Shedding the Layers


The journey to self-discovery, identity, and worth is a tiresome one. It takes discipline, dedication, and work - lots of work. For a long time I wondered where that work began. What does that work look like? How long does that work take? How will I know when to begin that work?

I knew I had to learn myself, so that’s where I began. I highlighted my surface level issues—you know, heartbreak, insecurity, rejection—and figured that was enough for me to jump in. "Time to heal myself and grow," I’d say as if it was about to be a fantastic voyage.

I didn’t know the half.

I didn’t realize that surface level revelation would only produce surface level results. More fake smiles. More fake growth. I wasn't honest enough with myself to begin the work, yet. I was looking skin deep trying to change my spirit. I was trying to redefine myself by only looking at the definitions people assigned to me; by only looking at definitions that would be accepted, and were created, by society. I went no deeper than that.

I began the work blindly. Reading articles, following inspirational tweets, writing affirmations on my mirror. Those were good starts, but they weren't the work. I was putting a band-aid on a wound that needed stitches.

I recognized that much of my problem was my own willingness to get to the root and pull out what needed to be fixed. I only accounted for what I could actually see or feel, completely ignoring the culmination of things that led to that breaking point, these feelings, and these behaviors. These feelings came from more than just this one situation, they were deeply rooted. But when I began I was merely glancing at the surface, not what was beneath. I blamed the soil, not the seeds.

I realized that the work begins at the intersection of pain, insecurity, doubt, fear (the list goes on) and my willingness to identify its roots. Not by starting with the obvious things sitting on the surface, but digging into the things that lie deep beneath it. I realized that the work begins with shedding layers.

Truly shedding layers means getting to the root cause of your negative emotions and self-loathing. It is, very literally, snatching back every doubt, every worry, every insecurity, every hurt, until you reach the cause of it all. It’s peeling back your shell and revealing its foundation—what's cracked and unleveled underneath?

Shedding your layers is the beginning of the work. Pulling back every piece of pain, past, heartache, and flaw, and getting to your core. Unraveling yourself until there's nothing left but you and your bare spirit, staring at each other in a figurative mirror. You facing yourself without the mask of ego, excuses, or unapologetic-sass.

It begins with removing your titles—both self-inflicted and societally defined. It's emptying yourself of burdensome expectations. It’s revealing who you are underneath the standards of society, the pain of your past, and the worries and doubt of your future. It's just you and this core—without the hardened shell you use as protection.

Shedding your layers is not easy work, but it’s necessary work. That’s where you start—with shedding your layers. You start with bravery and honesty and intention. You start with reliving the moments you didn’t think you could survive, and removing the power you gave them to dictate who you’d become. You start with recognizing the root of your behaviors, thoughts or feelings, and discovering ways to overcome them. You start with identifying the ways you may have failed yourself and the way life may have failed you, and letting it go.

Peel back the layers beyond just brokenness; peel them back until you unveil fullness. Until you discover the woman made in God’s image. Shed the layers past insecurities, past heartbreak, past familial issues, past dead friendships. Shed them until you get to a feeling of wholeness. Of peace. Of completion.

Each layer you shed should make you feel lighter. Do this work until you feel lighter; do it until you feel like you’ve finally let go of everything you harbored. All resentment and anger and pain. All heartbreak and hatred. Peel back everything until you have fully undressed your spirit, leaving it bare and open for God to step in and re-dress you with love and positivity; take off societal demands and self-criticism, put on the promises of God. Shed your layers until you have literally addressed everything that ever put you in bondage, and break those chains with confrontation and prayer.

Peel back your layers and prune the leaves that haven't produced good fruit. That is where you must start. Get to that woman – get to your core – and build her up from there. But do not start doing so, until you have uncovered everything; until you have repaired the foundation and uprooted the negative seeds.
I (finally) began the work before I even realized that’s what I was doing. I sat in my bathroom pulling off layers that I didn't even realize existed. Praying to God, rebuking foul thoughts, and crying until I felt free. Pursuing forgiveness and letting things go. They came off like a domino effect, one recollection leading to another; one act of repentance followed by another. All of this I offered unto God as a sacrifice—finally giving up the woman I was, for the woman He created me to become.

I had to shed so I could bloom.
Now, it's your turn.

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