This Is Who I Am | Ali Part 2

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.

I think there was always this fallback of having someone to protect me; there was always someone there for me. So having to readjust that to Christ being my protector has really affected my relationship Him. Because yes, He is always there for you but He isn’t a body that you can just go to and hug. So I'm having to get to that place with Him where I can say, “You are there.” And then feeling that.

I will say I am a survivor. I’m not a victim.

I will say I am a survivor. I’m not a victim. I’m very proud of that, very proud of that. I’m not someone who dwells on it a lot, who thinks about it a lot. It doesn’t make all my decisions and a lot of that fear has left me. There are some days that I’m always on edge, especially with my kids and friends. But God has really, really changed my victim mentality to a survivors mentality. And I’m really proud of that. Amazingly proud.

I think that this is a part of my story but it’s not a huge chunk of my story. So I think, especially talking with you now, that it’s not even really a big chunk of my story. I think I have definitely grown. I’ve grown in trust, I’ve grown in faith, and I’ve grown in peace. I’ve realized what peace is. It’s not quietness, it’s not safety all the time, it’s just an inner peace that I have. So yeah, I have grown. And sometimes I can’t even tell you where I’ve grown, expect for the simple fact that its not everything about me. It’s not who I am. It’s just something that happened to me.

I think my identity is something I’m working on right now. I feel like if you’d ask me awhile ago I would have known who I am but just being a mom, just being a wife, things change. I want my identity to be in Christ and to be in who I am in Him, but I don’t know if I actually am that. It’s hard to answer that question of “who am I?”. I’m a mom, a wife, a daughter, a survivor. I’m a sinner. So I think that’s something I’ve been thinking these last couple of months, “who am I?” And I’m pretty sure at twenty-eight, I’m not going to figure it out. I want to but I just don’t think I am.

I think the incident and my dad’s death has made me confident and less confident all at the same time. I feel like I turned to the wrong things, I made the wrong decisions, I ran from God, and I became very inward focused and then realized no matter how far I run, I can’t get away. So I started to become more independent in my slavery to Christ. I’m learning more independence, a little grace for myself, and a whole lot of grace for other people. I’m trying to understand where people are and not judging them. I think that is huge. My first initial impact was to judge people before and then I realized, “You don’t know what God has them walking through. Look what God had you walk through. And you did! Like a champ You followed God, you walked through those things, through the fire and with Him.” Like He was picking up my foot every way. Every step He was picking up my foot and putting out in front of the other, He was blocking me, He was pushing me. I couldn’t have done it without Him. There is independence in that dependency. And I’m finally getting there. I’m finally realizing the beautifulness of my dependency and my independency, and my freedom and my slavery. And that contradiction is kind of shaping who I am. And it makes no sense but that’s where I am.

There is independence in that dependency.

I think the common thread in my life is I’m in love. I’m always in love. I’m in love with Christ. I’m in love with my husband. I’m in love with my kids. I’m in love with my friends. I’m in love with my life. I’m getting there. Going through the hate to the love. I’ve always been in love. Even when I was angry, even when I was in the pit of despair. I’m in love and that’s always the common thread. And I love being in love.

I have to challenge the fact that the world tells me what is beautiful. The other day I was watching a Victoria Secret commercial, and I was thinking, “Is this beautiful?” Yes, those women are beautiful. If they didn’t look like that, would they still be beautiful? Yes, they would. I was thinking about if someone asked me if I thought it was beautiful, yes, I think it is. But I think stretch marks are beautiful, I think the fact that you have gum in your hair because your child put it there, that’s beautiful. You know what I mean? Those things are beautiful. I think you have to figure out what is beautiful. Everything is in front of our eyes and we have to get to the point where, for me, what’s beautiful in your heart, what’s beautiful inside? Victoria Secret models are beautiful to my eyes because they are. But so is my beautiful Moseley. So I think, I’m twenty-eight, I’m not a million years old, so I’m just now realizing that it’s bullshit when people are like, “Buy this to be beautiful.”

When I was sixteen I was like, “I have to be this.” I was not the skinny, beautiful, clear-skinned little girl. I didn’t even look like my sisters. So to me beauty was hard to get to. Now beauty is in the way that you interact with people and I don’t think that I got there all of a sudden. I don’t think I’m an amazing, mature woman because I’m there. But I do think the way that I’ve gone through my life, the way that I’ve watched people go through my life with me, some of the most beautiful moments I have is when I thought my mom was the most beautiful woman in the world and she didn’t have a stitch of makeup on! She was wearing sweats and she would probably say she looked terrible, but she is beautiful. So I have to challenge the world and say it’s just BS. But tomorrow I may be like, “I have to buy that bra because the Victoria Secret model has it. Even though that bra will not fit me!”

Right now I have to contend with the world because yes those things are beautiful, but so is this pregnant body. I think it depends on the day, whether I’m feeling beautiful or not. I’m normally not because I’m as big as a blimp right now. But I think when you’re sixteen and your world revolves around what people think about you, it’s a little different. Or even twelve, or ten, and those horrible sinful thoughts that come into your head that people make you believe. Then you start getting things you can’t change, like stretch mark, black circles under your eyes, grey hair, and wrinkles. What gave you those things? My babies gave me those things. Laughing with my husband gave me my wrinkles. I don’t have many right now but I’m hoping I have a million. I’m hoping my face is so wrinkled up that my make up gets caught in it because I laughed my whole life long. I hope that my knees are disgusting because I was on them constantly praying, calloused and gross. And I hope my tiger stripes are large because I gave birth to three beautiful children. That’s not what the world is going to say. So I think you have to find beauty where you are.

I think you have to find beauty where you are.

I think that beauty is always unique. My life is always going to be different than someone else’s. Because it would be boring if we were all the same. Even look back at art. Beauty is not sameness. Beauty is uniqueness. It can be the same, you could be twins and both be beautiful. You could go through the same life events and deal with it the exact same way, and you would still be beautiful. There is always going to be a difference.

Do I have worth? Sure. I have grown up with a mother and a father who made it clear that I have a whole hell of a lot of worth. In a society, in a political climate that I don’t. I hate to be that person, but yeah. I have worth, I think I have importance, and I think I have a shit-ton of value. I’m valuable, just for the simple fact that God didn’t just cookie-cutter me out. He designed me, He knew me, He knows how many hairs are on my head, He know everything about me before I know. I don’t even know who I am, but He does. So I think that yeah I have value, a lot of value.

I have a lot of input into this life and I think a lot of me saying that is because people in this day and age try to take that away from me. Or they try to sum me up in things that I do have, like being a white middle-class American, and that’s not my value. Those aren’t my values. I’m in this political and social climate, and a lot of my value isn’t true value. I am incredibly important. My daughters are incredibly important. My husband has so much value and it’s not just chalked up to him being a white male in America. It’s the fact that we were uniquely made for a purpose by Christ, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, God of gods. And I think trying to figure that out like, “What was Your actual plan?” Is super exhausting and always changing. I do have value, and I do have importance, no matter what anyone else says.

I had the biggest support in my home, and I knew that from the beginning, even when those lies crept in. Even when people would tell me I didn’t, “This is your value. Your body is all that you have.” I grew up with my mother and father telling me, “absolutely not!” My sisters would tell me, “absolutely not!” I’m so thankful for that and I so hope I can give that to my children. I’m kind of just now realizing how dynamic and different that is from a lot of girls. I can remember talking to friends and them saying that no one told them anything like that. I was told that every stinking day. So I think I’m the other way around, I’m too important. That’s my struggle!

To those reading this story, I would say hopefully you know that it’s in love and I love you, no matter who you are. I am so thankful for you to read my story even though it’s not even half way written, hopefully. So you’re getting kind of a brief glimpse of my life. But I am so thankful for the person reading this. Even if you just read this paragraph, I’m thankful for you and I love you. I don’t know you, or I do know you. You could be my mom or some person I don’t know, somebody else’s mom, but thank you. Thank you for reading this.

The good thing is the foot of the cross is level.

I would also say you’re always going to be going through pain. Don’t assume you’re going to have a pain free life and don’t assume that because you haven’t had these big upheavals in your life, that you have a pain free life. Everybody has pain and everybody’s pain is real, and everybody’s pain hurt, just differently. And the good thing is the foot of the cross is level. We all come at the same level. So the way that you deal with your pain needs to always come back to that. Just be aware that no matter what you’ve done in your life, no matter what you haven’t done, or haven’t had happen to you, some people have these great big, huge testimonies, and some people don’t, and that’s huge. So it’s important to remember that even if you think your pain isn’t as great as someone else’s, you still have pain. And that’s still validated and I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we have pain and I’m sorry that the pain creeps in and separates us. But it also is beautiful, it’s a binder, it’s a glue. I think the core of it is it sucks and I’m sorry. It just sucks.

I think I have a lot of fear with sharing my story. A lot of fear. I think that’s good. Things that I do that are associated with fear, things that I’m afraid to put out there about myself, it’s always been good. It’s good to be a little nervous about things. So I think this will feel good but I’m just a little afraid of what people will say, or how people will look at me differently. But I do think it’s good. I think what you are doing is amazing. Because everyone’s story is different and everyone’s pain is beautiful, as much as it is ugly. I can’t wait for the next person and to hear their story.