If you had met Michelle Nicholson one year ago and then ran into her again today, you would notice a change. You would notice a twinkle in her eye and a quicker smile. You would notice a more relaxed laugh. And then if you asked her what happened, she would apply one of her new guiding principles and begin to tell you her story.
Michelle would start off with a painful memory from her childhood in Nigeria, where she was born and raised, a memory that contributed to her struggling with inadequacy for most of her life. One day Michelle got in her mother’s way. Her mother would sometimes say hurtful things, especially when she was stressed, and these words spilled out of her mother’s mouth: “You‘re stupid and useless.” Those words struck Michelle to the heart. Although she knew her mother loved her, Michelle took those words at face value, and the words stuck.
For years afterward Michelle was her own worst critic. She believed the lies that told her she was not good enough. That she was insignificant. That she was useless. Those lies got in the way of her showing up as an authentic person. Instead Michelle was sheepish, reserved, and self-protective. But then her story took a turn.
Learning To Extend Grace
Michelle’s mother was diagnosed with cancer during Michelle’s first year of college, and things started to change between them. Mom was not as mobile as before, so they stayed in and started talking more. With time Michelle learned to extend grace to her mother for the ways in which she had hurt her. She learned to forgive her mother for being human, for being flawed. This was an important first step in learning to extend grace also to herself, and to others.
Then in January 2014 she attended Faithwalking 101, “the most emotionally draining, grueling, and wonderful retreat” she’s ever been on. She was so impacted by 101 that she immediately signed up for 201, and it was through 201 that she got clarity on her vows and made connections to areas of anxiety. The awareness gave her hope for change.
“Faithwalking helped me understand how I show up in life. Faithwalking doesn’t just dig up the past—it gives me tools to see things differently and the hope that I can show up differently in life.”
Now Michelle feels empowered to live into her positive vows of value. “I am who God says I am. I am a daughter of The Liberating King, and I am loved. I am more authentic now,” she says with a smile. Michelle has new guiding principles in place that help her to be the person she wants to be. An introvert, she wants to engage with others instead of hiding. She wants to bring her whole self, with all of her flaws and insecurities, into the light of community. She wants to share her story and encourage others to trust God. “You can’t live in the darkness. As I share my story the darkness has no power over me.”
This is the beginning of a new chapter of her story, a story about how God is using Faithwalking to help her quit believing lies about herself, and start giving herself the grace and freedom to show up more courageously and confidently in life. To follow along with her story, you can find her on westafricanrains.com.