When I look back over the past two decades of my life, I get real embarrassed at how little I’ve been cared for and how little I’ve cared for myself. Inch by inch, concession by concession, sacrifice by sacrifice–I gave up all the little things important to me trying to be someone that quite honestly God never asked me to be. Nah, I was most definitely trying to fall into an image that wasn’t myself. And cold thing is? I did it to myself. At suggestion, for sure, but I never refused the weight.
Funny how life will have you outchea dancing for no reason, literally on a pole of self sacrifice going round and round. Trying to please everybody, putting yourself farther and farther down the list. On hands and knees scrounging for far less than what you’re worth.
But as the prodigal son so experienced when he realized that he was eating slop with hogs when he could be eating fatted calf at the crib with his peeps: I came to myself. And I promise you nothing profound happened; a day simply came where I looked at where I was and what I had done with next to nothing for an extended period of time. How I had talked myself into feeling guilty for getting my hair done or getting my nails done or hell, paying the copay for new glasses or getting my teeth fixed because there was another bill to pay. Another debt. More gas I needed to put in a car or two. More groceries to buy cuz we’d blown the budget on snacks. I looked at where I was, and…tuh. The same bills were there. The same situations existed. The same relationships festered. And I had nothing to show for it except teeth falling out my mouth daily and hair that for the first time in my life I’m embarrassed of.
The poor, apparently, we have with us always, no? Cuz I have myself.
Being the brat that I am, I sat for some weeks just mad. Hot at how I’d been told that I’d let myself go with no real recognition of the fact that I did it for other people’s benefit. Hot at how I’d been Captain Kirking but somehow ended up always being a villain–and a broke, busted one at that. Just HEATED. After I got finished being big mad, I pulled a “David” and rant-prayed about the unfairness of it all: I’d been had. I was mad. Where was YOU at, Jesus, when all this was going down? And I’m the bad guy? How, Sway–I mean Lord? HOW?
Then, God sat with me.
I don’t know if you know what that feels like. To have God sit with you. It is scary, but safe at the same time. You know it isn’t just you hunkered down in your own thoughts. There’s a presence, a weight. And you listen frozen for fear of being struck lifeless if you move.
So I’m sitting there stuck on pause–maybe a random, involuntary sniff cuz I had legit been screaming and wailing–and I felt this thought like someone dropped a set of books on my head: I never asked you to nail yourself to the cross you’re carrying. I asked you to pick up your cross and follow Me. I love you. I want you to be well. Take care of yourself. You’re being selfish by being a victim all the time. Don’t you understand your value yet?
Okay then, Lord!
And as I came to myself, I knew that, no. I didn’t. I hadn’t valued myself at all. Cuz you spend money and time and effort on the things and people you value. You give up what is precious to you for what is loved by you. And no where on any of my lists was…me.
So I started to change that–little stuff at first cuz guilt is a thing for me. Made a decision to write something everyday, no matter how garbage, then bought my domain name. Forced myself to budget $50 for what I wanted (usually nails) every paycheck, no exceptions. Begin again to figure out ways to feel better about my hair here recently. Purchased a monthly subscription for shoes. Little stuff. Stuff that makes me feel human again. Like a woman. Like a worthy woman whom God values.
I stopped dancing for the scraps of this life and started to orchestrate a comeback to be followed by a come-up. It was what it was, but now it is something more. It is the moving my money where my mouth is, where my worth is. In me.