The desire to be successful in the midst of turmoil had me doing all types of magic to stay afloat, but God received credit for my labor.

-Tynesha McCullers

by Tynesha McCullers 

Growing up, church leaders generally encouraged us to not question God, and if we did, they insisted that we were to ask “why not me?” rather than “why me?” With this sentiment was the understanding that God created all beings and predetermined our destiny, for reasons that we may never know or understand.

Church leaders agreed that it is not necessarily easy to accept God plans without question. To “let go and let God” was the best route towards spiritual well-being, according to them. As a child with little autonomy, accepting God’s Will was mostly painless, but with age, accepting God’s Will became more painful. Trying to understand, serve, and praise an entity who was responsible for my destiny and those around me became complicated. The suffering that felt unending left me flustered and angry.

RELATED: The Black church taught me to be a docile victim, and now I renounce its lessons

The desire to be successful and obtain mental and spiritual freedom in the midst of turmoil had me doing all types of magic to stay afloat, but God has received the credit for all of my labor.

As I entered the second semester of graduate school, after having dealt with a series of (un)fortunate events, I told a colleague that it truly seemed like everyone around me viewed my ability to suffer as my greatest achievement. “Seriously, I believe that people think that the best thing that I can do as a Black woman is suffer,” I stated.

They laughed at me, told me that it wasn’t true, then insisted that I pray about it and ask God for the strength to get through the difficult times. Eye roll. God knew what I had gone through, what I was going through, and what I wanted and needed; reminding him via prayer was not going to change anything.

To contend with my deteriorating spiritual health, I took a course on Religion and Spirituality in Education. One of the course assignments was to write a letter to an entity or soul/spirit. I chose to write a letter to Lucifer.

The letter allowed me to release my frustrations, insecurities, and disappointments in my religion, through empathizing with the worst spirit who ever dwelled, according to this religion. I wrote to him as an unsatisfied Christian and a bitter saint, discussing all of the things that I had been too afraid to ask a spiritual leader, God, or anyone close–working to unpack of the concept of free will and how living freely has its consequences,addressing the prosperity of evil and God’s own inability to forgive Lucifer.

Although I feel it was powerful, I didn’t really need this letter to help me understand how jaded and disinterested I had come to feel towards Christianity. Truth is, reading my Bible, going to church, and praying were no longer serving or healing me and had not been for quite some time. No matter what I did, those feelings were not changing.

Looking at the state of the world, my circumstances and the circumstances of people that look like me, reminds me of some of Malcolm X’s most famous words: “The most disrespected woman in America is the Black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the Black woman.” – Malcolm X, Who Taught You to Hate Yourself (1962)

Whether one agrees with him or not, X was on to something with this; no lies detected by me.

At this stage in my life, the narrative that God hears me and will ensure that I am victorious and that my enemies will not prosper is no longer convincing. My prayer requests keep falling on unwilling ears and my enemies are prospering quite well.

I haven’t prayed in months. There came a time when I yearned for a change and, instead of praying, I did what most Black women tend to do in this world that fails to gives us what we give it. I said, “F**k it, I’ll do it.”

I worked, cussed, cried, worked some more, cussed some more, and cried some more in order to attain my heart’s desires. I didn’t ask God for help when I was being discriminated against by racist faculty and classmates. I didn’t ask God for help when I was wrongfully dismissed from my graduate program. I didn’t ask God for help when I was suffering from severe anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

I didn’t ask God for help when I was struggling financially. I didn’t ask God for help when my people were being gunned down by police officers and the officers were not being charged. Hell, I didn’t even ask God for help when the current president was elected and the threat of the humanity of already marginalized people being ignored and disregarded became a reality. 

I didn’t ask because I wasn’t interested in playing a game of chance with God anymore; constantly wondering if God would have mercy on this Black woman. Instead, I went to see a psychiatrist for medication, started going to therapy once a week, got an emotional support animal, started writing more frequently and painting, indulged in binge-watching shows, eating whatever I wanted, took necessary naps, and started living for myself.

As a Black woman who, time and time again, makes a way out of no way, I have to consistently remind myself that just because I am magical that does not mean that I am not real. Nor does it mean that my magic is because of God. Rather, it feels in spite of God.

RELATED: Listen, here’s my problem with Elle’s #BlackGirlMagic piece

When I finally took credit for my own magic, that’s when I became more satisfied with my circumstances and more satisfied with me.

For as long as I can remember, Black women like me have put themselves last and accepted that position. We have blamed ourselves for our failures, but credited others, including God, for our successes.

As a Black woman, I remain unsatisfied and bitter with my religion, with Christians, and with God. I am, however, still surviving and thriving despite the hardships I continue to face given the social identities that I hold. This matters more to me than anything at this stage in my life.

Tynesha is a strong-willed higher education professional in the DMV with a passion for social justice. Born and raised in North Carolina as Baptist, Tynesha is true to southern roots. Tynesha has a B.S. in Human Development and a Master of Education. Tynesha’s interests include watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, singing, painting, traveling.