I have the same insecurities as you. I look in the mirror and do not recognize the stranger looking back at me. I think my hips are too wide, I yell too often, and my idea of dressing up is slapping on a tank top with elastic waist yoga pants. I have not been alone in the bathroom in eight years. I sometimes call our children by our pets’ names. I’ve even walked out of the house with two different shoes on. The struggle is real.
I have to laugh when people ask how I always look so put together. Seriously? What they don’t see is the greasy hair underneath the fedora and the fresh coat of cover up I put on over last night’s residue. Mascara can carry you a long way. It’s like a five hour energy drink for your eyes. If they only knew what was lurking underneath. I never claimed to have it all together. As a matter of fact, I never claimed to have anything together.
I don’t know what your “go-to” is, but mine was an old pair of red high heels.
Like many of you, I had one article of clothing that was my “go-to” for all occasions. I don’t know what your “go-to” is, but mine was an old pair of red high heels. These shoes and I were old friends. We never went out of style. They didn’t talk back, yet they spoke volumes. When they took my feet for a walk, I felt like the most courageous lioness in the jungle. Together, we could conquer the world.
Looks can be deceiving. This epitomized who I was at the core. The girl who appeared to have it all together was only a façade wearing red high heel shoes. Then one day, the façade faded away like a sunset. The put-together exterior melted, and what remained was anything but pretty. Simply put – a broken mess.
My family and I were regular church attenders. We were good people. There was just one problem. We were physically present, but spiritually absent. Growing up we were well trained in recitation, repetitive responses and prayers. Sadly, the experience had become habitual, robotic, void of authentic heart connection, spiritual engagement or genuine worship.
We were physically present…but spiritually absent.
My soul yearned for more. The empty caverns in my heart echoed for an intimacy this world could not satisfy. The harsh reality smacked me in the face like a line drive in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied game. I knew something needed to change.
In November 2013, our family decided to visit a different church in search of spiritual nourishment and revival. Definitely out of our comfort zone. My husband was open to change, but if I’m honest, I had some severe guilt rumbling in my soul. Satan was wreaking havoc. Contrary to my reconceived notions, I experienced a peace and calmness that had been previously absent. What was happening? I was supposed to hate it.
The Holy Spirit was working in a transformational way. God answered the quiet prayers of my heart by leading us down an unfamiliar path. The Christian walk I was familiar with for the last 33 years was like a highway to hell on the fast track. We were kind and tried to do the right things, but we had a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel of our lives. We hungered for control and wanted our desired outcomes. Our heads knew about Jesus but our hearts did not intimately know Jesus. Looks can be deceiving, can’t they? The red high heel façade even had me fooled. However, our Lord knew every dark cave of my soul but loved me enough to pursue an intimate relationship with me, even when I was playing hard to get.
It was January 26th, 2014. The day began like any ordinary Sunday. We walked into church playing dress-up in Christian clothing. We were honest, well-intentioned people. We prayed and tithed, but we were not living like followers of Christ. We proclaimed Him as Lord, but He was not reigning on the throne of our lives.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
– 2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV
God ruined my life that day. He completely stripped me of who I was, convicting me of the sinful stains that tarnished my soul. I entered this house of worship with mundane fulfillment, but walked out saved, completely broken, changed and a new creation.
As a new creation in Christ, I envisioned an easier life; one of less worries and burdens, yet one of freedom and hope. A day that started with the greatest spiritual epiphany of my life, ended in crisis. Just six hours after surrendering my life to Christ, I felt I had been sucker-punched in the gut. I had no idea how difficult my life would become and how soon my faith would be tested. A Glioblastoma brain tumor had threatened to take my mother’s life. It’s the most aggressive, reoccurring brain cancer with no cure.
This seemed utterly surreal and unbearable. To my surprise though, Christ was right there with us, and our life became a completely blessed mess. Before my surrendering this would have destroyed me, but now this trial was strengthening my faith, equipping me to leverage my pain for the Lord’s beautiful, perfect purpose. To God be all glory, honor and praise.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
– 1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV
LeRyiah Arant is a Jesus lover, imperfect wife & momma, fueled by GRACE and ice cream. Passionate about personal stories, legacy & living in tandem with God. @LeRyiahArant