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True North

The storm came. You battled. You fought. You overcame. You survived. You won the victory.


Now what?


My recovery from Ovarian Cancer has been challenging. Not because of the refreshed energy. Not because of the new start. Not even because of the healing or the fear that came with it. Now, there's this new fear. The fear of not being worthy, of feeling like my scars are this reminder of my frailty or the fact that I am not the same person I was when I started my fight. It's this uncertainty surrounding my new identity and purpose that has made me question the parts of me that God found worthy. Getting back to regular life and resuming the clock has felt so daunting, but, recently, I was reminded that I have come so much further than I realize. Open road and new space always seems like an impossible task. It shows that I have so much work to do and makes me think that all the progress I made before the surgery, before the chemotherapy, and the long trek through recovery has just taken me 10 steps back, but the truth is that it rerouted me.


We always think our storms throw us off course, but, lately, I have been wondering what if it set me on the right course...?


I think I tend to question my sense of self and worth, because I've lost my sense of the shore line I left behind. It was my only reference point that I used to let me measure just how far I had come and how far I had to go, but I guess I need to be reminded from time to time of the compass in my boat named Jesus.


My most recent storm has shown me that new direction is even more scary when you lose sight of what you are used to. One thing that has remained with me as a residual effect of going through chemotherapy is the hair I lost. I cut it the moment my scalp stopped being strong enough to hang on to the follicles. The feeling of losing my hair wasn't physically painful, but losing it was emotionally stinging. It was like a hand that was once strong enough to grasp and hold things gradually losing its strength and the release of whatever it was holding, so dramatic and emotionally depressing like a movie that only wanted to pull tears from you. Staring in the mirror in my home when nobody was around was like pressing my finger to a fresh wound.


Most people won't understand this, but I didn't just love my hair. For the 26 years I've been on this planet, my hair was a part of my identity. I had memories attached to my hair. I held my pride close as I would recall my childhood where it was my hair that shaped so many of my memories. My foster parents struggling to maintain my messy, unruly and quite wool-like mane so I was crowned with braids a lot. As a kid, I remember the multi-colored beads exciting me as I intentionally swung them around as if to make music. The older I got, the more thick it was and the more my mom complained about doing it, so perms became a permanent staple in our bathroom closet. She always bought "super", and I learned to wait for the sting and tickling of my scalp that signaled it was time to wash. It wasn't until adulthood that I began to see my hair for the crown that it was and not just something needing to be tucked and pulled and manipulated because it wasn't socially acceptable to some for it to just BE. I began my natural hair journey and I never looked back because my hair flourished, and with it my self-esteem and confidence in who I was becoming - a strong, black woman with a bone to pick with the enemy and a conscious thought of black excellence.


So, you can imagine the sadness I felt staring in the mirror at the bald patches and fuzz that was left on my now exposed head. My scalp was so much lighter than the complexion of the rest of my body because it had never seen the light of day. Watching it grow was painful, because I woke up each morning, touching it to see if it had grown more overnight. It hadn't. My friends seen my dismay and suggested wigs and hats, but while that may have gotten me the appearance of being put together, it was really self-esteem that took the blow. I eventually began to start wearing hats and jewelry became a nice creative outlet. Eventually, I started seeing the rays of sun on the other side of my cloudy, stormy experience. I was coming out on the other side.



Part of coming out on the other side is realizing you are not where you were. I'm sure the disciples who got in the boat on one side of the giant body of water they were meant to cross did not expect to actually make it to the other side, but sure enough, even with the storm, they still made it to the other side where Jesus had already told them they were going to end up. It makes me think that what if there was no storm? Would they have still made it, or would they have ended up somewhere totally different. The storm caused them to throw things overboard. It caused them to realign themselves with who they were and who was on their boat. It showed them They picked up discipline, patience, and endurance in weathering the rough waters and pelting rain that sent the wind shrieking through their sails in the most frightening of ways. The storm shaped them, and when they made it to the designated shore, I can just imagine the relief and almost confused realization that such a storm could change how they saw themselves and their mission on earth. How could something so destructive give so much perspective and clarity?


That's how I felt when I came out of my recovery. The storm was removed and all that was left was me. The me that had to grow her hair back. The me that had to find her place in other people's lives again. The me that had to figure out how to match her goals to the revelation that God gave her while she was in the storm. The me that no longer had a tolerance or a taste for the same things as before. My taste was different. My focus was more finely tuned to the area of my life that I had previously restricted God to. You see, before the storm, I had compartmentalized my life into neat little boxes. Church went in one. Career decisions went in another. Love life and relationships outside of church went into their own tidy little box. Education and extracurricular activities that included hobbies had their separate space in my mind, but landing on that new shore, the old shore completely out of sight, expanded the God Box.


In fact, He was no longer confined to a box at all. He was the mac touching the yams at thanksgiving. He was the mix of kool-aid with a boat-load of sugar. His presence was in every part of my life, because during my storm, He was the only thing that would keep me steady. He was the only thing that could help me and soothe me and make me feel well-protected and cared-for. In my worst fight, it was God that I needed the most. The rest of my priorities were scattered and yet covered in Him. He effected all of them. So, you can imagine how off my direction was. How I had to re-locate who I was and where I was meant to be going, because so much has changed since the last reality check. I had to recall my True North, because my compass was lost at sea. Yet, it was God that led me through. So, I have been taking some time to figure this out. I have found myself still asking questions and still searching for understanding. Finding my place in a world that carried on while mine seemed suspended in time has left me feeling like a child not quite sure of her words or how to command her space the way I used to.



So, you see, I understand. I get how you may feel in re-assessing and adjusting yourself to match God's plans and His Will. The stakes seem higher because you KNOW. The expectations are greater and more defined. You now have an idea of the risks and what you may be giving up in following Christ, but one thing that I have had to remind myself daily is that God remembers me. The layers were stripped in my storm, so now I am starting to see myself the way God sees me - Jamie, a daughter that is loved and not forgotten by her caring Father. I am familiarizing and re-introducing me to me, and in that it has been a constant beam of hope to know that God has said that...


I am worthy.


Here's to journeying. Here's to setting sail and docking on new shores with virgin sands. It's not quite a beginning, but it sure isn't the end until God says so.



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About Me

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Writing is both what I love and what I am good at. I began writing as a child as my way of venting in a journal. Poetry quickly became my favorite, and I joined a few clubs in my school that helped me to get better and learn more about my passions. Now, I write for both the love of it and the love of sharing it.

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