Open Heart | Torrie Slaughter

Self-hatred led me to believe the world's lies. I used society to help me examine my self-inflicted pain. I wanted to be on trend with social media and the standards of beauty created through filters. Instead of praying, I researched diet pills, caloric intake, and ways to even out my complexion (dark spots on my neck, elbows, and acne scarring). All because one morning I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I thought I saw. 

The wrinkles, skin demarcations, fat cell deposits were all things I observed with hatred. I detested my body and myself. I wasn't "good enough" and felt ashamed. Other people began to define what I thought of the body God gave me. I needed help but didn't turn to God. (A living example of my apostasy embracing an opinion contrary to one's previous religious beliefs).

Even though I turned from God, He did not forsake me. He wanted to be my Comforter and Healer, and during a routine doctor visit, I was diagnosed with depression. However, my inner prideful black woman said the medication would make me weak. And after talking with a close relative, they confirmed I should suck it up, think about my family, and focus on them. The depression and burden of wanting to be self-sufficient manifested into physical pain. 

I believed my pain was directly related to my weight which fed the desire to maintain an image of "wellness." So I became a gym rat, working out or running after every meal, lying about being too full to eat, and making myself busy. Some good things sprang out of that disorder: I spent more time volunteering, and my family enjoyed many homemade meals. However, keeping up that pace without seeking the strength of the Lord and carrying self-hatred, doubt, and insecurity sent me crashing down: mentally and physically. I was holding the weight of my broken life together with worldly deception and no spiritual support. Failure was an inevitable consequence of my erred motivation. Even the enemy couldn't help me sustain the facade because his one job was to kill, steal, and destroy. My identity was not in Jesus but intermingled in temporary cravings to please others and live life ashamed of my struggles.

Psychological pain manifested itself into physical pain, which saved my life and sparked the beginning of renewal. After lying in the hospital undergoing several tests with no conclusive results, God opened my eyes, and I could say, "enough was enough." I was tired of not feeling like myself, answering the doctors' questions, tired of the pain, and not knowing. The spirit within me would not allow God's blessings to become curses. I have an incredible praying family and gifts to share through God's grace. 

Fresh out of the hospital, I confessed:

I am a sinner. I lusted, over consumed, was greedy, lazy, angry, envious, and prideful. Colossians 3:5 - Therefore, put to death what is earthly in you. (Colossians 3:5-11). But did I?...not really. I simply stopped doing certain things with the people who would always point out my body faults or speak negatively of me. I let go of the events, not the people. I learned to say, "no, thank you." After loosening my grip on seeking approval from the world, I ultimately repented and allowed God to change my mindset. That was another step while still carrying the load of doubt, insecurity, arrogance, and pride.

Why couldn't I let go, and what did that mean for my life? There is a difference between letting go and complete surrender. That was the comfortable middle of the mountain I stepped into and became a lukewarm Christian. My feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness overpowered reality. So, I took a deeper dive into practicing spirituality without giving Jesus my whole heart. In my zeal to find Jesus, the enemy tricked me, and I fell for the lie.

The confusing world of Kundalini yoga provided a space for me to work out aggression and 'center' myself, but I never felt the peace all the yogis claimed I should have. I became more agitated and anxious. Have you ever been in a place where you thought everything was coming together but, instead, it was falling apart? Kundalini yoga was an opportune time for the enemy, and my itching ears wanted more. I was spiritually hungry and fed every lustful desire thinking it was the way forward. Addiction to diet pills and trying to obtain the perfect physical appearance gave me hellish visions.

Therefore, I self-soothed with alcohol, which led to a mysterious night flight where I was hovering over my bed. I never thought the stories about astral projection were real until I experienced it for myself. Yes, the Bible speaks about dreams and vision, but this was not it. I didn't hear a voice calming my fears but one that said I could conquer the world. But, even in that weakened state and the force of evil luring me in by showing me visions of what I could look like...the power of Jesus took over. I could feel His presence pulling me back into myself and reminding me of His words in 1 John 4:1, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. "

My story is still developing, and each day, I decide how to react to temptation, complacency, doubt, and insecurity. Every morning I stand before God, asking for His mercy and grace (Lamentations 3:22-23).

I keep reading, meditating, and praying. Because after years of repeating the same cycle of ups and downs, I finally decided to yield to God's way and learned my truth- if I desired a different outcome, I needed to change my approach. I look up from the middle of the comfortable space and fight the temptation to be a lukewarm Christian.

I can say 'NO..thank you' with authority and not apologize for protecting what is within me. Fasting helps control my flesh (sinful tendencies). I avoid my temptation to see myself through the world's eyes, and when I cannot, I quickly ask the Holy Spirit to intervene. My help comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:2); I reached the end of me to get closer to God. Jesus broke the chains of my mental slavery!!!

Listening to God with an open heart grows my mustard seed faith. I share this testimony because it birthed so many outlets, talents and aligned my will to God's purpose for my life.

My ministry, Our Given Purpose® began as a blog, grew into a podcast, became a trademarked business, birthed a second podcast and internet show, invited others to share their stories, promoted unity through collaboration, sells faith-centered merchandise, and now helps churches and organizations develop their online presence by building teams and cultivating an environment of action. Look at what God did!

I want to be Christ's ambassador because I've experienced His gracious love and mercy. I want to be a living stone so people will see me and ask, "what happened here?" By opening myself and surrendering to Jesus, I gained clarity, became more organized, and through His preparation, God equipped me to keep climbing. I hope the Light of Christ will shine in your darkness and show you to God's abundant grace and mercy.

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