Knowing Me

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.***

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Knowing Me

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.

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Knowing Me

9am Sun

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It’s 09:57 on a Monday morning and I’m still in bed. Freedom Day. That’s what today is. Today in South Africa we are celebrating 21 years of democracy.

You know how your mind gets super busy in the morning… Like I think of one thing and then another comes up and it links itself to another ‘til I don’t know where I started. That’s me right now. I’m trying to figure out where I started; I’m trying to figure out how I got here…

I’m sitting in an awkward yoga position on my bed (which is now starting to cramp my right leg) facing the window letting whatever sun ray gets to me hit me on the face. I figure that’s enough of a distraction to make me not focus on this hollow space in my heart. It’s been there for a while and I’ve been trying to get it filled with something or someone but I keep getting distracted and I keep letting myself get distracted because somehow I know that figuring out how it got to be so empty and hollow will hurt. I don’t want to hurt. I’ve been hurt a lot in my short life and today I really don’t want to be hurt. Not at 9am.

I used to be a dreamer. I used to dream that I’d be rich in my early 20’s and that I’d live a life filled with adventure and that I wouldn’t need anything but I’d be a giver of everything. And then I grew up and realised that though it doesn’t cost you to dream, disappointment will come knocking at your door once in a while. I don’t like disappointment. I don’t . So for a long time I stopped dreaming and just started living. Until I realised that I had to dream again in order to live with purpose.

There is so much that I want to accomplish but sometimes I just don’t know where to start and sometimes I’m just plain scared. Scared of starting and not finishing. Scared of starting and failing and not getting the courage to continue. Scared of starting and being rejected. I’m scared of being rejected. I’m scared of putting myself out there and not being good enough. I’m scared of exposing myself only to be turned down. I’m scared. Heck I’m petrified!

Last year September I packed my bags and moved out of a city that had become so dear to me. I fought countless battles in that city. Some I lost but some I was victorious in and having won the last battle (by the grace of God), God saw it good for me to move. I didn’t want to go. Moving meant starting over. I didn’t want to start over. Ironically, a few months before I moved I asked God to let me start over. I shared that with a friend of mine. I wanted to move and go somewhere where nobody knows me so I can start over. I wanted to run away from a can of worms that I had opened and couldn’t deal with any longer. I wanted to escape. I forgot about that request. And when the time came for me to move I didn’t want to go.

“Whatever you run away from will always be around to chase after you.”

I can attest to that. Though the last battle was won in Port Elizabeth, not all of them were. And the ones that were not conquered are now sticking their heads out trying to signal their existence.

There was a boy. There’s always a boy. Handsome young man full of zeal and potential. There’s something about potential that makes me go weak in the knees. I buckle at the sight of potential (help me Lord). We never dated, never even tried to even though there was something there. His nature was very broad; very loving yet stern, very childish yet manly, full of intent yet soft. Reading him was never easy. But in my heart I knew that there was something there. I couldn’t put my finger on it but there was something there. But because there was no way we could date, I never made it obvious that his presence made my stomach have a million knots.

I never made it obvious that his mere existence gave me hope. And because I knew the type of woman he goes for, I made it my mission to disqualify myself. I made it a point to look in another direction when he would come running my way. I made it a point to not allow myself to be disappointed. Sadly that is one of the battles that I am yet to conquer because as much as he didn’t exist 100% in my space, he had shares to my mind and my heart. So while running away from him physically was successful, mentally and in my heart he is running towards me and I don’t always have the strength to take my eyes off him and look in another direction.

My dreams have changed. I’m no longer focused on just being a billionaire. Things changed. Things happened and made my dreams change. Now I dream about freedom. I dream of the day when I will look back and think “Thank God for grace and mercy.” I now dream about listening to other girls speak and my heart smiling because I not only know what they’re talking about, but I also know that it can be conquered. I dream of the words “I used to”. I dream of a flourishing heart, a prospering mind and the purest of spaces behind closed doors. I dream. And that’s a good thing; that I’m dreaming again. 

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#Fitness

#Fitness Relapse

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I relapsed. I took off my gym clothes and didn’t put them on for two weeks. At first it was because I got lazy. Then I realised itwaa because I was disappointed with my one month progress report. Basically according to the scale I had put on more weight.

I tried to get over that disappointment and I succeeded. But then I had to get over another hurdle…training alone. It sucks! I normally train with two colleagues but they aren’t training for ironman, they’re just gym members. At first, staying motivated was incredibly easy; I had a plan and I was working to achieve my goal. But as time went by, I realised I needed more motivation.

After two weeks of not going to the gym, I returned with an hour session on the treadmill. It was great but not enough to keep me motivated. Anyway, I’m back and I’m praying for new strength to keep me going.

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Knowing Me

Unconquered trail

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In 2013, the singles ministry at church decided to embark on a mountain hike; and while I was a year too young to be part of the ministry, I went. In fact, a number of young adults went. As I’m writing this, I’m slowly remembering the events of that day so forgive me if this turns out a little scattered. The day started at about 5am for most of us. We got ready and had to meet in a neutral area which was church. Everyone’s spirit was up and lively. Everyone was excited. No one knew what the day had in store for us except that there was a mountain we would have to conquer…

Now Zuurberg Mountains are a playlist away from Port Elizabeth. But not your regular playlist…the one that has to keep you going even when you forget where you’re going. As such, we were advised to leave before the sun came up in order to remain on schedule. However, because there were a few unexpected folks, we were delayed. There was limited transport to where we were going but we couldn’t leave anyone behind. Come to think of it, we (the young guys) almost didn’t go because of the limitation.

We eventually all made it to the hiking trail spot and we were soon on our way. Not so far from where we started, we had to choose between two trails: one was a 3 hour trail and the other was 5 hours. We all decided to take the 5 hour trail considering that the 3 hour one could be steeper. And just by the way, not a single one of us had been on this trail before. We had no one from Zuurberg to accompany us. All we had was a map. So we went. We were singing and chatting and laughing along the way, in complete bliss of this experience and the beautiful weather that came with it.

We went through shady and bushy parts and we went through open land where the sun scorched with no mercy. We stopped at two water pools to rejuvenate as well as look at the beauty surrounding this remote land. There were times when one would need a stick to hold on to while going up and there were times when knees would wobble as we walked downhill. What I consider the defining moment came hours into our hike when we found out that we were lost.

If I could, I would’ve cried but I was too tired and scorched to even try. After hearing the news, a couple of people continued walking in the hope of finding one hiking base or another. I was part of the people that decided to go back and find where we had taken the wrong turn and correct that mistake. The decision was very impulsive and it was based on the fact that we didn’t know what was ahead but we knew what was behind us. The sun grew cruel as though to spite us. There was less shade. We had less water, nevermind energy levels.

About an hour into our hike back we grew quieter and quieter. I found myself in a place I couldn’t come out of. My head was throbbing, my skin was burning, my mouth was dry, my prayers had stopped, my faith was barely hanging. I was depreciating. I remember going up one particular mountain that was so steep that if you’d miss a step, it would be the end of you. In that very mountain we decided to sit for a while and regain whatever strength our bodies had stored up. Five minutes of my life went missing on that mountain. I blacked out. I started coming to upon hearing people’s voices. Then I realised they wanted to carry me up. I pushed myself and opened my eyes, got up and we all started walking again.

I thought reaching the top of that mountain would be a relief until I got up there and saw absolutely nothing. There was no sign of base camp whatsoever, only a car trail. So we decided to follow it. About an hour into that walk we started seeing where we were going. All of sudden there was hope. Our voices got a little louder. Our faces lit up. We were close to home. Now at this stage we had split into two groups where one was almost a kilometre ahead of the other. I was part of the ones that were one km behind. As we walked, we saw a car coming our way to give us a ride back. The guys ahead decided to continue by foot considering that they were really close. When it got to us, I didn’t think twice about it; I hopped on. But instead of it going to the base camp, it went back to look for other people that had not returned to base. Eventually we went back and arrived at base camp at sundown.

While I learnt a lot in that experience, one thing about it has always haunted me; I didn’t finish it. Two kilometres to the finish line I took the first way to get there faster. I didn’t finish. I may have walked longer than some people did, I may have climbed more than some people did but I didn’t finish. When Christina Yang was leaving Greys Anatomy, she had a moment with Meredith where she confessed that she didn’t want to leave because it felt like she was not done; she needed to finish something.

Leaving Port Elizabeth became a difficult task because of that very reason. I wasn’t finished. I needed to finish. I didn’t finish Zuurberg, I didn’t finish serving, I didn’t finish being a friend, I didn’t finish being a daughter, a confidant, a helping hand, a loving heart…I didn’t finish. And there’s a hole in my heart that’s labelled “Not finished.” But sometimes you have to ride on the will of God even when you don’t want to. I have watched that last episode of season 10 over and over again and for a long time I too didn’t feel finished. It wasn’t until God inclined my ears to what Meredith’s response was. “You don’t feel finished because this is not the end for you.” Just that one line made leaving what I had called home for the past four years easier. “There is no finish line, there is no end point…you just have to go.”

I’ve gotten better. The hole in my heart has gotten smaller but of all the things I felt unfinished about, Zuurberg remains unsettled. I need to finish that mountain. I need to finish that one thing. I don’t know when and I don’t know with whom, but I know that I have to go back to that mountain and conquer it because though it has no end point, it does have a finish line and I owe it to myself to cross it.

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