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The Grief That Lies Beneath Part 1


“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 2,4

11 November 2012, a day that I am far from forgetting. It started off like any other Sunday morning, rushed around the house getting ready for church and tried not to be late once again. I was happy and excited about a new outfit that I was wearing; black and white floral knee-length dress, pale blue cardigan teamed with peach and pale blue wedges and matching bag. I remember all too well because I had found the shoes and bag the day before and I was all too excited to wear an outfit so bright and perfectly coordinated to church. For the first time in about ten months I was wearing make up to church. I had decided earlier in the year to stop after I was moved to tears the one day and looked like a hot mess! I don’t know whether it was the new outfit that inspired me to try again, but for some reason I did on that day. I met my mom and aunt in the kitchen as I was walking out and they complimented me on how pretty I looked. I giggled and did a little twirl at my mom’s request before grabbing my bag and heading out the door. I thought of going to say bye to my gran but thought against it because I was scared to wake her up. Well that’s what I told myself but when I thought about it later, I just wanted to avoid getting into any argument about me going to church. I have wished virtually everyday in the past five and a half months that I would have gone in to see her, had I known….

Much of what happened from the time I left home at about 7:30am till the middle of the second service at 11:30 remains a blur. I just remember my one friend saying she hasn’t seen me this happy and relaxed in a long time. I also remember another telling me about how he senses that I am coming into a season of great blessing in my life but just as God starts to shower me with blessings, I step away from underneath the downpour. To this day I have never been able to decipher that message and it doesn’t help that he didn’t want to explain it to me either. For reasons that only made sense afterwards, I was a bit agitated that day and I kept my phone on during church which was out of character. In the middle of the service I felt it vibrate, I reached into my bag for it and I froze when I read my cousin’s BBM message: “Gran is gone.” With as much composure as I could muster, I showed my phone to my friend sitting next to me and started gathering my things and walking out trying not to cause too much disruption. It wasn’t until I was outside waiting for a friend to drive me home that I started crying. I cried all the way home and my heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest. I was hit by guilt of not being home with her harder than grief that she was gone.

When I made it home I was greeted at the gate by our helper who told me to stop crying, my gran’s not dead they’ve just taken her to the hospital. Somehow I didn’t believe her but I tried my best to stop crying and I went into my room and I called my other cousin to ask him what’s going on and he said no they’ve taken my gran to the hospital with my mom and aunt. I distinctly remember asking if she was alive and him saying yes. I asked which hospital and told him I was on my way to them. I was barely out of the gate when he called me back to tell me to go back home, my gran was gone. A fresh batch of tears flooded my face from nowhere and I didn’t stop crying until my mom, aunt and cousin eventually came home from the hospital, their screams and cries said all I needed to know and confirmed that yes, this was very real, my last surviving grandparent was finally gone.

In the hours that followed I kept crying and searching for clues of what I had missed. I was devastated as I recalled my last conversation with her on Friday night. I had come home from work and walked into the room to find her sitting up on the bed, looking well and in high spirits. I was pleasantly surprised and I said to her: “Wow you look so much better!” and we had a little laugh about it. Little did I know that those would be my last conversation with her! Saturday I was out shopping and hanging out with my friends and when I got home I walked into the room to check on her she was sleeping. I took a nap and by the time I woke up again the rest of my family was sleeping so thought it best not to check up on her lest I woke her up.

I’ve tried to process her death and make sense of why I am consumed with grief, why when I think I am out of the woods then it hits me all over again. It doesn’t make sense because my three grandparents all passed away when I was old enough to understand what was going so she wasn’t the first grandparent I had lost. Death was nothing new to me because just a month before on October 10, my cousin who was just two months older than me passed away after a very short illness. Her death shouldn’t have been a surprise to me because for starters, as so many people were kind enough to point out, she was in her 80s and therefore old and expected to die. Secondly she had been ill for a few months and had been living with us for about three months leading up to her death. As I sit here remembering all the times my heart would jump to my throat if my mother phoned me while I was at work or when I tip toed into her room in the mornings before I went to work or the evenings when I came back, I realise that I had known that her time was near. Why did it hurt so badly then when it finally happened? Why does it still hurt so badly then as if it was a sudden death that no one could have foreseen?

I feel I am long way from recovering and healing from the loss of my gran but I am somewhat consoled when I look back at how far I have come and have made a few discoveries on I have struggled more with this loss than any other loss. Firstly, the grief and regret of not saying good-bye to her and realising that I will never get a chance to do that still has a very firm grip on my heart. Secondly, I am still carrying the burden of words said to and about me leading up to and after her death.

For some reason it is easier for me to believe that I would feel much better had I been home that Sunday and not been at church rather than to accept that I was exactly where I should have been and that my Father who knows me better than I know myself knew that I wasn’t strong enough to see her life end like that. I will always remember my gran as a woman of great strength and courage. My grandfather passed away when I was eight years old and so she spent the last twenty years of her life on her own. Although my mom and aunt helped her out here and there, she always wanted to remain independent and she sewed and sold what she sewed to supplement her pension money and provide for herself. She never wanted to feel like a burden on anyone and was always strong and full of so much wisdom. To me she was a shining example of a Psalm 31 woman. So how could a force like that be gone so easily?

Truth be told looking back she really did put up a fight. From my mother’s accounts and her speech at both the wake and funeral, I came to realise just how much pain my gran had been in in those final months. So maybe I was just never meant to see her in her weakened state so that I always remembered her for the strong woman she was? Maybe God knew I was not strong enough and so shielded me from it all? Was that how my family had justified in their minds them not telling me that they had been up since 3am with my grandmother and that she was in a bad state when I left for church that morning? Is that how they had justified not calling me to tell me what happened and tell me to come home and yet others called? And still, despite all this, my mother was still able to say to me just hours after her death that I should have been at home, I shouldn’t have left that morning and it is those words that have imprisoned for months, unable to find absolution no matter how much I rationalised, prayed or talked about it.

Headhunted for God’s Kingdom


“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us”….Ephesians 1:4-8

I grew up in a church where questioning any form of authority was out of a question. I was raised to respect elders, respect traditions and respect whatever decision is made on my behalf. If my mother said I was going to spend my school holidays at a church pilgrimage then that is exactly what I would do. My life was clearly mapped out, I was born into this church and I would most certainly die in it. I never thought I would ever leave, other than through death. I believed and was raised to believe, that this was the only way to heaven and the wasn’t a holier religion or church in all the world.

Looking back I realise what I thought was respect was not respect at all but rather fear and oppression! How do you respect what you do not understand? How do you respect what you had no free will to choose to respect? I lived in constant fear of losing my family’s affections which, even as a young child, I understood were based on how well I conformed to the rules set for me. I also knew that my status in the church was dependent on how well I conformed to the rules and how well I played the role of a subservient daughter and ultimately wife and mother.

I do not believe I would have ever been set free to really discover God’s character if I had not become a mother at fifteen. According to church customs I was not allowed to come to church during my pregnancy and a few months after my baby was born. Even worse, my baby was a girl so my exile was a few months longer than it would have been if I had had a baby boy. My exile presented to me the unique opportunity to sit alone while everyone else was at church to read the Bible and really try to get to the bottom of where it said in the Bible this exile was justified. As the weeks turned into months and my self-taught Bible course intensified, I started learning how everything I had known all my life was founded on shaky theories and Bible verses taken out of context.

Once you have read something it becomes increasingly difficult to unread it and delete it from your memory. After I had finally read about who Jesus was, how He had died and risen for my sins, it became increasingly hard to accept that I had to dress differently and endure the looks of disdain from people simply for the sin of having my daughter. I was a disgrace to my family and the church for having committed this great sin and it seemed like until I got married to hide the shame of it all, I would continue to suffer. This did not reconcile to the merciful, loving God I was reading about in my Bible. I can still remember my mother asking me, “do you think you are the only person who has read the Bible” when I was asking her about these inconsistencies.

Naturally I lost faith in the church because the Bible became the only authority I was willing to follow. I started weaning myself slowly and avoided going wherever I could, because believe it or not at sixteen and seventeen my mother still forced me to do things. A part of me also still continued to go because I saw it as a way to rebuild the relationship with my family and particularly my mother. It was not until I left home after high school to go to university across the country that I really had a chance to break free.

When I first arrived at university, I tried different churches and my friends were quick to suggest churches when they heard that I was looking for one. Sadly though this quest was soon forgotten when I was consumed by the demands of my studies, a budding new romance and buzzing social life. At certain times in the first four years in university I remember trying to get back into the routine of going to church but something always came up. It did not help that during the latter part of this time period, my boyfriend became the more important priority in my life and we had a busy social calendar and there was still the little issue of a degree that I needed to obtain! Nonetheless, through all of this God faithfully pursued me.

In my fifth and final year of university, I found myself alone and scared, like I was at fifteen. Here I was repeating my honours year, my boyfriend had graduated and moved across the country, I had cheated on him with disastrous consequences and above all I was back to being the black sheep of the family. It was during this time that God called me to Him for comfort. It was in going to church every Sunday that the light slowly returned to my eyes, my hope was restored and I stopped beating myself for my multitude of sins. Sadly this independence and the freedom to pursue God as He had pursued me, had to come to an end when I graduated and returned home.

Living with my mother once more meant I had to abide by the rules of her kingdom. She attempted as much as she could to drag me to church with her and she did not care much that I often came kicking and screaming. Luckily for me working life provided an excuse to miss church now and then. I could never dream though of waking up on a Sunday morning and going to a church of my choice.

The biggest act of rebellion, and the second biggest sin I have committed in the eyes of my family was to move out just six months after arriving back home. For the two years I lived on my own, I was criticised by my aunt and grandmother at every chance they had. I was called a lot of things and accused of many things. Firstly, I apparently thought I was superior now that I worked and earned my own money. Another was that I felt I was too educated for the church where at least three generations before me had worshiped. Many curses were spoken over my life and I was told I would never make it in life because I had rejected God(funny because to this day I still get told this, which makes me wonder where I go every Sunday morning and what I do with all my Bibles). When I moved out I found a church that I quickly settled into and really loved.

I will be forever grateful to my friend who introduced me to Durban Christian Centre, which has been my home over the past few years. As I thought of her I remembered how God says in Isaiah 46:11, “From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” That is truly what He did in this instance; He brought this friend into my life so that His purpose will be fulfilled. Shortly after I reached what I think was the pivotal point in my walk with Christ, she simply walked out of my life. Without any fight, without any identifiable reason we simply went on our lives. Her job was done, I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior, I had denounced all ties that I had to my former life.

You would think that is where the story ends. You would think this is where I declare I lived happily ever after, my faith just flourished overnight and ever since then I have lived in perfect obedience and have always felt God’s presence in my life. No! This is not where the story ends. If it did, I think I would have to change my blog title to: “God is done with me” in which case I am almost certain that I would be doing that from heaven (provided the internet connection there is fast enough)! Even if the story did end here, I do believe that it would be a great story because it would tell of how God went looking for me when I was lost and brought me home, like the shepherd in parable of the lost sheep(Matthew 18:12 – 14). It would still be an awesome love story of how He loved me so much, He sent His only son to die in my place(John 3:16). We would fade out to the sound of heaven rejoicing over this one sinner who once was lost but now is found.

The truth though, is that God has never stopped pursuing me. Being a Christian is not about being won over into the kingdom of Christ once and that’s that. It is about dedicating your life continuously and repeatedly to the Lord. It is about growing in your faith through trials and tests that we go through. Any sword that is left unsharpened soon becomes dull and rusty and what use it in fighting off danger? I have learned through my experiences that we are not called to be statues in the Kingdom, we are called to be warriors and conquerors. We can never accept any responsibility for being chosen, we had no choice in the matter. Before we were born, before He laid the foundations of the earth, He had you and I in mind and He called us then to be His children. Our places in heaven are secured through the blood of Jesus Christ and all we need to do is accept the call and start pursuing God with the love and passion with which we were pursued.

Defeated Foe


“He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross…You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world.” ~ Colossians 2: 14 – 15,20

There comes a time in a every believer’s life where they stop for a minute, realise they have been taken for a joyride and then unleash their full fury on the enemy for trying to blind side them with meaningless lies. For me that time is today, right now! I am mad because he almost got away with it. I almost let him get away with it. I almost let him get away with my joy, my hope for the future and God’s promises for my life.

I am not writing to glorify his works in my life but rather how God has unveiled them to me and how the Lord has made me victorious just by uncovering them because as I recently read in Leighann McCoy’s “Spiritual Warfare for Women”, you cannot be deceived by someone if you know you are being deceived! In the times that I have been cheated on, what has hurt more than feeling like I was inadequate next to the woman with whom my boyfriend had cheated, was feeling duped. It was feeling stupid enough to have fallen for the lies and therefore to have wasted precious time on someone who did not even deserve it. In the same way, I am angry with myself for having listened to all the accusations, lies and torments that have been brought up against me. The energy I exerted being upset was time that should have been used furthering my Father’s kingdom and bringing glory to His name. Why was I targeted for the enemy’s attack? Why did I walk straight into the enemy’s trap? The answers are simple! I was, I am and will forever be a target because I have renounced sin, the ways of the world and have chosen to follow Christ. I walked straight into the lies simply because I took my eyes off the cross!

I was close to tears this afternoon as I listened to all the charges that were being brought up against me. This year and particularly this month I had made so many plans, I had so much I wanted to accomplish and I was finally making preparations to start rebuilding my life and walking in boldness into the next phase of my spiritual walk. I listened as I was reminded how I had fallen short in the tasks assigned to me, how I was inferior to my peers at work, how my bosses and clients probably thought I was an idiot. I listened as every goal I had made this month was called out and with excruciating emphasis, I was reminded that I had not achieved a single one. Secret fears were brought to the surface, sore points were jabbed at, basically in a space of one short afternoon I was reminded of all my shortcomings that made me unworthy of God’s grace. The devil was basically saying to me, “you have sunk so low, have messed up so much you might as well curl up and die!”

Minutes short of the torrential downpour that was threatening to erupt and flood my face, I heard a still quiet voice say to me, “I threw those sins into the sea of forgetfulness a long time ago. Does the Word not say that My mercies are anew every morning?” As I quickly realised that I had been duped not just this afternoon but for weeks now, that’s when the fury set in. Here’s what I realised this afternoon: satan is a sore loser!

Looking back on the past few weeks, the victories I can recall are fewer than the accusations brought against me. I ask for the Lord’s forgiveness in this because I know that there victories I am not even acknowledging on my list. I praise God though for each and every one of them. I have satan and his minions all worked up, roaming to and fro trying to confuse, stress and overwhelm me over a few decisions and over few victories, some that I did not even stop to think about and realise that they were victories.

When charges were being brought up against me, no spirit ever mentioned that I was being persecuted because for the first time in my life my primary goal is to live my life in obedience to the Word. I performed one of the biggest spring cleaning exercises on my life that I have done to date earlier this year. I let go of friends I knew were not helping me grow in my walk with God, I gave up social habits that provided only momentary entertainment with no spiritual fulfilment and I decided to give my life completely and unreservedly to Christ. I have basically reached a point in my relationship with God where there is no turning back! Praise God because a few months on I am still living in obedience and have not gone back to any of the things I renounced at the beginning of the year.

It is funny how many mercies and victories we discount as being small and yet we can accumulate shortcomings and shortfalls. Two weeks ago I slammed a car door on my thumb with such force that all who were watching were shocked when I did not cry or even scream in pain. I couldn’t help but stop typing, look at my thumb, flex it a little and smile because there is absolutely nothing wrong and there has never been anything wrong with it since the time the door was opened in order to release it. There was never any pain, swelling or even redness. Sadly, that miracle is all but forgotten. About a month ago I prayed a prayer that I did not understand at the time, that I nearly did not pray because I was exhausted and sleepy but I prayed nonetheless and then fell asleep. Less than ten minutes later when my brother woke me up to tell me how he had just escaped an attempted mugging at gunpoint, I realised it was that very prayer that saved his life. Without me even knowing it, the Holy Spirit moved me to intercede for him and pray for his safety. Sadly, that miracle too is all but forgotten! If only I could forget all my failures that easily!

How much more joyful I would be if I would turn away from the pain, frustration and shame of not having a car and focus on the fact that not once have I ever been stranded anywhere without any means of getting home. My heart would be filled with more gratitude if I would shift the focus away from the pangs of longing that I feel every time I am reminded that I am still alone, I am without what I desire most for my life, and focus on the work I can accomplish in and for the kingdom of God as 1 Corinthians 7:34 advises. If only I would divert my attention away from what I don’t have, what I have not accomplished and what I am missing then I would realise the truth that all these are simply momentary afflictions and like Romans 8:18 says, “what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” Sadly I, like many believers listen to the lie that our troubles are unique only to us, that we are suffering because God does not love us or care for us and that the pain we are in will surely kill us.

I could write for days on all the things the devil has tried and succeeded in stealing from me. I could tell of all the lies that he has told, the pain he has put me through. Nothing that I write will change this one solid truth: HE WAS AND REMAINS DEFEATED! Why does he bother putting up such a huge fight? Because he is a sore loser! I would be fighting a mindless battle if I even tried to defeat him because I need only look at the Word to remember that he was defeated a long time ago! He was kicked out of heaven so fast, he fell like lightning(Luke 10:18) and was disarmed and shamed publicly by the Son’s victory on the cross(Colossians 2:15).

Tonight I rest in the confident knowledge that God “cancelled the record of all the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” So today he gave it his best shot, he even had me fooled for a moment but because of what Jesus so lovingly and selflessly did for me on the cross, I am victorious. Tomorrow I will wake up ready to fight the good fight because I know I didn’t exhaust God’s mercy fighting today’s battles but that instead it begins afresh every morning(Lamentations 3:23).

Victory In The Making


“Made a wrong turn, once or twice. Dug my way out blood and fire. Bad decisions that’s alright, welcome to my silly life” – Perfect, Pink

Growing up I used to yearn for the day I turned twenty-five. Twenty-five for me was that age when everything in my life would make sense. I figured by then I would have lived long enough to understand the ways of the world and I would have done enough with my life to silence even my worst critics. At twenty-five I would be established in my career, I would have my own place, a beautiful car and most importantly I would be married or at the very least be engaged. At twenty-six with less than two months to go till my twenty-seventh birthday, I could not be further from all the above aspirations. I made one crucial mistake when I was sitting there planning my future, I forgot to take into account all the bad decisions I would make, all the mishaps and mistakes that would derail me from path that led to my dreams. I smile as I think back because I have no choice but to admit that it was all rather naive of me.

I had a moment of panic a month or two ago when it suddenly hit me that 2012 would be the year of my ten-year high school reunion. I am filled with so much shame and want to cower away in a little corner and not attend because quite frankly I feel like I have nothing to show for the past ten years. Well I lie, almost nothing. I do have my CA qualification, too bad I cannot take that with me and beam with pride and adoration when I introduce it to everyone. It seems to pale in comparison to the husbands, new babies, luxury cars and stunning homes that people now have. Ironic when I think about it because even in high school my intelligence and outstanding academic record was all I really had going for me. As the person who came top of my year I cannot help but feel that I have a lot to prove. In addition to proving that I have made something of my life, I also have to prove that I did not sacrifice a “real life” for academics. As I sit here I have to wonder if I did not do exactly that?

Just as I am about to sink into a new level of depression, the rational side of my brain reminds me that I have beaten a lot of odds along the way and I have come very far. Despite my upbringing, despite all the mistakes I have made, despite being a teenage mother, I am still one of the 32,000 odd qualified chartered accountants. Not only that but I have traveled further than some will ever do in their lifetimes. While admittedly I did not achieve all I had set out to achieve, I still can say I’ve lived abroad for a year and I stuck it out for a whole year even though every fibre of my being was telling me to come home after just a month. In all that I have done in the past ten years, I didn’t just cave in to my circumstances. I did not just accept the glass ceiling that was imposed on my success. I have dug myself out of more holes than I care to remember. While I may not have much to show for all I have done, all I have accomplished by way of possessions, I know I have learned a lot and am well on my way to being on my way to being the woman I want to be.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that there is a time and place for every matter under the sun. If only I could remember this when I find myself envious of someone else’s success and blessings instead of remembering this scripture long after the tears of frustration and the shame of all I don’t have have engulfed me. Last night I lay in bed, near tears begging God to bring my husband my way. Almost immediately I could hear the response and it was a resounding NO! He said to me I was not ready yet. I wanted to launch into a full-scale argument with Him but kept still long enough to realise we had gone through this one too many times before and deep inside I knew exactly what He meant when He said I wasn’t ready. Funny though because this quiet acceptance has not stopped me from yearning over and over again today for someone to love and who will love me. The Bible reading, God believing Christian in me knows too well that He will grant me blessings according to His divine time and plan. The frustrated, impatient part of me who feels immense pressure to produce tangible success just won’t accept this and keeps begging God in the hope that He will grow tired of my pleas and just give me what I want and yet I know that won’t happen.

It’s amazing the amount of pressure that society places on us. What amazes me even further is the number of people who feel entitled to put you under pressure. While people feel obliged to give you opinions on how you should live your life and what you should and shouldn’t have, it’s quite ironic that they will not lift a finger to help you achieve these goals that they have set for you. I have been back home for two weeks now and I am already sick and tired of being asked when am I buying a car! No one’s offering to help me with installments or the deposit so why ask me like they’ve given me money to buy one and I did not do so? The very same people who have never picked up their phones to ask me how I am in the twelve months I was in Edinburgh are the ones asking for gifts from me. I struggled to even buy a plane ticket home with no one contributing a cent and now I’m selfish for not bringing anything back for anyone? I am in awe of the arrogance of some people.

As 2011 draws to a close and I think ahead of what lies in 2012, I am appreciative of the things I have been through in the past year that are bringing me closer to the woman I am destined to be. In as much as I made so many mistakes, shed so many tears and felt lonelier than I have ever felt in my entire life, I am starting to realise there was purpose in all that pain. I was meant to lose the people I lost this year because they were enablers; allowing me remain stagnant and mediocre. The loneliness and isolation I felt was necessary to remind me that there is nothing more important than companionship and also taught me that you cannot be a good companion to someone else till you know how to be one to yourself. My stint of separation from God was necessary to ground me, remind me that I am nothing without Him and remind me that my relationship with God should be the basis of all that I am and all that I do.

Looking back at all I set out to achieve this year and all that I thought I would have achieved by now, it is apparent that I am far from the finish line. But like Jessie J’s ‘Who you are’ reminds me: “It’s ok not to be ok. Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart but tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising, just be true to who you are.” I am at peace, even if temporarily, with where I am in my life and with all that I have and don’t have because it is simply not my time yet. I take comfort in knowing that next year will be yet another year I can try again and continue to strive towards God’s plan for my life. I have no doubt that I will stumble and fall along the way, I will not let that stop me because there is greater victory in pressing forward in the face of adversity than there is in succumbing to adversity.

Lessons From The Desert Part 2 (Importance of Friendship)


“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” ~ C.S. Lewis

The moment I read the above quote, I knew this would be the opening quote for this blog. As I prepare for my journey out of the desert, I reflect on all the lessons I have learned while stuck there and one of the most important ones is just what friendship and companionship mean to me.

Jesus is the epitome of a true friend for as John 15:13 says “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” and lay down His life He did just for me. I did not have a true appreciation for friends until I started university, far away from my family and all that was familiar to me. I quickly learned that if I was going to survive I needed to surround myself with people with the traits I admired and that I wanted to grow within me. I was blessed enough to meet my group of friends within my first month in university and today, nearly eight years later, I am still very close with a many of them. These wonderful women really shaped not only the woman, but the friend I am today.

I can still remember looking at my one friend and thinking, “how can she be so giving, so loving and so supportive?” She just seemed to be living John 15:13 as she loved, gave and supported even when she had better things to do and it seemed that those she was going out on a limb for, including myself, were not deserving. I knew looking at her that she was the kind of friend I wanted to emulate. As I started practicing to give more of myself and care less about what I received in return, I noticed the results because before I knew it I was overwhelmed with love and support and friends who’d drop everything to come to my aid when needed. Given the constant nurturing frienships require, I sometimes wonder how I managed to sustain those friendships throughout university because I was in a pretty serious relationship for pretty much my entire university career. I am sincerely grateful I did because when the chips were down and my world as I knew it shattered, they rallied around and they were there!

The most significant relationship I have built my friend template from is probably the one with my oldest and closest friend. I cannot sneeze without her saying “bless you” from the other side of the world. We were so close in high school even our mothers became friends. Sadly went our separate ways for university and pretty much did not speak or see each other for years. But man, did it hit us with a bang when we started working together a few years later! I do not feel I have developed enough as a writer to do our friendship and how much she means to me justice. I will not even try. By accepting and loving me just as I am with all my imperfections, she has really taught me how to just be me. She is truly my anchor and always pulls me back when calamity tosses me out of control. Never with grand gestures, never making me feel like I am stupid for not seeing it sooner but rather with the utmost gentleness, love and care. I once read in Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ that the most precious gift we can ever give is time. My best friend continues to give me the very best of herself, never demanding anything from me in return and it is from her than I have learned what a blessing it is to be loved unconditionally.

As I think of my friends who have come into my life quite unexpectedly, I cannot help but smile. Their friendship was so unexpected that unlike the friends I’ve discussed above, I cannot recall the point we became friends but I’m mighty grateful that we did. One day we were classmates, colleagues or strangers in church and the next they had carved very special places in my heart. They have added such a beautiful, enriched dimension to my life. Starting my working life I had often been warned to treat colleagues as such because ultimately they are there to look after themselves. It was quite a delightful lesson to learn that friendship does transcend age gaps, heirachies and most importantly the barriers supposedly imposed by work.

It is with absolute fondness that I reflect on each of the friends I left at home. My friends had done for me what a safe, nurturing environment does for a child; made me confident in my abilities and made me feel I was ready to take on the challange of moving abroad alone. If I had moved across the country and was able to building friendships that have survived years of separation, what would stop me now? If I was able to turn colleagues into friends why couldn’t I do it here? Looking back I realise that maybe I was somewhat arrogant in my thinking. Perhaps I was even more arrogant to think I would be able to survive without the glue that has held me together through my adult life thus far!

In Lessons From The Desert Part 1, I spoke about how making life-long friends was one of my goals when I arrived here. I was quite happy that I had landed up in Edinburgh because I had often heard how friendly the Scots were compared to say Londoners(which had been one of my possibilities). Having spent a few weeks trying to break into existing friendship circles in the office, I quickly realised that I was banging my head against a brick wall. We did not share similar interests and most importantly I just did not feel that sense of security that they understood me and that I belonged. So my next strategy was to align myself with the other South Africans who were pretty much in the same boat. Since most of the ones I would be working with were male, I planned to get to know their significant others that they’d moved here with and hopeful satisfy that longing I had for female companionship. Sadly, things did not quite work out.

It is not for the lack of trying that I will leave with no sense of accomplishment in this area. In my heart I really do believe that I did and tried all I could but always careful not too push too hard and trust in the process enough to take of the rest. Even with all that, I still have the deepest pain in my heart with all the hurt I have endured along the way. It reminds me of how I felt when I was little and I did not have any friends at school and felt like an outcast. I feel an even bigger outcast now than I did then.

The South African boys in the office have each other and their partners to go home to. Their partners have built a tight network and now have each other to lean on. And me? I have no one but myself. It is quite painful to sit and listen to the people you thought you would become friends with make dinner plans around you as if you are not even there. It’s even worse hearing about the parties that you were never invited to but would have loved to have been at. Thanks to social media it gets rubbed in your face over and over again when pictures are splashed all over feeds the following day. But don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for sympathy votes! As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “for everything there is a season, a time for every matter under the heavens” and this I believe has been my season of loneliness.

With each season in our lives we are to learn something; in spring the promise of blessings to come, in summer the joy of giving, in autumn the wisdom of preparation and in winter we must learn patience and the blessing in growing in seclusion.

I have learned a lot from this past year and I hope that I do not hold onto the pain and bitterness that lingers in my heart. For the past few days I have repeatedly prayed that the Lord grants me a forgiving heart, a heart that lets go and doesn’t hold onto the hurt and pain it feels. This experience has, if nothing else, humbled me. It has also opened my eyes to just how much I love and value the friends I left at home. It is with newfound clarity that I reflect on and appreciate all they have taught me and just how much they have shaped my life. The most important lesson was the one my bestie reminded me of when she said, “Babe,don’t let them change who you are. It is in your very nature to be loving and giving. It is their loss if they do not appreciate all you do for them.”

Whilst the intellectual in me knows that you cannot force friendship and you cannot build one when the other person is not invested in doing so, it still saddens me to think of the longing left unfilled in my heart. And whilst my survival through the year has proven that friendship is unnecessary, like C.S. Lewis realised during his time, this survival means way less in the absence of friends to share war stories with.

Lessons from the desert Part 1


For at least the past week I have had a blog all written in my head but for some reason just could not bring myself to let my fingers meet the keyboard. It seems I have developed a fear of writing, some writers’ block. Before it consumes me whole and destroys any confidence I have left, I think it’s time to nip it in the bud so…..“Dear brain, in case you were starting to doubt this, I am in control and not you!”

In 35 days, God willing, I will be making my way back to my family and friends whom I miss dearly. Most importantly back to the me that I used to be. It sounds odd to say this because we all want to grow and develop, we never want to regress and yet here I am wanting nothing more than to be the old me. I can feel the heat on the side of my face from God’s stare as I type that but truth be told, I would rather go back to who I was this time last year and forget the past year ever happened. It would be easier. Less heartbreaking. Less painful.

Leaving home last year I was filled with childlike excitement at the prospect of a brand new adventure. I was about to embark on a journey I did not even dream possible right up until the day it was confirmed. I had hope in abundance and faith that this was meant to be. Like anyone granted the chance of a lifetime, I had high aspirations of all I would do and achieve and the kind of person I would return as in a few years time. Coming here, my goals and aspirations were clearly defined. I was here realise my life-long dream of travelling around Europe, I was here to advance my career, make new friends and maybe even meet the love of my life. Of bigger significance I was here to earn enough so I can clear off my debts and also help my family to get out of debt and finally start a comfortable, successful life. Above all else, I was to grow in my walk with God and learn more about the woman He wanted me to be. One by one each dream went to that dark desolate place where dreams go to die and just so I can look back and remember how it all went down, here they are:

1. Holidaying in Europe. I was going to see at the very least Paris, Venice, Rome, Milan and Madrid. Sad thing is I actually came very close to realising this dream. I had the trip booked, paid the deposit, had the two weeks leave that I would need booked and all I had to do was pay the balance. It broke my heart when I had to cancel because of competing financial demands and a part of me will remain sad that I never got a chance to do this.

2. Financial freedom. I was going to claw myself out of the pit of debt I’d been stuck in for the past few years. Well that dream quickly went out the window when I realised just how expensive it was to live in this country. Add to that having to send money home to help my family, now almost a year later I have sunk even deeper. Getting to a point where I wonder if this is what I was destined for? Will I have come out of it? In trying to do right by my family and to prove to my grandmother, aunt and mother that I’m not the selfish, self-centered brat that they seemed to think I was when I moved out from home to establish my independence, I was the one left stranded.

My dreams of financial freedom seem so far out of reach I doubt I will be reaching them anytime soon. I look at my peers and I’m filled with deep jealousy because I too want to be able to buy a car, buy a house and live comfortably and not have to worry how I’ll get through the month.

3. Career progression. Coming to UK was going to be a chance to jump start my career, I would come back having at least progressed one level. That dream was blown to smitherines pretty much in January! I do not know why things played out the way they did, all I know to this day it hurts more than I can even put into words. I came here confident in my abilities, I was certain I had the skills, the attitude, the strength and the stamina to make it here. All that confidence is now gone and I am left feeling exposed and vulnerable. So much so that I am scared of any job that comes after this.

I probably cried in my first three months here more than I’ve done in any given year in my life. By the time March came around, I was seriously considering resigning, packing up my things and returning home. Looking back I probably should have, I would have done far less damage to my emotional and mental stability!

It really hasn’t helped that I have struggled for nearly four months to find a job at home. Something that came as a complete shocker because so many people had so knowingly told me what a wonderful opportunity this was and that it would boost my CV and make me stand out from my peers. It hasn’t quite worked out that way for me and I can’t help but feel I jeopardised my career and set myself back.

I have come to accept that this year has set me back and I will now have to work that much harder(on myself) to ensure the effects are not permanent and I do not create self-fulfilling prophecies. How I will do this, I do not know!

4. Love. When I left Durban I was determined to leave the heartache and pain of past relationships and use this as my fresh start and hopefully meet someone new who would love me and teach me to love past the hurt and the pain. Sadly I guess tis was never in the cards for me. At first I thought I would leave it to fate and see what it brought my way and then when that strategy did not work decided it was time to “put myself out there”. I registered on a couple of internet dating sites, started going out more and nothing yielded any results. Months ago I started to resign myself to the fact that maybe I am just one of those people that were meant to die alone! Yet, that quiet romantic in me refuses to believe that God can ever be that cruel.

5. Friendship. I had often heard of all the wonderful, life-long friends people make when travelling or living abroad. As my time here winds down, I need to probably admit that I will not be telling such stories to anyone. Not for the lack of trying! I arrived open to meeting new people and expanding my friendship circle. Much to my dismay the only things that this venture has yielded are many tearful nights from sheer frustration and loneliness, months of feeling undesirable and just completely useless. It’s one thing not to be wanted by the opposite sex, but when women do not want your companionship it compounds you become convinced that there’s something wrong with you!

6. Realising God’s plan for my life. I still remember the day I wrote Send Me To The Nations. Everything that could have gone wrong with my move here, seemed to have already happened. Yet amidst all that I had the quite confidence and the peace that I was walking the path God had wanted me to walk. This year was the year my relationship with Him would grow exponentially. This was the year I’d be drawn closer to Him and we’d do wonderful things together. When I wrote Just God and I in January, I was starting to believe that maybe all the things that had started going wrong and all the longing I had in my heart was all to reinforce that He was merely drawing me closer. I was still on the right path. I don’t know when I wandered off that path but months it’s been feeling I have been stumbling through a wilderness where God refuses to show His face. I went through months not wanting to pray let alone open a Bible. I was lost, wondering around aimlessly and no matter how much and how long I cried for help, He just did not want to show Himself to me.

I probably could have dealt with each of the above “failures” if I had been hit with them individually. Together they have come very close to consuming me and burying me alive. I probably could have dealt with the first five if I had felt the presence of God, His companionship and His comforting embrace through it all. Through all of this it feels as if I’m the only person excluded from the protective cover of scriptures like Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7 and Psalm 37:5. No matter how much I try cast my burdens to Him it seems He has turned His face away and closed His ears to my cries and has left me stranded in the middle of a desert with nowhere to turn and noone to turn to.

Life Comes Full Circle


“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.” ~Author Unknown

In life there are no guarantees…You’ll never know unless you try…It’s better to try than live with regret…What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. All clichés that gained their status because people like me needed to be told the same thing over and over again to spur them into making some sort of decision. Despite me knowing that nothing is more uncertain than life itself, I search for guarantees when making a decision. Even though I know that trying your hand at something with the threat of failing is better than never having tried at all, I sit terrified at the thought of venturing outside my comfort zone. All the while forgetting that this too was once a vague dream that I never thought possible. Forgetting that my life has been filled with leaps of faith that not only worked out just fine, but also brought me some of the greatest milestones in my life. Knowing all I know, why then is it so hard to make a decision and stick with it?

Up until now I have never really thought about it feels like and whether you see it ahead of time when your life is coming back full circle. A picture of an athlete running on a track appears in my mind and I wonder, were it for the markings that demarcate the start and finish line would he know when he has completed a full circle? Would he know he has run the distance he is required to run or would he just keep running until he wore himself out? As I sit thinking of my life and routes that lie ahead, I wonder what more needs to be done to make it clear that I need to stop running. My legs are weary, they feel like they will give in at any minute now, I know I have run the best race I could have run, I know up ahead lies the finishing point, besides a physical barricade to stop me from running further what more am I looking for?

This time last year an ongoing debate raged in my mind about whether making the move to Scotland, and leaving behind all that was familiar to me, was the right thing to do. Similar to where I stand right now, my mind was almost made up but the doubt still loomed and everything within me trembled at the thought of the journey that lay ahead. How could I not tremble? Up until last August I did not even own a passport let alone had experience of setting foot on any soil beyond the borders of South Africa. Even though I had applied for a job here and things looked promising, I still found it hard to believe that I was going to end up here. It didn’t help matters much that the process was riddled with problems and I ended up only arriving here in December as opposed to September as originally planned.

A year later, here I sit with yet another battle raging in my mind bearing an uncanny resemblance to “The Battle of 2010”. Similar to last year, I am unsettled in my life and I feel I have lost my bearings. As much as it makes me sad to say this but I really do not feel like I belong here, I belong back in South Africa, among my own people. Which all seems somewhat strange to me because I had the same feeling of not belonging in South Africa a year ago. As much as people would like to lead me to believe that this should all be written off as random ramblings of a schizophrenic mind, I have enough faith in my God-given senses to know better. Do I listen to the part of me that says going back is the right thing to do, it will bring me peace and reunite me with the life I built for twenty-five years? Do I silence these thoughts and listen to the part of me that says I am making the wrong career move, I am giving up a great opportunity and all I am is just being a quitter right now?

While it might be true that I have not accomplished all that I had set out to accomplish by coming here, I feel I have done enough to earn an A for effort! Whilst I have not progressed up the ladder as planned nor have I travelled around Europe, as was my primary non-work goal when I moved here, I still feel it is time for me to go home. It brings me great sadness to know that I did not do these things and it makes me feel like I have let not only myself down, but also my supporters who were standing on the sidelines cheering me on. While at times it feels like I am quitting on this race simply because my legs are cramping and I’m just too tired to attempt taking another step, I know in my heart this is not the case. Why then is my heart riddled with guilt? Why is my heart so sore at the thought of giving this up?

Truth be told, I do not think there is much that I would be giving up by returning home. I would incur a lot of unbudgeted costs yes, but to me the costs to my heart and soul are way higher by staying here. I am a fragment of the woman I used to be, yet two or three sizes heavier. I cannot remember the last time I went to church, an activity which used to be the centre of my life. I walk around numb because after months of suppression my tearducts have staged a protest and refuse to work. I long for the embrace that let’s me know that everything is ok, that I can cry and be vulnerable it’s ok. I have no one who allows me that in that country. I might have more than I did when I was in South Africa but life feels emptier than it has ever been.

I will not lie and say being here is not a fantastic opportunity because it is. If it wasn’t I would not be torn by giving it up. We often hear people say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In as much as I agree with this, I also think there comes a point when the hardships that you go through only succeed in making you hardened. There also comes a point where you need to stand up and say enough is enough, I refuse to go through this again. Let’s face it, we can only keep growing stronger to a limited point and after that what didn’t kill you will eventually kill you. The human body was never designed to be immortal and I think we tend to forget that at times. Which makes me wonder then; what good will a brilliant CV do for me when I am dead?

Knowing all I know, having rationalised, gone back and forth and held numerous discussions with numerous people on either side of the ocean, why does this whole situation still seem so hard? Why am I filled with so much doubt? Why do I still feel like I’m looking for affirmation that I am not messing up my life even further?

I would be naive if I believed that the decision would be easy from this point on. It would certainly show that I have no understanding for my own character if I thought I would stop doubting myself now that I have processed and laid out my thought process because let’s face it, that is not about to happen. At this point all I can do to silence voices in my head is just pray. Pray that my heart is in line with God’s will for my life and I will not be shamed in His eyes by the path I choose to follow.