I was always in the arena. I knew that I liked to write, help people, study, and research. I’m a talker if I’m interested in the conversation. I want to see women become the best versions of themselves. I strongly disliked when people settled, yet I settled. I would encourage, cover, and pray for those in my circle. I was the one everyone came to when pain was thick enough but not who they ran to for comfort. My teaching style is more corrective and solution oriented. I could never figure out why until I gave God a yes in the one area I hid from him.

Relationships were always the one area that negatively impacted my life. What I mean is that I’ve always struggled to have healthy ones. There are only two roles within a relationship, which is victim or victimizer, and I’ve played both. The underlying motivation for my victimization was that I was assigning the individual whom I was dating the task to make me whole. More specifically, I wanted them to fill the void in my heart that was too big for them. The men would fall straight through the hole and I would be angered because they had failed me. However, my flawed reasoning left both of us in pain that was unimaginable.

One day I got tired. I used to always hear my mom say, “When you get tired enough you will stop!” When will that be, I wondered. I mean of course I was tired of hurting, crying, pleading, but I wasn’t tired of myself just yet. I wasn’t tired of disappointing myself or God, but one day I was. I remember this day just like it was yesterday, May 6, 2016. It was a usual sunny day in Alabama and I was on the phone with the man I loved for the past 8 years finding myself tell him that we could no longer communicate. No, we weren’t enemies or on bad terms but I knew that we were dying by holding on to one another. As I struggled to gain the strength and words to tell him that we couldn’t be friends, I felt my heart break. See, I’ve broken my own heart before by not keeping the promises I made to myself, but I’ve never broken my heart by choosing myself. I don’t even think it was heartbreak that I experienced that day, but maybe heart mending and they can feel the same.

That day I told God that I was tired and that I wanted more. I wanted to know who I was in him. I wanted to know who I was created to be. What is my purpose? Why do I have the experiences that I have? Why have things been so hard? I went on a journey with God for one year starting that day. I told him that I wouldn’t date or entertain a man, and I would allow him to process me. And, process is exactly what happened.

Now that I’m on the other side of that journey, I realize the importance of identity. Had I known who I was long before I entered into any relationship things would have been different. If I knew that I was valuable and that I was destined for greatness then I wouldn’t have settled. Through the process I found my voice, my strength, my God, and my purpose. I discovered that the reason that I battled with insecurity so much was because I was designed to help women discover theirs. God allowed me to feel the pain of broken identity so that I would be sensitive enough to help women overcome.

Within the year I committed to God I had a crash course in identity training. The things that I thought were good in my life were only mediocre. The relationships that I entertained were mere distractions. I didn’t realize that I lived my life on life-support, barely breathing with the tube inserted to help me stay alive. I came to this realization only by living. I learned what it felt like to be on a journey with God. I learned how it felt to live by the Word daily. I learned how to feel, breathe deeply, and love.

I thought the journey was all about me learning to have healthy relationships, and it was. However, it was also about me learning the design for my life. Learning that I had the power to change peoples’ lives. Learning that I had the power to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to save my own.

We willingly handover things in the spirit that we need to survive in the natural. The quality of life that I live now is completely different than the life I was living before my yes to God. I thought I knew what it was like to be loved, but not until I surrendered my will for his will and came out as pure gold.

About the Author: Briana Whiteside is a Phd student and teacher in English at the University of Alabama. While her concentrated research largely focuses on literary texts, Briana realized that her walk with Christ largely informed the way she read literature. Concentrating on spirituality in the narratives of black women, this Chicago native realized the importance of personal spiritual growth, and has committed to positioning herself in a constant state of becoming. MoreoveIMG_7629r, Briana is devoted to serving as a role model advocating for women in to discover their identity in Christ. Her blog womenofroyaltyblog.wordpress.com was designed as a platform to help usher women into their identity through her story. If so lead, feel free to follow Briana on Instagram @briana_whitesid

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