FEAR OF MYSELF

IMG_0942.JPG

I spent most of my adolescent years running. Fear was a subtle but powerful force driving me for most of my life. I ran from my faith in fear of losing control and spiraling into the unknown. I ran from my family in fear of being fully known and found out to be a fraud. I lived in Garland, Texas but spent most of my younger years miles away in my head, desperate to escape. You see, my biggest fear was finding the truth about myself... and not liking it. Not liking me. 

In high school, I got lost in a fascination with fashion. Using clothing and accessories, I would dream and create outrageous outfits which quickly became a new channel of escape. It wasn't long before the idea of moving to the fashion capitol of the world, New York City, was on the top of my to-do list. I applied for LIM College for fashion business and upon acceptance took off on the first plane to the big apple I could find. It was perfect timing. I had endured yet another crippling breakup and had isolated myself from nearly all my family and friends. I barely had any ties left in my hometown and decided it was time to break free once and for all and fly, far far away.  

I will never forget the drive away from home. For the first time in years, I began to feel a pang of nostalgia. I recalled the morning we found my childhood house, praying in the car on the street corner that one day it would be ours. We passed my old route to elementary school and I recalled the day I met my lifelong friend Taylor in second grade on the bench during recess. We drove downtown and I recalled the nights my friends and I spent in karaoke bars belting to Whitney Houston. Good and fond memories.

But then I began to mull over the not-so-good parts.  The streets where I would scream angry tears at my boyfriend like we were straight out of a cliche Taylor Swift music video. The exit I took to drive to Oklahoma after I swore to my mother I was spending the day at Hurricane Harbor, only to be shamefully found out. Finally we drove by Deep Ellum and I my heart sank as I recalled my first night at the club, hiding behind thick mascara and a bruised ego. I shook off the nostalgia as quickly as it came, hugged my father goodbye as we arrived at DFW Airport, and headed towards my gate convinced it held the key to my freedom. 

Since that day I have lived in New York for almost seven years. I walk this concrete jungle and reminisce on the memories that lace the streets. Good, fond memories. Grand Central Station reminds me of the shortcut I would take to get to class on time in college. I walk along 5th Avenue and recall my first day at my dream job in the buying department of Barneys New York. I pass shoppers on the sixth floor of Bloomingdales, reminded of the designer boots I purchased for my first New York winter. Then I mull over the not-so-good parts. My first apartment on 61st street where I cried alone in my closet wondering if moving here was a mistake. The Meatpacking District still reminds me of my reckless single life and my search for love in swanky nightclubs. And when I stroll through a certain restaurant in the East Village I remember the first date shared with the boy who would almost irreparably break my heart.  

I ran approximately 17,000 miles away from home in an attempt to flee my fears. I had convinced myself that Texas was the issue. That the bad memories were the problem. I was sure that if only I could get away, I would never have to face the truth. But whether in Texas or New York, the good and bad memories came and went and I realized that although I was physically in a different location, I could never run far or fast enough from myself. In the Bible Psalm 139:7-10 says, "Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol (or in this case, NYC) you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." 

Out of sheer fatigue, I put away my running shoes so to speak and just stopped. I was intentionally still for the first time in my adult life and asked God to reveal to me the truth of who I am, with all the good and the bad. I braced myself for what was sure to be a rant of condemnation as I began to search through Scripture. I thought: If I am to discover myself, then might as well go to The One who created me. 

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."(Psalm 139:14-15)

"The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)

I expected condemnation and instead received grace. Tim Keller once said, "The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” It is through the eyes of Jesus that I stand boldly today. Fear no longer has a stronghold on me because I know that God's love has and will always have the final word over who I am. This is also true  about who YOU are, regardless of past, present, or future circumstances.

You are:

Fearfully and wonderfully made...

Rejoiced over...

Quieted by love...

Exulted over...

More than a conqueror...

A chosen person...

A royal priesthood...

Holy in the God's eyes...

God's special possession...

...and oh, so much more! This truth has freed me to celebrate life in all its triumphs and failures, rooted in the knowledge that I am unconditionally loved. What a gift! Recently, I returned home to Texas and on the way home from the airport passed through Deep Ellum. This post is a tribute to the home where I grew up and the memories, both good and bad, used by God to renew and transform me into the woman I am today. Because of HIM redemption is my anthem. To God be the glory!

 

Xoxo, Diwa Doll

 

Photography: Emma Donohue Photography