God loves me.
“And be not conformed by the world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 KJV
“Miss, yes—you. Please. Come forward.”
Bishop Kissi held an expression of disappointment on his face; one that collected in three furrows along his forehead and hung like waning crescents underneath his eyes. I was afraid. It had only been about four weeks since I began attending New Life Church, but it was enough time to know that his disposition was far from the norm; his tone far from the usual zeal.
“Please, come.” Bishop used his hand to motion me forward a second time.
Hindsight informs me that my hesitancy, in fact, marked an awareness. I imagine that the duet between my stuttering feet and burped tears reflected a quiet knowing that I had done something wrong. Most of us are fearful of truths that we already know, but refuse or are not ready to accept.
When I finally arrived at the front, Bishop beckoned for Pastor Michael, a man of God with a heavy anointing, to join us. I had watched him move under the spirit, prophesizing and performing deliverances time and time again. My inability to understand his spiritual power, however, had caused me to behave awkwardly around him. His presence deepened my apprehension and I gave way to the anxiety forming in my chest.
“Pastor,” Bishop began, “what were the prophecies you gave this young woman?”
“I told her that she would never inherit the hardship and pain of her mother,” He replied. “I told her that there is a great calling upon her life and an abundance of divine blessings that she will come to know at an incredibly high speed.”
It was a humble summary of what had been revealed to me over the past few weeks. Pastor Michael had called me forward during Friday and Sunday services to share prophecies about the success of my career and the trajectory of my life. I was given detailed accounts over the hardship my parents and I had undergone, forewarned about distant relatives and acquaintances that wished us harm, and reprimanded for poor decisions that I had made.
Bishop shook his head. “The Lord revealed to me that these prophecies will not yet come to pass.”
So suddenly dizzy, I howled a loud, squawking sound. I could see Bishop mouth, “don’t cry,” through the wet fog that had stained my vision. My dress, now cool with nervous sweat, draped me in familiarity, as I knew too well the chill of suffering.
“You see child, the problem most of us fall into when we hear prophecies or information about family and friends that have wished us harm is that we start to connect the dots. We begin to fixate on the past and when we are finally able to figure out who has hurt us, we become angry and bitter, and we bewitch ourselves.”
I swooned, collapsing from the weight of defeat and wonder. How could he have known?
“What was the condition given to you?” Bishop inquired.
“He…told me that I have to forgive.”
Glum with reminder that I had not kept my end of the bargain, I returned to my seat and laid my head over my mother’s lap.
“You see, you all do not understand what this is all about!” He exclaimed. “Life is more than these…things we give so much time and importance to. We as a church are missing the true meaning.”
And he was right, at least, about me.
For so much of my life I have drawn value from career and academic achievement, outward appearance, and personal accolades. I have been validated and found sustenance in the ways others expressed admiration for my loud, cheerful persona, hard work ethic, and supposed, destined success. But for the last two years, life and I have not looked like any of those claims.
A more honest depiction of who returned eye contact in my reflection was a shell. One that was cracked and broken, sickly and underweight, irate and resentful, lost and confused. I identified so greatly with my career failures in Ghana and blamed myself for being unable to protect my parents from increasing debt and eviction notices. I cursed at God for his lack of mercy on my father’s health and my mother’s business.
I stopped showering. I lost my appetite. I fell ill. I lay in bed day after day in a heap of apologies for myself; drunk off the fumes of a weed addiction. Bridget—and whatever I had once claimed she was—was no longer.
To remedy the pain, I found solace in hatred and victimhood. I spent hours mediating over the relatives that abandoned, betrayed, and laughed at my family. I sang songs of death to old sweethearts that left me with the sour after taste of being fucked but not chosen. And I held on to every prophecy with pride and spite, ready to spit on everyone. I would make them all sorry for doubting me; for leaving me; for hurting me.
At the end of service, I ran up to the pulpit where Bishop was seated, looking through his notes. Blinded by the act of revenge I had turned my blessings into, I still could not figure out what he meant by the “true” meaning of life.
“Bishop,” I exhaled. “So, does this mean my prophecies will never come to pass?”
He chuckled, realizing my confusion, and held my shoulder. “No, no. They will all come to pass, but, there has been a hold. You have to understand Bridget—God wants to bless you in this life. He wants to make you great. But it is not what you have, that makes you great. It is what you give. How can God trust you to bless others with what He’s given you, if you can’t forgive those closest to you?”
Though this season has force-fed me numerous lessons, forgiveness has been the hardest to swallow. I have worked incredibly hard to let go of past disappointments and learned to accept what was and all that is no longer. I am learning to love without bounds or exceptions—in the same way God has so faithfully loved me. And while I still remain hopeful for His favor to manifest in my life, I do so humbly, thankful for all that He was already done in the restoration of my peace and protection of my family.
So much of my journey back to God, and by that, myself, includes many things that I cannot yet understand or explain. I am scared—both of the supernatural and to share with others my experiences with it. I am pained with anxiety that others will not believe my testimonies or may alienate me because of my willful exclamation to the love I have for the Lord. I worry that people will treat me differently, or that my friendships will change, because, I have.
I write this in spite of it all, leaning on the exchange of freedom for my truth. With this, I say thank you to God for each and every person, opportunity, and struggle He placed in my life that was, and is, dedicated to my self-actualization. I thank Him for helping me to let go of the pain and anger that once stood in the way of my destiny. I thank Him for wisdom, humility, and patience. And though I still cannot fully recognize who I see in the mirror, I give Him all the glory for her too, because I know that she is stronger, happier, full of purpose, and closer to the woman I have always wanted to be.
Bishop gave me a small nudge to shake me out of my daze.
“Let it go, Bridget,” He said. “Love, and be free.”