When people first meet me, I’m told that I seem pretty confident and content with myself; that I’m always smiling and full of energy. Thanks for the compliments–I promise it’s not getting to my head *hairflip* lol. It’s always great to receive (and give) compliments to people, but one thing a stranger said to me particularly resonated within. I was on the metro one day, headed to the mall, and a nice elderly man said to me, “Your smile has a brightening effect on others. Keep it up. I don’t know who or what is making you so happy, but don’t ever lose it.”
When I tell you I was speechless, completely guffawed, I’m being 100% with you. It was such a nice thing to say, for lack of a better word.
Later that evening when I went home, I really began to think about what this man had said, and tried to pinpoint the source of my happiness. At the present time, it was plenty of things: I had just rapped up my medical internship, finished my final exams and papers, the spring sun was beginning to rear its big, beautiful head, I had figured out what type of doctor I wanted to be and I was starting to get my groove back (more on that later). It was a great time for Tejumades of the world!
But then I thought a little deeper, started to dive into the depths of my being, past the physical appearance and into my spiritual life. At this point in my life, I had gone to church every Sunday and holiday my family since I was born; my father is a deacon and youth pastor, and my mom is the head of a family ministry in the church. All throughout middle school and high school I was highly involved in my youth group. I sang in the choir, danced in the dance group, acted in the plays—you name it, I was there. But towards the end of high school I really started to question my faith. I mean really question it. Was believing in God my choice? Was I just one of the many drones attending church simply because my parents went and there was no other option on Sunday mornings? Did I love this so-called God? Did I go to church to hear the Word or socialize with my friends?
During my freshman year of college I joined the Princeton University Gospel Ensemble and the Truth Thursdays praise team. I attended some Halleluyah Sunday services and also frequented the local baptist church, I was reading my devotionals sometimes and it was pretty swell. But afterwhile, I lost the flame. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I began to question all that is God, all that is religion, everything I grew up with, all that was embedded within me. I guess that’s what college is for, ha.
Fast forward to soph spring, while I was doing my internship at Howard University: I really came into my own. I took a month break from church-y things and explored this GOD for who He really is: a father, a friend, a redeemer, a provider, a sustainer, the “I Am that I Am.” You name it, that’s what He is—now isn’t that amazing?! I started going to midweek services again, tithing, praying more on my own (not just over my food lol), it was pretty wild.
I simply started loving myself more.
I’m not talking about the conceited type of self-love and cockiness. I’m not talking about rocking a face “beat for the gods.” I’m not talking about the physical, I’m referring to the inner beauty that lies within ALL of us. It was as though my Father had awoken something special in me that I can’t explain. He’s that good. I’m not talking about the happiness I feel when I see a big box o’ chocolates, or when I get a Frist quesadilla, or when I bite down into a Hershey’s cookies n’ cream chocolate bar, or even the warm feeling I get when I bite into a bacon cheeseburger from Wendy’s, I’m talking about J.O.Y.—that everlasting happiness from within. It’s joy when you wake up every morning and know that Jesus loves you. It’s joy when you go about your day knowing that God has your back, and will never give you more than you can bear. It’s pure ecstasy. It’s the best feeling in the world, like nothing can hold you back.
I now understand why my smile was so electric that sunny afternoon. It wasn’t because of the cherry blossoms in the trees or the beautiful maxi dresses and wedges out and about, it was the love and light of God shining through me.xx