It’s like rain on your wedding day, a phrase used as good luck but yet every bride’s worst nightmare. It’s bad enough being a hairstylist in Florida fighting the humidity than to imagine my masterpiece being drenched by the downpour of the heavens. Most venues have backup plans in the event of bad weather but when the storm appears like a tornado my first instinct is to run for cover.

Shame, a fog that clouds my self-perception from time to time has been by far my biggest challenge. Most would look at me and say I walk with my head held high and live an unapologetic life, which I do, but it’s an effort that on some days leaves me wanting to hide in the dark. I have lived a public life at times and in the shadows of others, but I’ve never been ashamed to expose my failures and downfalls. One day it all changed when I felt foolish for always climbing from the ashes.

Was I what he said about me? Was I wrong for seeing the potential in people? Were my past choices valid reasons to be someone’s poor decision to choose? Why did I feel unworthy of love and living a life of abundance? When you’ve been mentally torn apart you begin to believe the lies of the same people who claimed to only want the best for you. When your worth is the equivalent of discarded trash you become lost in a dumpster you can’t climb out of.

That cloud reminds me I’m alive. I’m self-aware and I’m awake. When it begins to confuse my judgment I seek God for coverage to help me come out of it. It fuels me to fight for the truth that I am worthy. That if someone fails to see the pressure that carved the diamond then they can’t afford the greatness of who I am. Like any treasure, our worth ages with time and history.

The storms taught me to swim and the perseverance to find the shore. If the land bears no trees the Lord will protect me. I will no longer tread water for someone to save me. The burden of others’ opinions was so heavy that I had to learn to love myself and find healthy habits to bring my life joy. If someone can’t respect the value I’m appraised at today, then they won’t be drinking from my aged barrels.

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