Never Thought I'd Write This...My Testimony.

Proverbs 18:16 A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

I had to use KJV for the -eth suffix.

God is blowing my mind daily; in the last two weeks alone, I have incessantly seen my "gifts" make room for me. Not even just the "practical" gifts either.

Life can EASILY turn you into something ugly, and re-aligning with your true identity can very well be the hardest fight of your life, but being who I was created to be was worth the fight.

Choosing to push past what others have said or thought, and do everything in my power to become what God said I would be, is not easy. Period. Some days it will seem unreal that God’s grace reaches this far, but it does.

Our true identity is in Christ, no matter what we practice or entertain; our identity is not found there. Once I learned that, and understood it, my life changed drastically.

I realized that no matter who said I was a gossip, I could still be a skilled communicator. No matter who said I was messy and or mixxy, I could still be a powerful, professional, woman of God.

 This started off as a Facebook status, but then I realized how long it needed to be.” And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”; so here is mine.

I truly apologize for the organization, focus and grammar of this piece; this is gonna be really raw.

So, things have been HAPPENING for me lately. So many things, it’s every day that I want to write a Facebook status telling everyone how great He is. Then, what ALWAYS happens is that I get to a point where I would be remiss if I didn’t write about what He brought me through, so I don’t post at all.

Well, today is the day, because what He brought me through and where He has brought me to are both blatant and obvious testaments to the redemptive power of the Cross.

A week ago, give or take, I launched my website. In one day I had 1,187 page views. That was amazing to me. A few months ago I would have NEVER believed you if you told me people would care about me and my endeavors. I was in one of the darkest places I’ve been in my life. I have touched on this before in my writing, but depression was real for me.

How did I get there? My mouth.

Woah, who is ever honest anymore? Lol.

So, I am a talker. That’s what I do. Phone, texting, writing, in person, I love to communicate. I am also VERY trusting; I’ve been told “too” trusting, at this point I believe it. Well pair those two together, with knowing people’s private information and it becomes a huge, and I mean HUGE ordeal.

In short, I told someone’s business. There was no malice in my heart and my words weren’t slanderous, but they constituted defamation because of what they revealed.

(I’m hype that I’m learning this in class or naw) lol. Anyway, here are some definitions so you can go with me.

Slander: defamation by spoken words, gestures or other transitory means. (ibid)

Publication: is considered to have occurred when the alleged defamation has been communicated to a third party. It is published when the writer, the injured party and one other person have seen or heard the remark.

Defamation: the publication of material that would hold one up to hatred, ridicule, contempt or spite. Deals with the words themselves or the implication behind the words. A person’s reputation (NOT CHARACTER) has been damaged, for example by calling them a traitor, a liar or a terrorist.

Damage has occurred if the remarks reflect poorly of one’s reputation, impair one’s ability to earn a living, or restrict one’s social contacts.

Malice occurs when the plaintiff can PROVE that the defendant KNEW the published material was false or showed a reckless disregard for the truth.

One of my best friends, my negligence and naivety led to people knowing their business. “A few miscalculated words to people unworthy of my trust”, is how I described it previously.

After that is where it gets real. It does NOT matter what my intent was, or that malice and slander were not present. Revealing information (even if it is true) that would hold one up to hatred, ridicule, contempt or spite, STILL constitutes defamation. So, I had to admit that I was at fault for the outcome regardless.

Here is the thing: no matter what I know and what God knows, other people are fully entitled to their own opinions.

I was called messy, I was called mixxy, I was called malicious, disloyal, a betrayer, fake, backstabbing (and that’s just what I was told to my face) Lord know what I was called elsewhere.

As a twenty year old girl who had never had her name soiled before, I was shattered into a million pieces. I cried in my bed every night, I stayed in my room with the curtains drawn whenever I could, I wrote the saddest pieces I’ve ever written, I cried to my mother and sister always. It was a very rough spot to be in.

No one understood my heart; no one understood that “it wasn’t my intent”. That is when I learned that intent does not matter. A Pastor once preached a sermon that said, “performance is the only reality”; I learned how true that was. No matter what I meant, or wanted to do, I did what I did and THAT is what would be judged.

Let’s not start on “only God can judge you”, because people do it every day, and it hurts a lot. So, I went through this cycle of depression for months and months and months, and a lot transpired.

There were days when I thought everything was good, and the next day something would happen. The people I asked to pray for my friend were the ones saying that I was malicious. The people who called themselves my friends were the ones saying I was a gossip. I mean I guess…I talked to you as my friend and then you turned on me and said I was gossip, whatever. Why is it whatever? Because I did talk to that person, about someone else. And “it’s like rolling a ball…you can’t control where it goes after you roll it”.

So I lived with that reality. My friend came to me and asked me to confirm or deny whether I was spreading her business and I told her the truth. I trusted (these people) because I saw them as people who loved you as much as I do. I was wrong with that love thing, but I realized that in hindsight.

All of the people involved in this situation were in one organization, so I quit that. Many went to one church, so I quit that too (how can you quit a church? lol). I did it though.

I left everything and everyone I knew because I was hurt, but I knew I couldn’t leave God because it wasn’t because they were Christians, and it wasn’t because they went to church, it was because they were people.

People don’t always understand that others make mistakes. People don’t always understand that others can be genuinely naïve. We haven’t all had the same lived experience, and I don’t think like everyone else.

There were only a few who understood me, and there was one who helped me understand me. He heard about the whole situation from numerous people, and the way he delivered the truth still sticks with me today. He told me that he doesn’t think I am malicious, but I am just too verbose. Like, he wasn’t taking the onus off of me, he wasn’t saying I wasn’t wrong, but he told me in a loving way. He and I went through so much after that, but he really taught me about grace, love and service. I really want you to know who he is, but there are no names but mine included in this. If you meet him though, you will be better for it I promise.

After he told me that, I felt a little bit better; knowing that there were at least a few people who didn't think I was the spawn of Satan. Aside from him, I had five friends. They let me cry on their couches, they called and talked to me, they listened to me, they prayed for me. They were ready to fight everyone for me (not that that’s Christ-like), but I probably would have dropped out of school if it weren’t for them.

It’s funny how such a small thing (in relation to the world) can be so huge to us. There are 40,000 people who attend my school, but I let what happened with a concentrated group of like 30, ruin my life.

I didn’t go to work for a whole month, and when I did I was crying to my supervisors. I began to search for love in people, entertaining relationships I shouldn’t have. I was a broken little somebody.

I lost one of my best friends because of this, and I was depressed, and life was just a really sad, awkward and pitiful blur. I was pitiful, because I didn’t have the strength to pull on the God that could bring me out. Until one day; I went to a Women’s Ministry Meeting at Epiphany Fellowship, and I told this testimony. The woman next to me, Amber, cried with me and prayed with me. She never stopped reaching out to me, to this day. She told me that she’d been through this same thing at church, and it broke her heart to see me going through it. Amber was just one of the countless people God put in my way to bring me back.

Someone else at Epiphany gave me a journal, and it had 1 Corinthians 13:13 written on it. I never wrote in it until recently, when I started using it for note taking in church. I have countless other journals, and one specifically is filled with my desperate prayers to God and my sad letters to my friend (obviously I never gave them to her).

One day, I came back to work. And one of my supervisors talked to me. We cried in her office and she helped me to pull myself up. I don’t remember everything she said, I just remember how much my story made her cry. She knows God, and He used her to clear my vision so I could see Him again.

That “our identity is in Christ ”,  piece, I heard from Mark Collier; that Bible Study lesson helped me stop associating myself with what I did and what others said.

I went to an on campus Bible study one day, and we discussed idle chatter. If I didn’t have so much melanin, I would have been as red as a lobster. I instantly felt convicted. The Bible calls the man who talks too much a fool. The Bible is law; how do you think I felt when it called me a fool? It also says we will account for everyone word we speak on judgment day…I was ready to change.

I also sat in church and one day the pastor talked about how people “have their mouths on other people”, and I realized that, that was me. No matter why it was, if it wasn’t praying, it was idle chatter. It was gossip. It was wrong.

So I told myself to stop.

It wasn’t like I felt any different in these moments when I said I couldn’t do that anymore, I was still broken, still sad, still depressed and my reputation was still ruined.

Gradually though, things started to happen, and again I saw that God was working in my life.

I felt like I had connection with God again, He didn’t seem so distant once I desired to operate in His plan. Opportunities began to come my way, and I felt like I was on His radar again.

Then I did something crazy; I changed my major to communications.

Lorae, the gossip…the girl who talks too much…the girl who is messy and phony…she’s a communications major? Yeah right.

YEAH.

RIGHT.

I am. Because I STOPPED believing what everyone said. I realized that I am Lorae, the girl who is loved. The girl who is cared for. The girl who has been delivered. The girl who is strong. The girl who acknowledges her faults and shortcomings. The girl who now pays special attention to what could be a test from the enemy. The girl who desires to please God. The girl who loves people. The girl who wants to help. The girl who wants to serve.

I was most of those things freshman year of college, until summer of 2013 when all of this madness began to unfold. My “motto” was, “my unsoiled name is my highest regard”. That went away freshman year but it’s on its way back now.

On Sunday, I testified about what God has done for me (at the same church I “quit” before). That is important because not only has he grown me, but he has grown some of the other characters in the story. One person sincerely apologized to me; that may not seem significant out of the 30, but it’s better than none.

In the course of one year; the actual worst year of my life; God has been so faithful. He kept me alive, and within reach of a sound mind, if not exactly with one.

My original point in writing this was about operating in our gifts; but honestly I had to tell you how far I was from even believing I had gifts for you to understand.  Growing up, people told me I was confident, a leader, beautiful, sweet, level-headed, trustworthy and intelligent. I lost ALL of that sophomore year of college; my self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence were at an all-time low.

Through all of the people He put in my way, and through finally seeking Him and clinging to the truth of His Word, I was able to start believing those things again. I believe them to the point where I became ambitious; I got my fire back.

1.       In the midst of this chaos in my life; I was one of maybe 50 people selected out of 660 to make it through a tripartite selection process and become a Resident Assistant.

2.       I got the best grades I’ve gotten in college thus far.

3.       I got enough confidence to chase after my passion (communication) regardless of what people will say. I am working and fighting to BE somebody.

4.       I met a lady on a street corner who told me, “You are so unique. You have an air of strength and confidence about you and I can see you speaking out against injustice and standing up for others. There’s a job out there for you, and it’s going to need all of your strengths and skills…and you might not even know what it is. There might not be a name for it yet. I don’t know if you are religious but I have seen God take all parts and make it whole.”

5.       One of my friends wrote a blog that said “Not everyone who hurts you is your enemy” & “Not everyone who helps you is your friend” , this helped me to know that, although it may not be evident in my life, other people experience what I have experienced.

6.       I heard someone speak to my friend, “people don’t always mean to fail you”. And that let me know that maybe other people will realize that I didn’t mean any harm (maybe they won’t but it gave me hope).

7.       I launched my website; I’ve been attending professional conferences.

8.       I got an Editorial Internship for the summer.

9.       I got a new opportunity to contribute to a blog.

10.   My work is being published in a magazine.

11.   I have been given the opportunity to edit two books. The list of writing opportunities goes on.

The REAL thing I was talking about was gifts of personality.

12.   Today, I received an opportunity, and she said “your perseverance made me want to do this for you”. Because I didn’t give up, she was moved to “make room” for me.

13.   I asked someone if I could help them out, and advertise their event, and out of that I got the magazine opportunity. Just because I had the desire to serve someone else.

14.       Three people wrote recommendations for me in just two days’ notice, because they see good in me. One response was, Lorae is an exceptional young woman who inspires her residents through her confidence. I have yet to meet a more self-assured and self-aware individual; especially in this day, where we see students staying an extra year in college to figure themselves out and rely too much upon their helicopter parents, Lorae is a breath of fresh air. She is also acutely attuned to the people around her and I appreciate that she is both strong yet can approach someone with such sensitivity. Her top qualities are easily both her interpersonal abilities and intrapersonal intelligence.”

15.       I upheld  a vow I made to myself; I didn’t let the enemy get me into a situation like last year when it was put directly in my way.

16.       Someone told me that I have the biggest forgiving heart they have ever seen in life.

17.       I rekindled two of my most amazing friendships to date. These two people (along with my mother) are the three people on Earth who have truly exemplified the love of Christ. I really love you guys.

18.       I feel loved. My family, my friends, my coworkers, my supervisors, my classmates, my brethren in Christ, my dance ministry family, my dance company sisters. You are all a huge support to me and your love and support means more than you know. Going from a place of feeling absolutely hated, to feeling loved and cared for, I know it was only God but he uses all of you.

I know this was long; but A LOT happened from Summer 2013 to Fall 2014, and it has truly changed me. Keep believing God. If you are going through something hard, keep fighting. Cling to His word, it is alive and it is true. God loves you, and so do I. <3

 

 

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