On this day, Sunday, February 11, 2018, I would have never guessed I’d still be single. It’s been five years since I’ve been in a committed, loving relationship with Yahweh and no one else. The past few years haven’t been easy, especially early on. I was used to always having someone, belonging to someone. But the journey has been worth it, and I discovered that I do have someone – the only one who has never left me even when I abandoned Him to satisfy my flesh. He’s hung in there with me and seen me through the worst life has offered.
The idea of being single for an extended period of time didn’t really appeal to me. To be honest, I thought I’d be miserable and lonely, but after searching for happiness in broken romantic relationships for years, I decided to give it a shot. What ended up happening was way more than I bargained for.
I would lose myself in relationships; give all of me for the sake of being a girlfriend. I was the definition of a ride or die, I stood by my man no matter the cost, pouring until I had nothing left to give. I willingly tied myself to broken men, hoping that if I played house well enough, took good enough care of them, or was loyal enough, their affection would finally fill the emptiness I had inside. I gave it all up for the title, for the sake of being his. I was a wife without the commitment, and in the moment, I thought I was happy, but I always ended up broken hearted.
I had to separate myself from these broken relationships that were only my downfall. There had to be happiness beyond the arms of a man and a relationship with no benefits other than the title “girlfriend”.
But that separation was difficult. I didn’t know how to cope with the absence of physical touch, and intimacy. I wrestled with my flesh, but committed to holding out for the sake of fostering the deepening relationship I had with Yahweh. Eventually I was able to find peace where torment was, and self-love where brokenness had been. I began working on fixing the broken pieces of myself, investing in me, discovering who I was, dreaming about who I wanted to be, and really learning to appreciate and admire myself. I had to “un-become” in order to “become” my true self, in order to tap into what I’d been missing – identity. Hand in hand with Yahweh, we began my journey to wholeness that began at singleness.
When I realized the joy of being single, I knew that I was doing everything I have done before wrong. I knew that whoever I was with before couldn’t really love me, because I didn’t love me. Living single opened a portal to real happiness, true identity, and unconditional love. I got a chance to work on me, I got a chance to have a personal relationship with Yahweh, I got a chance to see what he sees in me, I got a chance to grow, (this is getting emotional). This is the happiest I have ever been, and it’s all because I decided to date me, I decided to give me try.
To be honest, I wasn’t ashamed of a lot of things before I got saved for real. I didn’t care for certain things or people to a fault. It didn’t matter to me what people thought about who I was or what I did. I made my own rules and did what I wanted to. That stubbornness can be an asset, but I didn’t realize how much of a downfall it was until I got older.
When I re-dedicated my life to Yahweh and realized how much my decisions hurt him, I was disappointed in myself and began asking Him how He could still love me in spite of my downfalls. It took some time for me to understand the nature of His love: unconditional and relentless. It never changed, and He was the same father that loved me even in my foolishness.
As my relationship with Yahweh grew that’s when all the guilt started to sink in, I became embarrassed, I was ashamed, and I thought everyone who looked at me knew that I was dirty and unclean. I was discouraged and felt defeated by my shame.
Overcoming it wasn’t easy, but accepting my past as a part of my unique process helped me tremendously. Watching Him turn my mess and tests into a testimony that I tell to bring Him glory has made Him so real to me.
The biggest area of shame I’ve overcome was regarding sexual sin: fornication to be specific. It was my weakness, but I didn’t care who knew what I was doing, I felt I was a “woman”, not in need of correction or direction from anyone else. No one could tell me different. When I began to heal and forgive, I realized that the people who were pointing out my wrong didn’t mean me harm, and because I didn’t listen or even consider their council, I only ended up harming myself.
Since choosing to live in the light, I’ve had to battle the shame of my past actions in more areas than one. I was sexually active in every relationship I entered, and although I knew it wasn’t right, I was also weak and vulnerable in ways I didn’t know that I was. I smoked a lot of weed, I lived in the club, I drank to get drunk and sometimes didn’t even remember what happened the next day or how I got home.
My passion for all I was doing was like a wild fire, it was hot and fast, but I was running out of time and didn’t know it. I didn’t know that Yahweh had sent for me or that I would come. I didn’t know I would find cause to stop and turn my life around. I didn’t know that I would be sitting here writing about what I used to do and how I used to be, because I thought I would have been still doing it.
When I reached the age 24 my life changed, and I knew that there was no more being lukewarm, there was no more of me being indecisive, and I got tired of running. Yahweh called me, and it was either now or never. When I gave up fighting Him, when I surrendered, I knew it was going to be task but instead of fighting against Yahweh I decided to fight with Him….
I had to forgive myself and let go, I wasn’t able to carry the weight of my sins around, and after all that why Yahshua died, isn’t it? Even though I was insecure and ashamed of who I was, I knew I couldn’t give my all to Yahweh and still feel sorry for myself. It wouldn’t work that way. I had to do my part and identify the problem that was within. I had to stop beating myself up and remember I was work in progress, completely forgiven and fully restored, loved and valued. I was not who shame said I was, and I had to choose to believe the truth of who Yahweh said over the lies shame told me I was. I embraced my imperfections, stopped being the victim, and embraced my victory. To be honest, I still am.
Yahweh rescued me with His grace that never ran out, and His mercy continues to sustain my every breath.
Yahweh replaced my grave with grace. And for that, He gets all the glory.
Latoya was born to adapt, having spent approximately half her life in the US, and the other half in Nassau, Bahamas. She not only embraced both nationalities, but both sides of her story – before and after Yahshua’s gracious intervention. She is a testimony to what the power of forgiveness and true love can do for the human soul. After working for a few years as a Medical Assistant, at 28 years old Toya is currently a full-time nursing student at Bethune-Cookman University, and is studying to be a Surgical Nurse. In addition to her medical background, she is a talented poet and spoken word artist, and has a particular passion for praise and worship. She believes that self-love is vital to moving past pain and disappointment, and that ice cream makes literally everything better.