Orlando (Pt. 1)

When I moved to Orlando, there were no preconceived notions about who I was or who I was supposed to be. In the city of Magic, there was no box waiting for me. Only…

…freedom.

On August 7th, it will be a year since I have been living in Orlando, Florida. This past year has been one of the hardest years of my life. I have been pushed by life’s circumstances to endure things I never thought I could endure. Everything I thought I was so sure of was called into question. All the masks fell off. All the acts stopped. And all I was left with was…

…me.

The real me. The me I had never really met before. Or maybe I have…I just tried to ignore her. All the unanswered questions about the mysteries of life. All of the doubt when asked to have faith. All of the anger. All of the sadness. All of the depression. The mental health I thought was getting better. The ignorance on important topics. The addictions. The lusts.

All of my wounds finally had the time and space to get fresh air. I can finally see them. At first, it was overwhelming to see the brokenness in myself. Now, I see the possibilities. Now, I see the importance of facing uncomfortable topics and scars in oder to bring about healing.

But not only that…

I saw who I wasn’t. I have been able to recognize what habits were mirrors of the people around me, and what was really me. Turns out, I don’t like to sound excited in my texts all of the time. Excessive exclamation marks just seem kind of fake to me. Turns out, I don’t want to be nice to every guy who gives me attention I did not ask for. Turns out, I don’t like sports, but I love live bands.

In a year’s time, the robot that was created by southern and religious cultural norms was dismantled. Now, I stare at the pieces of what was and throw away what wasn’t really me in the first place.

I am still in the middle of this journey, but in a year’s time, I began to find Juaquina. But it’s only because God led me to this city…where I knew no one…where I had no safety net…where it was just Him and I.

Orlando is the city I experienced both great loss and great gain.

I lost everything in order to find the most important thing in my world:

Me. 

Keep Creating

When I was six years old, I wrote my first poem. I remember the moment very vividly. I was standing in the driveway of my family’s home, when I looked into the sky. It appeared that a storm was approaching, and I could hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. That is when these words rose up from within me:

“What’s that I hear?

A thunderstorm near

Oh my dear”

These words may not seem significant to you, but they mean the world to me. This was the birthplace of my relationship with poetry/writing.

Before I had friends. Before I knew how to communicate with my family. Even before I knew God. There was poetry. Poetry is how I process and communicate with the world around me. I would even say it was the starting point of God’s pursuit of me. When I write, I wish I could say I was the source, but I am not. The words seem to just flow from deep parts within my nephash (soul) that even I haven’t fully experienced. It’s like giving birth.

Last week, I was both humbled and deeply inspired when asked to be a featured artist for an event. I did nothing to deserve that platform. I did not strive for it. I did not ask for it. Yet, it was offered to me by people who could see my art even when I was not creating. I was blessed with the opportunity to display my short film and perform my poetry.

It felt like a dream the entire night. Even as I recited the poem I had rehearsed all week, I could not understand how I had grabbed the attention of everyone sitting in the bar. I could not believe they cared and related to the words of the piece, and I still can’t. However, God wanted to show me what He had been telling me all along.

I am a writer. 

He wants me to create. He wants me to be a storyteller. He did, in fact, place this gift inside of me. My poems are not in vain, and they do matter. They are part of my light. I always believed I was placed here to do great things, but after life knocked me down for seven years in a row, I was starting to think it was just a fantasy. But it’s not. It’s very real. I believe God let me go through the journey I have been on, because he wanted me to remain humble. He wanted to teach me that it will not happen by my strength but by His alone. Everything He promised will happen, but only because of His power. Yes, I still have to be obedient, but I don’t have to map out every detail of my life. Besides, our humanly plans never seem to work out anyways. Instead, I must always recognize that God is in control.

I did nothing to deserve that stage, but God gave it to me. I choose to believe this is only the beginning. I am a writer. I am a poetess. My words matter. I have a story inside of me that only I can tell. All I have to do is…

…keep creating.

The rest is up to God…

…and I think I’m in good hands.

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I have lived a short 25 years, and life has been anything but easy. It feels like so many things have been thrown at me to try to break me. But this is the first time I have felt truly broken. My heart is shattered in a million pieces, and, if I am honest, I am terrified it will never heal again.

Everything I do reminds me of you. Every song I hear with live instruments makes me want to text you about it. Every new art project makes me want to tell you about it. Everytime I see a cool new gadget I think about how you would love to read about it.

To my almost step father, in you I found a home. A place I could feel safe. You showed me it’s okay to be myself and have long talks about stuff that matter. You taught me this by listening when I spoke and giving meaningful responses. You talked to me, not as an adult speaking to a child, but a wise mind speaking to an old soul.

I understand why people wear black when they mourn, because it’s the only color I feel comfortable in these days.

I don’t want to compose poetry anymore, write stories anymore, shoot films anymore. I don’t create anymore. Truthfully, I don’t want to do anything, but I know you wouldn’t want me to stop living. That is the complete opposite of what you stood for. So, as a small step towards doing things again, I will write you letters while God heals my broken soul.

Love,

Your almost step daughter

 

Exodus

I’m in the part of my journey no one will clap for; I am experiencing a wide range of emotions that no one will notice. When my shoulders slump over and my head droops, no one seems to care.

It’s an internal conflict.

I have been arguing with God lately. Not the most devout thing I have written, but ya’ll don’t expect that from me anyways. I have given him attitude and I have folded my arms in protest. He has been speaking…A LOT. Unfortunately, He hasn’t been saying things I have wanted to hear.

Yes, He still speaks life and speaks of a glorious future to come, but now, as I begin the journey, he is bringing me to the edge of the promise land. He is showing me the giants and telling me He won’t remove them all at once, but slowly. [Deuteronomy 7:22]

He is giving me a speech that I will indeed inherit the land, but my mind grows suspicious when he repeats the phrase “Be strong and courageous.” [Joshua 1:6-9]

What is happening Jesus?

I told God that I wanted to live at an optimum level inside of His will. I want to reach my fullest potential. I don’t want anything that He wanted me to accomplish to go unattended to at my funeral. I want to see all He wants me to see. I want to do all He wants me to do. I want to sacrifice, and love, and be successful. I want to be successful!! I want to experience all the promises spoken over my life before I was even born. I want to experience financial freedom. I want to minister to people I will never meet through my writing. I WANT THE DESIRES OF MY HEART.

And I went through a celebratory moment when God said, “Okay. It is done.” When He woke me in the middle of the night to tell me He loves me. When He repeated promises I had forgotten about. When He said it all belongs to me and this is the time everything will begin to shift into place.

But now, (excuse my french) I’m mad as hell. Because now, I find myself on the run. I find myself hiding in caves. I find myself being hunted down by the people I trusted most. I find myself alone. I find myself in a constant state of battle. [The entire life of David]

God, this feels like war.

The words I hear God saying now are “Life is hard,” “This will be tough, but I will get you through,” “Hard work is not a bad thing.” (yes God had to remind me that hard work won’t kill me). But I am yelling “GOD TAKE AWAY THESE THORNS!” The crown I longed for is starting to feel more like a punishment. I am now barely grasping how much courage it had to take Jesus to pray for God’s will to be done in the garden as I find myself struggling to say the same. [Luke 22:42]

This is the part no one claps for, no one notices.

When God delivered the Israelites out of slavery, they didn’t know they were going into war. Stop judging them. Their journey was a tough one. No one claps for them in Exodus, but what they experienced was real. It was hard. It was an everyday battle. The life I’m living is real. It’s hard. Its an everyday battle. However unlike the Israelites, I will not run from the land of giants.

I’m going to take what already belongs to me.

I’m ready to fight, are you?

 

No Filters. No Statuses. No Pictures.

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Right now, I can’t even make my life appear pretty on social media. I cannot dress up my situation and record a snapchat video. There is no filter for struggle and no gain for likes. I cannot edit your approval into my jagged shaped life. Things are not in order. My plans are scattered. There is no method to the madness. There is just a girl chasing her dreams and trusting God is really in control.

 

Unanswered Knocks

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My friend,

You push me away when you need me most

Why does tragedy make you hide from love?

I want to give you what most don’t have

Support

But your isolated grief closes the door

Bolts the lock

So outside of your house

I stand

Clutching the flower I bought

To remind you of new life

I watch the raindrops fall

Hitting your window

Now rolling down my heart

When you lock yourself away

We both lose out on friendship

Your pain goes untended;

My knocks go unanswered

-Juaquina She

New Cities

 

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Source: Unknown

Looking down the empty path

I realize some journeys I must take alone

Releasing the anxiety and embracing uncertainty

Standing firmly on what was promised

I take my first step

Into a new world

A new season

I leave everything else behind

The pain, the regret, the rejection

The joy, the people, the memories

I let them all go

Keeping my eyes straight ahead

I let go of the past

I am ready for what will be


Original words by Juaquina She