My first explicated lesson on faith came twenty-seven years ago from my then four year old daughter. Although I grew up attending various churches, the concept of spirituality was never explained in ways I was able to comprehend. It sounds silly now, but as a child I thought only blacks could be baptist and only whites could be christian. As for Jehovah’s witnesses and the Kindom Hall, that was simply a mystery. Eventhough at that particular point in time I’d never taken my daughter to church, the look in her eyes along with the passionate tone of her voice sparked my curiosity which led me to focus in and listen. She told me that God has boxes in the sky with everyone’s name on them and in those boxes held evrything we “need” (not want) throughout our lives. All we had to do is talk to Him, letting him know what we “need” by praying. She then showed me how to pray. Needless to say, the next day we were blessed with food, a refrigerator and stove for our new home. (This experience with her was the motivation behind The Blind Beautiful Faith of a Child one of my short stories featured in the publication above).
Still uncertain of what transpired, that intimate moment with my child has always stayed with me. I learned of course that God doesn’t exactly answer our prayers in the way we may hope or invision. Nor at the moment we want him to as opposed to within His own time. As I watched my daughter grow into her teen years and now a woman, I’ve always admired the nature in which she would handle certain situations. Perhaps a schoolmate who wronged her, yet ultimately she’d reign supreme. Once there was an accident where the car she was in had literally been folded in half and she survived without injury. Whenever I’d get angry attempting to seek revenge on whoever would try to harm her, she’d say to me “it’s not necessary momma, my faith is strong and He’s always with me”. I would gaze back at her in confusion. Not that I ever denied the concept of faith, I simply didn’t understand. Over the years of observing how things seemingly always worked in her favor, I finally became a believer when I’d reached a point when I felt I had no other options. Having no true friends or family for support along with health issues amongst other unfortunate events, I felt like giving up. That however was definately NOT an option! The relationship between my children and I had become strained. With my back against the wall, all I had left was faith, for the sake of us all.
A short while after receiving a felony conviction, followed by an onset of sudden seizures without explination, I also found myself without a home of my own for the next four years. Bouncing from couch to floors in the homes of various individuals who were more so my children’s friends, I began to notice the strain on them. They were worried about my health, wanting to please me while at the same time trying to keep the peace within their friendships. I was afraid of venturing off on my own, but realized I had to distance myself in an effort to no longer be a burdon to them. Unsure of what was to come or how I’d survive, my only choice was to walk in faith. I’ve never been one to ask for help when it comes to personal matters. So, I decided to try again at utilizing resources available to me except this time I wasn’t taking “no” for an answer.
Progress was slow in the coming months, yet it was still progress which led me to realize my prayers are actually being answered. I’d pound the pavement daily applying for jobs and searching for permanent housing. In all my years, as I recall, I was offered most positions I applied for. The difference this time was they’d still hire me or want to, but the felony prevented that aside from the fact of being upfront regarding the circumstances around it. I couldn’t afford to become discouraged although it seemed as if my goal was impossable to reach. I kept telling myself, He is here, He is with me. I’m putting in all the work, it will pay off soon. I spent my evenings talking to God and praying. I remembered when a professor told me “Tammy, you are a creator”. I didn’t understand until he went on to explain how he had witnessed me creating opportunities and ways of accomplishing my mission. He told me that I have the ability to make things happen.
While staying in a boarding home paid for by my mental health provider, I joined a poetry play. That experience allowed me to connect and network with new people as well as reconnect with some of those already familiar with my skill set and integrity from my previous work in the community. Suddenly I was earning an income by doing readings of my work which ultimately opened doors for speaking engagements for a number of events. I was also able to complete my training with NAMI allowing me to advocate and speak about mental health. I was approved for a housing voucher, yet waiting for an apartment to become available. Then COVID hit. I could see that God was with me, still I couldn’t help but worry. Would this pandemic stop me from moving into a home? How will I furnish it, pay my portion of the rent and other expenses?
Foolishly, I would pray for a bag of money. When I’d be out, I was constantly looking in bushes thinking a bank robber had to stash his loot. Of course I knew I’d never find that bag of money and that was ok because my faith had grown strong. I knew that at the right moment I’d have everything I need. That’s when I realized, I had nothing to worry about. He has always been with me. Reflecting back to my past, I’d survived tougher situations. With the felony alone I was threatened with a seven year sentence for protecting my children and grandson when a neighbor tried to bardge his way into our home. My mistake, stabbing him outside the door instead of in the doorway. Watching the tears of my daughter in the courtroom when the judge annouced a guilty verdict broke my heart. God being on my side, I not only ended up being on ankle monitor for fourty-nine days, but they let me off early. I was even able to pay off the bailbondsman and other fees. Having faith feels great! While I’m not one to force my beliefs on others nor do I even like to talk about religion, I simply want people to experience what I have regarding my relationship with God. The assurance of knowing a higher power is with me. I wake up daily looking out the window ( of my own home) expressing my grattitude. Instead of being angry or seeking revenge like before, I pray for those who’ve wronged me, figuring they are suffering and havn’t learned yet. I know I went through these hardships because it was His way of showing me my purpose in life. By the way, in case you were wondering, it wasn’t in a bag, and however unfortunate as to how it came, the lump sum did in fact come.
A note: As a fromer K-3 science and art instructor I’d like to stress the importance of listening to children. It is important they know that their VOICE’S matter too. It is through my children that God Spoke to me. I believe because for so long I’d lived in fear and had been traumatized, that was his way of reaching me. I’d missed out on so much of what the world has to offer, being afraid and not actually living. Now it’s as though I’m finally able to breath and enjoy my life. They have saved me over and over again, I am thankful for a new beginning!