Growing up as a first-generation “Yankee” in a West-Indian family in the 1980’s was not always nice. There were some customs that still endure in Caribbean culture that we really need to do away with. The elders still do it a lot. I think these days, those of us still living in America have assimilated into the cultural shift that happened sometime in the 1990’s.
I’m referring to the one where we are so careful not to body shame our girls.
But that didn’t happen until I was in my teens. As a tween, body shaming was very normal.
The perpetrators: mothers, aunties and grannies who thought they were being helpful by blatantly pointing out what was wrong with your body and making sure you felt bad enough about it to want to change it.
The victim in question: 8-year-old Rashida, a cute, chubby third grader who’s kinky hair wouldn’t grow long, with a complexion a shade too dark to be “pretty”. (Light skinned girls with “good hair” were in style at the time.)
Mom and my aunt, both of whom were overweight and obese themselves respectively (with all due respect) would pinch an inch of my side fat and say “if you would just lose a little weight you would be so pretty!” and other such uplifting statements. There I was, having a secret crush on Kirk Cameron, knowing I was too fat and ugly for him to ever feel the same about me.
“if you would just lose a little weight you would be so pretty!” and other such uplifting statements.
Fast forward 10 years. Cocoa skin was finally in, and fat became PHAT. I was still a size 14 in my jeans, but that was no longer chubby – it was thick, curvaceous, sexy! During that time frame, I got my first tastes of favorable attention from boys and men. It was just the medication I needed. By age 18, I was hooked and always looking for that fix.
I was an addict for another 17 years. Like a crack head, I did things that I’m not at all proud of for my drug. If a man didn’t seem to notice me, I made certain he did. That validation was all I had to convince myself of my own value.
Sadly, my stock was declining in the process…
Then I met Nicholas. One day, we were talking, and he was giving me a kind ear while I explained a problem I was having. He put me on hold to check his church notes – I was astonished and intrigued by the very idea of taking notes in church – because what I was saying triggered a memory of the message he had gotten that morning. I don’t remember the details of that conversation at all, but I do remember that his notes, God’s word, helped me in some way that evening.
It would be a few more months before I went to church again for the first time in many years, but on a chilly Wednesday night in November, I met Nicholas and we went together to his church in Brooklyn. The messages, not just that night but also in the few weeks prior, that God was sending me were about the validation He wants to give me.
Rashida is the apple of God’s eye.
Rashida is wonderfully made. (I didn’t understand the “fearfully” part until later)
Rashida is His workmanship, His handiwork, His masterpiece!
At that moment, I suddenly stopped feeling that need for validation from men of this world. All I needed was Jesus Christ.
I answered altar call, that is, the pastor invited anyone who did not have Jesus in their life to the altar and I stepped up. I was raised Catholic, with all the childhood sacraments under my belt, but I had never appropriated the gift of eternal life before that night.
The messages, not just that night but also in the few weeks prior, that God was sending me were about the validation He wants to give me.
Since that night, my life has changed dramatically. Not only do I no longer seek validation from men, but I encourage other women around me also. My heart is moved by girls and young women who remind me of how I was. God draws them near to me and I do all I can to fill them up so they never feel as empty as I once did.
God is using me in so many wonderful ways as I get deeper in my relationship with Him and give my life over to Him more and more. I’m honored that He entrusts me with this ministry and the many lives that it touches. I’m humbled by the trust He puts in me!
The best part is knowing that I have eternal life. With that kind of certainty, even the prospect of possibly dying during an organ donation surgery couldn’t phase me. I was able to bless someone I love dearly without fear or hesitation because my trust is in Jesus Christ!
Now let me ask you these two questions:
- Have you come to a place in your spiritual life that, if you were to die today, you would go to heaven? Or is that something you’d say you’re still working on?
- If you were to die today, and God was to ask you “Why should I let you into My heaven?”, how would you answer?
Please allow me to share my faith with you now:
If you have accepted The Gift, please connect with me so we can fellowship. Whatsapp me at 868-792-5408 right now.
Welcome to the family of God!