Good afternoon, friends!
I was planning on waiting until I felt inspired to write another blog-moir post, but I was told by a good friend and mentor that I should be more consistent with writing so I won’t lose momentum. Apparently I agreed, because we are already on my 2nd post after THREE DAYS! YIPPEEE!
I was kind of grappling on what to write about and then I thought to myself DON’T GET INTO YOUR FORMULA, MONZ!! BE GENUNINE. BE A REAL PERSON. ((We’ll learn about that formula in a little while…calm down, Cleetus*.)) One thing that keeps pressing upon my heart is that all the posts/mem-blogs I write must be as genuine as I possibly can make them. I have spent 95% of my 26 years on this earth in the shadows and being a big, Fakey McFakerson and this mem-blog is to help end that!
I don’t like sharing about myself. I’m always afraid of saying too much and people thinking I’m a freakazoid, dweeb who shouldn’t be allowed to leave her house or I’m nervous I’ll pour my heart and soul out to someone and they will leave me there to dry, hate me and never talk to me again. #dramatic.
The latter is actually my biggest fear. Rejection is the worst! Read my previous mem-blog and the Blog Lyfe section to get a better understanding of my background… but I’ve basically always had this weird sense that something is quite wrong with me. I always feel like I just don’t quite fit the mold of any environment I’m In.
So Secure in Insecurity:
the Imani Payne Story.
A lot of you reading this may be surprised to hear that IMANI BRINGS THE BLOG feels out of place and like an outsider in a lot of situations.
But you’re so outgoing?!
You make other people feel so included!?
HOW?! WHAT?! WHEN?! WHY!? WHERE?!
Well, geez Cleetus*! Gimme a chance to explain!
I’m not sure if it has to do with the fact that I didn’t have a dad ((dads tend to play a very important role in identity I’ve noticed)) or if it was because at a young age everyone was different from me ((at school I was the little black girl from the wrong side of town and on my block I was the little “uh-oh oreo” girl who talked differently and never hung out at the park)) but, I always have this innate sense to just be average. I just wanna fit in. Growing up, I felt like I wouldn’t be accepted unless I was just like everyone else. But, my idea of “being everyone else” meant being happy all the time and not having any problems because THAT is what the world is like. A perfect melting pot of love and meadows and skittles and unicorns and berries! Oh my!!
When it comes to being open and honest about me and my feelings, my default is to be closed and untruthful! Don’t get me wrong… I’m naturally a very easy going, happy, glass full type of gal! I love to laugh and I love to have fun. BUT I’m not always like that… and nor is anyone else**. Yet, I placed myself in a happyness bondage in which I had to live life pretending everything was amazing . This “helped” me tremendously because:
1. people wouldn’t pry in my life
2. I didn’t show weakness and vulnerability
3. People would accept me because I believed I was only lovable when happy go lucky!
Tell people how I really am? No.
Make a formula so you become a bacon eating robot: Absolutely.
How are you today Imani?! I heard you got hit by a car!
OH I’M SOOO GOOD! IT WAS THE BEST EVER! PLEASE LIKE ME!
Now, in case you were wondering, Cleetus*…the time has come:
Imani’s Life Formula ages 5-22:
Always say yes to whatever anyone wants you to do, subtract all your feelings, throw in some false humility, Christianese*** and gifts aaaaand VOILA’! NO PROBLEM EVER!! IT WORKS! IT REAALLLY WORKS! AM I RIGHT!?
You’re sooooooo… wrong.
This formula worked for everyone else…but me. I let toxic relationships ruin my heart. I allowed my self worth to deteriorate. I missed out on great opportunities because I didn’t think I was good enough. I let myself become controlled by people around me and would resort to some really dark, sinful places just to get a grasp on my own life. I lied for people. I stole for people. I lived my life for… people.
It was bad.
What’s worse is I allowed this formula to spill into my relationship with God. I felt like I had to be a certain way or feel a certain way to pray and read His Word or just…go to Him. I told the Lord what I thought He’d want me to say instead of just being how I actually was because I thought He wouldn’t accept me otherwise. I didn’t give people a chance to accept me as is…why should I let Him, right? I didn’t even understand I was putting God into my formula and making my Freedom, Life Giving, Savior into an oppressive robotic genie and making myself into a legalistic God-manipulator.
It was bad.
Just thinking back to how awful I let people treat me… or how terribly I treated myself is crazy! When you’re finding your sustenance in things as fickle and hurtful as people… it will bring you to ruin. It’s amazing to think how much of an impact acceptance has on a person. I just wanted to be loved and accepted and didn’t care the cost. But what I was missing was that Jesus actually paid the cost and I was already loved and accepted regardless! He won! My freedom, my grace, my true life was there for the taking but I didn’t even know it! I was blinded by my people-pleasing and by my sin.
It. Was. Bad.
Luckily, God was calling me to himself. Even when all I wanted was the approval of people and my fake formulated “god,” He never gave up on me and kept pursuing my heart; and in His mercy, He loved me enough to let me find out just where people and legalism would lead me: No where.
I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy and I knew it.
I didn’t clap my hands.
A few years ago, I came to such a low point of depression and sin. My faith was shot. I was hurt. I was discouraged. I felt like I was passed any redemption… I didn’t even know if I believed in redemption. I didn’t feel God. I knew I was far from Him. I was mad at myself for allowing people to have so much power over me. I was helpless but I didn’t even care to do anything about it. Remember, friends… in all of this, I WAS STILL CHRISTIAN. I was still serving in my church. I was still trying to do the “right things” for the Lord. But my heart wasn’t in it. I had no motivation and no fire and no love.
But then, God stepped in.
One night, I’d had enough! I was getting ready for bed and I just broke down. I had it out with God right then and there.
This is what happens when God stops being polite and starts getting real. REAL WORLD: Imani.
Imani’s most honest conversation with God…ever.
((up to that point)) …Don’t think I’m a looney.
Me: Lord thank you for who You are. Thank you for waking me up. Thank you for... God: ... Me: I'm such a faker right now. God: ... Me: God. I honestly have no idea what I'm even doing anymore. I don't even want to want to want to pray. I don't know if You're even hearing me. I'm depressed. I'm numb. I'm hurt. I'm alone. I don't even know if I'm a real Christian. My faith is GONE! I don't even know if I believe in You. I'm empty. I'm lost. I can't do this anymore. God: ...am I still God? Me: ... God: ...am I still God?
In that moment, I realized God was God regardless of how I felt. He was still God regardless if I believed it or not. He was God before I got in this mess, he was God in the mess and He would be God after the mess. His existence wasn’t dependent on me AT ALL. And for the first time in a very long time… I had peace. Just remembering God’s mere Godness gave me hope.
He was my hope.
Hope is the one thing I lacked…or maybe just misunderstood in my entire walk with Christ. Jesus gave His life so I could have access to this hope. But I had to admit that I actually needed– no, in fact… that I was desperate for hope in order to actually receive it. When I was real with Him, He was real with me.
From then on I knew: honesty was the best medicine; and if I had to be open and honest with one person alone…That person needed to be Jesus. He showed up in my broken, angry, hopeless circumstance and gave me that mustard seed of faith I needed to cling to my Hope. He supplied everything I needed to bring me back to Him!
So with all that being said… I can’t do a disservice to the Lord by being fake with you. It’s still a struggle for me to not fall back into that formula that “worked” for so many years… but I’m so grateful and honored that He doesn’t let me get far in my craziness before He steps in and reminds me of His love for me. Reminds me of His acceptance of me. Reminds me of His grace given to me and His work in me. What an amazing God that I serve! He’s crazy for being so crazy about me! Ugh!
Oh…and just in case you were wondering, Cleetus*:
Imani’s Life Formula 2.0 ((ages 22-present))::
- I’m genuinely confused as to how I/we got here… but I’m happy we made it!
- Be honest with God. He already knows whats up… He just wants you to trust Him and surrender to Him whatever’s up so he can really tell you WHAT’S UP!
- A good movie about feeling your feelings is Inside/Out. I didn’t mention it at all in this post. But it’s too good not to mention. It’s also too good to get me for a Christmas present. But I’ll still accept it! 😀 Prepare the tears of feelings and goodness!
- God is so so so good!
- You made it to the end of my second blog! DOUBLE GOLD STAR!
Until next time,
“You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
~Psalm 51: 16-17 NLT
*Cleetus is an imaginary old man. All Cleetus’s appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
**All persons unless you’re Richard Simmons. Richard Simmons is always happy. #workthatfrobro
***Christian-ese is basically Bible talk. It’s often used by Christians as habit or as defense mechanism to make yourself sound more spiritual.
Cleetus: How are you?
Tyrone: I’m blessed and highly favored!
Cleetus: Yea…but how ARE you?!
Tyrone: I’m too blessed to be streesed!
Cleetus: *blinks* How are you doing tho?!
Tyone: Amen, amen! DISCIPLES! ATONEMENT! SANCTIFICATION
Cleetus: …k bye.