Note to Reader
This is a twelve month project which aims to bring to light the individual pain experienced by young women and to show how their unique stories make them who they are. We ask you to feel with an open heart and respect their stories.
Dealing with a lot of death as a child, I honestly kind of turned it and used it for good. I think I have a different take on death than most people do. I know people sometimes handle death by going into a shell and balling their eyes out, and while there were times I did ball my eyes out, I also lived my life by my father’s death.
I lived my life by my father’s death.
I’ve always had this mentality that “I refuse to be a statistic.” I always told myself regardless of the hand I am dealt, "I will succeed and use it for good." Growing up in a single parent home was one of those things I was up against. Fortunately, for my brother and I, we had an amazing mother and support system of family and friends. Nonetheless, it was a single parent household and that has its own challenges. And being an African American is a difficult thing in the world we live in, too. But I literally told myself, “I will not be a statistic. I will go to college. I will have a great job. I will eventually get married, have children, and provide for them. And I will follow the dreams and desires I have in my heart."
I would say the death of my father isn’t something I struggle with on a daily basis. I had a huge breakthrough a couple years back. I was in college, just balling my eyes out, mad at my dad, mad at God, upset that my dad was no longer here to share life with me and see the woman that I’ve become. That moment was just a huge release for me. But the most important part of my healing has been knowing Jesus and allowing Him to take the pain away. My father’s death is not something that can change but God as my Father has changed me. I might not have an earthly father here in the flesh, but I have a heavenly Father who loves me without a doubt. And knowing that has really been a big comfort and made things less difficult.
I can definitely find good in this story. I think the good are the things I’ve done with my life and the fact that I didn’t allow a traumatic event to determine the rest of my life. I used it to fuel what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to go. I didn't just sit and sulk. Yeah, I could’ve done that but what good was that going to do? It has been so good to help other people and know what I went through has shaped me into who I am today.
My father was of a different faith and so was his family, so that’s another thing I think about as well. My mom obviously took us to church and I grew up in church, but I didn’t really come to know Christ and His love for me until I was in college. And that was when I had that breakthrough of balling my eyes out and forgiving my dad for what he did. And you know, I wonder, if he were alive, would I be of his faith right now? I have no idea. But thinking back to my childhood, and the fact that I did grow up in church, I was able to know Christ and come into who I am now. I can’t separate those two things now. To this day, I can’t separate Aisha from woman of God. You know? That’s who I am. So obviously I don’t know if it would be any different if my dad were alive but I do have those thoughts about what it would have been.
But at the same time, I’m so thankful because it’s made me who I am and what I am. I think too about college and where I went. I don’t think I would have gone that far if he were still alive. My mom and step-dad moved to North Carolina and I went to a school that wasn’t too far from North Carolina. And if my dad were still alive and still living in New York, would I have gone to school in New York? I don’t know but where I went to college was where I really had my breakthrough with Christ. So I think about all those things whereas a lot of people don’t think about them or the choices that they’ve made. I don’t know, I am grateful for what did happen. Obviously I miss my father and I miss having a dad here in the flesh, but I’m definitely grateful for what took place in my life.
I definitely think that not having my dad physically present in my life has left a void in me. In response to not having my father, even just his affirmation of love, I deferred it by trying to find that in other people. I tried to use other things, people, men, and even alcohol to try to fill what my heart was missing. A lot of people think that these things will help them or fulfill their life, but it’s not. Honestly, for me personally, and I think a lot of people realize this, is that the only thing that can fill that void is Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can fulfill that and demonstrate the love of a father. That’s how I have been fulfilled and found my place in life, in Christ, and knowing who I am and being confident in that.
Several years ago I never would have been able to have this conversation about me and have any confidence in who I am. I truly and honestly believe that a lot of people do certain things to mask their pain, whether it’s having sex, drinking alcohol, or doing drugs. That was one thing that I finally came to realize I was doing. Luckily, I realized that at a younger age, and I just gave it over to God and allowed Him to change me, fill me.
Who am I now? I’m not the same little girl who was fiercely crying when she found out her father died. I am a strong woman who loves Jesus and who is grateful for a relationship with Him. I would say I am a successful woman, maybe not by the world’s standards, but that’s not really what I base my life on. My identity has grown leaps and bounds even from five to ten years ago. I mean, just being in the joy and love that I walk in now, I didn’t have that same joy and love ten years ago. Losing my father has shaped me and helped fuel my life to keep that mentality of not being a statistic. It’s equipped me to help others, to grow and learn to be the woman of God He has called me to be.
Losing my father has shaped me and helped fuel my life to keep that mentality of not being a statistic.
The one thing that I see throughout my story is love. The fact that I was a child and I didn’t have the love of a father; I think that’s my story, the love of a father. Obviously having the love of family and growing up to learn about the love of God; the love of God rocked my world and changed my life. And I really can’t wrap my mind around the love of God! But that’s what has kept me, His love. And that’s how I operate now, in love, joy, and peace. I think that one strand throughout my whole life is love. And having the evidence of Christ in my life has really molded me and changed me into the person I am.
...at the end of the day you're looking at your heart.
I think the world paints this picture of what is beautiful and what’s not, and when you truly come into knowing who you are, that's what is most beautiful. When you understand who you are, what your life is about, that there is a higher purpose, and that life is not just about you, I think that is beautiful. When you can serve others, that to me is beautiful. The color of your skin, the color of your eyes, the texture of your hair, the way you look, those are all things that are going to pass away. Your beauty is the heart of the matter. Looking at someone’s heart, that is where true beauty lies. It’s not the outside, it’s not the outward appearance, or being skinny, it’s your heart. And understanding who you are, after all the things you’ve gone through, the painful and the joyful, at the end of the day you’re looking at your heart. I think that’s what true beauty is.
Awhile back I probably wouldn’t have been able to say I was beautiful, but now I can confidently say I am beautiful and truly believe it. Yeah, it took awhile to get there, but I can see it now. I know that the different things I have gone through in life have made me who I am. I mean literal, physical scars on my body, I think they tell a story. It tells me and reminds me where I’ve been, what I’ve gone through, and it paints a beautiful picture. It all allows me to say: "I am a strong, beautiful, confident, woman of God who fears the Lord and wants His purpose fulfilled in my life."
I would say to those reading this: I pray it helps you to find who you are, recognize what you have been through in your life, and face your pain. Not to run from it or hide from it, but allow your pain to create in you your story and beauty. To realize you can’t change the things you have been through, you can’t change what has happened to you, you can’t alter it or take it back, so you might as well grab a hold of it and allow it to help you and other people. My prayer is that my story, the story of Aisha, will help others and allow you to realize there are people out there just like you. Your story may not be the same as mine but I hope you recognize the power of women. That in this life we have to stick together and support each other, because honestly, there have been tons of people who have helped me get to where I am. Whether it was various ministries, various friends, prayer partners, family, there were so many that have helped me but the number one thing in my life, and I’ve said this multiple times, has been Christ.
I pray you are encouraged by this, that you take a step back from life, from the hustle and bustle, and just sit down to reflect on where you have been and where you want to go. I think even my doing this has made me sit down, take a breath, and look at where I’ve been in life and where I’m going. I definitely feel talking about this has helped. I mean, I want to go home and write, and just think over my life and all the good.