A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to spend a week with a few young ladies at something we church folk like to call “Vacation Bible School”. Honestly, it had been a while since I’ve done….well really anything. Last year my life consisted of preaching or speaking to some group large or small just about every other day for months and months at a time. This year, since my big transition, I speak here and there, much to the dismay of those around me who think I should be using my gifts. Alas, after months of binge watching Netflix, barely opening a single book and socializing on weeknights, it almost time for me to walk back into what I was placed on this earth for.
It started with these girls.
I only had 4 days with them. What was I supposed to say for 4 days in 2 hour time blocks? I thought long and hard about scriptures I could use. Wondered where to venture in the bible. Wondered what i could say to spawn some sort of move of God. Then, I thought about this quote that I heard Lauryn Hill say on her Unplugged album.
“I used to be a performer and I really don’t consider myself a performer so much anymore, I’m really just sharing.”
I don’t even have it in me to perform anymore. I’m exhausted trying to be somebody to make somebody else more comfortable with my existence. I don’t want to perform or preach another sermon. I don’t want to wear anymore uniforms or speak in the tongues of angles. I just wanna be free to be me. And I want for these girls to be free to be who they are too, and simultaneously, free to be who God created them to be. So I did all that I knew to do, which was just share. Share bits and pieces of me and how I came to be me. All those lessons that Ive learned along the way that have freed me from the bounds of societal and cultural limitations. I knew that if I did that with any sense of integrity then I wouldn’t have to force bible lessons and the like. God would emanate from me in the manner in which God desired.
It was such a beautiful mess.
There was no order really. I mean I had notes here and there, but nothing for real. We talked about different aspects of our identity. Womanhood, Blackness, Christhood. We talked media’s role in the unhealthy messages we receive. We watched a clip from Jean Kilbournes “Killing Us Softly” and the film “Misrepresentation.” I asked them when the first time they thought they were ugly. I had them cut out subliminal messages in magazine ads. I had them watch the documentary “A Girl Like Me.” We read articles on Saartjie Baartman, the Black woman kidnapped from South Africa in 1810 displayed in a circus as a freak because of her unique body features. We watched clips from the Tyra Banks Show. I had them take pictures of themselves and put them on Instagram and caption who they are and who they are NOT. We watched a few videos about what it means to fear God and what it means to follow Jesus Christ. We talked about our identities as disciples and not church members and Sunday church goers.
Finally we did Vision Boards.
We had a Vision Board Party and celebrated our futures with donuts and brownies and fruit and pizza. So what happens when a beautiful mess and 30 girls collide?
Hopefully, someone is bound to get free, if not myself.
I just hope that me sharing and not preaching…sharing and not performing…planted some seed in them that would give them at least a tiny bit of the freedom that it took almost 33 years for me to experience.