What I Learned During Lent
Lent is known as a season where most people use this time to repent, fast, and evaluate. It’s used as a time for self-examination and self-reflection. Lent lasts for forty days (excluding Sundays) which represents the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. The season starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. This year I decided to finallyyyyy take it seriously and participate (because every year I start and never finish) and I am happy to say it was a journey that was worthwhile. I decided to reflect on myself and my life and here are a 4 things I learned during that time.
1, I learned that I did not love myself like the way I thought.
Note: I just want to say this point (and this blog post really) is fairly long and is pretty vague, so I’ll make an in-depth post about this particular point in the future.
Upon starting my blog, I vowed to be completely open and honest when writing and I wanted to take that theme into my fast. Sometimes in order to move forward you have to deal with certain things in your past. In doing so, you have to have a level of honesty with yourself and I feel like that is one of the most difficult things to do. What I found to be the root of a number of my problems was the fact that I was extremely insecure and I really didn’t love myself the way I thought I did. All I did was mask my insecurities with positions, accolades, and reputation. I’ve always struggled with insecurities but I thought I was over it. EL OH ELLLLL, I was wrongT.
I decided to fast from social media and it played a part in me coming to this discovery. I took away something that gave me validation. Not only that, graduating also played a major role in me coming to this realization. Having low self esteem and insecurities were always something I struggled with. When I tell people, no one believes me because I come off as crazy confident, but I wasn’t. My self esteem issues were pretty bad. It wasn’t like “oh I’m ugly today *sad-face*”, it was pretty extreme. I literally hated myself. I had body issues, abandonment issues, the list goes on….It got to a point that when I was 13 or 14 I wanted to commit suicide. Eventually, I went to high school and college (insecurities tagged along as well), but during those years I was coming into my own and I saw that people really liked me (I didn’t even peep, but the was the first issue! I was looking for the approval of myself through other people). I got to college, branched out even more and I made a name for myself. I got involved on campus, I knew all the “cool” people , and I was talking to guys, so I really thought like yeah…I have arrived. I love myself, I’m so confident and popping. Its lit.:). WrongT. All I was doing was getting validation and satisfaction in my popularity, positions, and, recognitions.
Graduation really helped me see that because once you graduate, you’re in the real world. The real world does not always care that you were popular on campus or that you SGA president (depending on your career because it does help in some ways). They care about the work you put in and how you’ll be an asset. So with all this taken away, I really had to sit and think do I love myself? Do I know who I am? Thinking back, I realized I let all these things and people define me and give me validation when in all actuality what they think really does not matter. Like ya’ll, it was so bad I would switch up who I was for a guy I’d talk to. I had to be honest with myself and really tell myself you’ve never confronted those issues. I never really got to the root of my insecurities.So I began to. I wrote in a journal and I talked about experiences that have affected me and the way I think about myself. Once I did this, I really prayed on it and i’m still praying on it. I pray(ed) for me to find my identity for myself and not rely on what others think or say about me. To love who I am despite my flaws or despite what people have said. What really gave me comfort was reminding myself that I am made in Gods image and in his eyes I’m perfect. Now, it really doesn’t bother me when I hear people speak down on me. I don’t let what they say define me or affect me. I’m not after anyones approval but God’s.
2. I learned about temperance.
For those who don’t know me personally or that well, I used to be very defensive and once I get into defense mode, baybeeeeee…..I attack. I would come for people or snap if I felt like someone was trying to play with me. It caused issues within my friendships and family and forced me to realize majority of the time, I’m the one that is tripping, lol. I was always so angry and very bitter and I didn’t want to be that anymore, like it’s draining. Plus, I was tired of giving people that much power over me and my emotions. And because they had that much power, I felt weak and vulnerable and I hateeee feeling that way. I also peeped that I acted like this because of my past. How people treated me and things I went through, it just made me extremely bitter and hurt. Im learning now that I have to let those situations go and forgive which is hard for me. So I added temperance and forgiveness to my prayer points. After I started praying, I started to see that I’m being be put in way more situations where I would be upset or angry. I would want to snap, but instead, I would just breathe and realize its not even worth my energy. There were times where I would go off and I’d be like “damn, you just did the most..go apologize”. In these situations God was testing me and helping exercise patience and temperance. It was done to help me grow. I learned to admit when I was wrong, not give people so much of me, and forgive. Its not every time pop off and get out of character. Sometimes its shhhh, be quiet.
3. I learned to take my walk with God seriously.
I grew up in a very religious home. My father is a pastor and my mom is a prophetess, so God was always in my life. I really gave my life to Christ (my own decision not because my parent forced me) at 16 and for a while I was doing good. My first year of college, I didn’t drink, I didn’t party..nothing. I was just so set on God, but of course I got caught up in the things of the world and I lost my way for a few years. I’d do this thing where I would go to God when I need something and then be out. When it was time for me to do my part, I’d disappear. Thankfully, I went to this church event the week before lent, and when I say I got my life y’all, sis got her life. I learned so much and it really made me realize I need to get back. What kept me away from God for so long was I thought I had to be perfect. I couldn’t sin not once, I couldn’t do this or do that, but what I’m learning is that God accepts you as you are. No one will be 100% holy. No is is never NOT going to sin. What matters is that you’re trying, and God sees your heart. Ask for forgiveness and its given to you. Now, that doesn’t mean sin 6 days a week and ask God to forgive you on Sunday and do it all over again. It means try your best, listen to him, follow him, and he’ll crown your efforts. With this in mind I began fasting more, praying more, and reading my bible more and it has made a huge difference in my life. God has come through in the last month in ways unimaginable. Its not hard to start, just tell God you want to grow closer and do better and watch how he will start to move.
4. Trust God’s Plan
Yo, when I say God really came through and showed outttttttttt. He really came through. It was so many things I was going through. I was facing so many problems in every area of my life. I was so lost. When I say post grad depression hit me the following WEEK, it was crazy. My friends were in grad school or they had perfect jobs and it seemed like life was just going right for them. Here I was unemployed and not in school….I just felt like a failure. I was so hurt up. I didn’t understand where I was going, what my purpose was, or what it was I was supposed to do, but God started showing me. I prayed a lot for guidance during this time in regards to my career, romantic relationships, friends, and a few other things. One by one, God started ordering it and I got clarity. I didn’t realize what was going on at first, but when I noticed I started losing friends and the romantic relationship (not a boyfriend guys, just someone I was talking to lol) I was in fell apart, I knew God was working. At first I was confused and lost because it seemed like everything was falling apart, but God was just breaking certain things apart to put a better picture together. Prior to lent I didn’t have a good job, but I do now. I didn’t have a plan for my life, but I do now. I didn’t love myself, but guess what I’m learning to now. I say ALLLL this to say, I challenge you to seriously and actively participate in lent. You will see what God will show you. Put him first and he will do the rest. So lent 2019, DO IT! Take it seriously and just watch how shifts will be made in your life. I won’t sit here and say it was easy, because it wasn’t, but in the end it was worth it!