What a friend we have in Jesus..

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions!” This is a quote from William Shakespeare, and how true this proves in life. Just when you feel like you can’t take anymore, life sometimes has a way of throwing curve balls that will just leave you feeling like you are barely able to keep your head above the water. There have been times in life whereby I have felt like I am just drifting by, just surviving, literally feeling like the only bit of my brain working is the bit that remembers how to continue to push air into and out of my lungs.

This week has been one of those weeks. Whereby curve ball after curve ball has been thrown my way and it has felt like I am sinking further and further into the abyss. I am currently in transit, temporarily moved back home with my parents so that I can start the new adventure God is about to take me on. And just on time too. What I expected to be a quiet two to three week break has turned out to be a most trying season yet.

My uncle is not well, so he moved in with my folks as well, and then only a few days later, my mother also fell acutely ill and has been bed ridden for the past couple of days. My aunt, who is a constant source of support was unfortunately stabbed by a thief, and was in hospital two days after mum fell sick. When trouble comes, it comes not single spies, but in battalions. I was telling a friend of mine that I wake up early in the morning and spend a literal hour in bed, savouring my blankets, the peace, the rest, dreading to start the day because I know the minute I roll out of bed I shall be on my feet the entire time until late at night when I literally crawl back into bed, only to remember that tomorrow I am to start everything all over again. Sigh.

I was reading the book of Mark recently, and there is a scripture there that surprised me, although I do not know why I would say it surprised me, considering Jesus said it over and over again in the book of John, but anyway, he says, “I tell you the truth, Noone who has left home, or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age… And with them persecutions, and in the age to come.” In John 16 Jesus says,” In this world you will have trouble.. ”

Jesus promised us trouble, not once, but several times throughout the gospels he tells us that listen, trouble is a part and parcel of this life. I already spoke of this in an earlier blog, and I honestly believe God has taken time to prepare me for the trouble I have recently found myself dealing with. Which is just what I want to say in this post. God is faithful. Listen folks, big time trouble shall come your way. I guarantee it because Jesus guaranteed it! There shall be times you just feel like you are barely getting by, barely getting through the day, but that’s OK. Because you see Jesus promises to never leave nor forsake us, to always walk with us every step of the way, and best still, he prepares us for oncoming trouble before we even know what lies ahead of us.

Trouble is not something meant for us to complain and be bitter about, no. Instead indeed we are to count it all joy brethren when we face various trials, because we know that the testing of our faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that we may be complete and mature, lacking nothing! When trouble comes we are to turn our faces to God, to make him our refuge and find peace in him because only He can give us that peace. It’s been a hectic couple of days for me, my entire body is crying for some rest. But I can truly say this, my mind has been at such peace, the joy in my heart has left even my parents and uncle marveling at how it is I could be this happy at such a time as this. And truly the only source of my joy has been in knowing that Jesus is sovereign, He is still in control and he is right here with me in everything.

I shall conclude with the lyrics to the hymn, what a friend we have in Jesus, because oh what truth the lyrics speak! Please take time to read them, and let them sink in. For our only hope when trouble comes is in the cross.

  1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
  2. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.

A few thoughts concerning patriarchy

Growing up, I must admit I never really felt the full impact of my being born a female. I was born and bred in a family of only girls, and perhaps as a result of that I never had anyone to compare with, any huge patriarchal sort of system that I could then say prohibited me or stopped me from progressing. My father, whether or not for lack of a son to whom he could practice patriarchy we will never know I suppose, treated us like his equals, and I must admit that growing up never did I see my father treat my mother as nothing less than his best friend and his equal.

I start with that because in the past few weeks for the first time in my life I have experienced some form of patriarchal harshness which left me rather indignant. A good friend of mine came to ask me if I knew anyone who needed a maid. My friend is married to a gardener and they have a child to feed. Things were tough at home, and because we are in the Zimbabwean economy, every dollar earned could really go a long way. Well, luck was on her side because within only a day of approaching me I found her several jobs where she could work part time and help sustain her family. All seemed alright until she told her husband of the plans, and initially he was on board, but after only her working a full day, the husband suddenly decided he did not wish to have a wife who worked. To cut a long story short, the woman was forced to give up her job and rely on what was available at home even though it was not enough to sustain the family, for the sake of “maintaining peace” within the household.

I was gobsmacked! Literally gobsmacked! I could not believe it. The guy would rather starve, than give up his prejudice regarding working women, a prejudice built on unfounded preconceived ideas. This was, I must admit, my very first encounter with the patriarchal system at its best, or worst if I may say. Coincidentally, I had started reading the book “Nervous conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga, and it cemented to me the idea that actually, patriarchy is still extremely prevalent in my everyday society, and there truly are people who believe that male is better, better and not equal, but better and superior to the female species. Whoa!

Forgive me if you are reading this and thinking, “well duh! You are stating the obvious” for this is certainly not the world I grew up in. It boggles me how people can hold onto a prejudice that has been shown to be wrong countless times yet when it comes down to it we would rather hold onto our false beliefs than exchange that falsehood for a better, much more freeing truth that enhances our lives.

Right at the beginning of creation we see the triune God saying this, “It is not good for man to be alone. Let us make him a suitable helper…” A suitable helper. I love how Miles Monroe once put it. He asked, tell me gentlemen, if you need help in lifting the table, who are you going to ask to help you? Someone weaker than you, someone equally as strong as you or someone stronger? I love this analogy, because I think it captures the exact essence of that scripture. The obvious answer is you ask someone who is either your equal in strength, or who is stronger. It is in this light that God made woman. A helper. Someone equal to man, equally special before the very same creator, but with a different makeup. Not equal in strength, although I must say there are exceptionally physically strong women out there, but generally women tend to be physically weaker than men, generally. But however, this does not and never was intended to equate to mean that women are less than men and should therefore be treated as such.

It breaks my heart than we still live in a society where a wife is treated as a second class citizen in her own home, where everything and everyone comes first before her very own needs, and whereby she does not have a voice or an opinion of her own but is suddenly treated like a child who needs to be guided through life. What a shame it is that we even look for scriptures to defend our position, twisting the word of God, taking it out of context to defend our skewed positions.

I propose that we take time to truly study the word of God and see what it is that He has to say about a woman. About what He has to say when choosing a wife, about marriage, about relating to other women. May we reach the point where we see that we are not in competition with each other as a species, that there is enough room for all of us to explore ourselves as individuals and express ourselves in worship to God with absolutely zero need for pressure to compete.

May we see that marriage was intended as a partnership for life. That when God had a wife in mind he had the picture of a whole person, a complete being, not an inferior being nor an invalid, but a helper, meaning someone equal to the man, a life partner, a companion, a confidante, a being who is able to carry you as the man when you are at your lowest. A person who is to be your most cherished friend, one whose opinion you value the most!

There is definitely more thoughts in my head concerning this patriarchal system and how we are shooting ourselves in the foot by propagating it, but I think for now let me just stop, and put a disclaimer that I am by no means advocating for a matriarchal society. It equally destroys. What I am advocating for is equality, that we all view each other as human beings, worthy enough to have Jesus leave the trinity so he could die a very painful death for each of us. For each of us, not just men, nor women, but for each and every single one of us. I am almost certain more thoughts shall follow..

Trouble trouble trouble

The past couple of weeks have been a little tough. A good friend of mine lost her dad, and she really was broken. The dad had been sick for a while, and she had been trusting God for healing but he ended up succumbing to the illness. He was young and loved his family dearly. Then a few weeks later, another friend of mine lost her sister. She had post op complications, and left behind three beautiful children and a very broken husband and family. Again, people had been praying for healing and trusting God for healing to come through but it was not so.

This is reality. This is life and in the midst of all this pain and hurt always lies the question but surely why God? Where were you when I needed you the most? We are often found at a loss for words not even knowing how we can begin to console those who have been bereaved. The knife of death cuts really deep and life is forever changed in a way unimaginable after the loss of a dearly beloved one.

But bless both my friends because in this time of such deep trouble, in this time of such hurt, anger, confusion and feelings of betrayal, I have seen both of them drawing strength from God. Drawing strength from the word because it is only this that can nourish and sustain you at such a time as this. Now I by no means will attempt to answer the question “why God?” because I too am always stumped and left wondering but shuwa Nkulukhulu why? What instead I wish to do, is to perhaps show why it is in times of trouble we are meant to, and we actually run to the cross.

There are two theologies concerning trouble that I have generally met. In Zimbabwe especially, I have heard a lot of teaching that says if you have trouble then basically you either are not fasting enough,or are not covering your family enough in prayer, or you are sinning and are being punished for it, for a true believer should not face trouble. This leads to guilt, condemnation and a self righteous effort to seek God. All this eventually leads to disappointment when even though you are prayed up and fasted up, trouble still comes your way and you begin to question everything you thought you knew about God. You begin to question his goodness for surely, after keeping all he asked you to keep how could he abandon you like this in your greatest hour of need? This teaching is faulty and has loopholes that will cause many to stumble when actual trouble comes. The second theology I have heard is that of how this world is a terrible place of suffering and you just have to endure it and grit your teeth through it, and wait only for heaven because that is the only place you shall have a good time, peace and joy. This too is a faulty, unbiblical teaching because there are many pleasant things to be enjoyed on this earth whilst alive, and there are many pleasant memories that can be made and enjoyed.

When Jesus Christ walked this earth he said this to his disciples in John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Jesus Christ himself promised us trouble in this life on earth. He said this as a guarentee that listen, in this world, on this earth, trouble is coming. He did not mean self inflicted trouble like you cheating on your spouse and being found out and then suffering the consequences thereof, no! He was talking about the sort of trouble that you are minding your own business, doing everything by the book, living right etc, and then boom! Trouble hits you in the face. You are told you have cancer! You lose your child in a car accident. You lose all your investment due to factors beyond you. Serious big time trouble! This is the sort of trouble Jesus assures us of, and he is saying to us my dearly beloved take heart! Take heart!! For if you immerse yourself in me; if I am the very reason for your existence, if you make me your centre piece, it does not matter what form of trouble may come your way, you will have peace! The word “have” means take ownership of, belong to, possess and this is exactly it that you will possess peace regardless of the trouble flung your way. This peace is found in knowing that Jesus has overcome the world, and this world is temporary and will soon perish.

The book of Peter talks of how we must count it joy when we suffer. Whoa! Joy when I suffer? Argh! But this is just it! When we realise that Jesus himself promised us suffering as a portion in this world, it will make our burden that much lighter to bear. It will still be painful, oh it will hurt deeply so when we lose a loved one, but we will have hope! We will have hope! For we will know that the dearly departed ones who died in the Lord we shall meet them again. Therefore this separation hurts, but it is temporary. We will hold onto Jesus even when it hurts the most, because we will truly know that peace can only be found in him. Let me just abruptly finish with this word of exhortation from James 1:2. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

A problem shared..

Growing up, it was emphasized that “hatifukuri hapwa” translated to the English proverb ‘we do not air our dirty linen in public’. We were taught to keep it together in public, not to go about telling people our business as they had no right to know it. This is all very true and well meaning, and I agree with it to a certain extent. Not everyone needs to know about your business simply because not everyone wishes you well. We do however, need to learn to let our guards down every once in a while to a circle of trusted family and/or friends.

If we look at scripture, we will find that God is very big on community. Nowhere in scripture will you find a man who lived and died, bearing his burdens alone. The New Testament church had a community, and Jesus instructed them to ‘carry one another’s burdens’ and to ‘love one another, for by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another!’ Jesus was and still is big on us having a community that bears one another’s burdens. But here is the clincher, I can only bear a burden that you share with me. Sometimes we hold onto our burden ever so dearly and blatantly refuse to let anyone else in, but then we feel crushed or overwhelmed by the weight of what we are carrying, and then turn around and despise the people in our inner circle for not noticing that we are heavy laden. This creates a cycle that further alienates us from the people meant to help us. Truth be told, people can only help you with that which you let them in on.

I do not know why or how it is that as a society we have been deceived to believe that the best people are those who appear to always have it ‘all together’. So we go through life pretending that we have it all figured out, yet truthfully we don’t. We will be burning deep inside with problems that are so deep, that need the inner circle to step in and ‘bear these burdens’ with you, but we feel that if we let them in, we will be viewed as less. We would rather pretend to be a jovial couple out there, putting up a facade of the picture perfect couple even to our closest friends than admit that we last had a proper conversation as husband and wife years ago. When asked how you are doing, the answer is always a jovial ‘fantastic’ or in vernacular, ‘bho zvekuti’, yet deep inside we are screaming and tormented and fighting wars that no one has any idea we are fighting. We suffer in silence when we ought to speak; we keep to ourselves when we ought to be looking for help; and therefore find ourselves stuck in this vicious loop of torment, more alienated than we ever thought we could be and just not seeing a way out of our misery and so, we plunge deeper and deeper into it. All because we are afraid of what people will think of us if we tell them the truth. We are afraid to take off our masks even to those closest to us because we are afraid that if they see the real us, the “us” that does not have it ‘all together’ after all, but that is falling apart at the seams they will view us as worth less.

The past year has been the most trying year of my life. I had a lot of personal major health problems, major social and professional curve balls were thrown my way and these just left me completely mentally exhausted. Now my inner circle knew all the drama that was unfolding, but truth be told I was putting on a very brave face and telling them that I am a survivor, and i would revel in their praises of how “I was so strong.” I would go to bed feeling fine but would wake up with my pillow soaked in tears; I would cry in my sleep and only in my sleep because I suppose my brain knew that was the only way to let it all out because I did not and could not even allow myself to openly admit the pain and weight I was carrying whilst I was conscious.

This is what C. S. Lewis writes in his book the chronicles of Narnia; “Oh how foolishly you sons of Adam protect yourselves from all that is meant to do you good.” How foolishly we do this. I need not have carried my burden alone. I first and foremost needed to have laid it at the foot of the cross, for this is what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest… My burden was for me to run with to the cross. But, not only that, I was meant to share this burden with my inner circle. A great circle of family and friends who love me and are willing to share this burden with me, but only if I allow them. Your inner circle can only carry that which you let it in on, they can only carry that which you offload to them.

Jesus gave us an earthly family, be it your actual biological family, or the extended Christian family, whichever way He gave us a family. A community that is meant to help us carry our burdens. Let me finish off with these beautiful words from my good friend Tendai. We would do well to remember them. She says, “Something God showed me today is how the enemy likes to convince us to pray alone when he knows that he cannot convince us to completely stop praying. This is because praying together comes with a blessing and a promise. Jesus said where 2 or more are gathered there I am with you. So it takes at least 2 for this promise to be activated. Again in Psalm 133 it says where brothers come together in unity….there God commands a blessing.”

Let us not burn in silence, for it is not the will of God. Find people you can talk to and trust, and let them help you carry your burden. God bless.

The heart wants what it wants… NOT!

So… Growing up we were often told that ‘the heart wants what it wants’, and how we are helpless victims to this. We are told love is blind, you cannot help whom you love when you love them. We are told that we cannot help but become the person that we are, based on the varying experiences that life throws at us, and we gobble all this up and therefore we have a perfect excuse, a perfect reason to hate the world and fate and all that jazz when we look around and find that we are very unhappy with what life has “thrown” our way.

Now yes, there is some truth to some of these cliches. It is true that you cannot help whom you feel attracted towards. There is truth in that, you could be walking down the street, minding your own business, and then boom, suddenly your heart is doing summersaults and it’s suddenly now very hot because of a TDH (tall, dark and handsome) guy who just emerged from the corner. I am in no way trying to say this doesn’t happen, because this often does; and no matter how prayed up and fasted up you are, you may find yourself needing to catch your breath for a minute in order to slow down your racing heart and bring your pheromones under control. However, attraction and falling in love with someone are two very different things. Attraction, one seldom can help it, but falling in love with that person is a choice! It is a choice!

How so? You see, when a thought lands in your mind, in this example, thoughts of strong attraction have entered your mind, you have two choices. Either to dwell on these thoughts, that is allow them to take root, e.g change your step so it is just a little sexier than it was before, so he notices you; exchange numbers with the guy, begin to fantasize about him, about your first kiss, your first fight, the proposal, you taking his last name and before you know it you already have named all of your four (imaginary) kids! Or, another option, is to acknowledge the thoughts of attraction that have entered your mind, and then just simply choose not to act on them.

You see the thing is, we are told you cannot help whom you love, but the truth is you really can. You really can! The state of your heart depends on what you feed it. You know how people say you are what you eat? Well, yes, likewise you are what you feed your heart. Now the heart here when referred to in matters of love and well-being is not the physical organ that pumps blood, no, it is the mind. It is your mindset, and you truly are what you feed your mind! Therefore, when you find yourself head over heels in love with someone, it is because if you trace back your steps you shall find that you have fed your mind enough food concerning this person that has then made you decide you are in love. You have daily made choices, consciously or subconsciously that have led you to this place.

Now it is all good if we feed our hearts (read minds) with good thoughts about a person who reciprocates them and eventually turns out to actually be good for us. It is however, a completely different story when we do the same thing about someone who truly turns out to be poison to our very souls, and threatens our very well being! This is why we then see in Proverbs 4 God warning us to guard our heart! We are to guard it jealously as from it flows the springs of life. The Proverb writer then goes on further to show how we are to guard it. We are to guard what we speak, we are to guard what we hear, we are to guard what we see, and we are to guard what we think!

Thoughts form patterns, patterns form habits, habits form character, and character produces destiny! So we must watch our thoughts. We must watch them! What do we spend our time mulling over? What makes up our fantasies? What do we read, watch or listen to? Because all this is the source of our thoughts, and if we allow our thoughts to go unchecked, before we know it we will have become some monstrous person that we ourselves can hardly recognize.

I woke up this morning thinking of the needless heartache I have put myself through. The number of times I so easily and so quickly allowed strangers into my heart, multiplying any small thing done for me to ten times what it actually was; reading in between the lines of any small, kind gesture directed my way when there really was nothing in between those lines. How easily I have let my guard down and fed my precious pearls to the pigs, who in turn, have trampled all over them and not even realized their value. Oh, how poorly I have stewarded the heart God gave me to guard! But thank God for his mercy! Because in realising that the building blocks of character are thought patterns, I have suddenly become aware of my thoughts, and have tediously but relentlessly begun the journey of renewing my mind, replacing thoughts not of God with his good word, and allowing his word to take root in my life. Guarding my heart jealously so, I have begun the journey of forming a character that shall reflect Jesus more and more each day. For you see oh beautiful one of God, the heart does not want what it wants, the heart wants what it is fed! I shall close off with the Proverb verse for its words are life.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. NIV

The sin of comparison

Truth be told, often times than not I have found myself glancing over my shoulders, to the right and to the left of me to try and see what my peers are up to, and to see how far behind or in front I am. Naturally I am a competitive person, when I play, I play to win and I enjoy the feeling of winning. This is all good when it is a friendly round of tennis or a friendly game of cards or 30 seconds, but it turns into a completely different picture when it comes to real life issues.

I cannot help but glance over my shoulder to see what exactly my peers are up to and to measure myself against them. This was all good when I was in high school and then college, because I felt I was ahead. Well on track with my career and goal plans and I felt I had everything under control. When my mid twenties then hit, and people start to branch off that’s when I started to feel like my feathers were now a little ruffled. Every other close friend of mine was now in a serious committed relationship with a significant other, and soon after college the three close friends I stayed with all got married within months of each other, and here I was in the corner without even a significant other to mention.

The next disaster that struck was that all my close married friends then decided to further their studies by pursuing masters degrees in their relative fields, and whilst this was also a desire of mine it seemed every door I was knocking on was being shut right in my face. So, truth be told, I felt very behind and like a total loser because I was just floating on autopilot as I liked to call it. Nothing that seemed significant at all was happening in my life. I had no exciting news to share, it truly was the same old same old story. To add salt to the injury, I met an ex fling at a friend’s house, and in the 3 years that we had last seen each other, he had acquired his masters degree, moved to the UK and then back, gotten married and was expecting a child. When he turned around to ask me what was new with me, I felt mortified and managed to smile and choke out a nothing, because it truly felt like nothing was new with me!

Truthfully speaking, that was not entirely true. I had been studying, just not the conventional type of studying. I had been doing a few relevant courses here and there that were adding to my CV, I was involved in teaching and in organizational admin work which was important to the department I was working for, but when I was holding it up to light in comparison with the achievements of my friends and peers, it really did seem like nothing at all was happening in my life. The more I compared my life, my goals, my achievements to those of others; the more I looked or felt like I was coming up rather short.

So of cause, because I am me, and more often than not I tend to get in God’s way of running my life and decide to take over when I feel like he has lost control or interest or whatever, I then resolved in my heart to also have a story, by hook or crook I shall have a new story to tell! So, I went about it: dating the wrong sort of fella for me, for I figured at least I could say I have someone and knocking on whichever career door I could find thinking surely one of them shall open up for me. When all these efforts crashed and burnt, I was left feeling defeated and devastated, with a minor depression looming to add to all my other problems.

Whenever I look back at my life, I truly see the amazing power and grace of God and of his Word. Is there anyone in scripture who ever felt the way I did? Feeling like he has been dealt a very bad hand in life and others just seem to have it easy? The answer is a vehement yes! Peter! Simon-Peter in the gospel of John is told by Jesus that he is to die a painful death. Jesus said this as a statement really, like an oh by the way my guy, you shall die a painful death. John the disciple whom Jesus loved was nearby, and because Peter knew and understood that misery needs company, he asks Jesus: “Well lord, what about him?” pointing to John. Jesus reply was both curt and authoritative. He simply said to Peter “If I want him to live till I return and never taste death what is that to you? You just follow me!” I’m like tjooo!!!! Come on man, what kind of a pep talk is that? Whatever happened to a ‘no, relax man, other disciples shall suffer too with you, but it shall be OK..’ tjo!

You see, Jesus knows full well that comparing oneself to other people only brings about two things, either depression or pride, and he really was saying to Peter you do not need either of these! How true his words still ring today! We all have very different paths to take in life, different journeys altogether marked out specifically for us and guaranteed to bring us victory in the end because the entire Bible assures us of this; that God marked out the race we are to run before we were even born, and he ensured that we would be victorious, and then he allowed us to be born. This is such a mind blowing and liberating truth to know and live in!

Listen, I do not need to live my life using my peer as a standard, because my race is a completely different one to the one they have marked out for them. The only being I am to ask how well I am doing, how far behind I am, or if I am on the correct lane is Jesus himself because he knows the exact race and plans he has for me, and these are plans to bring me to a good end, an expected end! When this truth really hit home and sunk in it was extremely liberating for me! I did not have to feel like I am a loser, a reject who is not doing much with her life. Instead I began to discover God’s plans for me and walk in them, and in as much as my story may not seem like much to other people, I now know for a fact that I’m walking out the race set before me by the King of kings and it is good; it is pleasant and it has a good expected outcome of nothing short of victory!

Someone almost walked away with all of me!

Somebody almost walked away with all of my stuff… Packed up in a paperbag… Somebody almost ran off with all of me tucked underneath their armpit, and they didn’t even know they had me!

That’s a bit of the poem there in the movie “For coloured girls” by Tyler Perry. I must admit, that poem gives me goosebumps each time I read or hear it, because it’s too close to home for comfort. I think of all the past relationships I have had, how at the end of each one I have sat down with my girlfriends, calling the poor guy all sorts of names, talking about how much of a loser he was anyway, how he wasted so much of my time and how he would not be able to tell a good thing even if it hit him in the face! We toast to this and I go to bed feeling better about myself and how I just am too good for the riff raff that’s out there anyway. [Insert sassy click of fingers right here, hmm!]

But then, trust God to always gently turn your heart towards himself. To always reveal to you bits of yourself that once they come into the limelight will look so foreign that you barely recognize them as bits of your heart. You can hardly believe this is who you are. The very first thing God was kind enough to shed light on was the fact that actually, it takes two to tango. I had contributed just as much firewood as the other person in setting up this blazing furnace which now consumed me.

For you see, right from the beginning, and I mean the very beginning, you see every red flag waving at you. You see how curt he is with other people, but you find it amusing. You see how badly he treats his parents or siblings, but of coz, you take his side, because “I mean, come on guys, you don’t understand what those people are like. They are simply horrible.” You see how his life doesn’t have much of the fruit of the spirit in it, but then again we say “oi, it’s not like anyone is perfect right?” Sometimes, if you are lucky enough to have really honest friends, they will tell you,kindly point out a few issues they see, but most times we choose to ignore these issues, and instead will begin to shy away from the friends that will have pointed out the cracks in our perfect painting.

Then, slowly, reality begins to creep in, as pheromones and all the feel-good hormones begin to wear off. We begin to see that actually, we don’t like his temper. We don’t like the way he is all so jovial when we are out and about with his friends, but suddenly turns solemnly sulky when it’s now just the two of us. We begin to realize that even the things we were happy to gloss over, actually, we are not happy with at all! But we think to ourselves “ah! Vele we have come this far together, I have already given you too much of myself, too much of my time and people already know and associate us as a couple, so hey… In for a penny in for a pound right?”

So we allow the relationship to continue. Only now, because we have that much more to prove to people, to ourselves even, we begin to give even more of ourselves. To empty ourselves and sacrifice ourselves so much so that we give and give and give without him asking us to give that much of ourselves. When we don’t get anything in return, we slowly begin to resent the other party for not reciprocating our very selfless love. We even tell our friends “To think of all the things I have done for him! And this is how he repays me?”

I have said the above line several times,concerning many different types of relationships not necessarily romantic ones only. Then suddenly one day it hit me; ‘Who asked me to give that much of myself? Who asked me to empty myself and my life and my whole being into this person?’ The truth left me shell shocked it really took a while to recover from it. Because you see, the naked truth simply was that No one had asked me to. I gave of myself willingly and kept giving and giving and giving, yet no one at all was asking this of me. It was all me! So when the realization of how much I had given off of myself hit me, I would bitterly shut the door and accuse the other party of taking and taking away from me, yet I gave it to them. Somebody almost walked away with all of my stuff, packed up in a paperbag which I packed!!! Which I packed, and I handed this paperbag over to them!! Smh!

The first part any form of healing is to identify the problem. Once I realized that actually, the problem was not that someone almost walked away with all my stuff, but that I was the one who had packed and handed over all of me, all of myself to a stranger that I had no business handing over my innermost being to, once I realised this, God really broke my heart and brought me unto repentance. He opened up my eyes to see oh so clearly just how much I had contributed to the mess I ended up finding myself in. How the scattered broken pieces of my heart had been as a result of my willingly handing over the knife to my assailant who would then stab me in the chest with it.

Once that truth flowed within me and sank in and touched my heart, I began to see even more clearly through God’s word his loving heart for me. He began to truly open up my eyes to the fact that red flags were warning signs for me: to run, to jealously guard over my heart from future pain and bitterness, to leave before I had invested too much of myself and my time. Guard your heart, for from it flows the springs of life. For you see oh precious one of God, someone can only walk away with all of your stuff if you have given it to them!