I first decided to change my way of living towards the last 6 months of 2009. I hit rock bottom and was at my very lowest. I was tired, broken, hurting, heartbroken, and felt very alone. It made no sense to me then why God was still keeping me alive. I didn’t want to be alive. It was then God taught me three important things: True love, forgiveness, and who he is. Life was great up until I was 10 years old. I was never able to have a relationship with my mom. She was verbally abusive towards me. It didn’t take long for my relationship with my dad to spoil. I trusted no one. Home was never a happy place. I never felt love, accepted, good-enough or wanted. I grew up believing something had to be terribly wrong with me, until God placed someone in my life to show me otherwise. I wondered why else would the person who gave birth to me hate me so much. I became rebellious and all about pleasing me. Doing what makes me happy. I desperately wanted to fill my void. I have 6 siblings and I had plenty of friends but I stayed to myself on the inside. I shut everyone to protect myself. I was angry, hurting, and wanted so badly for someone to see and understand but no one did. I put up with my mom, but putting up with everyone else was not an option. I learned to be strong for myself and love myself because no one did or would. My attitude was terrible. I didn’t care about anything or anyone. No one cared about me so I decided to not care either. In order to cope with everything that went on at home and outside of home I explored several of my talents. I later on learned they are my gifts from God. I stayed locked up in my room a lot reading, writing poetry, journaling, sketching and designing; and listening to music. Those things were like therapy to me. They were my escape. I found and used any and every excuse to not be at home: Staying after school, lying, hanging with my friends. Every minute away from home was a moment in paradise. I was excellent hiding how I feel on the inside. No one, except one person (I will blog about her), could tell I was a hurting soul. To everyone around me I was strong, confident, and had it all together; nothing affect me.
I was in a relationship that I thought was everything. I was so naïve, in love, and clueless. By the time I graduated high school in 2008, I soon found out everything I believe was a lie constructed of smaller lies. I thought things would get better but they only seemed to have gotten worse. I went from one hurt to the next. Everything came crushing down on me in 2009 and I didn’t think I could take anymore. I became angrier; not only at my parents and the guy that broke my heart but God as well for allowing all those things to happen to me. I wanted answers and God was silent. I almost wondered if he was there or real but I knew better. I grew up in church but I hated church. I was angry and hurting and they only made it worse. Everything I once found comfort in no longer worked. I was depressed. I didn’t enjoy anything anymore nor did I want to be alive. I felt hopeless. I couldn’t wait to be alone, away from everything and everyone so I could cry. Even that after a while wasn’t enough. A part of me wanted to get better but didn’t know how. As I laid on my bed on night it occurred to be I haven’t tried God yet. I cried out to God that day. I cried more than I prayed. I said what was on my mind and heart and prayed that he heard me and cared. I felt some peace and moved on with my life but it didn’t end there. I begin to pray more and read my Bible. God started revealing things to me. I still wasn’t saved. I know now God favored me. In the meantime, I was still making dumb mistakes and bad choice. God was still working on me. I didn’t trust him though. Yes, that is the truth, I did not trust God. As God direct me, I stop doing a lot of things I used to do. I wasn’t fornicating anymore, I stopped cussing, I stopped listening to secular music, I was watching who I hang with, and I started to heal. I became aware there was more to life. It’s not all about my problems and I had purpose, even though I didn’t know yet what it was. I had a few secular songs left on my phone that I didn’t delete yet. I gave in and played one. It was the song “spotlight” by Usher and Gucci mane. As I listened to the song I heard “psalm 6”. Out of fear that God was surely about to kill me, I stopped that song. I couldn’t believe my ears. I played it again and heard the same thing. My soul was deeply troubled. I asked a friend of mine, and my brother Terach to listen to the song and tell me what they hear. They heard the same thing. I was bothered and didn’t know what to do. I deleted the songs and thought to myself it must be something demonic, why else would they say that in a circular song. Then I remembered I shouldn’t have been listening to it in the first place. I went on a mission to find the song lyrics. The lyrics said “zone 6”. I knew what I heard so I knew I couldn’t have been crazy. My brother suggested I read psalm 6 God might me trying to tell me something. I disagreed, I didn’t believe God would want to speak to sinful messed up me. I prayed, he didn’t answer.
After I read it, I still didn’t know or understand what was happening. Then I heard, pray and read psalm 6 again. I prayed and ask God if he really is speaking to me and trying to show me something open my heart to receive it and help me understand. After I finished praying, I started to read psalm 6 again. As I got to verse 8, it hit me. It was my very first revelation from God through his Word. I was instantly filled with joy that I never knew existed. Tears of joy filled my eyes as I finished reading. He brought me back to the night I cried out to him then I fully understood what was happening to me. I laid on my bed in tears, for the first time, tears of joy not hurt, pain, or sorrow. I could not contain the joy I felt. I smiled uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe God spoke to me, me Tara. He heard me, he’s answering me, he “heard the voice of my weeping”, he “heard my supplication”, and he “will receive my prayer”. My God, I was overwhelmed. I laid there thanking God. I was surrounded by his presence. It felt like an embrace. I felt total peace.
I knew my life from that day forward would never be the same. I begin to fell in love with God. I wanted more of him. The closer I got to God the more clearly I was able to see the real me, and how much I need him and his grace and mercy. Others offenses towards me were nothing compared to my sinful nature alone. God showed me true love, himself. Everything about love is in his Word, that’s who He is. Everything he is that’s what love is. He showed me how much he loves me and cares for me. He sees and understood. He’s concerned about me and I could cast all my care upon him. God showed me the un-forgiveness that I still had in my heart and through his grace I was able to forgive the guy who broke my heart. I thought I had moved on and let go but God’s word prove to be true “the heart is deceitful above all things” only God can know it. Deep down inside I was still hurting too bitter and angry to let go. I had a hard time believing I could hate anyone. I didn’t think I was that kind of person. In a series of dreams, I seen my ex begging me for forgiveness and I said no and walked away. In the final dream, I was at church. As services ended I headed out of the church. My ex was standing by the door. He looked at me and started begging me to forgive him. I said no harshly and walked away. I prayed and told God if this is really where I’m at and what he’s really showing me then confirm it for me one last time through someone else. I went on with my life after that. A couple of weeks later if I recall correctly, I received a phone call early Saturday morning from my pastor at the time. He never called me like that before, and definitely not that early. I wondered what I did wrong. He told me God gave him a vision that he was trying to take something away from me but I wasn’t letting it go. I told him I have no clue what it could possibly be. I was confused. He said it might be anger or bitterness or something of that sort. Instantly that prayer I had prayed came to mind. I told him I know exactly what he was talking about. He told me then you know what to do. I got off the phone and went and prayed. I confess and repent. I begin to tell God how I really felt. How could I let go and forgive when he hurt me so terrible? I trusted him, he cheated on me, treated me so wrong, and lied to me straight to my face; and still had the nerves to say I love you. He’s not even sorry God. I poured out then listened. God pulled out a mirror and showed me myself. He told me, haven’t you done the same to me and I love and forgave you. I need you to extend my love, grace, and mercy I’ve given you. You’re not any better. I felt like crap but God was right. I was able to let God and forgive him. It wasn’t because he deserved it but because I didn’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness yet he forgave me anyways. Before I ever even thought about asking, he died for me. Forgiving him was the right thing to do. I was able to release him and tell him I forgive him. Through that and scripture God taught me true forgiveness and what he requires. It didn’t take me long to realize I had to be completely honest with God because he already knew.
The story was different when it came to my mom. I always loved my mom but I hated who she was and the things she did. It took a couple of years later after I moved away from home for that healing process to take place. The amount of hurt was buried deep in layers. God healed me and I was able to let go of all the pain, and forgive my mom. At 24 years old, I was thankful to be able to have a positive healthy relationship with my mom. We can agree to disagree and I know she loves me. There are questions I may never get an answer to concerning why but those things are no longer important. I am able to have a relationship with my mother, and it was all I ever wanted. She’s not perfect, and although she never said I’m sorry, I know she deeply is for everything. Sometimes I think she’s trying extra to make up for the guilt she probably still feel on the inside. What’s most important to me is seeing that God is working on her, she’s changed a lot and not who she used to be. I was completely against the standard my parents raised me with. I always loved fashion, modeling, dressing up, hairstyles and makeup, so those things and their sources were some of my greatest influences. I had a worldly mindset from a very young age, my parents did their best, and it was just my sinful nature I was born with. I’ve NEVER seen my mom purchase or wear a mini-skirt, mini-dress, or shorts. I’ve only seen her wear pants because her job required it. I’ve also never seen her wear makeup or jewelry. Watching television and reading magazines, I thought those women are what I need to look like, my parents and their strict rules got it all wrong. I began to comply with culture and the ways of the world. Not a day went by my dad didn’t try to explain to me and help me understand why it was not okay for me to behave, dress, and act the way that I did. I thought it was my body and it’s up to me to do whatever I please. I thought I was the hottest thing and no one could tell me nothing. My dad is an honest man and he never let me slip by without telling me the truth of the state I was really in. As a father, the way I dressed myself and behave was his worst nightmare. He always told me to read my Bible and see if I’m living according to God; and warned me that if I didn’t change my life would not end well. I remember him telling me
“The way you dress is a direct reflection of your heart’s condition”
Who we believe we are reflects in the way we dress, behave, and carry ourselves. Being where God place me now, I can look back and admit my dad was right and loved me enough to tell me the truth whether I listened or not. I grew up in church in a family of pastors, preachers, ministers, teachers etc… I knew God’s Word. I made the wrong choice to not live by it. It wasn’t until God changed ME I was able to see how horrible I was really was and look.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”-Jeremiah 29:11
In 2010, the very beginning of the year God poured out his Holy Ghost upon the youth members at the church I attended. I didn’t receive the Holy Ghost then, but God still showed me grace and favor, and used me. It was revival at its best. There was freedom, joy, peace, healing, and blessings of all sort. Demons were being cast out and chains were being broken. Of course, after such an unbelievable experience things took a turn for the worse. Division of all sort took place, abuse of scripture, lies mask as truth, people coming up with their own doctrines, people taking God’s glory, and all kinds of craziness. Confusion took place, no one knew who to listen to or follow. Once I had enough, I decided to pray. I asked God to help me understand what was going on and what I needed to do. I needed to know the truth and do things his way. I shared my concerns with my god-mother whom I was almost always with. While we were working on something at her mom’s house, I fell asleep after talking her ears off. Hours later, as I was waking up I heard “Trust in the Lord with all your heart”. I freaked out and asked her if she heard that. She asked me heard what and gave me that are you okay look. I explained to her what just happened, she started laughing. I didn’t see what was funny at first. She explained to me that God can speak to us in countless ways; we just need to listen and obey. The saying repeated in my mind. Something told me to look it up in the Bible so I did. I picked up one of my god-mother’s Bibles and begin searching and there it was; proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not upon thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Once again, I was amaze. I wondered who I was to God and why he kept doing stuff like that. From that day forth I decided to put my trust in no man except God. It made a lot of people angry but I didn’t care. I focused more on what the Word of God said then people. I soon realize his truth and theirs didn’t match up. God became my comfort because I didn’t understand me but I knew he did. I trust he knew what he was doing. That same year, God gave me a dress code to live by. I followed it because I didn’t want to no longer continue being disobedient. I cleaned out my closet then realized 98 percent of what I wore on the regular was inappropriate. My closet was empty and I didn’t have any money to replace everything. I told God I’m only doing what he said I believe he will provide. If I recall correctly, within a week I receive a phone call from a person I was not very close nor did I like at the time; he was not fond of me either. He’s a family member; he told me that God put me on his mind and told him to bless me. He told me to get ready, he’ll pick me up soon to take me shopping for a new wardrobe. I was overwhelmed and thankful. I asked him how he knew I was in need and he told me he was only doing what God told him.
I tried on my own to do all that God asked of me and failed. My efforts were temporary. God never left me nor forsaken me. In all my mess, backsliding, bad choices, and disobedience he showed me favor. It was hard for me to accept that kind of love. Shame and guilt kept me bound. But when I finally surrendered my life completely to God, he set me free. Whomever Jesus frees is free indeed. There’s not a devil in hell or on earth that can separate me from God’s love for me and his purpose for my life. Modesty became my policy and Jesus my standard. On August 25th, 2013 I received the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues and I was baptized in Jesus name (I will blog about that day).
Regardless of popular culture, the media, traditions, and society I chose to live the way God wants me to. When I see others, who are where I used to be, it humbles me. It not only reminded me who I used to be and the message I was sending off, but more importantly JESUS IS ABLE. I choose to look like, act like, behave like the God I call my Lord and Savior and so much more; and in whose image and likeness I was made in. I had to renew my mind. I needed a clean heart. I had to stop conforming to the world. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God in Him, through Him, and for Him. Jesus is whom I live to please; whether it be in my conduct, attitude, or wardrobe.
My journal entry August 25, 2013…
I am in a state of joy. The anointing of the Lord is upon me. But let me rewind. My new roommate Tiffany (this is not her real name to protect her identity) and I decided to visit Victory Tabernacle for church today. Service started at 1 PM. We didn’t know what to expect. Of course, I went out the night before clubbing, walking in the church I tried not to think about that. The worship service was good. I was glimpsing around. I wanted to give God more. I knew what I’ve been doing so I felt like I was in no condition to offer God anything. When it came time for the sermon, the pastor (Pastor R. Collins) asked everyone to stand to read 1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
He talked about how we all want to go to heaven but a few of us will back out once scripture tells us the sacrifices that it requires. Bottom line is God wants all of us, our body, mind, and spirit. He wants us to surrender to his will; not our will but his will. He said some of us have been wanting to give God ourselves wholly but being held, today was the day. As he was speaking, I started saying to myself. I do want to give myself to Christ wholly but lust, partying, and worldly desires have held me back. I have yet to surrender all of me. He said, we know our body. We look at it enough in the mirror. We know our mind (soul). We know what kind of thought we have been thinking. I’ve had lustful and dirty thoughts. I used my body for my own sinful pleasures. It was not presented to God as a living sacrifice. My dark spirit was manifested in my body and soul. As I sat there listening to the preaching, I realized I was messed up. I never wholly surrender my body, soul, and spirit to God. I wanted to, and I needed to. After everything God has done for me, I knew at that moment I needed to surrender.
I needed the Holy Spirit. I desired to have him. I needed to repent and surrender wholly. I remembered the pastor in the beginning of his preaching saying, today was someone’s day who desired the Lord the Lord and wanted to surrender entirely. It was me. He made a call for those that wanted prayer, need to repent, and serve God wholly to come up to the altar. By the time he ended his preaching, God made me realized I had to up to the altar. My body refused to move but I couldn’t remain seated for long because today was my day. I went up to the altar. Two women came to pray with me. The one that was on my left side asked me if I wanted to receive the Holy Ghost, I said yes. She spoke to me and said that I was not there by accident and everything that I’ve been praying for I would receive today. I would be free from my strongholds. If I repent I would be forgiven. She told me to speak to God, ask him, worship him, and thank him. Then she asked me if I believed, I said yes. I lifted my hands and starting speaking to God. I told God I need his forgiveness, and I glorify him, and that I thank him. I continued praying. She told me not to hold back. I would begin to speak in another tongue, the Holy Spirit would fill me, receive him. The other woman that was on my right side placed her hand on my forehead then told me to let him in and speak. The woman on my left-hand side placed her hand on my stomach. I started speaking in another tongue. I received the Holy Spirit.
I got baptized in Jesus name. I was free and forgiven. I had a new beginning. For the first time, I felt forgiven. I didn’t wake up today expecting that blessing. Who can know the plans of God? I feel so underserving to be blessed this way. One of the ladies that was praying with me told me, you have not been alone, God is with you. Speak to him, you know where he’s been with you. Jesus is greater than me. On our way to the church service, Tiffany and I were talking about how I’ve been wanting to get baptized again. That was already in God’s plan for me because that is exactly what happened along with receiving the Holy Ghost. I always thought I would know exactly when, where, and how this would happen but God doesn’t think like I do. God filled me with his Holy Ghost at a time when I am the perfect mess. Go and sin no more, yes Lord! I have been forgiven. I can’t explain the joy that I feel. I shared what happened with my brother and my god-mom. I wanted to tell as many people as possible. Now I know why I couldn’t do the things I knew God required of me. I needed the Holy Spirit.