I’m a writer. If there’s anything i’ve consistently done in my life for at least ten years, it’s reading, and writing. But I haven’t completed a novel I started in about 4 years. Four years ago my sisters and I left a fellowship we’d been part of for, collectively, over 10 years. It was hard. but the environment was toxic. I have some posts about it.

I’ve tried to maintain writing. Writing is my hammer. It’s been my voice. I can see my growth through the stories i’ve written over the years. The nights I spent completing works of fiction, however cringey. I didn’t even know it was a thing. I just did it, and it felt right. It was easy. I never had to think about it. When I was thirteen, my sister would come home from school, and she would tell us about her friends and what her day had been like. I started writing a series of children’s books with her and her friends as the main characters and I would illustrate them. When I was 12, I would draw comic books based on my classmates at school. I did the same in grade 9, with my friend at the time. I have been a storyteller,in some form or another. I think I only realised it was a thing when my English teacher in grade ten made a big deal about my ability to write well. I grew up reading, I spent all my breaks in the library in primary school. I would read one book, and take it back to get a new one at second break. I would finish our prescribed books the day we got them. I loved reading, and I think that developed my imagination to a place that wanted to make those books a reality. In my own words.

I mention the church thing, because it was trauma. It stole something, from me, from us. It was an assault. It was an attack on my identity. It had been. Leaving and staying were both hard. It was performing, but not being seen. It was trying to not be too much, but not enough. It was wondering if our blackness was getting in the way? It was wondering if there was room for us, as three young black women. It was seeing the difference between the ways in which we were treated, and the ways others were treated, and knowing that there was nothing we could do to change it. It was trying to get involved in “the life of the church,” only to be told somewhere down the line, that actually, you’re not really wanted here. it was that. it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. we left. i have no regrets.

Later, after the emotions had died down, my sisters and I would have conversations about who we were. Now that we were no longer part of that fellowship, what happened to our gifts? I was not the only one struggling to write. I was not the only one struggling to hear God. It was easier in the church setting. It was hard, but it was easier than floundering in this space.

The journey has not been an easy one. We were already on a journey of questioning what christianity and churchianity really was to us. Questioning who Jesus is. Who he’s been. I’m still questioning. But what I can say, is he’s not in exclusivity. He’s found in community. In friendships, in the margins, on the fray. I think I have been on the fray all my life. It does not make me better or worse than those in the ‘in crowd’ but I’m glad he can be found here. I’m glad he finds me here, when I feel like I am not like other people.

I am still finding myself. Still choosing me. Still finding out what it means to choose me and show up for me. Today I decided that I would write again. Because that’s what I know how to do. It’s what i love. I’m out of practise, terribly so. But i know what lights my fire. and this does. Little by little, I am reclaiming my gifts, my identity. I am reclaiming me in all my glory.