. I was to be a standard and used as a model to promote the kingdom of heaven. Lately, I’ve grown confident in this truth and it appears that the more I remain true to my call, the more people gravitate towards me.
I don’t fit in, and really don’t have a desire to do so. But this took time, and God had to change my heart, there was nothing I could do. I often hear a lot of people say that they just made a decision to stop doing something, however, I believe that God gives them the grace to stop doing it. I prayed for grace to walk in my calling and courage to stand against opposition. I’m still in the process of fully surrendering.
I know how difficult it is to want to live for God but be in an environment where you really can’t. The struggle is definitely real and it’s intense. But, I think God puts us in these situations to test our motives.Do you want to live for God because it’s the right thing to do and because you love him? Or do you want to live for God because everyone and they momma around you tells you so? These were my crossroads, and until i came to terms with he desires of my heart, my life was a constant battle, one that I struggled to win.