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Today when I was in the shower, I thought of some of the things I was struggling with and where I was going wrong and I remembered the love chapter (1Corinthians13) because love had been such a recurring thought for me in the past few weeks, particularly loving when its hard to because I feel I’ve been failing dismally in that area of my life. Its funny because more and more, its as if God has been shifting my mind from focusing on what has been done (I really need to work on that whole training/renewing my mind thing) to where I’m going wrong. Its so easy to get caught up, make scenarios in your head, feeling like you need to be vindicated for there to be some kind of release in your heart. No one ever wants to do the hard work of loving in a tough situation, letting God work with your stubborn and rebellious heart and that’s the path God has been taking me down. Tough but necessary…
So today, when I was going through all these things and the scripture came to mind, I thought it would be cool if I pencilled down some of my thoughts concerning love, maybe for next few days, weeks? (Darn, now I’ve put myself in a tight spot and made a public declaration of accountability *face palm*) And the best place to start?
There’s a passage in the bible where Jesus is talking to His disciples about there being no greater love than someone laying his life down for his friends (John15:13). That really just got to me. Laying down your life means letting your selfishness and your pride take a back seat to consider the other person. Then there’s the fact that Jesus did that for us, people who weren’t loveable, people who more often than not shove His love for us right back in His face. I mean can you imagine that? That’s been really challenging me, even now as I think of it.
What more encouragement do we need to love than that? He so freely loved us, why not share this great love that we have the awesome privilege of knowing. And I guess for me, its always a reminder, that I can never love anyone if I don’t get it from the source…
Have you ever really wanted something with your whole heart, dreamt of it, thought about it, made scenarios in your head about it? What was your response when you finally got it?
About two months ago, my mom just out of the blue said she’d send me money to buy a phone that could do more than just text and receive calls. Its something I’d been wanting for a while, what with most of my friends being on whatsapp, I always felt like it took an extra bit of effort for people to communicate with me so this would make my life (and the life of others, ehem) easier. So when it came up, I was like, “wow, its finally happening”. I remember distinctly how I felt. It was surreal. What I’d been hoping for for a very long time was coming to pass and my brain was a bit slow in processing it.
Ok. Maybe the phone example wasn’t the best one to use because I have another in my head, something that happened today (and the day before and a week ago). And although great because its something I’ve wanted for a long time, I got to thinking, “really Babalwa? This is what determines your happiness? This is what you thought would make you happy? Now what after this?”. I think its great to have desires and its also great to celebrate and be happy when God decides to give you those things (well even if He doesn’t but that’s a story for some other day) but letting those things determine your “happiness”, well not too sure about that.
Just making this a friendly reminder to myself. There are lots of great things in the world but I always need to be careful of making them the ultimate. It is only in Christ that I can find true joy, something that surpasses this pseudo-happiness that is fleeting.
There’s this one thing I’ve been trying to wrap my head around, been praying about it, wrestling with it, crying about it and in all of that, a few days ago, it became so clear to me. I needed to die. If I was ever to be free, that’s what I had to do. Have you ever experienced something, like every fibre of your being is lashing out, wanting to have some sort justice, do something that would be totally justified but you know deep in your heart, you have to do the exact opposite? Stab it a thousand times. Choose. Differently.
I was reading Shawn Mcdonald’s online journal today and it was like he took the words right out of my head.
“I feel that God has been telling me to die. I feel scared and alone at times, I don’t know how to die… My will, my wants, my dreams, need to die.”
I know God is working things out, what exactly I’m not sure but I think this is the best time for me to lean into Him more than ever. A heart of flesh for a hardened one…
So I went to the salon today. First checked out the one I usually go to (ridiculously low prices I tell you) but it was to full and I wasn’t in the mood for a patience lesson today, checked another but didn’t have the money for it then finally settled for a price elsewhere that was sort of in the middle. I was thinking in my head how women subject themselves to torture just to look good. If you relax your hair like me (see exhibit A), then I don’t know how on earth we constantly go back to:
Strike 1: the harsh chemical that almost, if not always, burns your scalp
Strike 2: if the hairdresser isn’t very careful, burns your already tender scalp with the water. *sigh*
(Ok, here I should add how the cold feeling that comes from the shampoo sort of makes you forget your troubles. I always look forward to this part of the hair relaxing(straightening) process)
Strike 3: that monstrous thing called a hairdryer. If its not in my hand, standard is I’m going to get burnt all over again.
Strike 4: (just for good measure. this one is a personal turnoff) the end result? Super oily hair. And those sometimes ridiculous styles that scream I JUST CAME FROM THE SALON. LOOK AT ME!!!
All for the love of beauty right?
Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was my experience today. Very much like what I’ve mentioned but the only difference was what she did in the beginning. There are certain thing I’ve grown accustomed to regardless of which salon I choose. The hairdressers more or less do the same thing. Today, I watched as the lady did not use a comb on my chemical infested hair, just her hands. I’ve always thought to myself, maybe the thin-toothed comb sort of makes sure the hair gets straightened but as I saw today, that isn’t the case. It is the chemical that straightens, not the comb and I think sometimes we get our wires crossed on that one. Sure the comb helps but you can do with out it.
Almost feel like that comb. And God? Well its obvious isn’t it?
He’s that strong, straightening out the crookedness of our ways. Just want my heart to be willing to be straightened out and not stubborn, reluctant to change.
Learning. Letting God be the center. Letting Him rescue, save my heart. Giving it over…
“Father waits upon His son…
I just called to see if You still have a place for me… I’ll be coming home” – John Legend
When you feel like you screw up every good thing that comes your way,
Used up, sucked of all your flavour
Looking for comfort in things that pass away, things that don’t last
They never do satisfy, do they?
Always leave you screaming, begging for more.
Destructive behaviour becomes your favourite past time.
That’s what useless people are good at, right?
You wallow in your pain, your sadness
There’s no escape route, you’re alone
Well, are you?
You know what you’ve done? Mocked the very hands that created you, the One who’s been calling you, patiently
Can’t you hear Him?
The ONLY One who satisfies, faithful solace.
Even in your unfaithfulness.
Open your lips, speak the depths of your heart.
Take that step.
While you still can…
Opening the windows, taking off the self-made bullet-proof vest..
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast” – Psalm 139:7-10
This year, I was given the privilege of having a single room. For me, that meant I could sing at the top of my voice (well not enough for the neighbours to hear), I could come back from a long day at school and if I wanted to cry, I wouldn’t have to be explaining to someone what the matter was, I would be free to be me. But lo and behold, it hasn’t been all I thought it would be.
First year, I lived alone (only because my room mate was so home sick that she decided to go back home only after a few days of varsity) and I can say without a doubt, that I really relished the fact that I had a space that was mine, where I could what I wanted, when I wanted. I can say room 602 was my meeting place with God 😀 and the thing about it was, that even though I didn’t have a room mate, I never felt alone. I was very friendly to the girls on my floor, sometimes they would come visit and I knew quite a few people from the building as well, I even had a study group at school as well so my social interactions, I could say, were more than good.
A few months ago, I remember telling a friend of mine how I felt so totally and utterly alone in my new room, that the feelings or the experience that I had wanted to get out of living alone again just weren’t coming. All I can manage these days is a quick “hi” if someone passes me on the corridors, I am not the buzzing socialite I used to be, and well, in terms of studying, I now ride solo. What happened?
A few days ago, our pastor at church mentioned something about how solitary confinement had affected this particular person he was talking about (oh how I wish I had paid more attention, I’d be able to tell you the name. Zoning out is not cool I tell you) and for some reason, afterwards, that just stuck with me so I decided to consult my trusted source of knowledge, Google, about the effects of solitary confinement and I came across a research paper by Carly Frintner entitled Lonely Madness: The Effects of Solitary Confinement and Social Isolation on Mental and Emotional Health (http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1898 if you want to view the entire article 😉 ). It fascinated me that the social interaction we all at some point, take for granted, was one important aspect that helped us remain somewhat stable and not crazy. In the paper, she mentions that being alone in your thoughts or rather long periods of being alone can lead to a depressive state and a part of me immediately agreed with this. There are 2 things that I generally get horribly wrong in life: eating habits and sleeping patterns and since I struggle with the latter, I usually am up at night if there’s something weighing on me (like now. Seriously, I need to invest in sleeping pills) and I think. And the thing about it is that I usually don’t communicate the things that come up in this brain of mine, so for me, this room is not the “freedom” area it was meant to be. I more feel trapped than anything really and I don’t like this…
I was speaking to my sister about depression this one time and she said to me, “Yeah. I mean I know what depression is and it festers where there’s no one to lean on”.
I guess now I have all my answers. And knowing is half the battle…
Just to end off, looking back to the scripture I started off with, even in this, for me, knowing that He is with me whether “I make my bed in the depths” or not gives me hope. “His hand will still guide me”
I am not utterly alone.
Its funny how struggling with something for a period of time takes away so much from you. Just thinking back to a time when I was so consumed with this one thing that I couldn’t enjoy life generally. Now I realise that the things that we meditate upon and the things we give a place to fester in our minds, those are the very things that determine where we’re at emotionally and how we react to certain situations. They have the ability to consume us and you find yourself in a place where you feel like your life is centered around this one thing. So yesterday as I lay on my bed, thinking, it hit me. Almost like how Paul asked God to take away the thorn from his flesh, 3 times even and God said to him:
“My grace is sufficient for you…”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Ok so like constantly thinking of problem, for example you’re a varsity student and you dont know where your fees are going to come from or you’re struggling to forgive someone who’s hurt you. What will keep you from moving forward is constantly thinking “but this thing that they did really hurt me, I cant believe they did that” and such things. “If you try not to think about it then doesnt that mean you’re kinda running away from the problem?” you might ask. I don’t think so. I think its important for us to constantly focus on things that build us up, looking to Jesus to help us in the things we struggle with. Brings a certain scripture to mind:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”
It takes a conscious deliberate rerouting of brain thoughts from all the negative stuff to, as the Word mentions, things that are pure ect. Its not the easiest thing though because our minds sometimes wonder so easily. Its like our minds are old dogs, to old to learn new tricks so they consistently go back to their old ways of doing stuff because that’s what’s comfortable, its a tried and tested sort of thing. But I guess I’m challenging you (and me) to get out of that comfort zone and not hide behind “this is how I am”.
Let’s teach our minds new tricks.
I can’t sleep. This usually happens when I’ve got something on my mind so i figured putting some of my thoughts out there would help somewhat. Lets see how it goes…
I was recently listening to this other lady who spoke at the Godfirst women’s camp. She said a few things that caught my attention and the one I’d like to zoom in on is how women have this thing of wanting to compare themselves to others or maybe to the societal standard. Its that need of approval we seek. “If I get straight A’s, maybe then my parents will finally accept me” or “Maybe if I start wearing short skirts like her, he’ll like me”…
Its so tempting and dare i say easy, to fall into such a pattern of thinking and its been a struggle for me but always being reminded that God approves of me and loves me. The most mind boggling part is that I didn’t do anything to earn it..
As I am.
And He loves us enough not to leave us where we are but to be more like Him. That’s my prayer this morning..