Time

Recently while decluttering my mum’s house, I came across some of my old stuff. A birthday card from my 8th birthday, a short composition about myself when I was 10, a magazine featuring my classmates that my friend and I wrote when we were 11, many success cards from family and friends for a major primary school exam.

My acceptance letter into High School, notes and little cards we passed to each other while in class. Letters from my family and friends in other High schools… I spent a lot of time taking photos and sending them to friends that I’m still in touch with. So many were hilarious… One of the funny ones to me said, ‘You must be stupid to think that the Sahara Desert was once an ocean’… This was after a Geography class where I had suggested the same… Then after notes, little encouragement ‘pass it on’ cards, were more success cards for a major High School exam that would determine whether or not you’d go to University.

I found little ‘chats’ that some of my friends and I would have during lectures, Letters to God (these were so many…and they started in High School when I’d beg that God miraculously clears my acne to when I’d pray for grace in my relationships). Then congratulation cards and my treasured journals/prayer books.

This activity was dusty fun… As I read some of the notes I picked up a few lessons about time:

i. Value the people you have around you, they won’t always be there. My high school deskmate passed on, so have a few other people who had signed cards or who I remember from those phases of life… Others have moved away and we lost touch… I was reminded to treat people like I only had that particular day with them… Do not take people for granted.

ii. Worry is so silly! It’s natural but silly! I looked at the different things I worried about when I was in primary school, high school and university and I now wonder how I would worry about such ‘petty’ things. I’m sure that there are things I worry about now such as finding a job, a spouse and my thesis that I’ll look back at in a few years and smile. In short, trust God! Proverbs 3: 5 & 6.

iii. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:1- There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. There are different seasons in life, good and bad…I’m learning to enjoy whatever season I’m in. Even when I don’t like it… And I have to remind myself that, ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time‘- Ecclesiastes 3:11.

iv. Nothing is permanent… Just that…Nothing is permanent. Today you’re rich, tomorrow you’re poor…Today you’re poor, tomorrow you’re rich. Today you’re healthy, tomorrow disease. Today disease and so sure of death, tomorrow health… You catch my drift…

What lessons have you learnt about time, over time?

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Black and White

A few weeks ago, I visited the Apartheid Museum…

Quite frankly, this is a topic I hoped I’d never have to openly write about.

Racism… I’ve stared at the cursor for so long. I don’t even know how to start. This has to be the 3rd or 4th edit…

First of all, I hoped that this blog would remain ambiguous, not attached to colour, nationality… or anything that would define me other than my walk with Christ. However, this issue has been a stumbling block in my heart. As you read this, I can only hope that you won’t put me in some sort of box…

I first interacted with the topic of race when I was little. I admired our freedom fighters, having known that my paternal grandfather participated in setting our country free from the clutches of the ‘evil’ white man who had grabbed our land, tortured and mistreated the Africans through colonialism. I was made to believe that although the white man may be superior in thought, they are evil and cannot be trusted. There was this saying that they (the missionaries) came bearing Bibles but as people prayed with their eyes closed, their land was taken.

I had also heard about slavery of people from my mother’s community by the Arabs…My grandaunt disappeared when she went to the bush to relieve herself. It was common knowledge then, that if someone disappeared, the Arabs were responsible and there was nothing the community could do about it. Then when I was about six, I watched Sarafina. I saw what the Black South Africans  were going through in apartheid…I couldn’t and still cannot wrap my mind around these race classifications…

At the back of my mind I thought that people of  African descent outside Africa were lucky because they were in developed countries and didn’t have to go through this atrocities…until I started learning about slavery and the effects it had on Africans both in their native land and in the lands that they were shipped to. As I read more I began to understand how much the people suffered and still are suffering.

2016 was especially hard for me. Because I feel that I was exposed further to the historical injustices of Africans. I was generally angry. A cab driver recently asked whether African’s destiny was that we would suffer in the hands of other races… The more I’d read and research about various events, the more bitterness stirred in my heart. As the bitterness grew, so did the hatred in my heart. A person who was not my colour or who felt that they were superior to my colour would not be spared of that anger. I felt that I needed more and more to be true to my identity and be proud of it. Never being ashamed of who I am and where I’m from. This was a shift from when I was younger I hoped that I’d be part of the superior race by peeling my skin and finding that I was actually white underneath.

2017 is when change began to happen…Sometime last year, I got round to reading The Shack by William P. Young. I wept through most of that book. First of all, God was depicted as a black woman. A black woman!  The lowest person in rank in terms of privileges in this world. Second, God  frequently stated that He is especially fond of each and every one of us. Third, that bad things happen because people have made the choice to do evil things and finally, God doesn’t see us in colour. He often just looks at us based on the energies that we give out.

Back to the Apartheid Museum, as I walked through this museum, I could not believe some of the things I read and saw. These are things that happened frequently then… Torture… Killings… All sorts of things and unfortunately some of these things have never ended and will never end in some parts of the world. So as I walked through and allowed myself to feel the pain, I wondered where the souls of these people who did these things were. I kept wondering whether their descendants were proud of them. I had a million questions running through my head. Towards the end of the tour, only one word kept ringing in my head. Forgiveness. I have a grandfather who was shot in the leg during the liberation and had people of other races leave the swimming pool when I got in or people explaining basic things I already knew or make comments to the extent that people with the colour of my skin are normally thieves or lazy or rapists or generally good for nothing but it’s time to let it go.

Yesterday after my first draft of this post, I had a long discussion with my friend and her boyfriend. My friend’s dad was deployed to a country  in Asia and she therefore spent most of her childhood there. As she talked about her childhood, I was curious to find out how it was being black in a such a far away place. To say that my heart was broken as I listened to her relive her childhood is an understatement. She says that none of her classmates wanted to sit with her or interact with her. They often said she was smelling and this didn’t stop even after her mother got her deodorant. She forgave and let go of all the pain. Her boyfriend who’s had a similar experience said that people act out of ignorance… Having bitterness and anger is to become like them. If we want to be free, we must forgive.

Christ dying for me on the cross gives me every reason to extend grace to the people that I don’t like. I have every reason and justification as to why I should be angry and bitter but it doesn’t stop it from being sinful. God hates sin. I love God. So I have to forgive. It doesn’t make the historical injustices okay and the neo colonialism and all those things that happened and are happening okay and it won’t stop me from speaking out but because it is affecting my relationship with God, but, I must let go.

My friend who read the second edit told me that it is evident that I am holding back, which is true. I haven’t talked about how Gospel music is black and Christian music is classified as white, how some ‘western’ workers in international ngo’s treat African workers, systematic racism, how hard it is walking through an airport when you’re black… I could go on and on. I truly haven’t fully expressed what’s in my heart but I believe that this will suffice for now.

So tell me, what do you need to let go of?

 

Mary and Joseph

I should be asleep, resting in preparation for tomorrow’s hustle and bustle but I’m thinking of this couple, Mary and Joseph. I’m thinking of the millions of thoughts that would have run through my mind if I was either of them 9 months before Jesus was born more than 2000 years ago. The questions, the fears…

Mary…

An angel appeared to me… (First of all… I think I would’ve fainted…) To tell me, that I, a virgin will conceive with the help of no man and will carry the Saviour of the world. WOW! All the questions that would’ve run through my head…

How will I tell Joseph?

What will my parents say?

Who will believe me?

Should I disappear for 9 months?

Where will I say the child came from?

Oh my goodness, was that even a real angel?

But, Mary, not being me… Graciously accepted the word and told Joseph.

Joseph…

My fiancee has just told me that an angel appeared to her. She is pregnant and that’s definitely not my child. Apparently, she conceived through the Holy Spirit and is carrying the Saviour of the world. How now?

Some of the questions that would’ve been running through my head include…

Is she really a virgin?

Is she cheating on me?

But Joesph, not being me, full of grace and wisdom decided not to shame her but to divorce her quietly, until an angel appeared to him and confirmed that she was saying the truth. I assume that the wedding went on as planned.

As I think of these two, I see that I need a whole lot of growth in my relationship with God because…

How do I handle God’s word when I receive it? Do I accept it? Act on the word I have received or doubt?

Do I extend grace to others like Joseph did to Mary? He did not want to shame her… I think of all the times people have wronged me and I want them shamed for my satisfaction…Because I feel that it serves them right… I know, that’s selfish…

Whose opinion matters most? God’s or society’s? Because God has led me several times to do and be in situations that didn’t make a whole lot of sense at the time (now they do). Many times, when I feel that a situation will be awkward, I’d rather put God’s word on the backseat… I mean what if Mary told the angel, ‘Please tell God, He chose the wrong virgin’…

Another lesson learnt from this story is about the nature of my God. He chose two humble individuals. A carpenter and a girl whom we don’t know much about. God won’t work through you or use you based on the amount of money you have, your social status, your beauty or how intelligent you are. All He wants is a willing heart. A heart that trusts Him. A heart ready to do His will.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Do you love others?

What does it mean to love others?

Treat them well, Be kind to them, Accept them… But for most of us, this comes with a condition…Only if, they treat us well, they are kind to us, they accept us. But is this how we are supposed to love? Conditionally?

Let’s talk about an unconditional love.

He gives His all. He gave His ONLY son. A perfect atonement for my sin. A sinless man for a sinful world. If I was the son, I’d say, that those people are too wretched. I don’t want to taint myself through association with them. BUT…What greater love can we get, than a brother laying down His life for all? (1 John 3:16)

This amazes me. At my worst or when I’m pretending to be at my best yet I’m a mess inside… He still loves me. This took a while to grasp. I always thought that the better I am, the more love I’ll feel and have until I went through a crazy sinful period.

After this I was repentant and knew that what I’d done was wrong but I didn’t feel forsaken. I felt God’s love which was weird because I only expected to feel God’s love when I was ‘good’. The point is that, it doesn’t matter what you think or how you feel or where you are in life…He still loves you.

In addition to this, this unconditional love comes with freedom, peace of mind, joy, hope… the list is endless.

Let’s take a moment to talk about our/my conditional love.

For a while, I held onto, “they don’t like me, so, I don’t like them either” school of thought.  In hindsight I realize it was regressive and childish. Though I must admit from time to time, when I’m faced with some dicey situations, I still say it… ‘Well, they don’t like me either why should I bother?’ *rolling eyes*

The other fallacy is, basing our love on what others have done for us. The more the positive action towards us, the more the love we give. Whenever anything negative happens, forgiveness rarely comes easily.

Further to that, we want people to be just like us…because we are just ‘perfect’. Or we want people to be our idea of perfection. If not, they don’t qualify for our love but our judgement, criticism, disdain… If they have a disease attached with stigma such as HIV, they don’t qualify… If their sexual orientation doesn’t match what we say is right, they don’t qualify… If they indulge in worldly pleasures…alchoholics or get children out of wedlock, they don’t qualify. If they are of a different religion, they don’t qualify.  Newsflash… We are all God’s children and He loves us all the same. If you think that you can’t be put in the same box with them because they’ll taint your image, child, you’re a sinner too. Only difference is that you’ve probably accepted Christ and are under His grace. Nonetheless, He died for ALL of us. He loves ALL of us unconditionally.

 How do we love others unconditionally?

We learn from the best… We learn from our Father’s example. He said, that we should love our neighbours like ourselves… This goes back to, do you love and appreciate who God has created you to be and please, I’m not referring to, self-centredness or selfishness or narcism… far from it. I’m talking about accepting yourself, faults and all and knowing that God loves you just as you are?

We need to understand 1 Corinthians 13. It doesn’t apply to marriage only. It applies to all relationships… Love is kind, patient, does not envy… If you think about all your relationships and interactions… Is that the vibe that you give out? Regardless of what you are receiving?

Accepting them just as they are and praying with them in their areas of weakness and praying for ourselves so that we can learn to be open and love whoever comes our way.

Forgiving just as the Father constantly forgives us…

 I’ll stop there lest this turns into a book. Remember that followers of Christ are defined by love. If you are a follower of Christ and have accepted him into your heart and you don’t love and/or show love to those around you urmmmm… it’s time for some soul searching.

1 John 3:1-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

@poeticliberty Thank you for editing. :*

 

Do you love yourself?

If we are being honest with ourselves… If I was being honest with myself and with you…Most days I don’t love myself. There’s always something I don’t like or love. Yesterday my skin, today my hair, tomorrow my legs and the day after my personality… I could go on… Actually, when I think about it, it’s been a long time since I had a month of continuously feeling inadequate.

The feeling was at it’s worst when I joined university about ten years ago. Back then, I had a friend who never missed an opportunity to tell me that I was not good enough. She would say awful things about me… And I always thought, she was much better than me because, she was definitely more attractive, I mean she had no acne so she attracted more boys… She performed better in class… She definitely got more than 6/30 in a Math CAT (While sharing these results with my sister, I told her that I got 1/5. Almost true… Right?) Plus, she was sociable and loved. I was awkward…Still am…

Then one day, I woke up and decided it was time to be done with this friendship. Fin.

That was the beginning of a new season… I realised that love has a lot to do with acceptance. Knowing that I am accepted, accepting myself and accepting others. And since then it has been a long journey of self acceptance. I accepted that I had flaws but I also had flowers…And the beautiful blend of all these things make me unique. I found my identity in Christ. He loves me just as I am. He loves me so much He died for me…and He’d do it again. I didn’t have to do anything special to get into His good books, only accept Him…

Accepting myself helped me accept others, judge others less and love others (another story for another day). I’m not yet at 100% of self acceptance but I’ll still ask do you love yourself? If you don’t,why? And,do you realise how much you are loved?

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.