On Saturday, December 26, 2015 was when it all began. Before I left Florida to get ready to embark on a new and exciting journey, my dad walked up to me and hugged me, saying “ Okay Dahana, I love you. No matter where you go in life, always remember that God is with you.” His words warmed my heart in assurance as I smiled saying I love you back and took off with excitement.
This was me…a born and raised Floridian Haitian young woman who have never left her “comfort zone.” I was on my way to live at another state for the very first time – being surrounded by unfamiliar people and places. Everything was going great as it usually starts off in new beginnings (in most cases). I had a rewarding job as a Behavioral Therapist working with autistic children (in which I loved), I was living in a different world, and was engaged. So, yeah, everything was good. I was good! But, as time went by, I arrived at a sudden point of my life where I felt empty. Question, what does a person do when they’re feeling empty inside?…They find solutions that’s capable of curing that problem in oneself. And I’ve done just that – having many unsuccessful attempts. I had a compensatory drive to fill this emptiness by either seeking worldly things or being overly attached to my then partner. I can vividly recall being emotionally attuned by him, and I can feel the sense of urgency where it wasn’t healthy. Yet, with frustration regarding the emptiness, I repeatedly continued my poor habits and attachment phase which made it worse. These failed methods only treated my issue temporarily.
I would best describe my act of hopelessness in the words of Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, who quotes “It is as if a person with a wide open gastric fistula were trying to still his hunger through eating. He/She may obtain pleasurable taste sensations by her/his frantic ingestion of food but, since the food does not enter that part of the digestive system where it is absorbed into the organism, he/she continues to starve.” In other words, I took pleasure in the worldly things but, it didn’t sustained my overall well being which bothered me. There was something missing, and because of its absence, it significantly impacted me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I decided to not search for that particular “Peace” due to many distractions and my passiveness. What happened next? My faith was tested in many directions as my life was slowly falling apart. Despite the mess that was going on in my life, no one couldn’t even tell that I was unhappy. I was known for always having a smile on my face that only I can detect if it was real or fake. I was that good in hiding my feelings especially in social media ( I think some of us has mastered that when it comes to social media, right?).
Smiling on the outside, crying on the inside.
My engagement was off, my relationship ended (which I didn’t tell my family or anyone yet), I was burnt/stressed out from my job dealing with 6 clients that was autistic with major behavioral concerns, and I had a short amount of time to find another place to stay. My anxiety was getting worse and I was mainly relying on people for help. Yes, I’ve prayed but, unfortunately, at that time, my hope was found in people afterwards. And after many broken promises, words that were not kept, and unexpected negative changes -I just couldn’t take it anymore. One evening coming home from work, I went straight to my bedroom, fell to my knees and prayed earnestly.
“This was one of the longest prayer I’ve ever prayed. Instead of sleeping on my bed, I remained on the floor, pulling my Bible out from my purse and sleeping next to it.”
As I thought about all the times God has helped me, my fears were slowly going away. I replayed what my dad had told me right before I left Florida, “ No matter where you go in life, always remember that God is with you.” With teary eyes, I prayed again until I fell asleep. Wearied and confused, I honestly didn’t know what was my next move. My options were limited; it was either going back to Florida and starting over from scratch (which I’ve done plenty of times in my early 20’s) or wait. So, I decided to be uncomfortable and wait on the Lord. My reality wasn’t bright and I was afraid- still, I held on to my trembling faith, remembering the beautiful Word of God while ignoring the sight of my reality…I waited on the Lord. And I’m not going to front, I wasn’t waking up every morning that hopeful, it was more so being heartbroken while leaning on to my faith and eating junk foods for comfort. Indeed, I was a struggling Christian who was walking on thin ice. Still, I waited on the Lord. Two days later, the Lord answered my prayers. From this humbling experience, I’ve relearned patience, to forgive, and my faith in the Lord have increased as I developed a deep and meaningful relationship with Him.
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5, NKJV
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage, be not afraid, neither be though dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee wherever though go.” Joshua 1:9, NKJV
“O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above he heavens.” Psalm 8:1, NKJV
God was there throughout my journey all along, even when I was not following Him or going His Way and not going to church, praying everyday, and reading my Bible heavily. Til this day He still protects and blesses me! I had truly discovered the “peace” that was missing in my life – that has filled me completely in wholeness. Indeed, this missing “Peace” comes from and is Christ (John 14:27), (Proverbs 8:35) . I’m always amaze by His glory whenever I’d read the scriptures in the Bible about all He has done for His people including I, who is an undeserving/unworthy person that He died for and pouring out His Grace and Mercy upon me while providing me hope. Whew! Talk about unconditional love! I am in Love with Him! There are no words to describe My Love for Christ, He has done so much for my family and I that have made me put away my old ways and follow His Way which is the only “right” way. EVERYTHING about Him is amazing and perfect. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that God is God and God alone. I am speaking from a biblical standpoint and experience as I’ve tasted and seen that He is good and meritorious! I can brag all day about how Great my God is! For He remains the same, has not ever forsaken His people, He is FAITHFUL, a HEALER that performs miracles, and y’all…don’t let me get started with His Word, His powerful Word, His miraculous Word, His Word is the TRUTH. Check this out, when He speaks the Word, it is DONE. Not tomorrow, not later, not now, but AFTER he spoke the Word it came to pass (Psalm 33:6-9). He also comes through for His people (who believes in Him, listen to His commands and obeys it) in ways that no men can’t do. There are so many stories in the Bible that proves it such as the amazing story of Abraham who the Lord counted to him righteousness (Genesis 15:1-6, 21:1-2, 22:1-18) and the story on how the Lord healed the Lame Man from his sickness (Acts 3:2-10). I’m inspired to walk in the spirit and be more like Jesus, as well as learning more about my Heavenly Father and the true Gospel. The Bible and His Word is literally a lamp to my feet for guidance in life, giving assurance and hope of what is to come.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:106, NKJV
“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” Psalm 91:15, NKJV
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Hebrews13:8, NKJV
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12, NKJV
“For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hathbroken down the middle wall of partition between us.” Ephesians 2:14, NKJV
On my next upcoming post, I will soon share some helpful resources that I am currently using to hydrate my spirit, resist satan and his temptations, and more. You’ll find below highlights of some of the many, many blessings I’ve received from the Lord Almighty. May your hearts be bless and I sincerely hope this encourage anyone who are in need of one.
Highlight # 1: My Very First Car
Back when I was in Florida, I didn’t own or have a car. I would always catch a ride from my sisters or take the Tri-Rail, Miami-Dade train and bus to work in Miami (My commute to work was savage). When I moved to Minnesota, there was no bus in the area that I lived in to commute to work and so, I rode the shuttle bus (which picked me up right in front of my place and dropped me right in front of my job, hallelujah) for a short period of time all thanks to God. Oh, and the fare was affordable, $3.00 in total! I then purchased my first and very own used car in 2016 for about $350 from a dear friend of mine (God bless her). The car lasted me longer than expected and when it suddenly broke down on April of 2018. The next day, I bought a new car.
My 2002 Kia Spectra…I named it “My Little Miracle.” This car went through the winter storms and all! So many mechanics that I had taken it to told me that it will only last me less than 3 months due to the extremely high mileage and every issues old cars can possibly have. It lasted a little over 2 years giving me minor problems within those years. I remember having a flat tire on my way home from work at night. It was around the midnight hour, I was tired and sleepy which means my only intention was to go home. I prayed to God to bring me home safely along with my car. I took a huge risk with the flat tire, being 30 minutes away from my place on the interstate driving fearlessly 10 miles per hour on the emergency lane while cars were honking and yelling at me. Over an hour later, I got home safely and parked my car right in front of my apartment. The tire was done but the rims was not damaged at all! It was God all by Himself that helped me that night and I truly believe that it was Him who kept it longer than expected until I was financially ready to buy a new car in which I did. I sold this baby to a towing truck company for about 100 bucks.
Highlight # 2: Being Approved For My First Apartment
My first year in Minnesota, I was staying with a family for about five months. The first apartment I was approved for one of the things that I’ve prayed for. 2016 was the year first time ever living on my own and I was blessed that I didn’t have to spend a dime for my bed and furniture. I came to my apartment with the place already furnished. But, boy oh boy the adult life was no joke! I was living check to check and stretching my money to make ends meet. Overall, I was still grateful to have a place of my own. A year later, God blessed me with a well paid salary job that I like, in which I was able to move into a nice apartment 6 months later within that year. My second apartment was better than the previous because It was newly remodeled, I’m now financially stable, and my friend/former coworker is my neighbor. I get excited when it’s the first of the month to pay rent (weird, I know).
At my first apartment Bible studying.
Highlight #3: Finding A Home Church in Minnesota
When I reconnected my life with Christ, one of my goal was to to participate in a church that was welcoming. In 2016, I started attending the church in Minneapolis called Saint Paul EastSide SDA and have been going there ever since. Although I wasn’t a member there, I thank God for the elder Greg and Damion for seeing my passion to teach the Word of God and allowing me to teach the Youth Adult and Adolescents Bible class which I enjoyed every minute of. The members at the church warmly embraced me with open arms and has since turned into my family. I was blessed enough to get their kind supports and encouragements on my journey here in Minnesota. I would always stay after church for fellowship and spend my Sabbath afternoon with these folks. Compared to the other churches I’ve visited here, this church didn’t have much and was small, but they had such a huge heart and great energy! God led me specifically to this church and I was honored to be a helping hand to their community. I am forever grateful for them.
My favorite day, The Sabbath. As you can see in this picture, I was super early for church…which is rare for me.
Highlight #4: Acceptance in Grad School
Coming from someone who graduated their undergraduate year with a GPA of 2.7 due to personal circumstances rather than academic performance, I had no plans in going to graduate school. After graduation, I didn’t know what exactly I or God wanted me to be, so, it was not my intention to go back to school and waste money for something I had no desire to become (Doctor, Lawyer, Pharmacist, etc.) solely because it pays more money. However, there was one person, one vision, one goal, that made me change my mind and discovered my passion. That one person is my oldest brother Whitvin St Jean, who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, a rare Psychotic Mental Health disorder. That one vision is for me to build multiple platforms to eliminate the stigma in the Black community regarding Mental Health. And that one goal is for me to become Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the effort to help the youth and my community at a larger scale. I had to start somewhere to make it happen and so I applied to one graduate school/program in Minnesota that requires a typical 3.0 GPA. While starting the process, I came across the program’s disclaimer on the application that boldly reads “GPA below 3.0 may NOT be subject for consideration.” I still applied and gave it to the Lord from there, simply because I was facing what it had seem the impossible. Well, long story short, with the help of the Lord I received a letter from the graduate admission that I was “conditionally” accepted as it stated that If I fail the first semester, I would automatically be dropped from the Co-Occurring Disorder & Mental Health Counseling program with no exceptions. I completed my first semester earning two A’s and one -A with a GPA of 3.87. My God is real.
Received my acceptance letter to the Co-Occurring Disorder & Mental Health Counseling program. I was extremely happy.
Side Note: Special thanks to my family and loved ones for the encouraging words and support, my twin sister Dhane Philord who motivated me and believed in my dreams when I couldn’t see it at first. To my FAU Health Law Professor Judy Goodman, J.D, who clearly remembered me after almost 6 years! She had seen the potential in me and took the time out of her busy schedule to write my letter of recommendation for grad school. To my precious little clients (all 6 of them) at the Autism Center who has taught me to LIVE and has made me view life and people in a unique perspective. And lastly, to the Public Allies Miami apprenticeship program for the experience, hard times, constructive feedback from the staffs at my placement (Florida Immigration Coalition, FLIC) that has taught me so much about public speaking, dealing with conflicts, non profit organizations, my community, networking, professionalism and leadership. I am forever grateful for it all.
Highlight #5: Love
Saved the best for last! Which is God who is Love. Oh what a feeling, what a feeling to be love! I thought my first love can be found in men and man was I wrong. But, I’ve learned a valuable lesson from my mistakes. It wasn’t long enough that I would soon seek my Heavenly Father’s unconditional Love through Scriptures, experiences, and hardship. Being in love with Christ has shaped/molded me to a better me where I was well off in establishing healthy relationships along the way. I am currently at work on exercising my Faith daily to depend solely on the Word of God for guidance in life. While in Minnesota, everything didn’t go as planned, In fact, it collapsed! I was at a lost for words and hurt – thinking I would never recover from this situation. But, as I kept moving forward (I fell back a couples times by the way) one thing I had in mind is that God made sure that my purpose remains the same despite of my plans changing. And so, I’ve learned (and is still learning!) to trust in God through it all. Of course, I had days when some things didn’t make sense to me, I later knew that the God I serve is mysterious – for His thoughts and ways is certainly not like ours (Isaiah 55:8). But, as I kept praying without ceasing, studying and reading the Bible by myself and with others, God gave me clarity which causes me to be mindful in all my ways (Proverbs 3:5-7, 13) . I then realized that everything that happened to me was for a reason, primarily to shift my focus back to Him and my mission/purpose in life.
Shine Dee…Jesus lover, a servant of Christ, a chip eater, and a country girl at heart. Standing tall on Christ the Solid Rock. I know who I am because of Christ who first Loved me.