Guest Blog: Tranquil Lessons Of A Constant Love by Nande

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I have typed many paragraphs but they could never seem good enough, articulate enough, or even honest enough. So I type this last attempt with a decision that it will be honest, sincere and transparent. I am not sure if I’ve always decorated my emotions, or it’s the stripes I’ve suffered that made me so. But something in me shifted. I’ve guarded my heart with iron walls because bricks chip away and quite frankly, I was not ready to chip away. I closed myself up so much that I think I became an enigma and quandary to those around me, those who’ve never known the parts of me that are as soft as a mother’s breasts for her baby’s head. DISCLAIMERI heard this word ‘’quandary’’ a few days ago, I will use it unnecessarily sometimes because truly there are simpler words but then, I am a quandary. Bear with me and admit that you do that too whilst at it.

There are certain things I have had to admit to myself, maybe not even admit but accept about myself. Don’t we just all have those times when at the back of your mind you know something about yourself that you are truly not willing to accept but it just has a way of manifesting itself, sometimes with you not even aware. The worst is when it manifests itself and you’re very aware of it and all you can do is beat yourself up for allowing yourself into that which you may consider a pit…

I have recently had to accept that I am quite clingy. When all the walls fell, the iron walls, I looked at myself and realized I am clingy. Upon realising this about myself, in fact accepting it and just coming to terms with it, I realised I needed validation. I needed to know if it was okay to feel this way; if it was okay to be a clingy person. I remember that evening when I exhaled and said “WOW! I am clingy”, I texted one of my friends who has the same personality as me and asked her this very pertinent question, “Are you clingy?”. She responded with a resounding “Yes” and that made me feel validated. I felt it was okay. I guess if I’m honest, it made it a little less of a hamartia to know that I am not ‘clingy clubbing’ alone. Yhu bethunana, wakhe wazijonga es’pilini, ujonge ubu wena? Let’s try it. It is the fastest way to be gracious and patient of other people’s flaws and realising the overwhelming love of God and His unmatched patience with us.

When did my iron walls break? When did I become less callous after building my iron walls? I honestly can never point to the exact time and date. All I know is that there was a time I realized I was making people pay for past hurts. I realised I was missing out on great relationships. And so little by little, my heart of stone and iron began melting into flesh. I had to be intentional about letting people in while remaining true to myself. I learned the art of choosing whom to have in my space and whom not to have, which has been the cause of many heart breaks before; the inability of knowing whose life I needed to be in and who needed to be in mine. I incubated everyone into the corners of my heart that they had no business in. I didn’t understand the need for intentionality in relationship, be it on the receiving end or the dispatching end. It took me a while to realise that, actually, the Word of God teaches us about friendship, about intentionality in friendship.

Amongst many scriptures on friendship, I’ll share this one ““A righteous person is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26 WEB), some versions say “The righteous CHOOSE their friends carefully”, Young’s Literal Translation says “The righteous searcheth his companion”. There is intentionality in friendship. And so, as my walls broke, I chose better.

But the downside of this was learning to navigate the intimacy of the friendship. I had this paralysing fear of not letting anyone too close to my psyche. Too close to my emotions, my true emotions. But along the way I learned the security of a friendship so close that straight talk couldn’t break it. I learned to say “No” and to receive a “No” in friendship/ relationship without a nagging fear at the back of my head that I was losing the friendship. I know people walk in and out of our lives (the exception being those who are not seasonal but are meant to stay) and I have always been okay with that regardless of how sweet or sour their exits were. So long as they didn’t walk away feeling like they conquered me because I poured my all into them. Now that was a problem. To be known to that extent by someone walking away, fully knowing just how intensely I love them… No Ma’am Sir, mandiyhazi ndodwa mntanasekhaya. But now I’m learning that love is not given to be reciprocated.

You don’t love because you want love returned. You love because we are commanded by our heavenly Father to love. This then makes null and void all those crutches and excuses to not pour out love to another. It is worldly “love” that makes us think love is conditional, that love is subject to reciprocation. It is worldly “love” that subjects love to emotion. Love is a decision. A decision to pour love whether the same measure of love is returned or not. Luke 6:32 says “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” That is love. Love is God and God is love (1 John 4:8) and the beauty of our God is that He doesn’t change, He is the same yesterday and forever (Number 23:19,James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8). God’s unchanging character tells me that the love I ought to give should remain consistent, unchanging.

Many times in the WORD I recall GOD saying to His people “I have rescued you up from slavery, bondage, I have loved you with an everlasting love but you have rebelled against me”, yet in the same breathe, God says “I will draw you close Israel, I will rescue you yet again, I love you, I keep watch over you, I neither sleep nor slumber but I stay awake to keep you”. That is the LOVE OF GOD.

In pursuit to love better, to practice a love that doesn’t change nor fears rejection, I have decided to be intentional with expressing my love. There are many deleted texts of my expressions of love that I deleted because vulnerability is scary. There were times when I pressed send and my heart shuddered at the thought of my love not being reciprocated. Many texts archived because, wow, a blue tick is a lot bethuna for my hearts’ eyes. These are just seemingly insignificant examples. But I have gotten checked. The model of love that we have is this: Jesus gave His life unto death on a cross for a people who would constantly break His heart by rebelling against Him and by renouncing Him. He pours all His heart to us in one of the greatest love letters ever written, withholding absolutely nothing and yet, we sometimes have the audacity to walk away from this kind of love. Yes, I am sensitive but in my sensitivity, may I not be disobedient to the call of God to love.

In learning to love, I am also learning to receive love. Perfect love casts out fear. So why did I use my long legs with warm socks and feet as a picture for this blog? I’m so glad you want to know: Because this is a day I found myself in a space of unconditional love, a space of comfort, a space of care, a space of belonging and I had to whisper to my heart that has learned to lean on walls, “YOU ARE LOVED. RECEIVE IT, IN ALL ITS ABUNDANCE. THIS LOVE IS TRUE. THIS LOVE IS PERFECT. RELAX”. Complete, unwavering, unchanging, true, deep, transparent, unrelenting, pursuing, everlasting love sent our Saviour to a shameful cross, on our behalf. Love is a risk, even for us but it’s a risk we should be willing to take.

I got a little bit carried away but I cannot talk about love without adding this scripture that ultimately seals the depth of God’s love for us, so I will just end with it.

JOHN 3:16

“For God so loved the world (You and me) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”   

 

With love

Nande

 

 

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One week in: my hope-filled 26

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I have been 26 for exactly one week and I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. One thing I can safely say is that I am eternally grateful that I’m not 25 anymore. That was a mess. I mean everything got broken. Everything. Twenty-five was like that healthy-looking apple that you dive into because it just looks so good but the closer you get to the core, you realise it’s rotten. And then you discard it and take another one hoping it’ll fulfill your undeniable craving for an apple, but soon you find out that it’s also rotten…then you sort of want to throw away the whole packet because you think they’re all rotten but you keep them because you’re low key hoping there’s one good one…and you later find out they’re all rotten. A mess.

Contrary to that mess was my birthday. May 29th 2018 was the most peaceful day I’ve lived through this year. God literally filled the air with so much stillness. I had absolutely no plans and my sister was writing her second exam on the day so there was very little I could do but girl did I enjoy myself J . That morning, I spent a good 20 minutes on the corner of my couch so the sun could hit me directly in my face. I imagined all things beautiful and let go of all things toxic. I welcomed in the warmth of a new year while reading birthday messages from people I haven’t even met. Those 20 minutes spent in the sun were probably the best part of the day (I know I’m kinda boring).

Every single day after the 29th has been interesting. I mean last night I dreamt my crush was engaged to someone else. He was so happy you guys…I keep seeing his face as he looked at me (in the dream) and smiled…you know that smile that sort of reminds you that you’ve missed an opportunity of a lifetime; on some “this could be us but you’re dreaming”. You know life is not on your side when you start taking L’s in your dreams lol

Anyway, I decided to write this because I haven’t blogged in a while but also because I have a very deep conviction that my mess ended on the 28th of May 2018. This one week of 26 has been nothing short of hard and slightly confusing but in my heart, I know for sure that I am no longer in a mess. Hear me well, things are still breaking and things are still hard but my faith is telling me that though it may look like I’m still in the same situation, I’m actually not.

Yesterday I woke up telling God that I needed Him. I could feel that something was not okay. I drove to work and as I walked into the office, I repeatedly mumbled “Lord I need you today”. And alas, I needed Him. I cannot put into words what exactly happened to me…it felt like my soul was in deep anguish and I could not function. Everything stopped working and I all I could think of was Proverbs 3:5

 

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

Don’t try to figure out everything on your own.”

 

And today I’m sitting in the same office with so much hope. Hope. That’s what 26 is to me. Hope that it will all be ok. Hope that one day I’ll know that my mother is not only happy, but that she’s living her best life. Hope that soon I’ll be doing work that nourishes my entire life. Hope that my siblings will be highly successful in all their endeavours. Hope that my happiness won’t always be marred by depression. Hope that one day my crush will be engaged to me you guys…hope that I will live my life fully in its uniqueness; being happy to be me and not bummed that I’m not Oprah. I have hope. And this morning, through His word, God reminded me of wildflowers. Matthew 6:30 (MSG) says

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers – most of which are never even seen – don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you?”

Most of which are never even seen. My greatest frustration has always been how my name means I have brought light and yet I feel completely unseen. And I don’t mean that in an attention seeking way but rather how I always find myself surrounded by people who see parts of me for what they need in their lives rather than for who I am entirely. And at 26, God reminded me that there are those who take pictures of wildflowers and there are those who use them as centerpieces in their homes. God taught me that there is value in the wildflowers that will never be seen; for those ones are meant to nourish the exquisiteness of those that look like them.

Not everyone will see me the way God sees me. I need to be ok with that because if I’m not, I will force myself onto other people’s gardens and as someone once said, even the most beautiful wildflower is regarded a weed when planted in the wrong garden.

God sees those flowers that will never be seen by anyone and gives them as much love as He would those that make it to people’s bouquets. And because my life is not my own, I can no longer continue being occupied with who sees me for what. If God has my back, I need to be good with that. Everything and everyone else comes second. You may be 21 or 55 but if you’re reading this, I just want you to know that God sees you. Trust Him. Trust His timing. Trust His process. Immerse yourself in your wildest version of hope.

God is doing His best for you.

Xo

 

Be honest with your trauma

 

It’s ok to not be ok.

I’ve been watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy lately (mainly because I’m trying to catch up, I’ve just started season 12, don’t judge me) and let me just say, there’s a lot happening on that show, like A LOT. Sometimes you just don’t know which crisis to focus on. And I can sort of relate that to the past three and a half years of my life. Trauma after trauma and a huge mess in between.

Trauma: emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may lead to long-term neurosis.

In 2014, I left a city I had come to recognize as my happy place. I packed up what little I had and went back home. I had fought the good fight and after a while, the time came for me to leave and so I did. Trauma 1. In 2015 I moved from home to a city I never in my wildest dreams thought I would live in. And in that city, I learnt how to be alone, not because I wanted to…I didn’t have much of a choice really. Trauma 2. 2016 came with a horrible relationship that I basically destroyed myself for just so we could be. Trauma 3. In 2017, an opportunity to go back to my happy place presented itself so beautifully and in the blink of an eye, that opportunity was taken away from me. I didn’t lose it; it was snatched out of my hands. Trauma 4.

While all of this was going on, life around me had to continue. I had to get new friends and watch them drift off. I had to find a church to learn that rejection sucks but it is definitely not worth the attention we place on it. I had to middle man the heck out of arguments because at some point I learnt that we are our parent’s keepers. I had to be an adult and take the trash out even on days when nothing in me wanted to leave my bed… The mess in between.

In normal situations, after a traumatic experience, your brain systems shift from reactive to responsive but sometimes, the shift doesn’t happen. Sometimes it just takes longer than normal. And in those times, your life as you know it, can be hijacked by changes you are not responsible for.

I’ve recently had to take stock of my life and in that process, I noticed a lot of changes that I could not account for. I cry a lot. I’m crying as I write this. I’ve always been a cryer but not this much. I sleep a lot too. And I eat. And I’m closed off. I cannot open up to anyone. Then it hit me. I’m not a normal situation. My brain didn’t shift systems. And now I have moments of not being ok.

I never thought I would say this, but I’m grateful for everything I’ve been going through, I really am. I have grown and I have learnt an insane amount. Right now, I’m learning that faith is hard. It’s hard and I wish people would stop sugar coating Christianity. Faith is hard. Believing that your mess will one day be cleaned up is not easy. Praying for a mess that has absolutely nothing to do with you but somehow you’re in it is not easy. But here I am, faithing it every day.

There’s nothing wrong with not being ok.

One of my favourite scriptures right now is Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG) and it reads as follows,

We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Jesus knows that sometimes we’ll be tempted. He knows that sometimes life will sucker punch us repeatedly. But you can’t let that be the death of you. At some point, you must get up and move. It doesn’t matter what your getting up looks like, just do it. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t. Most of the time, we need more help than what we think. Reach out to God. Pour your heart out to Him. Reach out to your church family. Surround yourself with people that will stand for you when you cannot stand for yourself.

If you need to see a therapist, do it. If you need to be on some medication, get on with it. Or if you just need a holiday, pack your stuff and go. There’s a better you waiting at the end of every traumatic experience. There’s a wiser you waiting at the end of your neurosis. Don’t make the better you wait longer than it should. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Lessons in the bags we carry

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I’ve been meaning to post something for the past three weeks but I could not find anything deep enough. I couldn’t think of the any words big enough…because that’s how I sometimes validate my gift; big words and deep phrases. When really all I needed to do was ask God what He wanted me to learn at this point in my life. So my first lesson is to stop basing whatever gift God has given me on how good I can make it look. It’s not about looks. It’s not about me.

Second lesson.

Friday morning, I left my place for work a little later than usual. Because of this not so wise decision, I had to park quite far from my work building. So I hopped out of my car and tried to be positive about this journey I was about to embark. “Yes it’s cold but that’s why you bought coffee right? So smile girl, you made it through the week.”

With my laptop bag hanging over my left shoulder, handbag and phone in one hand and coffee in the other, I started my long walk to the place that pays me every month. (Please believe that I am more enthusiastic about my workplace than I sound). It couldn’t have been a more normal process. I was walking. Minding my own business, trying to motivate myself for the day that was about to unfold.

While in the moment, I noticed a young lady walking in front of me. She was about a short jog away from. Like me, she had a couple of bags she was carrying. But she looked like she was struggling. Actually I think she was. She had three big bags, two on one shoulder, and one on the other. We’ll call her bag lady. Seeing how much of a hard time bag lady was having, I decided to offer some assistance.

“Do you need help?”

I think my voice was a little shaky and it didn’t carry through enough for her to hear me. And just as I was about to ask again, I took a moment. I looked at myself and started questioning how on earth I was going to help her. I mean my hands were just as full!

So I let her go.

That moment had me thinking. How many times do we offer to help when we ourselves could use a hand or two? And why? Why do we do that? I’ve struggled with this for a while and for the past few months, the Holy Spirit has been drilling into my head the two most important commandments.

Matthew 22:37-39

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

I want to talk about the second one. Love your neighbour as yourself. In other words, the measure of love you extend to your neighbour should be equal to the one you give to yourself. My problem with that scripture used to be that it implies loving yourself first. I struggled with that. The biggest lie the devil dealt me with was that I was not as important as I thought I was therefore deeming loving myself as useless and unfortunately, continuous rejection coupled with me just being a weird person made me believe that lie. And for the longest of times, I thought loving people and helping and showing compassion would lead me to eventually love myself. I don’t know where I got that logic you guys but man was it wrong…

Sadly I realized it was wrong when I had nothing in me to give to anyone. I was proper empty. The only cup that was overflowing was the one responsible for my hair growth but even that started to not so much overflow as it did just flow (but God restored that can I get a HALLELUJAH!!).

The day I gladly lent a helping hand and expected a thank you at the end was the day I knew I needed to check myself. And I’m glad I followed that hunch because I was dry. I was dry while in the presence of God; not because God had stopped being God but because I had stopped being a vessel. I had gone through so much disappointment and so much heartache that the love of God was more head knowledge than it was life. Once God opened up my eyes to that, we began the process of healing.

We have a good, reliable, self sufficient source. His love never runs out, like ever. It is for us to ask Him to fill us up so that we may overflow with Him. We need to stop allowing ourselves to walk around lifeless. There is Life. We need to stop making other people thieves by giving them things we don’t really have. Love yourself enough to see when stretching yourself is going to do more harm than good. Love yourself enough to love your neighbour.

I really hope bag lady made it to her destination in good shape. My prayer now is God may fill me up so I can be ready to help when I meet another bag lady.

 

Clinging

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I woke up one morning and after looking at myself in the mirror, I realised that my face had changed. So I walked away carrying that new image and it really bugged me…’cause it was different. I mean I still had the same face from the day before but that particular day, it looked different. It looked more discoloured and less selfie worthy. How?? How did I manage to go from a hundred to minus one in a couple of hours? So in disbelief, I drag myself back to the same mirror just to make sure that I wasn’t going crazy. I wasn’t. My face had changed. So I took a bath and slapped some makeup on my face and made myself look a little more recognizable to the part of me that has a screwed definition of beauty.

How many times do you have to convince yourself that you’re beautiful?

How many times do you have to amp yourself up before leaving the house? How many times do you have to sing scars to your beautiful in order to start feeling like your regular self? How many times do you ask God to just be the makeup on top of your makeup just so you can go through an entire day not feeling like an ugly duckling?

Needless to say, that day was not my best. I carried that image of myself everywhere and even though I was made up and looked “acceptable” (it really was a bad day) I could not shake feeling like people saw me the way I saw myself.

I could not show up for myself that day. And the thing is, life had to continue. So I had to fake it ‘til the end. Texts came, phone calls came, conversations beckoned. I wanted nothing but to curl up in a ball of self-pity and wallow. Sometimes we don’t ignore people because we don’t care. Sometimes we seem unavailable to the world because we are equally unavailable to ourselves.

The mental battle of being present when you can’t even show up for your own beauty is not small. As females we are trained to always look good; hair, nails, face…ALWAYS. Yet we’re almost never encouraged to look good for ourselves. Not until recently.

One of the deepest struggles we go through as females is that of recognising our own beauty. It’s there, we know it, but because it doesn’t match the “standard” we down play it. I’m a dark girl so I speak for the fully melanised girls when I say that it is one thing for society to not recognise your beauty, it’s another when society itself looks exactly like you.

There are so many girls walking around with an obscured perspective of beauty and instead of correcting that, society seems to be making matters worse. It’s like girls are raised up being told they’re pretty but at some point all of that stops. Then you’re left with fading voices that remind you of your true image. You’re in trouble when the words from those voices don’t match the world built standard of beauty.

It has taken me years to understand that no two voices matter more than the voice of God and my voice. God will always tell you the truth. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are made in His image. You are more precious than rubies. Truth. Our voices are then supposed to be aligned to God’s voice; echo His words.

That day was one of my worst days this year because the devil caught me off guard. I was looking too fly prior to the day to even think that I might wake up and feel ugly. But I’m glad it happened. Because now I know that even when my voice isn’t aligned to Gods voice, God always has the last say. And that day He taught me never to use the world’s standards for anything concerning my life. I am not of the world, I merely exist here. And beyond that, He taught me that when the truth in my eyes starts to fade, the truth in His takes over. No amount of discolouration or acne can make you ugly. No amount of ugly can make you ugly.

It’s a paradigm shift. It takes a lot of renewing of the mind but every hurdle is worth it. I fully understand the pain of not feeling enough. I get it. I lived with it and sometimes it comes knocking, talking about “let me in”. So as I’m writing this I really hope you hear me when I say that you are beautiful. But more importantly, that you hear God when He says you are far more precious than jewels. And when you cannot see it in the morning, cling onto the Word of God, cling onto the truth.

 

Travel bags and curling irons

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About two weeks ago, I went on a business trip. I travelled through two cities with a small travel bag, my handbag (which ended up being a handbag, a vanity case and a make-up bag all at the same time) and my laptop bag. I was only gone for four days so I packed light. By light I mean I packed enough for the trip but not too much in case the weather got bad and I needed to buy some warmer clothes (and this happened). That was two weeks ago. Two weeks. But I still haven’t unpacked.

Here’s why; I’m not an unpacker, if that’s even a real word. I hate unpacking as much as I hate packing. I’d rather shuffle around my travel bag every other morning looking for a blouse or shoes than take time to take everything out, fold it and place it back where it should be. I mean I might need to go again. In fact, I know I’m going to need to go again and the thought of having to re-pack… I’m not an unpacker.

It’s not easy being in a relationship with someone who always seems ready to leave.

When I was 12, I made what was said to be the best decision of my life. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Thing is, I knew nothing about what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know I was getting married when I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I didn’t know I had to speak to Him everyday if I wanted things to work out between the two of us. I didn’t know. The only thing I knew was that this guy was supposed to make everything better. He was supposed to take the pain away. He was supposed to help my parents stop fighting and make my skin a couple of shades lighter so I could get a valentines date. He was supposed to fix stuff; my very own Olivia Pope.

So I set back and waited. And while I was waiting, things got worse. And when things got worse, I got disappointed, packed a light travel bag and made sure everything was just right for when I would decide to leave this union.

But I stayed.

Sometimes, I’d sit alone and read His Word and find myself completely enchanted by this love that I really don’t deserve. And sometimes, when things got tough, I’d wobble from my seat to the alter and cry my lungs out.

And other times I’d leave, mentally.

I’d imagine all the parties I’d go to and all the new friends I’d make. I’d imagine myself laughing and not really caring about anything or anyone. I’d imagine being in a relationship with that guy who believes in God because he went to a Catholic school but has questions about God’s ways because he went to a Catholic school. You know, that guy I had a crush on but ended up dating my friend. I’d make plans, but every time I had to execute those plans, I couldn’t; not because I didn’t have the courage to but because I knew that if I couldn’t be happy with God, I wouldn’t be happy anywhere.

Staying is not easy. You need to unpack to stay. You need to take out your curling irons and hairdryers and untangle them. You need to make space in your closet to fit everything back in. You need to sort things out either by colour or by category. You need to assess what needs to be washed and what doesn’t. You need to empty out the travel bag to see whether anything spilled in it.

You need to unpack to stay and that’s what I’m learning to do. I’m learning the beauty of going into my secret place with God and saying “Hey man, my heart hurts. It hurts and I know it hurts because I didn’t listen to You when You said ‘No’ and I know that Heaven is Your throne and the Earth is Your footstool so what I’m crying about may be insignificant but I need You to let it matter because my heart hurts.” I’m learning the relief of shouting “I needed You to come through for me and You didn’t. I don’t know why, but I know that You love me so I will trust You.” I’m learning the art of unpacking.

God is not a monster. He doesn’t sit around and plot silent treatments and persistent temptations. He’s not a monster. He is Love personified. He is gracious and righteous. He is full of compassion. Sometimes His ways aren’t easy to understand but then His love comes shining though and what doesn’t make sense starts to not matter much.

I’m glad that I stayed, but I’m overjoyed that He stayed with me. Through thick and thin, He’s always been there. In times of icky sobs and ineloquent prayers, He remained my person.

I don’t think I can ever make sense of having things falling apart on all sides and being fine, good even. Because that’s what happens. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at you right hand; but it shall not come near you. It won’t come near you. It is not in Gods nature to hurt us or let us down. He promised to never leave nor forsake us. We were in the dark, incapable of pleasing Him and He promised to never leave. All He wants is for us to stay and experience His love so that we may be made whole and point others in His direction.

It’s been 12 years and I’m still unpacking.

Stay. Unpack.

The war is over

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Last week Saturday was everything. Everything.

Last weekend I went camping with the youth from my church. During the day, we had the regular “be a better…” sessions. The magic, for me, started when the sun went down. After dinner, we played a game called “If you really knew me, you’d know…” At first it was very light and funny but as we rolled down the list of “you’d know” scenarios, things started getting serious.

“If you really knew me, you’d know that I feel like I’m failing at everything right now…”

Something in me leaped when I heard that. I never thought that I would leap to such a sad statement. I mean the first time John met Jesus was when Elizabeth and Mary were still pregnant and John leaped at the presence of the saviour. That’s the type of leaping I wanted. I wanted a magical leap. A life changing one.

Failing. I heard that word and something in me connected with it and all I could say was “That’s me, that’s me.” I leaped after having heard the sound of the word that, honestly, basically encapsulates the past 7-8 months of my life.

It’s true though. I have been failing at just about everything I’ve set myself to do. Work. I don’t have the words to clearly articulate that situation. The past 2 months have been worse than the South African economy and I’m not even trying to be shady. Friends. I don’t know how I have friends. I don’t know why there are people out there who still call me friend because if I were them, I would have walked out on myself even before I walked in. I suck completely at keeping up with people’s lives; probably because I can’t keep up with mine. I’m that friend that will think about you the whole day but not text or call but rather say a young prayer for you and keep going.

I’m the type of friend who will not talk to you for months but give you the warmest part of myself when we eventually reunite. I don’t know how other girls do it. I don’t know how to be completely involved in the lives of those you see every day and those you see once in a blue moon. I don’t know how to do that. To my friends reading this, I don’t know how to do it. This is an imperfection that cripples me. I don’t know how I can love people so much yet fail them so dismally. It’s crippling.

I’m sorry.

Relationships. A lot has happened while I was away on sabbatical. One of those things was love…the operative word there being was. It is such a beautiful thing to be part of and such an excruciating thing to walk away from. A blessing when in the hands of the Lord, a problem when in your own hands…so I took it off my hands and realised that what I forced myself to believe was written in the skies was actually never part of the plan. And so without encouraging anyone to meet me at the bridge, I took what little self I had left and walked away. The end.

Kanyisile. Over and over again I have failed myself. I have deprived myself of the right to show my emotions, whether in clutched fists with boxing gloves or coffee smells and conversation. I have surrendered to the sensitivity of people meanwhile suppressing that burning in my heart to just say “I don’t like that.” I’ve smiled when I should’ve frowned and I’ve laughed when I should’ve cried. I’ve fostered fear for so long it’s starting to look like me. I have created so many versions of myself I almost always want to sleep with my makeup on because at least I’d wake up in the morning and not have to recreate.

Last week Saturday was the day I decided to take a moment with myself. I needed time to look crazy and talk to myself while surrounded by two others. I needed to walk around with hair that hasn’t been shampooed in days and realise that I am the only one who knows that. I needed to bask in the sun and not worry about getting darker. I needed to sit at praise and worship with unshaved armpits to realise that sometimes some things have to go in order to give way to the lifting of hands.

I had to realise that I am a choice, not an option. I had to realise that not being true to every moment on this earth is not living. I had to realise that sometimes life happens. Sometimes we wake up, put our hair in a bun, drink coffee, put on some music, give the day everything and come back with nothing. Sometimes it takes constant failures to make you realise that you’re going down the wrong avenue. I had to realise that I may be failing but I am not a failure. It is not my name nor is it my identity.

So if you really knew me, you’d know that I have struggled a great deal with self and I continue to struggle but the only difference between Khanyi and Kanyi is that now when I say “Lord I need you” I follow it up with a full stop and not an “and” because I’ve realised that I need a lot of things in my life but if I don’t have Jesus, then I have nothing.

Last Saturday my heart leaped to a sentence wrapped in packaging I never would normally leap to. I didn’t want it but I owned it. I owned my failures. And now the time has come for the sun to shine again. The war is over.

Kanyi Que

The chemistry of fear

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Moving to a city that is filled with people who not only know who they are but also know what they want while you are just getting used to the sound of your name is probably not the brightest idea ever. July is coming to an end and I’m still asking God why He brought me here. Just as I start to settle in He rattles my heart with a truth so solid it cannot be ignored. I don’t understand why I have to be broken in the midst of people who are so willing to redefine me. They almost give me no choice. “This is who you are.” And I’m left searching for any speck of truth in their words.

The will of the Lord is a beautiful thing to live in when things are going good. It is by far the hardest thing to align yourself to when things are chaotic. The simple activity of saying yes to His will seems impossible when all of a sudden what was left is right and what was right is left.

It has taken me two months of no longer meditating on God’s word, a month of short rushed prayers, four Hannah Brencher blog entries, two “I need to drink myself to a stupor” attacks (that never prevailed) and a sermon about Ruth to get me to realise that I am slowly but surely sinking in the battle between God and culture. It has taken all of that to get me to realise that God has been quiet because I’m officially being tested and so far, I’ve just about failed every section. It has taken me all of that to get me to realise the truth in Philippians 1:21. Truly, for me to live is Christ.

Normally I describe myself as an adapter…I’ve always found it easy to gel into a new environment. But this time… When I unpacked my bags in the middle of February, I assessed the environment. I caught sight of parts of the ecosystem that could easily be avoided. I also however saw parts that posed a great threat to my spiritual life and those parts could not be avoided. Naturally, my body had to make a fight or flight decision. Without realising, I had gone on flight. Autopilot.

I have been running away from who I am in this city. I have been running away from fixing parts of me that would help me survive the unsurvivable. I’ve been running away from conversations that would force me to be fully present. I’ve been running away from the present straight into the more attractive arms of the future.

The problem with running away from the present is that your life gets put on hold. The truth of the matter is that we will forever exist in the present. If we are continuously running after tomorrow, we’ll never win because there’s always a tomorrow. The race would never end.

Singleness is one of the realities I have been running away from. When everyone around you is either promised marriage, working towards marriage or finalising preparations for marriage, the fact that you are only 23 years old fades into the pressure of having a pimped out left hand. Culture. Whenever my age comes into question, it is followed by a remark that is leaning towards marriage. It is an ideology that has been drilled into my head for as long as I can remember. Don’t get me wrong, I want to get married, I really do. But I have come to the realisation that life doesn’t start upon the commencement of Holy matrimony…it continues.

It was my mother who, not so long ago said, “Know that in every aspect of your life, you are a single woman. Own it. Live in it. Marriage will come but for now, embrace being single.” I had so many questions. I still do. But right now, those questions could go unanswered and I’d still be fine. I have missed so many chances by being in flight. I have missed chances of being a friend, a sister, a church member…I’ve missed chances of being the stranger that God used to speak life into a dying situation.

I have missed chances of being a vessel all because the married me seemed more attractive and more useful than the single me; the married me has greater purpose, says deeper and more meaningful prayers, but most importantly, she’s a size 6 woman who is as in love with the gym as she is with her husband, who eats all she wants without putting on weight, whose job is incredibly great and has all the money in the world. She is everything I should start working on being now but am too caught up in the clouds to pick myself up and push. Million dollar dreams with a minimum wage work ethic…

The thing about the response to fear is that we don’t consciously trigger it or even know what’s going on until it has run its full course. My fear of spiritual disability or even death due to my present status triggered the longest marathon I have ever run. My geographical location is part of Gods plan. My marital status in this particular city at this particular time in my life is all part of Gods plan. Tomorrow still seems more appealing but knowing that there will never be a moment like now again keeps me present. There will never be a moment like this. Never will there be a breeze so gentle. Never will there be sun rays so poetic. It takes being present. It takes showing up. It takes fighting to stay present and stay aligned to the will of God. After all, the will of God existed before the chemistry of fear did.

***This was written about 2 months but I was going through a phase of crippling fear to post anything. Now I’m back 🙂 and I pray that the Lord may continue to use me to touch your hearts. Be blessed.***

Look at the sun

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“Oh do you need me to move honey?”

That moment felt so real. His eyes were smiling at me when he called me honey. In a matter of minutes I had moved from friend to honey. Not knowing how to answer, I turned away from his luminous gaze and shifted to make space for people I was sure were my FRIENDS.

An hour into that moment I realised he was only being sweet and playful. If only I could explain that to my hormones which were having a rager. I wasn’t upset with him for doing that, for setting off alarms that would take hours to silence. I wasn’t upset because I realised that I too did that every now and then. I too find myself having blurted out the words “babe” or “honey” to the opposite sex. I’ve never thought ill of it until it was done to me. I was tugged without cause. I was forced into a real moment then later told it wasn’t real.

I walked out of that lunch break wishing for all sorts of things. One simple word changed the way I looked at him, the way I spoke to him. It was weird. It was all still the same but all so different. With much hesitation, I decided to pull myself towards myself and live in the reality that is our friendship; nothing more and nothing less. I struggled to maintain this decision, mostly because my mind had already drawn up a perfect picture of what wasn’t but could be. Feeling rather pathetic I stuck my head in a stack of work and tried not to look back but even that was difficult. Sometimes I think my eyes control me more than I control them. You know how you look away from something either disgusting or distasteful but always seem to take a few peaks as if to ensure truth. So I kept looking back, figuratively, at what had just happened.

After unmentionable seconds I came to a place of realisation. There aren’t a lot of people that see me and I don’t mean see with the natural eye. I mean beyond the natural eye. Not many people see beyond what they see when they look at me and so when someone does see me, my background song changes. It is a feeling that I struggle to put in words. It’s like when you bump your funny bone; you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s like (and only women will get this) taking off your tummy tuck tights after a full day of being tucked. Being seen is an art. It’s abstract in a literal way. So when I’m seen, when someone takes the time to actually squint their eyes and try to focus in, when they look at the sky and I happen to be the star they fix their eyes on, I naturally feel the need to love. I feel the need to open up and give all the love I have.

It took a very long time for me to see myself. It took even longer to notice that God sees me. There is a level of vulnerability that comes with being seen. It’s almost as though you’re standing naked; so uncovered that nothing you say or do comes as a surprise. I don’t want to lie, it is one of the most beautiful and poignant moments that life has to offer. So beautiful that it makes the world around you more colourful. It tattoos a smile on your face. It makes the butterflies that so often float around your tummy feel like eagles. 

So instead of allowing myself to have these waterfall/spring water like moments, I think I’m choosing to veil myself until the one who is supposed to see me sees me. I pray that I have enough wisdom and discernment to know when he comes along. Being compared to something as celestial as the sun is amazing but it sucks when it comes from those that hover in the space of not yet. 

John and Matthew

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My head is full. There are about a million thoughts that I am processing every second. It is so full that I think I might just throw up…or maybe that’s the result of having seconds for dinner tonight. Oddly enough, I cannot find the right words to use to describe the storm that is brewing in my head. Bear with me…

“Until now you have asked for anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” John 16:24

I woke up to that verse a couple of days ago. I was surprised and overjoyed. Surprised because I had been asking God for a very particular thing quite religiously. Happy because I had hope that He wanted to give me what I was asking Him for. So I sat up that morning and started asking God. I asked Him for things that are so personal to me, typing them would seem like shouting them out on a rooftop. You know when you’re in church and everyone is praying out loud and shouting out how awesome God is but when they get to personal things the volume goes down drastically…this was that type of prayer. I received it and I thanked God for it in advance and I got ready for work.

“Ye know not what ye ask” Matthew 20:17-23

Standing next to my kitchen counter, I read that verse and I froze. It’s from TD Jakes sermon…I know this because I read the verse from a photo he shared on Instagram. I froze. If you know anything about the battle between Instagram and data usage you would know that I or anyone cannot afford to freeze while on Instagram. I froze. Having gathered myself I decided to move my post dinner body from the kitchen to my bedroom. I tried not to think about what I had just read but it kept flying across my mind…making me really want to throw up. What does He mean I don’t know what I ask??? Seriously Dad? Seriously? I couldn’t have been more precise if I wanted to. I stated what I needed and the reasons why I needed it. Can I please receive it so that my joy may be made full!?

I’m not angry…not in the least. I’m lost. I’m lost somewhere between Gods will and mine. I’m lost and I don’t know where I got lost. “God will never give you something that will take you away from Him.” My friend said that years ago but it’s like I can almost hear her voice utter those words right now. I didn’t know what I asked would take me away from Him…I actually thought it would bring me closer. I’m lost and the worst part is that my GPS (bible) is right next to me but I don’t know which coordinates to punch in…I don’t know where I am.

Outside the sky is pitch black, perfect for me to write on with some chalk. If it’s the words that come out of my mouth that made You say I don’t know I ask for then let me write it down because sometimes there’s a disconnect between my head and my mouth.

Dear Jesus

I’m not sure what You want from me anymore. I keep giving and giving but it never feels enough. I’m not tired yet, I’ll still give. I’ll give. But I need you to give me too. I need You to search my heart and let me know if what I’m asking for won’t glorify Your name. Everything under the sky belongs to You. I don’t doubt Your ability to give, I don’t. I’m asking with a heart that has no other option. I’m asking with a heart that knows that this can only come from You. I’m asking with a heart that is willing to receive correction if it be that my request is not Your will. I’m asking with a heart that’s lost but knows that You are good enough to come looking for me. Please Lord, hear my prayer. In the name of Jesus, Amen.