Shanda (as I call her) and I grew up in the same church with the same beautiful gift of singing. Shandi’s voice is soft, angelic, and beautiful. I sat down with Shanda for lunch at one of our fave vegan spots in George Town near the waterfront (Cayman Islands). Her passion to help other naturally curly haired women in their journey is one that I can only admire. Her heart for God is beautiful in its own way. She’s definitely one of a kind. Be inspired by her entry ya’ll.
JUST A BIT ABOUT SHANDI
Anything about yourself that you’d like them to know?
I love God. Love to sing. Love to travel. Love photography.
What’s one random/funny fact about you?
I am terrified of lizards!
What’s one insecurity that you’ve struggled with for quite some time?
What’s one moment you felt affirmed in your God-given identity or beauty?
This one lady said she fell in love with Jesus through my ministry, and asked me to repeat a song (“Amazing Love”) five times when she was getting baptized because she felt the Holy Spirit speaking to her through my ministry. That did for me.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 14-16
The congregation applauded at my rendition of “Great is thy faithfulness.” I was so pleased that God got me through that song and everyone was blessed. I headed out the door for a quick moment and a visiting singing evangelist whom I had just met, greeted me as we headed out the door. As he opened the door for me, we were approached by a sister of the church. As we turned to greet her, with no hesitation, the sister said to me in a haughty manner, “you could lose some weight.” Everything went silent. Her words pierced my already wounded heart, crushed my already low self-esteem, and quickly made their way through my entire body, threatening to consume me.
The next thing I remember was hearing the visiting singing evangelist say “… don’t listen to her… you are beautiful… God loves you…” I wanted to believe those words, but I was too overwhelmed by the former words. For those words echoed loudly the not so kind words I fed into myself – “I’m fat, my body will never be a size 2, I hate my arms, no one will like me this way, my boobs are too big, my skin is not clear.” When I arrived home – I was too broken to pray, insecure, fragile, wounded, and desperate for God. I looked in the mirror with disappointment, disgust, and shame.
Those few words spoken to me that night would eventually start paying rent and live comfortably in the corners of my mind, throughout my childhood.
Years have passed since that dark evening, and I have struggled to get to a place of being comfortable in my own skin, accepting my flaws, appreciating the curves on my body, the acne, stretch marks from weight that fluctuated, body hair, scars, my Keratosis Pilaris skin condition, and so many other parts of me that I have yet to clap for. I spent years trying out every pill, diet, and workout plan, and failed miserably. I even got into starving myself. For weight that I’ve struggled to lose, I thought to myself that maybe God has specific people to be fat and people to be skinny on this earth. I became obsessed with changing my body to appease the masses. And when I finally got down from a size 14 to a size 8/10, acceptance was still an issue -both from within and without. I found my new struggle.
But in those trying years, I learned so much about myself and I started to love the person I was becoming. I had determined to be the best version of myself, even if that meant a journey of hard work, dedication, and a few changes in my lifestyle.
God has given me the strength to change the things I can change, and WAIT on Him as does the rest.
I have come to believe that if I had things easy, I would not depend upon God and His Holy Word. I’ve come to understand that a lot of times people who attack your confidence, peace, and self-esteem are well aware of your potential and as instruments of the devil, they are placed to tear you down, and cause to forget who you are … and whose you are. In the midst of that dark moment all those years ago, I knew something was right… I am beautiful and God loves me.
God makes no mistakes.
Not convinced? I’ve always liked butterflies. Something about the way they move, the way they show off their beauty, the way they just rest on a somewhat mundane object and in all their beauty, they make that object look so beautiful, valued and worthy. Growing up, I could recall spending my lunch breaks in primary school catching butterflies with a few friends of mine. I was really good at catching them too! What was fascinating to me was their unique beauty and the lifeless dance they made in the wind. Even more so, no one butterfly was ever the same.
I didn’t quite understand that butterflies had a beginning though. I later learned how a caterpillar decides one day to stop eating, hang upside down from a leaf, gets into a silky cocoon, WAIT, and when it’s good and ready, it radically transforms its body into a butterfly.
I see God at work every time I think about what it takes to be a butterfly, and I remind myself every time that we are constantly forming and changing. I see His handiwork. His works are wonderful and I know that full well. 🙂
Now that I’m much older, I appreciate my imperfections and this body that has been given by God, is one that I value and I know holds purpose. It’s a living testimony and it holds messages of faith, sacrifice, courage, struggle, and victory.
I understand, better yet, I fully comprehend that just like caterpillars… we too will transform into something beautiful. BUT it takes time. God is not finished with us yet. We are fearfully and wonderfully made -how beautiful is that. Each and every one of us made unique and in His image. That is enough for me. I have made it my mission to encourage young girls and women of their beauty in Christ. And I remind them also of how important our words are… how much weight it carries, and the choice we all have to build or break others.
My prayer is this… Lord, thank you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Continue to do a good work in me and help me to allow others to see their beauty in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
How did her inspire you to live out God’s truth in your life? We invite you to tell us below 🙂