I remember the moment when I received salvation and was filled with the Holy Spirit. But there were gaps in my journey that halted my spiritual growth and development. Even as a child, I knew there was a God. But of course, in my curiosity I would question many of the teachings taught in my childhood. This was primarily because I was a child and did not understand some of the concepts being taught. These teachings began to lay dormant as I continued to grow into young adolescence, teenage years, and adulthood.
My heart was filled with His love at the age of 15 and then I was born again with the Holy Spirit at the age of 21. I never thought for one moment that I would lose sight of my relationship with Christ after being filled with the Holy Spirit. But honestly, I must admit that I lost my way. I became consumed by the urge to fit in with friends that I began to drink, party, and engage in sexually immoral behaviors. This behavior continued into my late twenties, and unknowingly I began to spiral out of control. Inwardly I was dying from the negative decisions made because of my failure to address the years of abuse and an absentee father. My decisions were clouded by the longing to please people and depend on others to justify my thoughts. I realize now that this was dangerous behavior because my life was contingent upon how others viewed me. The perception of others was crucial to my development and shaped my self-esteem. I recall feeling overjoyed about how I looked in a certain outfit and when I stepped outside, the opinions of others affected that confidence. I would immediately regret wearing my favorite shirt or doing what brings me joy because of the looks or faces of onlookers.
I continued to spiral out of control and was destructive in my decision-making process. My thoughts were formed from a place of survival and I failed to realize that I had become hardened. My heart was hardened from the unbearable truth that I let the wounds of my past hinder God’s promises. This process of thinking led to dead-end relationships and a need to seek approval from others. I thrived off of ambition and my will to prove that I can be what God called me to be, despite the odds. The statistics were ringing loudly in my ear. You are a fatherless child! Your mother was a teen mother! You are overweight and will miss out on the activities that other kids smaller than you can do! I realize now that I was constantly proving that I could beat the odds and prove people wrong. In my quest to prove to others that I was not a failure, I made decisions that would be life changing. For example, my first marriage– clearly there were signs from the beginning that this would be a disaster. I failed to listen to close friends and family that objected to the marriage. In my twenties, hard-headed and stubborn, I failed to listen to God when he clearly said “no” to the joining of the marriage.
In the first few months, it was disastrous because I was not prepared mentally for marriage. I went to my friends and family for guidance for every problem. Then, if my needs were not met, I resorted to childlike thinking to just go to the next person to meet my needs. I had an affair on my husband within the first year of our marriage. He found out and was extremely angry, but my behavior was because I had walked away from my first love. Every destructive decision was made because I was longing to fill the void of my father. I wanted to erase the pain of my past by diving into destructive behavior.
It was on December 31, 2010 that I returned to my first love, Jesus. I was tired of running and completely rededicated my life to serve him. This decision did not stop me from facing obstacles or challenges, but my response to those challenges changed. I began to hold on to my favorite scripture, Psalms 103:13: “Like a Father who has compassion on his children, so does the Lord have compassion on them that fear him” (KJV). This scripture healed and continues to mend the broken pieces of my heart. Jesus helped me overcome so many challenges and will help me overcome the adversities I face in the future. Though it may be difficult because of the dark times in which we live. I can hold steadfast to the truth that I am rooted and grounded in God’s word and His love!
Latoya Washington was born in the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, raised by her biological mother Veeta Bonner and stepfather Jimmie Bonner. As a child, she would write short stories, poems and would use words to encourage her peers. Latoya currently resides in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania with her loving husband, David Washington. They run a small t-shirt business, “RhemaCreationz” that incorporates scripture with modern fashion.