Tag Archive | new friendships

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.

Just God and I

Sitting staring at the cursor flickering on the screen, I can’t help but feel a little bit of anxiety over what I am about to do. It’s been over two months since my last blog. As I typed that I could hear the opening lines to a Catholic confession in my head. I must say, I have been living a lot in my own head the past two months all with good reason though. So here’s what you’ve missed while I’ve been away….

I moved to Edinburgh just over six weeks ago, left my family, friends and all that is familiar to me to embark on my greatest adventure yet. I was in London for a week seven weeks ago, that’s where I landed when I came across. I instantly fell in love with the city on  my first day there, not to say I don’t love EDI because I do, I’m just not too sure I’m in love with it…sorry baby, I hope we can still work things out, most importantly I hope you’ll let me stay.

I started my job which has turned out to be not what I expected and I find myself thinking, “Really God, like really? This is why You shipped me all the way  across the  globe?” Then of course I give my ritualistic, Oscar nomination deserving  stomping and screaming performance (in my head, told you I’ve been living in my head). He, not at all moved by the rerun of the show that has been playing since I was four and I’d come home to find my peaceful kingdom usurped my screaming doll-like creature, just glances over His shoulder, chuckling to Himself and then somewhere in the middle of my hissy fit He says to me, “Go ahead kiddo, just remember that it’s just you and Me out here and you’re not going anywhere until we’re done!”

Being alone is something that I thought I was accustomed to and I thought I was cool with and naturally as with most things I smugly think I’m right about, I was wrong! I was reminded how wrong I was on my first solo Christmas. A couple of days later when I spent my first solo New Years I was reminded yet again that I was not built to be alone. Christmas day I spent cowered away in the darkness of my temporary accommodation because I did not want to be the only sad lonely sod in church or any other public space without friends and family. So I watched Christmas movies that I had seen more times than I can remember, slept, cried and in the evening finally decided that a hunger strike was not going to miraculously bring my family all the way from South Africa. New Years Eve was a little better, I dragged myself out my flat(by now I had found my own cozy place) did a little shopping and went to a church service just after 11pm. It was beautiful and moving and I was glad I went. The church I went to is right at the foot of the castle which, I didn’t realise until it started, was the best place you could be to view the Hogmanay fireworks display. Wow! What a beautiful scene it was. As I stood there I felt a quiet reassurance that I was where I was supposed to be. Which I don’t doubt by the way but must He make it so hard?

In all fairness, I must say though that He has provided for me far more that I deserve and I live comfortably and don’t really long for anything. Well except for companionship and to see my family and friends again. Though I moan like I have been exiled here, in truth I will see them in about three months time but it feels like forever. People keep saying to me I will be alright as soon as I make friends. My polite response to those people is it’s hard to make friends, real friends like the type of friends I want to have when almost every social gathering revolves around drinking. I have been invited to more drinks gatherings than I have been my entire life since I have been here. That for me has been the biggest shock to the system….more than the temperature that is yet to venture anywhere higher than 10 degrees celsius. My not so polite response? You move to a country where you don’t know a single soul and then you can come preach to me about making an effort to make friends! What do you want me to do? Get all dressed up and go sit at the nearest pub(I should mention I live within a 30 second walk of three) and ask people there if they would like to make friends with the lonely black girl?

While on the topic, that has been another culture shock point for me…being acutely aware that I am black! I’m the only black person I have seen in the past 24hours. On a good day, I will see one other black person. On a really good day two. It’s always funny how I walk past them and try avoid eye contact because I’m scared I will burst into spontaneous, random conversation.  I must confess however that I did stop to ask one black lady at a bus stop two weeks after I arrived here where she gets products for her hair and where she gets it done because mine was so dry and coarse it actually had static!!! I had spent two weeks looking for even just shampoo for my hair and every time I was in hysteria about my hair my colleagues would say, “But it looks lovely, there’s nothing wrong with it.” My response, in the protective confine of my head of course, was simply, “When your hair looks drier than a desert and you can’t even put a comb through without it looking like you’re shedding hair like a snake shedding skin, then and then only can you tell me there’s nothing wrong with my hair!”

I miss my family, that I can’t stress enough. I miss the craziness, the drama but most of all I miss that annoyed feeling I would get when I was sleeping and I’d be interrupted by my door squeaking open and there one of them would be looking sheepishly at me. Well except for my mother, my mother feels no remorse about waking me up, especially since it’s her house. As I sit watching the flickering cursor yet again, I can feel tears welling up in my eyes because I am painfully aware that I have no one else here. It’s just God and I…