When looking at my reflection there were many times when all I could see were my imperfections. Viewing my body as too fat, too short, too scarred, and not beautiful. There were times when I was overcome with negative thoughts about myself, doubting not only my beauty, but my ability to succeed, and to find love. That pattern of thinking manifested in negative and neglectful behavior such as adopting poor eating habits, not enjoying social activities with friends, and even a fear of pursuing potential romantic connections. I was in bondage and unable to see the true me. I can remember one time as a teenager, I was in a dressing room, while my mom waited outside the door, trying on bathing suits and I took a good look at myself in the full-length mirror. That was the first time I had looked at myself fully. Seeing the massive scars on my legs, engraved in my skin like a jagged road map…I started to cry. I had survived several corrective surgeries on my legs from the age of two, due to having Blount’s disease, and thought I wore my scars proudly. That was the first time I had ever seen them full on, and it was overwhelming to say the least. As I cried, I thought about all the times I was stared at as a child and made fun of by my peers and adults, wondering “what was wrong,” with me. I sobbed even more…My mother quickly went into protective mode and demanded that I open the dressing room door. She hugged me and wiped my tears as I continued to fixate on the mirror, running my fingers over the mountainous portions of raised skin. That day left another scar, but this time it was on my heart, as I question why I looked so deformed.
As the years went on and I graduated high school and was headed to college, I vowed to change the way I saw myself. My time at Virginia Commonwealth University really enabled me to come into my own as a woman and embrace my flaws. Being in such a diverse setting I met people from all walks of life who shared pieces of themselves and their stories with me. There were a group of girls that I instantly bonded with and they were all shapes and sizes. I recognized their beauty immediately and reflected on my own as well. The more of life I experienced, the greater my self-esteem grew also, and I started to become more confident and even attract some romantic interest. All it took was recognizing my own beauty. All the moments my girlfriends and I shared allowed me to explore myself and have the initial connection with my “inner woman”. Looking in the mirror I saw the reflection of a cool, confident, smart, funny, Afro Cuban woman and I was growing into my own.
In my mid 20’s I lost a significant amount of weight, causing my confidence to shoot to an all time high. I thought “now that I’m slimmer my life will be even better”. For a while that seemed to be true, but my mindset started to shift in a more uncharacteristic direction. I’d attracted the attention of multiple romantic interests and enjoyed “playing the field.” The way I dressed and presented myself changed, and my actions to maintain the attention of men became more compromising. Deep down the true me still hadn’t come to the forefront and was still longing to be free. Yet and still, I continued to spiral…It wasn’t until I kneeled down to have an honest conversation with God, admitting my behavior and asking for true love, that I first met my now husband, Giresse. He was the first open, sincere, and kindhearted man I had met in years, and he was attracted to all of me. The way he approached me, telling me what he wanted in a relationship, reflecting my own heart’s desires…it was so unexpected, and I was stunned. His candidness moved me and there was an honesty in his eyes that spoke to my heart, not to mention a genuine and unignorable attraction. To be honest I was terrified at how fast it had happened and prayed that God would show me a sign this was real. When I looked in the mirror, I saw my vulnerabilities and insecurities, not believing I could be loved. As God spoke to me and gave me revelation, I understood that Giresse was sent for me and we both needed to be loved by each other. My husband and I were together for six months before we got married, and despite the assumption of others, it was meant to be.
Through our five years together God has shown favor in my marriage and transformed the way I see myself as a woman. Every moment has forced a growth in me I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. God has spoken to me through every situation causing me to recognize my worth, step into my grown-womanness, and realize my purpose. Seeing myself through the eyes of my husband helped me understand my true beauty and how God created me. Having someone love me with all of my flaws, scars, and insecurities helped heal my broken self-image and step into who I am as a woman. God gave me Giresse to help me realize my own identity and how intentionally I was created. My marriage enabled me to build a deeper relationship with Christ and promoted my growth in the Holy Spirit. It took learning to look at my husband, and situations, in a spiritual mindset, to gain a deeper understanding of Giresse’s needs, while allowing him to experience a love he could only receive with me. God used my marriage to help me find my power and enabled me to be a catalyst for my husband’s healing and growth.
In all my trials, tribulations, and growth I’ve finally recognized my strength and see my true reflection. I am a vessel of Christ filled with love, beauty, healing, care, compassion, and creativity. My scars are my testimony and I now wear them as a badge of honor. I am a reflection of God’s mastery and will be used for His purpose. I love who I am and find meaning in my journey as I know “my latter will be greater than my past,” (Haggai 2:9, King James Version).