Oftentimes, the devil tries to set up traps that are meant to break us, steal our joy, and take over our mind. But God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, turns what we are going through around for our good. To top if off, while we are in the midst of our breakthrough, God gives us the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else by way of sharing our testimony. You see, God has already prepared a designed purpose for us in the spirit realm before we even arrive to it in the natural. The road to get to this point in the natural may be a rough and treacherous one, but by God’s grace, it will strengthen our faith even the more by every step we take.
My personal story reflects exactly what the scripture says in Romans 8:28.
“…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I struggled for many years to understand my purpose, as well as loving myself. I had very low self-esteem because I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I was bullied in elementary school into my high school years because of my dark complexion and my physical features. I was told that I was too dark to be considered beautiful.
I would be in class and hear the kids scream out, “Hey Dark Vader” or “Look at ugly La-Anna.”
I was told I would never amount to anything. I struggled in school and I felt like I didn’t belong. I would be so focused and full of anxiety because of what was being said about me that I started to allow the ignorant comments to cloud my thoughts about myself. I was made to believe having darker skin meant I was not smart enough, good enough or pretty enough, which made going to school very difficult for me. To make matters worse, most of these comments were coming from kids that looked like me. Being bullied by my black peers cut deeper than getting the racist comments by my white peers.
One of my favorite shows to watch during this time was the Cosby Show. I remember seeing this beautiful chocolate brown-skinned little girl named Rudy Huxtable, played so wonderfully by Keshia Knight Pulliam. I would look at her and I would be so amazed at her beauty, her sweet voice, and her infectious smile. Seeing her on screen blew my mind because I saw a girl that looked like me, but I didn’t look at myself the same way I viewed her. I was allowing the negative words from the bullies at school to cloud my mind and change the perception I had of myself.
There was one particular day when I came home crying to my mother wishing I had never been born. She would say to me, “Anna, please don’t say those words, you are beautiful and you are here for a reason.” My parents would always encourage me to love myself by telling me how beautiful I was and that I could do anything I put my mind to. They continued to encourage me, push me, and surround me with their love every chance they were given to do so.
After graduating high school, I realized I was still carrying around with me those same thoughts of self-hatred, so much so, when I starting dating my now husband a few years after high school, it was hard to believe that he was interested in me. He asked me out on a date and I looked around thinking he was talking to someone else. We went on a couple dates, and to my surprise he would tell me I was beautiful and that he loved my skin color. My reply for a while would usually go like this, “Really?” or “Are you sure?” He would often ask me why I would question how he felt about me, and my response would make me sit in silence while asking myself the same question in my mind.
As time has gone on, I have come to the realization that my dark skin is apart of me. I am no longer ashamed of who I am.
Through much prayer and encouragement from my family, as well as some soul searching, I now know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator and He does not make mistakes. God does ALL things well. Now that I have been given a platform to share my journey of self-acceptance and healing through writing and modeling, I have received many private messages from other women saying that I am a source of inspiration. Often times, they have gone through some of the same things I have.
When I hear or read their stories, I think of the little girl I once was. I remember how she felt, how I felt, and I am reminded of those times I questioned why I was born. You see, the very thing the devil tried to use to kill my joy is now encouraging other women to love themselves.
Our platforms we are given are so much bigger than us. Now when I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful strong, courageous, thriving woman who has a designed purpose to show others that your chapter titled, “Finding you Purpose” is on its way to the next chapter titled, “Freedom.”
Try the strategies I have used to help you find your designed purpose and peace:
1. Surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart. This is where you will find the greatest support.
2. Write down all the goals you have for yourself and set a timeline on when you hope to achieve those goals.
3. Make a point to pray for your mind, your body and your soul. While you’re at it; pray for your family, your communities, this nation, and the world.
4. Speak positively over your life as well as your situation. We sometimes find ourselves getting into a funk, in those very moments, please be sure to encourage yourself out of those dark places.
5. Be your own advocate. If you have something to say about how you are feeling mindfully, spiritually or physically; you must do your best to be unafraid to seek help in the safest way possible.
6. Join a church home as it is one of the places where you will find comfort, strength, and peace.
7. Do your best to try to stay clear of negative influences as much as you can. I know we have faced so much this year, but take the time to find the good in each day you are given.
8. Forgive those that hurt you. This is one of the hardest things I have done in my life, but in forgiving those that hurt me, I soon found healing for myself. And in the forgiveness of others, don’t forget to forgive yourself for not loving you.
*** Comment below if you’ve had any similar experiences, and share how you found your purpose and peace after going through your struggles.
>>> Article Written by: La-Anna Douglas, Hopestillstands
La-Anna Douglas is a published model and writer, a sexual abuse survivor, and a mentor who uses her life’s story to inspire others to never lose hope. She has overcome adversity with infertility, bullying, and depression to now being a loving wife and a mother to her miracle daughter. In addition, she has appeared in several publications, and modeled and walked the runway in several fashion shows. La-Anna does not let her past dictate her future. She continues to strive to make a difference in any way she can.
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