How can you know the giver of life but not understand the value of life? How could a church girl who professed the love of God also deal with suicidal thoughts? For as long as I could remember, Sunday’s were sacred days. Sunday mornings were filled with the aroma of fried plantains and dumplings sizzling as sweet melodies of upbeat gospel music vibrated throughout the house. Mom’s hands were always occupied as she ironed church clothes for my five siblings and I after braiding our hair into intricate patterns that told stories.
It felt like I lived two lives; one inside the church and another outside of the church. Eventually these false dichotomies merged into a li(f)e I could not maintain. For a long time, validation came from friends and the opposite sex. I believed I was valued based on people’s perception of me. My worth camouflaged with the compliments others gave me. I slow-danced with this exchange as it both built me up and tore me down. The truth was—I did not feel good enough and I was lost. The void of not truly knowing my identity filled my world with darkness. This pain is one that many individuals experience. This is a pain so deep; it often screams, “don’t live.” On two occasions I was engulfed by such sadness I thought of ways to end my life. In this dark place, I chose to hold onto faith—the belief that there was more to life than what I knew. I remember the day I became free. A mountain-sized cloud was permanently destroyed. My freedom came when I experienced a personal relationship with God during my college years. I learned that I could cry out to Him, ponder life with Him, and find truth in Him. I was slowly learning to love myself. I began to encounter more people that brought the love of God to me through an invitation to talk over coffee or a phone-call to pray with me.
I met with God daily and I encountered what it meant to be alone without feeling lonely. Prayer, worship, and the Word of God were my daily bread. I made peace with my soul’s cry for acceptance. I realized I did not have to run away from myself. I learned to love myself because God loved me, so much so, He sent His only Son to die for me and redeem me. As my relationship with God evolved, He began to show me that it is not just experiences that bring fulfillment but it is the heart’s condition. My confidence is in knowing God could take my heart of stone and make it into a heart of flesh—a heart that will follow the beat of His heart for this world (Ezekiel 36:26).
Thus far, I have come to understand this—I have not arrived. I want God to always have access to my life; never again hardened by life. I have learned to exchange my broken identity for God’s certain identity. I desire to return to Eden—to return to my original design. As I seek more of God each day, He continues to save me, not just from the issues of this world but also from myself (self-indulgence, inadequacies, selfishness, loneliness, bitterness, self-righteousness, etc.). While my journey towards self-acceptance was forged in a sinful and broken place, I want to remain breakable in the secret place with God; I want to remain malleable in His hands. This is freedom. This freedom is not just for me but it is for you too— we are created to Be. Be healed. Be loved. Be confident. Be whole. Be free.
Pray this prayer with me:
I am free. I am created for greatness. I stand out on purpose. I am reclaiming the wholeness of my identity. I come against every lie that made me feel bound. Jesus Christ saved me. I am free to walk confidently as an empowered [woman/man] of God. Man did not give me my identity. Man cannot take my identity. Life flows in me. I am free.
Every now and again, I’m a great listener. Then there are times I can be a good hearer…and that’s not always a good thing. Have you ever had one of those friends that can’t multitask but still try while you’re talking to them? Then you ask them their opinion and you realized they weren’t listening but they heard you? I’m guilty. I can be that friend at times, but I’m learning to stop what I’m doing and be a good listener, not just a hearer. I’m sure you would find it annoying to repeat yourself more than once. Besides, there’s only one person I know that can multitask and be great a listener at the same time and that’s Jesus.
When I pray and I just need God to intervene, I say things like, “Lord, give ear to my prayers”, “Father, hear my cry this morning” or “Father, I know you’re listening”. Here on earth, just hearing someone talk is not the same as listening. However, when it comes to communicating with our Heavenly Father, He desires to engage in conversation with you. He wants to sit on the throne of your heart and listen to your problems. He wants to hear your voice. When I think about the words “Listen” and “Hear”, there’s a distinct difference between the two.
Listening is when someone is giving ear to what you’re saying with purpose; they are giving you attention (by also studying your intention).
Hearing is to be aware of a sound or noise; putting your ears to use.
These definitions are so rich because the way God works through them is beautiful. In 1 John 5:14 AMPC version, it says, “And this is the confidence which we have in Him; that if we ask anything according to His will, He listens to and hears us”.
To know that the Lord finds our prayer requests so valuable is already a great thing. Not only does He find it valuable but we have His undivided attention every time we pour our hearts out in prayer. To be even more specific, He listens and hears the quick prayers we say before we go to work, the ones we say as we’re falling asleep and never finish, the long prayers we say when we finally make time for Him and the prayers we don’t feel like praying but we do it anyway. Remember that our prayers are not in vain; even when we don’t have any words to say, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Even in those moments our Heavenly Father hears those groans (Romans 8:26). Let’s not forget that God sent His only son to die for us, tore the veil that separated us from Him, and gave us His spirit so we don’t have to feel like we serve a God that’s far away. (Acts 17:24 and John 14:15-17 ) Who do you know would sacrifice their life just to hear your voice?
If you’ve ever felt like God is not listening because you’re not seeing your prayers being answered, please know He is listening with purpose and intent to see you through. He hears the tone in your voice, the cries before the words, the groans, and the silence. He knows the condition of your heart as you pour it all out. So before you believe that God is distant or ignoring you, always remember that He can both listen and hear you, no matter what you’re going through. Even in your silence, He understands.
I pray that in your quite time with God, that your heart and mind is in a position to receive Him. I pray that you can quite your racing thoughts, doubts, and worries for a few minutes to hear from God. I pray that even in your silence or as you speak to the Lord that remember He’s listening and He hears you. Lastly, I pray that you always remember the kind of God you serve and always know that He will never leave nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). It’s when we forget the kind of God we serve, is when we lose sight of what He has done and what He can do. That’s when the enemy makes us feel that God is distant when He’s closer than we think. Stay close 💕
That word “process” is literally the very thing that made it hard for me to go after my purpose. I never wanted to go through the process, I never wanted to do the work to see it. So what does God do to teach me about process? He tells the love of my life that it’s time for him to propose to me at time where I was between transitioning jobs. So I have to find a new job while planning a wedding. By the grace of God I got one and reality set in that I’m an engaged woman and I’m about to be someone’s WHOLE wife. Now I was in the “process” of planning a wedding and I experienced a stress that I’ve never experienced before. The kind of stress that you can’t even explain to people. The kind of stress where you don’t realize you’re snapping on people and making easy fixes bigger than they need to be. The kind of stress where people ask if you’re excited and your answer sounds like you’re about to call it quits. I wanted to give up, it was too hard, too much weight, and so much that needed to be done in so little time.
I STRONGLY disliked this process. I tried to convince David for us to go to the pastors office and get married in there lol...no judgement to those that have by the way. I knew that I wanted a wedding and that option was easier than planning a whole wedding. Process is like that long exhausting lecture class that you don’t want to take but you have to in order to learn something new, apply what you’ve learned and see the results or fruit of your effort in the form of a letter grade.
Going through a process is not a matter of waiting until it ends, it’s bigger than you. It’s how you navigate your way while you’re in it. As for me, I allowed stress, doubt and the opinions of others to take the wheel.
But even within those negative moments, that’s when God stepped in and allowed me to see how He can turn things around for His glory. I was able to see why He chose that time, that day, that man, that family, that location, those friends, those family members, that florist, that baker, that DJ, etc. Everything was for a reason and if anything changed, I wouldn’t be able to say it was the Lords doing.
I pray that as you’re in the middle of your process, whatever that may look like, endure with patience, endure with a goal in mind, and endure with faith.
Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:10
My name is Raquel Meraki and I'm a young woman who is on the journey of self discovery and independence.