I don’t know about you, but sometimes I look at all these seemingly happy and enlightened people on Instagram and get irritated.
Why? Not because I begrudge them their success and happiness, but because growth is filled with a myriad of emotions which includes discomfort, fear, frustration, and sometimes anguish.
Growth can be downright painful because often we’re asked to reevaluate the very tenants of faith that we have built our identities upon. And when we have believed in those tenants since childhood, disrupting them in adulthood can shake our foundational axis. Feeling off kilter, becoming angry, and feeling frustrated are par for the course.
At the same time, it’s important to be gracious with ourselves and to really understand that we did the best we could with what we had. Just because you change your mind or change your belief system doesn’t mean that you were wrong or bad before, it just means that now you’re making a more aligned choice.
Let me give you an example, one that is highly controversial.
During the summer of 2020 I participated in two Bible study sessions that analyzed stories from the black woman’s perspective. Not only did I learn that many of the female slaves in the Bible were forced to be surrogates for their captors, I also learned that Queen Jezebel’s promiscuous and manipulative reputation is found nowhere in the Bible. Which means it was created by culture and by men to control women.
But what really did it for me was visiting the slave dungeons in Ghana and learning that the Portuguese, British, and Dutch built their churches directly over the male slave dungeons. Both literally and figuratively the sadistic captors were dancing and praising God on the heads and bodies of black men.
Now, as a child and young adult, I sought after God and religion on my own volition. I wasn’t forced to go to church, nor was religious doctrine a staple in my household. But after my summer Bible study and my trip to Ghana, I couldn’t subscribe to the Christian religion (or really any others) anymore.
How could I, as a person who’s ancestors have been abused and controlled by religion praise the same god as my captors?
How could I, as a black woman living today, who wants free will and autonomy over my body, subscribe to a religion that is constantly policing my body, my choices, and my pleasure?
Faith and Christianity played such a big part of my development as a child and young adult that it was shocking and painful to let it go. Not only that, but if you’ve ever talked to a Christian about why you no longer believe, you know the conversation gets heated very quickly!
This growth for me wasn’t fun and it wasn’t comfortable, but it was necessary. I no longer want to be bound by chains that do not serve my highest good, so I let them go.
The result was that for a couple of years I couldn’t pray because I wasn’t sure what words to use. I felt like I had trouble manifesting because I didn’t know which entity (God, the universe, myself) to make my desires known to.
But now that I’ve had some time, I’ve been able to develop beliefs and practices that support my growth, keep me grounded, and attune me to my highest self.
So, no, growth isn’t always comfortable. It can challenge you and shake your foundation, but coming out on the other side is always worth it.
Maybe your foundational shifts includes changing careers, moving away from home, or deciding to pursue a passion you’re afraid to tell your family about.
Whatever it is, it may not be easy and the growth may make you squirm, but it is so worth it on the other side.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What are you uncomfortably growing through right now?