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.***

It’s complicated

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The sermon “Not By Myself” by TD Jakes takes a look into the life of Paul; specifically when he was on trial before of king Agrippa. I was struck by alot of things in this sermon and one of them was how complicated Pauls life got after experiencing God. When His name changed from Saul to Paul, a new creation was indeed formed but he was, unfortunately going to be judged as Saul as much as Paul.

Having obtained salvation, Paul was rejected by his past (Jews) but his future (Christians) was highly sceptical about accepting him which is understandable because he used to kill Christians. Have you ever been in a situation where who you were yesterday is making it difficult to transition into who you ought to be tomorrow?

One of my biggest regrets in life is not having lived up to my fullest potential in my studies. I regret allowing myself to be average. There is a brick wall of intelligence ignorance that came with the decision to be average and it is a wall that has been making my transition into being knowledgeable very complicated. So who I was is hindering with who I want to be and it’s all so complicated.

I found it odd for Paul to think himself happy when he was put before king Agrippa (Acts 26:2). But I’ve come to understand that Paul was given the opportunity to give his testimony to a man who came from a family of not so Christian loving people. Paul was given an opportunity to speak the truth that was his testimony to someone who had no reason to be compassionate to him. He was given an opportunity to confront that which would have been one of his past lifes highest moments and he thinks himself happy because he may have seen who he would have been and praised God for who he was.

As a new creation, that which truly is complicated is allows an opportunity for God to come in and glory. Therefore I stand before this brick wall of regret in my life and I speak the truth that is my testimony and that truth is that God loves me, He loves me He loves He loves me He loves, He cares, He loves me He loves me He loves me…and every time I confess that a brick falls off and another and another and another…because you see it may be complicated but my God is bigger than that! Jesus Culture put it nicely when they sing “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves me.” Key word there being maintain; to cause or enable a situation to continue. Until you confess the Truth over your situation you are enabling it to continue. So when this brick wall comes and tries to stop me from being joyous and peace filled I have to stop providing for its existence and start confessing that no weapon formed against me shall prosper and that when the enemy comes like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

Sometimes you look over your shoulder and try to explain to people where you come from but the only words that come out of your mouth are It’s Complicated. Sometimes you try to make sense of what just happened so you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off but all you can say is It’s Complicated. Know this one truth, it may be complicated but God is bigger than that!!!

Once upon a time

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Once upon a time I hated silence. The stillness of it was very uneasy. The eeriness that surrounded it was highly unnerving. I couldn’t stand the inexistence of vibrations that caused audible mechanical waves. No doof doof, chitter chatter or tweets…nothing.  I couldn’t deal with how deafening it was. My sanity was often tested in moments of complete and utter silence; where the sound of a pin dropping feels magnified.  But most of all, I could not (and I did not want to) cope with the truth that lingered in the midst of it. It’s a piercing kind of truth that makes you focus into it whether you like it or not.

God being God, led me to countless moments of such silence. Last year September, I was separated from my daily routine, my ordinary surroundings, my comfort people. After completing my degree in June, I lingered in Port Elizabeth trying to find employment opportunities. I was rushed, would’ve accepted anything really. In moments of great panic, I’d be cluttered with familiar noise; the voices of everyone besides the one that matters. Beginning August, God rocked me ‘til I was still and it was in that stillness when I found the overwhelming peace of what was to happen. When the time came for me to leave, there were no tears, only a smile that I could not understand.

When I got home, God was amazing enough to confirm words that He had given me. I felt a sense of relief but somehow, I knew that there was very little chance of me going back to PE. With each passing day, that thought started becoming more and more of a reality.  All of a sudden, I had to start over again. Even though home was the same, everything else was different. People who, when I left, were proper rebels had found the redemptive fingerprint of God and were new creatures. While this was awesome, it meant compounded change that I had to adjust to. The noise started again.

“Your friends in PE aren’t lost without you. After a week everything will resume as normal.”

“You don’t really belong anywhere here…no one understands the language you’ve taken time to learn.”

“You won’t find what you’re looking for. Why are you still with this God? If He loved you, wouldn’t He have given you a job in PE already?”

I developed frustration, waking up every morning and having to think about how I’m going to spend my day. The noise got louder and louder. Everyday seemed to go by very fast but I had very little to show for them. But because God is a God that cares for us, the noise stopped escalating and started to mellow down. It was then when I would find myself looking forward to go to Wednesday prayers and Thursday cell meetings and Sunday church services. All I wanted was to be in His presence. And it was in His presence where I found answers to my life’s essay questions. It was in His presence where I found the truth about myself. It was in His presence where I was moulded; reshaped, redefined, refreshed. It was in His presence where I found understanding. I was led into silence. I was led into stillness.

I praise God for being an ever present help in times of trouble. There is nothing in and about our lives that He doesn’t see. When the devil was trying to cloud my faith with his lies those months ago, God was there, watching. He allowed it to happen so I can also stand and proclaim Him as a God who hears our cries; you know those cries in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep and He is your only source of comfort. I bless God for those moments. I love the silence now.