Malcolm X once said, “The examined life is painful.” This quote rings loudly in my ears every time I have yet another revelation about something God is asking me to work through in my own life. A couple of years ago, I had to accept the harsh reality that the Apostle Paul never once said it would be easy to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind,” as described in Romans 12:2. The process of becoming a better me takes patience, it takes vulnerability, and most of all, it takes faith. This process, dear friends, is my story.
As much as I love my life and feel very blessed to walk on the earth that God created, there were scenes in my story that I didn’t love so much. There were experiences that I really felt shame for – a shame that consumed me for a long time. At one point, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I simply refused to face my life – the real me – and what I had become. Even more so, as circumstances and emotions spiraled out of control, I began to view my life as The Ugly Show. The most difficult thing to admit to myself was that it ultimately was no one’s fault but mine because of what I allowed, what I was willing to compromise, and what I gave up in exchange for something (or someone) else.
But God has proven to be faithful. He reminds me every day that He is greater than anything we face: He is greater than our feelings, greater than our circumstances, and most importantly, He is greater than our sins. Once I believed that (I mean, truly believed that), I was instantaneously set free from the chains that held me down for oh so long.
Set free. I’ve been set free. Wow, even writing those words down sparks a fire within my soul. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you know God has healed your broken places. It was a natural high. One by one, the burdens and shame I felt were lifted away and removed from my spirit. For me, God also mended the places that I didn’t even realize needed repair. As I reflect now, I will never forget the day, during one of my morning devotions, that the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Elana, this is what it means to be transformed.” God didn’t just want a small piece of my heart; He demanded all of my heart, so that He can remodel it into something beautiful.
In that moment, there was no greater joy than waking up one day and recognizing that I’m not the same person I was when I couldn’t face my reflection. It was like waking up and realizing that the pain didn’t hurt as much as it did days earlier. I would love to take credit for the changes, but if I did, then that would also imply that I didn’t need God in those moments, which is simply untrue.
Through those darker times of my life, God was there. He was always there, making sure that even in those hardships, I didn’t crash and burn. In the midst of the ugliness, I discovered a beautiful love story between a woman and her God. So now, I stand before you: Naked. Unashamed. Unapologetic. But one thing is for sure: I am certainly free. I’m living proof of how God can take someone who once felt lost and give her purpose…and a pen.