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The Woman Behind the Mask:

Identifying the Woman Hidden






Foreword By

Prophet Tameeka T. Alexander








Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC, Houston, Texas






The Woman Behind the Mask:

Identifying the Woman Hidden



Copyright © 2017

Nakia P. Evans



All Rights Reserved.

No portion of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any electronic system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise) without written permission from the publisher. Brief quotations may be used in literary reviews.

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.



Scripture references are used with permission from Zondervan via Biblegateway.com



Library of Congress Control Number: 2017952405



For information and bulk ordering, contact:

Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC

Angela R. Edwards, CEO

P.O. Box 62287

Houston, TX 77205

BestSeller@PearlyGatesPublishing.com



Published by Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC at Smashwords. This book is available in print at most online retailers.






Dedication



This book is dedicated to any woman who may have questioned who she truly was, living masked and below her purpose, and feels like she is ready to unmask and walk into her identity.


My sister, never forget who your Daddy is! Walk in the identity of Christ and be who HE says you are! Your purpose can only be fulfilled through HIM—The One who created you! Know HIM to know your purpose.


Walk in your identity!







Acknowledgements


First, I would like to thank my Daddy, my Father, my Creator: Jesus Christ! Without HIM, I am nothing. I am honored that HE has given me the vision of The Woman Behind the Mask. My job is to please HIM and do all that HE has given me to do. I love being the daughter of the KING!


Special thanks go out to each of the Co-Authors (in no particular order):

Eraina Tinnin

LaTasha Carter

Alma Thomas

Marchella Blount

Thema Azize Serwa

Angela Thomas Smith

M.J. Lee

Patrice Simmons

Lalita A. Dixon

Yvette Harris

Tiffany J. Washington

Telicia Volter

Tara James-Wallace


Thank you, ladies, for pouring out your hearts into this book and sharing with the world on how to live and walk in your identity! You ladies are AH-MAH-ZING!!! I am honored to have each of you on this project with me! I love you all!


A gigantic "Thank You" to my love, my heart, and my motivation: my daughter, Lyric! You keep me going! You keep me focused! I would not be who I am if not for you! Thank you for making me aim higher and be the reason I push harder! I love you to the moon and back—always!


To my Mother, Apostle Sharon Falana, and my Pops, Adetutu Falana: Thank you for your support, your belief in me, and keeping me going. I love you!


To my Father, Chris, and my Second Mom, Trish Seegars: Thank you for your support, love, and encouragement. I love you!


To my Siblings Caneesha, Matia, Destiney, and Dawson: You all know how I feel about you. Having the best sisters and best brother means the world to me! Thank you for all that you do. I love you all!


Special thanks to my friend and sister, Eraina Tinnin: You have been such a blessing to me throughout this project. Not only as a Co-Author, but the person who kept me going, level, and held me accountable.Words can never describe how thankful I am that GOD connected us! You have truly impacted my life, and I am thankful for not only having you as a sister but also as a very close friend. Thank you for all that you do. I love you!


To our Publisher, Angela Edwards of Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC: Thank you so much for allowing this amazing collaboration to be a part of Pearly Gates Publishing, LLC! I appreciate all of your support, encouragement, prayers, and patience. It's an honor to work with you, and I'm looking for much more to come. Much love!






Foreword


Walking in my identity and authentic self. What does that mean? What is the road map? Where is the GPS that will guide me to this person I've never met in order to discover what she beholds? Those are questions we all have asked. Well, ladies: The GPS was given to you at your conception! The 'trick' is plugging it into your internal "self" and listening to it as it informs you of a route that may not be smooth-sailing but will get you to that person you wish you really were.


Authenticity is a destination. Identity is the car that transports you to that destination. You can never be authentic without identity. Identity is a prerequisite to authenticity. You cannot have the house without the foundation. Identity is who you are based on who your Creator said you were. Enter in our initial mistake. We accept our identities from who our parents said we were. We conform to an identity of what the people around us say we are. When doing those things, we often times neglect to ever learn of who the Creator—in His matchless wisdom—formed us to be for a purpose greater than mankind could suggest.


A good place to start with the foundation of identity is laid out in Genesis 1:26-28, where we are informed that we were created in the image and likeness of God Himself. I'm talking about the God who created the Heaven and Earth, the Creator who gave the Great Sea a boundary, and The One who put an invisible string in place to hold the Sun, Moon, and stars in place. You are cut from the same cloth and fashioned out of the same material as THAT Great God! That means there is actually NO LIMIT on what you can accomplish.


With identity being the foundation of your life, you will be able to soar to heights unknown to mankind. Once you get in the 'car of identity', you are well on your way to the place called "Authenticity". Let me help you with what will be the fuel that powers the 'car of identity'.


The fuel is called SELF-ACCEPTANCE. Many of us never reach authenticity because it is easier to be a carbon copy. Carbon copies come a dime-a-dozen, but we accept them because everyone already knows that that is—and since everyone already likes it, we know we will not be rejected. Rejection is a part of authenticity. (Please learn to accept and live with it because if not, you will sabotage your walk of authenticity.) One verse of scripture that holds me in my walk of identity and authenticity is Luke 20:17: "The stone which the builders rejected, the same becomes the head of the corner."


That verse gives me the strength to understand that although rejection comes, it does not negate who I really am. Once you accept yourself in all of your splendor and glory, no one will be able to make you feel 'less than' again. The tank of self-acceptance runs deep and it never dries up. You can take (and will need to take) your car there several times a day for refueling, and there is no problem with that. Go get filled and continue on your way.


Upon arriving at Authenticity (powered by self-acceptance of your unique identity), here you have reached your DESTINY; the place; the mindset; the emotional state where God had always destined you to be. Here in this spiritual state/place, it will offer and yield you some of your greatest joys and blessings. Please note: They are not all materialistic. This is the place where God will dwell with you in the highest sense of the term—like Adam and Even when God came in the cool of the day to commune with them; like the land of Canaan, the place that flowed with milk and honey; like David, even when others feel you are not the one, God will say, "I have chosen her and anoint her as a queen".


Your authentic self does not look like anyone else. God is so vast, no one's authentic self is identical to the next person's. Here is where you cannot compare yourself to the next. Think of it like this: When God created you, He really did BREAK THE MOLD!


Arise, go, and possess the Land of Authenticity! Wear your crown. Sit upon your throne. The time of travel is at hand!

~ Prophet Tameeka T. Alexander ~






TABLE OF CONTENTS



Dedication

Acknowledgements

Foreword

MARCHELLA BLOUNT IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

If I Only Knew

LATASHA CARTER IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Life on the Other Side of White-Picket Fences

LALITA DIXON IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Live Beyond It! "The Call Beyond the Pain"

NAKIA P. EVANS IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

The Mask That Cost Me My Identity

YVETTE HARRIS IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Not Just My Story

M.J. LEE IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Facing the Faces

THEMA AZIZE SERWA IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Some Masks Never Leave

PATRICE SIMMONS IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

The Battle to Victory

ANGELA THOMAS SMITH IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

My Mess and Test Became My Message and Testimony

ALMA THOMAS IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Take Off the Mask and Be the YOU That God Created You to Be!

ERAINA TINNIN IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Perfectly Imperfect

TELICIA VOLTER IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Unmasking False Authenticity: Gotta Get Real in Order to Be Authentic

TARA WALLACE IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

The Mask of a Strong Black Woman

TIFFANY J. WASHINGTON IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Living and Loving Your Cracked and Beautiful Self

No Longer Hidden Authors' Bios






MARCHELLA BLOUNT IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

If I Only Knew


Everyone wants to be like Wonder Woman. Women, we live in a world where every woman feels like they must compete with one another. Most women work, and some are very successful. You have at least 35% (if not more) who don't want to work. A lot of women are still trying to define themselves. If every woman looked in the mirror at her inner-self, she would see the hurt, the abuse, the worries, the divorces, and the struggles they are really going through. We make others think our lives are perfect and in order; however, our lives are deeply hidden. We cover up our pains with makeup and fake smiles. Even though Wonder Woman is a Marvel character, she, too, has feelings. Through all of the bruises and cuts from trying to save the world, at the end of the day, her mask comes off, too.


Ladies, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. Being a woman myself, I have gone through struggles in my life. I had had pain deep within my soul. I've been raped and struggled with not being sure if I was going to live or die. Those are just examples of some of the things I have gone through. There are women who are going through abuse right now. I see so many women make excuses as to why they should stay with a man who treats them badly. Men have a way of manipulating a woman into thinking it's her fault. Men will break your character and spirit—and have you not knowing who you are anymore. We give up hope, not wanting to pray. We just "go with the flow" because we are so afraid of being alone. Men who are abusive will have you turning on your family and friends without you even realizing it.


Ladies, I am here to tell you: THE DEVIL IS A LIAR! God did not create man to abuse you mentally OR physically. When I looked through the Bible, the Spirit led me to the following passage of scripture:


"Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

1 Peter 3:7


Women, we put our own selves in these types of situations if we don't leave and do something about it. The situation gets worse without getting the help everyone needs. I am sorry, but it is hard for me to have a man lead my household when he doesn't even know how to lead. A man wants his wife to be submissive; well, a wife wants her man to know how to lead his home without using force to get his point across.


I was once in a relationship that was so unhealthy. I was dating a man who was a nice person, but when he would drink, another side would come out…a very controlling and jealous side. That man would blame me if another man would look at me. We would argue so much, I just got tired of it all. Don't get me wrong: He would support anything I did (that's the side that keeps us women wanting to stay). However, when the alcohol was in him, things changed.


I remember one night when he stopped by with his male cousin. I knew he had a few drinks in him because I could smell it. We were on my porch, and his cousin started asking me questions like where was I from. Then, my ex suddenly said, "Go in the house". I remember looking at him strangely, then he said it again—but with an attitude. I asked, "Why?" He then grabbed me, pushed me, and punched me in my side. The cousin asked, "What are you doing?", wrestled my ex to the ground, and said, "Never put your hands on a woman!" I made my ex leave (in the midst of him trying to apologize). I instructed him to leave immediately, and then I called the police. I contacted my family and the word got out to him fast. He promised to never touch me again. After that incident, he called so many times apologizing for his wrongdoing. I felt sorry for him and believed him when he said he would never do it again. I decided to take him back—and no, he never touched me again because the word got out about what would happen to him if he ever did. Even though he never put his hands on me again, the verbal abuse was just as bad (if not worse) than the physical abuse.


One day, I woke up and went to work. I had started back praying to God and trusting in Him. The Lord told me to leave that man. I told him to not come over anymore; it's over. Of course, he did not believe me. He called no less than 40 times a day, morning through the late-night hours. It didn't stop! I had to lie and say I couldn't take calls at work. The calls were so bad, I had to take out a restraining order against him because he started saying he was going to kill me for leaving him. I knew God said "leave him" for a reason. After all, God knows His children.


When you have a relationship with God and depend on Him, the Lord will direct your path.


I was praying the whole time, but not like I should have prayed. I felt like I had allowed the enemy in my home. When he received word of the restraining order, all of the shenanigans stopped. For the first time in a long while, I had a peaceful night. My life was beginning to change for the good. I felt like another challenge had been accomplished. When God says "MOVE", ladies, trust Him! You should put all of your trust in God.


Today, I am happily-married and until this very day, my ex STILL asks my family about me in hopes of getting me back! See, the enemy will set you up to fail. It's the enemy's job to bring about confusion. When a man abuses you physically and mentally, it's not love. God will show you love. Allow God to bring the right man into your life. A lot of women are still in those types of abusive relationships. They are tired and depend on the man to support them. Well ladies, here's a newsflash:


YOU CAME INTO THIS WORLD ALONE, AND YOU WILL LEAVE ALONE!


We can depend on God only. Stop allowing men to break your spirit. You are a STRONG woman of God. You belong to the Lord, not man. See, you are allowing the enemy to run your house and not God. Pick up your Bible and read God's Word. He will talk to you through it. God will order your steps. Humble yourself. Take off that fake smile and makeup. God brought you into this world to live life abundantly. Stop hiding and speak out. Speak blessings over your life. In Isaiah 41:10, it says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand".


Ladies, it's time to stop hiding behind your "situations". It's time to let go and let God. I don't care what you are going through. Take time to get to know the real you. Look in the mirror and say, "Lord, here I am. I belong to you. I take off this outside mask I've been wearing. It's time to follow You and have You order my steps."


When I was younger, all of the kids used to say the following words to prevent women from getting pregnant or be in abusive relationships:


"A peach is a peach without a slip of a tongue. Boys do all the necking; girls get all the blame. It isn't easy for the boy to push the girl up against the wall, to build his reputation, to increase the population, of a younger generation. If you need a demonstration, lay down."


Women, when you come out of darkness into light, the sun will shine in your life. Battles bring breakthroughs in your life. Start doing positive things. Get to know you. We never know what we are good at doing unless we follow our passion. Don't ever let anyone tell you anything different. You may lose friends along the way, but that's okay. We are not tied to them—and not all are meant to go where you are going. Stay focused on your relationship with the Lord. The enemy will be on his job and will keep you too busy to focus on your calling; however, get rid of the distractions and simplify your life. We have been running for so long. We have been hiding behind our past, and it's hindering our future. Once again: That's the ENEMY holding you back. You are free from it. The scars may be there, but your journey is to move forward. Do you know we are purposely put to the test? God will allow us to "go through" sometimes just so He will get all the glory when He brings you through. Meanwhile, the enemy will try to destroy you because he knows you have a purpose. See, the devil knows you, but the Lord LOVES you. The enemy's job is to stop, destroy, and kill you.


We have all been sick before or are battling sickness right now. We must trust in God. Ladies, I understand you may not comprehend God's purpose at times. You may even find yourself asking, "Why me, Lord?" Know that we have ALL said the same thing at one point in time. God is saying to us, "Why NOT you?" The Lord chose Moses—and he stuttered! God has chosen you, too. There's no need to feel abandoned by your family and friends. God will give you new ones! Trust Him, ladies. No matter what you are going through, you are not alone. The Lord said He will give angels charge over you if you ask Him. What a MIGHTY GOD we serve!


You are a child of the highest God. The Lord said He will never leave you nor forsake you. So, since we know that, why settle for less? Our Heavenly Father wants the best for us. Your home should be peaceful. Anything that does not bring about peace does not come from God. Our Lord is about love and loving one another. God is faithful and true to His Word. Ladies, lift each other up! Stay away from negative people and negative spirits. Trust in God and He will direct your path.


To every woman who feels lost in this world and is hiding behind her past: LET IT GO. Make sure you forgive anyone who has done you wrong and repent of your own wrongdoings. You will then become free. The victory is yours! No more hiding behind a mask. No more feeling sorry for yourself because you feel overweight or not good enough. God did not create you to be like anyone else but YOU. Do you know you are beautifully-made? Our God doesn't make mistakes. You are not a mistake; you are a child of the HIGHEST! I don't care if your father or mother left you; just know GOD will never leave you. God loves you, and so do I. It's time to let your light shine—and don't take "no" for an answer. We all know when Jesus says "YES!", nobody can say "no". Blessings, woman of God! The light shines in US!


Ladies, I want you to know this: The world may change, but God's Word will remain standing, no matter what changes we may go through in life. I leave you with this:


"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:31






LATASHA CARTER IS NO LONGER HIDDEN

Life on the Other Side of White-Picket Fences


"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we are supposed to be and embracing who we are."

~ Brene Brown ~


I remember it like was yesterday… I had just finished preparing a huge breakfast spread and was stirring up my homemade hot chocolate. It was a bit frazzled because I had run out of time and we were scheduled to feed the homeless in less than an hour. He yelled my name and asked the children and me to come into the living room. I turned off the pot of hot chocolate and hastily walked into the room wondering, "What did he need that was so urgent?" When I arrived, he sat me down on the sofa, proceeded to get down on one knee, and proposed to me! I was in total shock, as we had only been dating a few months. I looked up at the faces of my children as my heart was racing. Impulsively, I said "YES!". That was it. In those few minutes, my life had changed.


After we ate, we headed out to feed the homeless before preparing to visit my family and make the holiday rounds. That entire day, my mind was consumed with all of the planning that would need to occur and how my life was going to change…forever. As I shared the news with my family and close friends, the reactions were less than enthusiastic; however, I was determined there would be no turning back now. My family and friends had come to learn that once my mind is made up, that's it! In all honesty, I was scared to death. "What did I just agree to? Why didn't I ask for more time to think about it? Was I afraid I would never get another proposal?" Although I was unsure of my decision and honestly knew I wasn't ready, I went full-speed with planning a wedding over the next eight months.


I wanted to open up and share my fears with someone, but I was too afraid of what they may think. Would they question my love and commitment? Would they try to talk me out of it? I wasn't sure, but I didn't want to take any chances. Day after day, I reminded myself of all the wonderful qualities my future husband had. He was a great and committed father. He attended church regularly and was very involved. His employment was stable. He appeared to be settled down. Oh. And he was HANDSOME! So, what more could I ask for?


I ignored some of the red flags because of all the other great qualities he possessed.


After we said "I Do", those red flags quickly became more apparent. I must admit the role that I played: I wasn't totally open in communication about my feelings. A lot of times, I kept things to myself in an attempt to avoid conflict. I was consumed with trying to be a "good wife" and overly-pleasing my husband. I implemented a lot of things that I could maintain long term.


I once had a close friend share some wise words from her grandmother: "Start out like you're gonna hold out". I realized I had done quite the opposite. When people become accustomed to you saying "yes" all of the time, the first time you say "no", there is a problem.


While I was supposed to be in the "Honeymoon Phase", real life settled in and conflicts began to arise. Blending families can be quite challenging, especially when the children are teenagers. On top of that, we both worked full time, held responsibilities outside of the home, and had a 10-year age gap. He had been married previously and pretty much had a clear idea of what he was and was not willing to invest in a second marriage. I had never been engaged or married before, but I, too, already had a preconceived idea of a fairytale marriage and how things were supposed to be. After an abusive childhood and years of unhealthy relationships, I placed an expectation on my husband to be perfect and never hurt me.


The first time he hurt me, I was devastated. My immediate reaction was to run. I struggled with how I could stay with someone who hurt me for the rest of my life. Gradually, I began to change. I continued to go to work, church, attend the children's activities, and take care of my responsibilities in the home; however, my happiness was gone. As soon as I entered the door, I would take off my clothes, wrap up my hair, make dinner, and after I left the dining room table, would retire to my room until the next morning. To say the least, I was very depressed. I spent many days lying in bed crying and wondering if that was how my life was going to be.


I remember asking God, "Haven't I reached my threshold of hurt in life?"


My friends and family would call, but I was very short with conversation and very much isolated. I didn't want anyone to know that behind the makeup, designer clothes, and five-inch heels that I was depressed and that my marriage was falling apart. I was wearing a "blinged-out mask". Every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning, I would make sure that I looked the part and was well put together when heading to church. Many times, I exhausted every ounce of energy I had just to get out of bed on Sunday morning to prepare breakfast and get dressed. We would often argue on the way to church or give each other the silent treatment—only speaking to the children. Then, when we arrived at the church, we would slap on our fictitious smiles, he would open the door for me, and we would greet all of our church friends and visitors.


I remember going into the Prayer Room with individuals, asking them for their prayer requests, and praying for things in their lives that I didn't have in my own: prayers for forgiveness, healing, restoration, peace, joy, fruitful marriages, etc. As insane as it sounds, I truly believed that God would bless them with everything we prayed for, but I lacked the faith to believe those things for myself and my marriage. Some of the pressure I expressed was self-imposed, but I didn't realize it at the time. I truly did have friends I could confide in and gain support from, but I often neglected to utilize them because of my pride and fear of judgment.


There were a couple of times I opened up in counseling about my true feelings, anger, and rage. It felt so relieving to remove my mask, even if it was just temporary. Counseling just didn't seem to be successful for us as a couple, although it was helpful to me as an individual because it gave me a much-needed outlet. My husband and I continued to grow distant. I continued to present as if I was perfectly okay when out in public. Then, it happened…the straw that broke the camel's back! It was at that point I knew I was consumed by rage and anger. I knew it was unhealthy for me to remain in a relationship with a man who was not loyal to me.


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