33- A master number, and is connected to a promise or the promises of God.
Next Friday I will be turning 33 and I am ecstatic! Last year I didn’t get the opportunity to write about the joy of turning 32. One of my dearest friends Phill Lewis was killed and the grief was just too much to bear. Last year my birthday landed on Thanksgiving. Although, I was thankful to be surrounded by friends and family. However, celebrating was the last thing on my mind. His untimely death took everyone by surprise and it was a blow like no other. His funeral was a few weeks before my birthday.
The thought of attending the funeral was equivalent to a nightmare. I have never experienced a loss to this magnitude since my Granny. Devastation is the only word I can think of when it comes to this tragedy. In the midst of my own turmoil his lovely wife Karen requested that I danced at the home going services. I was honored and terrified at the same time. The first response was clearly the wrong one. I had said, “No, I don’t believe I’am strong enough to do it.” After, the pep talk from Phil’s cousin and close friend. I was encouraged to press through my own grief and tackle the task at hand. That was the beginning of, what I would like to call The Year of the Stretch.
This was the beginning of me being stretched to capacity. Every part that makes up LaToya, was tested. The stretch was felt in every area of my life. Spiritually, I was weak and confused. Dancing was the last thing on my mind. I avoided dancing in church for five straight months. Finally, my spirit had enough. The worshipper that was being suppressed needed to come out. Everything that was binding me had taken its final toll. Each step that was taken was a fight in itself. My flesh refused to bow down, but my spirit needed to pay homage to my creator.
That first dance gave me life HONEY!! It put me back on track. So I thought. Before my breath was even caught from the last blow. Here comes another wave! My job took me through hell and back. Snakes on the plane had nothing on snakes in the office. The sabotage and deceit that tried to cripple me mentally, emotionally and spiritually almost prevailed. See, prior to one of the biggest spiritual battles of my life. MegaFest 2017 and my Puerto Rico trips were booked. Excitement would be an understatement.
These trips were back to back and the highlight of my summer. I needed something epic. One trip was to nourish and feed my spirit and the other was to entice my flesh. Just one week before my anticipated trip to Dallas, to partake in one of the countries most biggest Christian conferences ever, hosted by the infamous Jakes family. A web of lies and venom attacked me financially. The once “golden employee” was being demoted and there was nothing I could do. Feeling defeated my first thought was to cancel both trips because I needed to be responsible with my money.
Thank God for a praying momma and a squad that knows how to stand in the gap. My hung down head was lifted and I went along with the travel plans. MegaFest was everything that was needed. I cried and laughed uncontrollably. Confirmation after confirmation built me up for the battles ahead. Friends that worship together, grow together. The transparency, vulnerability, and strength that was gained from that conference will never be forgotten.
Dallas felt like home, well at least for four days it did. During, the conference I knew deep down what waited for me at home. The fear grew greater towards the end. Dallas had provided a net of safety and comfort from my reality. Going home meant I actually had to take everything that was taught to me and apply it.
Luckily, my 24k summer trip wasn’t ending. Puerto Rico was just two weeks away once I got back to Chicago. The beach was calling my name! The need for sun and fun. GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN!!! With a broken heart, semi-full pockets, and the eagerness to get away again. San Juan introduced me to my alias. Allow me to reintroduce myself…….my name is Selena. Selena Kyle (yes cat woman from Batman Returns). I’m not sure why it took me 32 years to allow this free, liberating, daring, sexy, and fiesty woman to arise. But I liked the way she thought and acted. She seemed to bust through the insecurities and body shaming I’m guilty of.