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.
My name is Raquel Meraki and I'm a young woman who is on the journey of self discovery and independence.