Self-care is not only about getting 8 hours of sleep and eating healthy. Self-care can also be about telling the ugly truth we pretend doesn’t exist.
Here is my truth! I’ve been called a “church girl” my entire life. I was groomed to be a “church girl.” You know the ones that wear the holier than thou ankle length denim skirts and clip-on earrings because piercing went against the word of God.
I lacked variety and excitement amongst my peers. I willingly and unwillingly went to Sunday school every week, I faithfully sang on the youth choir, and I attended services regularly. I would even pretend to read my bible and say my prayers so God wouldn’t chastise me for being unfaithful.
However, the pressure of being named a “church girl” lead to personal disappointments; more than I can name. I was expected to be this perfect human with an ideal relationship with God. I just wasn’t, and never gave anyone a reason to believe otherwise.
After high school, I moved about 10 hours away from home to attend college. I wasn’t one of those kids that looked forward to moving out of my parents’ house to do as I wanted. I was nervous about leaving home and feared I wasn’t going to survive the real world. I grew up sheltered, and there was a lot I didn’t know.
After settling on campus, I found myself practicing the same “ church girl” traditions; I visited a few churches, joined the gospel choir and a bible study group on campus. The church was all I knew. If I missed a Sunday, I would feel convicted and it would put a damper on my week. A few months later I started to question my “church girl” persona and my faith. Honestly, I was confused, and it didn’t quite make sense to me. I would ask myself why my life was so dull? Why couldn’t I dress up and show a little skin? Why couldn’t I go to a party where they didn’t play gospel?
The more I was exposed to on campus and social media, the more I became less inclined to believe that my faith and religion held the answers to living an enjoyable life.
I would often watch my friends from the gospel choir party hard on Fridays and Saturdays only to sober up in time for church on Sunday mornings – I wanted in on the fun!
I quickly stripped myself of the “church girl” title. I eventually swapped the JCPenny wardrobe for tanks, short shorts and mini skirts from Forever 21. I would party on Saturdays, sleep in on Sundays and party harder on Sunday nights – I was a “church girl” gone wild. I was even less public about my faith. I was truly living my best life, or so I thought. Somehow this standard of Christian living had become unrealistic and messy.
Although I stopped going to church I never forgot the word nor did I let His love leave my heart. Every morning I would recite Philippians 4:13 ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Somewhere in my subconscious, I knew that God still had my back. The day I decided to go, rogue, I knew that I would risk his plan for my life and that was ok because Hebrews 13:5 says “He will never leave us nor forsake us.”
Eventually, years of pushing the envelope and living on the edge became another played-out and dissatisfying routine. I woke up one day and had an aha moment. I was running from the habit of a “church girl” and instead of being a woman of faith first. My ideas of being a person of faith were that I had to be without sin – whatever that meant. Being me and faithful to God was a lot of pressure. Over time I understood that I needed to serve God because it was worth it and not because it was a tradition. Perhaps God allowed me to take this path to draw me closer to him.
Fast forward almost ten years later, I am very proud of being a Christian, and I am active in my church. However, I had to understand my faith does not impact my ability to be social and live an enjoyable life. Nor does it stop me from having authentic relationships with non-believers.
While it is our responsibility to live a life that is pleasing unto Him, we need to understand spiritually doesn’t have to be boring, limiting and built on perfection. Holding ourselves to perfection is not what God desires for us. It will only lead us to slip into sin and confusion which removes us further from God’s will.
The moment I accepted myself for who I am, it was easier to commit myself to God (Still struggling with this but you get the point). I am not perfect nor do I strive to be. Even though I am still discovering and unlocking my faith, I am at peace because I know we serve a God that redeems, restore and makes us new.
At last, to anyone feeling pressured to uphold that “church girl” image, stay focused on the word and know that God wants us to be true to yourself and walk in the fullness of who he has called us to be. Even in the mundane and our daily walk we should see our faith in Him as a path to greatness rather than boundaries. Moments like these are a reminder of God unwavering love. Our truth is the foundation of our faith.
Dear Lord, give us the strength to be who you have called us to be. Help us to seek you in times of confusion and despair. Our desire is to experience all that you have planned for our lives so that we can fulfill your promise and be a blessing to someone else. Amen.