Tag Archive | The Purpose Driven Life

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.

Winning…One Battle At A Time


“In weakness or trial or pain, there is a faith proved of more worth than gold so refine me Lord through the flames”   ~ The Desert Song, Hillsong

It never ceases to amaze me how easily swayed I am. How much I take things to heart and how easily discouraged I am. I can go to bed with all sorts of great plans in my mind that just never materialise when I wake up the following day. When I speak to my friends, they’re always supportive and always tell me not to be so hard on myself and to be patient and kind with myself. I often question the reasons behind these ‘daily failures’. As much as I question I think it has a lot to do with my disobedience and not doing what I have been instructed to do.

Two scriptures pop into my mind when I reflect on this issue. First comes Psalm 37:5 – Commit your way to the Lord, trust Him and He will act. This is followed closely by thoughts of Proverbs 3:5 – Trust the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Over the past few months I have been working on trusting God and I got some encouragement from Joyce Meyer’s “Battlefield of the Mind” when she discusses in one of her chapters that we do not win battles all at once, God moves us forward through the battlefield one small battle at a time. So I can say through God’s grace I trust him a lot more than I did before I started my intimate walk with him. And wow has He shown me what happens when I trust Him over the past few weeks.

As a short aside, in ‘Send me to the nations’ I talked very briefly about how I had reached a stumbling block in my emigration process. This was one I could not just let be and hope it works itself out. I was faced with having to raise the equivalent of three months’ salary in guess how long? Three months! If there’s one thing I have learnt is that the world does not stop while I have problems. In that time one of my very close friends was going through a very stressful time financially. While I was contemplating how I could help her I remembered one of the sermons our pastor, Pastor Llewellyn Roberts, had preached about a few weeks ago. He preached about the spiritual blessings that flow from sowing into God’s kingdom. I remember him saying, “If we are to receive the wealth from His kingdom we need to be prepared to give to other members of the kingdom. We cannot make grand gestures to strangers when those closest to us are suffering and we stand by and watch.” So with the message of this sermon renewed in my heart and my own pain that came from seeing her struggle sorely fresh on my mind, I decided to give her some money out of what little savings I had. I was humbled by the completely unexpected results!

The following morning, I met with her and she told me that she had told her mom about what I had done for her. Her mom offered to donate her December bonus to help pay for a substantial portion of my relocation expenses. I was so shocked and moved by her generosity, had it not been for the fact that we were in public, I would have cried. That evening I received a call from someone in the office that I am relocating to. They were phoning to tell me that they would be personally paying for my plane tickets, my visa and would try help with whatever other initial costs I needed help with. And just like that, my financial crisis was over. Just like that, the Lord showed me that I could fully trust him and gave me my personal testimony on Matthew 6:33. Now I can also testify that God knows my needs and will give me what I need and more if I seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness. He gave me thirty-fold what I had originally given!

Now back to the first half of Psalm 37:5, the half that I still struggle with. Although on a whole I have learnt to commit my life to the Lord and I try as hard as I can to continuously assess my progress and to try bring myself back in line with His purpose where I feel I’ve deviated off the path, I still struggle to commit each individual day to Him. One of the lessons I’ve taken from reading Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” is that we are a living sacrifice and the problem with a living sacrifice is that it crawls off the altar and you need to drag it back and rededicate it again. Here’s where I think the source of my ‘daily failures’ lies; I do not pray in the morning! My mornings consist of me tossing and turning for an hour after my alarm goes off, rushing to leave at least thirty minutes late. Yep, I have given up the quest to leave home on time. Although I talk to God throughout the time from when I get up to when I eventually reach work, I do not explicitly pray and drag myself back to the altar and offer myself as a sacrifice afresh.

This brings me to the second half of Proverbs 3:5, far too often I lean on my own understanding. When faced with challenges, painful situations and roadblocks in my life, I automatically revert to my own understanding even though I am well aware how flawed my understanding is. All ant hills are mountains in my understanding! All opposition to my dreams are a personal attack on my character! Most importantly…all problems last for all eternity! It’s not hard to see then why I am so easily discouraged and why I am so sensitive to the actions of others.

Sadly this makes me realise that I am very far from being in the same league David, Moses, and Job to name but a few. I would also like to be known as, ‘God’s faithful servant’. To be faithful I need to be trusting all the time and not sometimes. To be faithful I need to have my feet firmly planted in the Word and not to be swayed by any circumstance. To be faithful I need to above all else be obedient! There is great benefit in being faithful. It is written in Proverbs 28:20, “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished”

Interestingly, I learnt in ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ that half obedience and delayed obedience are tantamount to disobedience. Ever thought that’s what you are doing when you obey some scriptures and not others? That you are being disobedient when you receive instruction from God to stop doing something and you say you will do so someday? The ruler of heaven and earth will not be mocked!

So I have crawled back to the altar and I have confessed my shortcomings before the Lord. Interestingly I feel lighter than I did when I started writing. I feel the kind of joy that only comes from being in His presence. I have moved one step forward on God’s chess board. Through His grace I have one less ‘daily failure’ today and for now that’s enough.

I pray that God will help you with your ‘daily failures’ and will grant you the strength to also overcome them, one battle and one win at a time.