I have a testimony. In 2009 I started writing a book. It started as a joke. My aunt and I were talking about relationships we’d been in, in our lives and I started to tell her about one of mine that almost killed me. We’d gotten pretty emotional during our talk, but by the end we’d found a way to laugh at ourselves. In our laughter I said to her, “I should write a book about it.” She said, “Girl, please write that book because I want to read it.” Later that night, I went in my room, logged on to my computer, and started typing.
Seven years later, that book is coming out. It took seven years because God had to do so much work on me first. I had to relive a lot of horrible memories and I had to truly be delivered from all of that pain before I subjected myself to the world. Not only had I had to forgive myself and all the parties involved I had to find God in the story. I had to really see His work through my suffering – and I finally did. After three re-writes, three drafts, three editors and a final review, God finally got the glory out of my story.
Now, of course, I had to also fictionalize the story. Although I must admit the first draft was raw and almost identical to the real life version, but after a lot of work it is finally a work of fiction, however, it is based off of real life heartache and struggle that many people face everyday. I pray that someone who reads it will find their own deliverance. That’s my prayer, that someone can be saved and heal from my testimony, my story. I know that it is possible, I’ve lived it. Now all I can do is give God the glory and thank Him for rescuing me out of my darkest moments.
It’s been a while. I’ve been running a hundred miles a minute. There are so many things going on in my life right now I wouldn’t even know where to start trying to explain it all. There is one thing in particular that I thought I should share though; I’ve found my voice. I’m not sure if you recall but I had been going on and on about not being able to write and having a creative mental block, well, that is all over now. I have found my voice.
Of course like most things we think we lose they are usually right in front of our faces. I discovered that I actually never lost my voice. I had abandoned it. I was trying so hard to recreate myself or “transform”, was the word I was using that I actually got lost in that. Obviously, personal growth is important however some things are not meant to be changed. God gave me my voice, and although the contents of my work will mature with me, my style is already perfect because it is not of me; it was a gift from God.
How did I make this discovery? About a week ago, I did a performance at my church and afterwards one of the members came up to me and said, “you are a poet and you don’t even know it.” At that moment it was like a light bulb went off. My poetry is told in stories. I have always had a very poetic way of writing my stories. My best poetry always pretty much wrote itself while I was getting something off my chest. It was when I started trying to write poetry that I found myself lost in trying to make words rhyme. That was my biggest mistake.
Now that I’ve rediscovered my voice opportunities are coming out of nowhere. Even better than that I am writing again! And let me tell you when I’m writing life is so much better!
For at least the last 5 years I have had a theme song for my life, which was, How Did You Get Here, by Deborah Cox. This was my theme song because in so many instances I’d found myself in situations where I would be asking that question. Sometimes it was a relationship others a business decision or any other random thing that may have been going wrong. It was rarely compared to any of the many successes that I’ve had.
In the last couple of months I’ve found that I haven’t been hearing that song in my head anymore. The song that has taken its place is a gospel song called, Moving Forward. The opening lyrics to the song are…
I’m not going back…I’m moving ahead…I’m here to declare to you…My past is over…In you…Things are made new…Surrender my life to Christ…I’m moving, moving forward…
Even though I’ve always been very vocal about my relationship with God and yes this song is a gospel song this song being the new theme song for my life has to do not only with my always growing relationship with God but it also has to do with my new mindset on life as a whole.
At some point there was a change in me on how I viewed my life, relationships and the situations I found myself in. My entire perspective has become more positive. I’ve always been the one to practice what I preached but honestly it is not always easy being positive especially in a life as risky as mine where I am always taking chances with entrepreneurship, following a childhood dream or putting my heart on the line in love. Those risks can easily have you asking yourself, “How did you get here.”
Finally I am in a place where I can accept my journey and how I got to where I am today. I realize that everything that I’ve been through was necessary for where I am now and especially for where I am going. I understand that having imperfections actually make you perfect. The story of my life has become the foundation of my career as a writer and without that story then I have no idea where I would be today. I’ve learned so much! I have grown so much and continue to make major strides to becoming the woman I see in my dreams and now I know like never before the only way I will ever look at her in the mirror is to continue Moving Forward no matter what life throws at me, I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead…I’m moving, moving forward!
My niece Vera is serious about her name. She does not like to be called anything but her name. Pop always gets to her when he calls her a play name like, “cutie” or “shorty”. She always replies, “that’s not my name, my name is Vera!” Now Vera is only 3-years-old but she sticks up for her name with conviction. It is wonderful that at only 3-years-old she knows the importance of her name and she demands that no matter what the alternative nickname is she wants to be called only the name given to her.
I was thinking about all this because I was in the nail shop the other day and I sat next to this girl with the same name as mine. I always get excited when I meet another Shireal since it’s not a very common name. Anyway, she asked me did I know the meaning of our name and I told her the truth which was, no. She told me that Shireal is a Hebrew name and it means A Song From God. As soon as she said it a smile spread across my face. Of all the things in the world that my name could have meant that had to be the most beautiful.
In learning this I began to think about my life and how God has made me a writer and what an amazing gift being a writer is. Being a writer has truly turned my life into a well-composed song that I have had the privilege of being able to conduct. I’ve written books, stories, poems, essays, movies and even songs. Writing this song that is my life has saved me. I’ve always known that my story was already written – any believer in the Higher Power knows this, but to know that when my life was written it was as a melody from God, this knowledge has truly changed my perspective on how I live.
I want to make sure that the rest of my song is a Grammy winning song. I want it to be written and translated into 50 different languages. I want people singing the lyrics for generations that surpass my life in the flesh and transcends into my spirit life. I want my song to be magnanimous! I want it to teach, touch, guide and heal people to change lives and minds. I want it to be worthy of being from God. I am so thankful today for my name SHIREAL! Renee. A name I use to be ashamed of when I was a child, I wasn’t as brilliant as Vera at that age. As an adult I’ve learned to love my name and now that I know the meaning of it I know there is nothing not to love. Especially when it is A Song From God.
It is hard to imagine what life would be like had it not been for the sacrifices of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today, people around the world take time out to reflect on his life, his wisdom and his vision for a better future.
As a black person I will admit that I’ve always looked at Dr. King’s life and the Civil Rights Movement as a “black thing”. I’ve always associated the Civil Rights Movement with the deaths of black men, women and children; and with the hardships and suffering that black people were subjected too. I never took the time out to see the whole picture. I sadly admit that it was not until I saw the movie Selma that my eyes were truly opened. For those of you who have not had a chance to see Selma I strongly encourage you to go out and see it.
As a writer I was thoroughly impressed by the screenplay – well done Paul Webb (apart from one scene that I felt was unnecessary towards the purpose of the movie) for the most part it was an excellent depiction of the factual events that occurred in Selma, AL in 1965 and the outcome of those actions. Without divulging all the details I will say that the movie showed that the Civil Rights Movement was not a “black thing” but the Civil Rights Moment was a “human thing”.
Dr. King’s dream was not a “black thing” it was a dream for all humanity that continues to change to world and inspire us today. I am so thankful for his life and commitment to our human rights. Had it not been for his vision and the sacrifices that he made I would not be able to live the life that I do. I would not be able to chase my dreams like I do. He is the face of not only the Civil Rights Movement but he is the face of the human life movement. Happy Birthday Dr. King may your legacy live on to encourage and inspire generations and generations forever.