• The Poplar Family


Updated: Jul 28, 2020

When you start seeing your worth you will find it harder to stay around people who don't.

A year ago I walked through an emotional trauma that left me questioning my identity. I felt like I had been blacklisted. The relational loss was so real that I logged off of social media for eight weeks to give myself time to recover and recalibrate.

Journey to Freedom

I received an invitation of a lifetime to do something I had always dreamed of doing and yet, due to my newfound wounds, I felt like an impostor and started to fear things that used to come naturally to me. When my heavy emotions became too much to bear, I asked a friend to join me for an afternoon to help pull me out of the pit. She acknowledged that she had no sufficiency to counsel me. I remember her words so clearly, "I'm just a disciple holding the corner of your mat willing to lower you to the feet of Jesus." The greatest gift she gave me was the permission to be where I was emotionally. She encouraged me to lament. She didn't berate me with scripture, she didn't pep-talk me to death, she gave me permission to feel whatever I needed to feel to feel in order to be OK.

I poured my heart out onto paper, and wrote journal entries no one will ever read. I processed my emotions until I could see how pain was serving a greater purpose than I could've ever imagined. I started navigating the road back to who I was, or better yet, who pain was shaping me to become. I began to handle people with even more care and closed the portal on administering the silent side eye to others. I forgave individuals who hurt me, and started to explore the idea of forgiving myself. And even after all the growth, emotional detoxing and increased self-awareness, there was a shame that still lingered that I didn't know how to shake.

March rolled around and I had a trip scheduled to attend #MastHERclass with Keisha Mabry. I've grown quite fond of the host. She is an author, speaker and social entrepreneur who believes in #friendworking. She's a #friendspert who teaches people how to connect. There's something about the way she seeks to support others that encourages me to be my very best version of myself. I had attended MastHERclass in 2018 and loved it so much that I purchased my ticket for the following year the moment registration opened.

As much as I was excited, I was equally terrified. I had an icky residue on my psyche that left me feeling so small that I didn't feel worthy of being in the presence of amazing women. Just when I was started to talk myself out of going I received a call from a friend who planned to attend the same event. Without any knowledge of my behind the scenes struggles, she not only encouraged me to attend, but invited me to stay with her and a friend. The "Master" had a master plan for this year's MastHERclass experience.

Emerging From My Chrysalis

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."

When I arrived, I was picked up from the airport by a brilliant young women who was reading a book titled, "When Likes Aren't Enough." This book is a crash course in the science of happiness. A lunch conversation with a complete stranger felt like a slumber party with a new best friend. So much of what she shared confirmed what I had suspected and found to be true about social media and how important it is to allow our hearts and minds to heal from it occasionally.

When I arrived at our Airbnb, I met one of my new roomies on the street while walking up to the house. Without hesitation, she accepted me as an instant friend, and before you know it we were sharing stories about our upbringing, relationships, and love of hip-hop. We didn't bond over the sparkly parts of our lives. We connected over trials that turned into triumphs, sorrow that led to success, and how pressure produces diamonds. I've never been one for surface level correspondence, so rooming with women who go deep quickly was like experiencing dessert before dinner.

On the opening night of a private screening of She Did That, a documentary (now streaming on Netflix) that explores the passionate pursuits of Black women and their entrepreneurship journeys, I encountered women who did not see my shame, they lovingly reminded me of my shine. They complimented my hair, clothes, smile, and vibe. It was like I went from being invisible to visible, I was watching honor beget honor in a beautiful way. Prior to the start of the documentary, I sat in a front row chair, not because I felt worthy (because I didn't), but because I felt welcomed. The women who surrounded me treated me like I was a special guest. Ironically, they were the special guests.

I had a quick conversation with God that went like this, "God, what am I doing here? I don't even know who I want to be when I grow up." I lovingly heard, "Be you." I was like, "That's it? I don't need to go back to school, rebrand, launch a new business, network until my neck hurts . . ?" In a room filled with sheer excitement, anticipation, and the sound of remarkable women making invaluable connections, I heard a still, small voice tell me, "Be you. Be the nurturing, empathetic, authentic, compassionate, poetic, creative, intuitive individual, I called you to be." I sat in that seat feeling like I was in a warm bath filled with epsom salt, eucalyptus, and lavender. A wound in my soul that I had carried for almost a year was healed from two simple words, "Be you."

I watched the documentary and cheered for phenomenal women, some of which I've shared stages with or sat at VIP dinners next to. I can only imagine how imposter like or inadequate I would have felt had I not just had that transformational moment seconds prior to the start of the film. As I absorbed the wisdom of the documentary, there was another medicine being administered to my heart. I could see how struggle produces strength, trauma lead to treasure, pain produces purpose, and sometimes the greatest way to learn how to lead is by being misled, mishandled, misunderstood and mischaracterized.

Every ugly, shameful, embarrassing part of my journey were key ingredients to the elixir that was healing me. The very area in my life that caused me to often feel like I was not enough, had become the area in which I had more than enough experience to aid others along their journey. My next 24 hours confirmed my call in ways that only God could. My triumph didn't come from placing my business card in the right person's hand. It came from placing my heart and my future in the Master's hands.

God had not called me to be a digital influencer, he called me to be His daughter. My role is not to build a brand, it is to build His people. I am not called to be famous, but to make His fame great. Likes will never do, because this world will pressure you to conform until you no longer recognize who you are.

No More People Pleasing

I wouldn't change a thing about my story. The hardest parts have become my favorite. And I'm learning that many of the most beautiful people have the ugliest scars. Your vulnerability does not negate the fact that you are strong. God uses our weakness far more frequently and effectively than He does our strength. Often times the situations that feel like an impending doom are the dirt we have to go through in order to bloom.

Divine Protection

Sisterhood became sorcery.

No one wanted to play with me.

I sat in bed all alone,

And scrolled through wins on my phone.

Watching others crush their goals,

As depression sought to steal my soul.

I cried til' tears would no longer flow,

And prayed to God to make me whole.

Then one day I heard Him say,

"Pay no mind to how they play.

Should they choose to be mean,

They aren't meant to play on your team.

Jesus is the MVP.

He paid the price to set you free.

Because of Him you can forgive.

And choose to live, and let live.

If someone had to cut you off,

in their zest to be a boss.

Bless them in their quest for fame.

Refuse to hang your head in shame.

There's no need to be hurt.

You've been redeemed from the curse.

What presently feels like rejection.

Is a means of divine protection."

"Do you think I care about the approval of men or about the approval of God? Do you think I am on a mission to please people? If I am still spinning my wheels trying to please men, then there is no way I can be a servant of the Anointed One, the Liberating King."

Galatians 1:10 VOICE

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