Tag Archive | Ecclesiastes 3:1

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.

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.

Someday I will


The hardest part of any pain is actually being in the depth of it and not feeling like it will ever get better. I have spent over 30 hours of this weekend sleeping just so I don’t have to think of you. I don’t hate you, really I don’t…I’m just not as over you as I would like to be.

They say God never wastes a hurt, that all your pain is preparing you for your purpose in life. Someday, one day I will come to appreciate this but that day is just not today. Today I just want to cry when I think of you. Today I just want to know why you’ve left my world without so much as a goodbye. Today I would like to know why God thinks it’s fair for me to go through such heartbreak twice in two years. First the one I’d loved for six years walks out on our relationship because he was “tired and just doesn’t want to be in the relationship anymore.” Now you here you are, gone…without a trace.

Was I wrong to love you in the first place? Is this my punishment for turning a friendship into a romantic relationship? Somehow I feel that I was disobedient. Somehow I feel that God had not wanted me to be with you at that point in time. If this is the case then why then did it feel so right? Why then is every moment I’ve spent with you etched in my heart and painted vividly with yellows, oranges, pinks and some bright blues? Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a season and time for every matter under the sun.” Was it just never the time for us? Ironic though how you were the one that once quoted this scripture to me. Why did you not add, “oh honey, this scripture applies to us too.”

I have so many questions I want to ask you. Not least of all being, why did you turn what was a beautiful friendship into a relationship knowing that you would not take care of me like you did as my friend? Was it just greed on your part? Was it that you just couldn’t bear the thought of someone else loving me? You knew the kind of pain that I had recently gone through and you said it yourself that you had never wanted to hurt me. Why did you then?

I will not be melodramatic and say that  I will never love another the way I have loved you because that would probably be a lie. I will not tear a page from a story book and say I have never loved another as much as I love you because guess what? I have loved so many others and I continue to love others each and every day. I guess that’s the beauty of a human heart, even when it feels like it is so weary that it will just never function the same again, it just surprises you because it just keeps pumping blood and supplying life to your whole body and as much as you are an unwilling participant, you find yourself doing exactly what you swore you’d never do again….loving another.

While for me the other is by no means another man, I love so many things even as I profess deep heartache. I love my friends, I love my siblings, I love the God who created me. I love Him because like Psalm 139:16 says, ” Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book all my days were recorded, even those which were purposed before they had come into being.” How wonderful is that knowledge that even before I had left my mother’s womb, the Lord knew the kind of pain that I would be in on this very day…25 years 8 months after my birth. Should He have stopped it? The immature Christian in me, shouts YES before I can even finish typing the question. Let me be real for one moment, I got myself into this situation! I was the one seeking a relationship, I am hurting today because of the very choices I made.

I cannot go a single day thinking of you. As cruel as it may sound I wish I had never met you. Though yes that would deprive me of the life’s lesson’s I was supposed to have learnt through my encounter with you, still in my defiance I say, “I wish I had never met you!” Let’s reverse time to that fateful Saturday morning when I was sitting in a lecture and I turned around and there you were walking into the back of the room wearing your rugby jersey and blue jeans. Then we would have no need to erase all the encounters that followed, all of which I could recall on request. If there was any justice in this world, I would be able to erase the day you officially stepped into my life as my boyfriend. Blot it out of existence! I think that is the only way I could feel like my heart could resume its normal pace.

After all’s been said and done, I love you. I don’t understand why but I just do. I wish I could say I didn’t but then what would be the point in lying? Because of this overwhelming pain I feel I am incapable of reaching any point where I feel happy. I take my antidepressants like I’m supposed to and even that doesn’t help keep me out of this pit of despair that I am in. Sure I smile on que when I am around people. Yes I crack jokes. On a good day you might just find me actually putting in a good couple of hours of work. But does that change the fact that sometimes it hurts so bad I feel physical pain in my chest? Does it change the fact that every time my phone makes a sound I still wish it was you? No it doesn’t! As pathetic as it is…I love you and I won’t stop loving you today but someday I will!