When a Faith Journey Turns into a Spiritual Awakening by Kortne Cockrell
*Disclaimer: This story is written and told by Kortne Cockrell. This is my story. It is very personal and is not meant to belittle anyone else’s experience with their faith or religion. I hope that you can feel that this message comes from my heart and is meant to inspire, not tear anyone down.
In 2019 I went through what I’ve heard called a “Dark Night of the Soul”. I called it a faith crisis. It was painful, confusing, terrifying, and ultimately, one of the most beautiful and powerful experiences I’ve gone through so far. You see, when something life altering happens, you can either let it drag you down, or it can catapult you into magnificent change.
I wallowed for a while. Hell, I still grieve at times. Yes. I absolutely grieved the loss of my religion. All the stages included. It was a death of my old life. But this dark night of the soul ended up bringing me back to myself in ways I could never imagine.
This may be triggering for some to read, but I found my worth.
I had always measured my worth in how “good” I was. But with all of that stripped away, what did I have? I had myself. And for the first time ever I sat with what that meant. Who was I without all the boxes to check? How could raise my family? Be a good wife? Yes, I seriously wondered about those things. But you know what? I found that I was the same person, just with a lot more love to give for myself and others. Less judgement. Less criticism. And a new-found zest for living. Truly living. A close friend told me, “This didn’t change you. You’re not any different. You’re just more yourself than I’ve seen you in a long time.”
I’ve always been the girl with her heart on her sleeve. Like it was a weakness or something. Let me tell you, it’s not. And this awakening? It just solidified the beauty of being “too emotional”. I swear my joy for the tiniest details in my life would set me off. Still does. How amazing to be alive and witness how the sunlight shines through the prism in my kitchen window, producing hundreds of sparkling rainbows? What a feeling to walk through grass barefoot, feeling each blade, grounding myself with Mother Earth. These screaming kids running around the yard? Giggling, crying, squealing, making ridiculous amounts of noise. They’re mine? I carried them in my womb? What?!
Of course, I’ve felt those things before, but it feels so much MORE. And now I want to scream it from the rooftops to the women around me. Do you see what you have? Do you know how innately powerful you are? Not the money. Not the things. Do you truly see? Feel your body. She is yours! It’s carried you this far. It’s yours to feel pleasure. To dress in whatever way makes you feel best. To continue carrying you. Touch a tree. You’re here! Call a friend and get coffee. Talk and laugh. Or maybe cry. Feel. It. All.
I’m not saying I think I’m different than anyone else. I know you can have this “awakening” within whatever organization or religion you are a member of. All I’m saying is this is what happened for me.
This next part may sound shallow and silly to some, but a huge part of healing after my dark night was reclaiming my body. How I dressed and presented myself. No longer worried abut what was “right” or “wrong”, I simply allowed myself to dress how I wanted! Whatever made me feel beautiful, sexy, comfortable, without a second thought about what was considered modest. The women I am on the inside got to show herself on the outside. And then came the tattoos. Oh boy. I’ve always loved how they looked. I would admire them from afar, knowing they were off limits. So, the day I got my first two, I knew I had started something I wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. Yes, there’s definitely more happening. Sorry, mom. They have been so incredibly healing! Every time I get a new one, I claim another part of myself. I’ve had many people ask me what they represent. Some have deep meaning, but mostly they mean my body is my own. I don’t think this is for everyone by any means. There are many ways to reclaim your body. But, wow. I look at myself now compared to 4 years ago when I got my first (a quote on my wrist from The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis that says “Courage, dear heart.” Cliché. But I love it.), and I see myself. There she is! That woman that has been hiding for so many years.
I don’t think you need to leave a lifelong religion, change how you dress, or get tattoos to release your inner self. That’s not what this is about. It took something earth shaking for me, but that doesn't have to be you. All I’m saying, is that life is meant to be LIVED. In whatever way that manifests for you. We aren’t promised tomorrow. Love your people hard. Surround yourself with others who want you to succeed. Who aren’t whispering or judging behind your back. You deserve that.
I won’t lie and say my life has been rainbows and butterflies the last few years. This wasn’t some miracle that just made everything happy and perfect. Life can be really hard. How you choose to live everyday is a choice. I’ve definitely had my share of “goo phases”. (Wake Up With Weslie podcast, season 2 opener. Seriously, go listen.) In fact, the last year has felt like the goo has swallowed me up. But I also trust myself more than ever. I know I have my back. And the ones I love have my back.
I didn’t mention it before, but that dark night that started all this? It’s destroyed many a marriage. Could have been mine. But my husband and I? We chose each other. The noise outside our marriage does not matter. We choose to stay and fight for our love and relationship, and it has truly never been better. He is my rock. He sees me. And I am forever grateful.
Music is magic. Their words hold power, and I want to end with my favorite line from one of my favorite songs:
I am divinity defined
I am a God on the inside
I am a star
A piece of it all
I am light
-I am Light, India Arie
You are divine. You are holy. Your mind, your spirit, your body. YOU. Remember to treat yourself thus.