31

Can you sniff 2017? I know I can. Once I begin inhaling the fragrance of Christmas, the year’s end is often the next thought.

Last night I was at a vigil when the mother called in tears. I could barely make out what she was saying but I quickly figured it was news of another death. I went silent.

It feels like this year, I have attended more funerals than celebrations. When it isn’t a beautiful young soul who was just starting out, it is a parent leaving behind innocent little ones or even ‘unfinished business,’ which I feel like we all have. On top of all the salty seas that have constantly had to dissolve, this anguish has greatly affected how I think, how I feel and how I live. Fortunately, some of the outcomes have been positive.

While I have for the past few years been a great advocate for ‘leave whatever job, relationship or other situation which brings you more sadness than joy,’ my conviction has developed by leaps with each sudden farewell. The fleetingness of life increasingly affects my decisions and I find myself imposing these ideals even on poor unsuspecting victims.

A couple of months ago, I found myself ‘lecturing’ Carol about her choices, giving 150% to a job that only milked her, stole her sense of self-worth and lowered her self- esteem. It was only on my way home that I realised I had only met her once and should probably have found a more neutral topic of discussion, climate change? I shrugged it off as ‘motherly instinct’ and consoled myself in the knowledge that I did it in good faith. Last week she sent me a Facebook message explaining that she had suffered a breakdown and her doctor attributed it to her working environment. Carol has since tendered her resignation.

Unfortunately, many young people I interact with have convinced themselves that they should settle for less. On the surface they seem confident, ambitious, happy, and vivacious even. However, they are in bad relationships because “all women/men are the same.” They work crazy hours for little pay and no potential for growth because “it is the same everywhere.” Sadly for the latter, even I have to advise cautiously because I understand that the unemployment burden is very REAL. I also know that we can’t have passion and dreams for breakfast and dinner.

While it is unlikely that you will love people into changing their world view, it is also important that we support our loved ones. We need to take it upon ourselves to reignite their flame when we realise it is burning out, to have the courage to speak out even when we know the truth will sting.

I know there is a thin line between meddling and some of us might prefer to keep silent and ‘keep the peace’ but in my opinion, that is stealing a portion of what we need to give our loved ones.

 

What would you have loved to see/hear when you were younger? Did you (not) have someone holding your hand and showing you direction? Did their presence, or lack thereof affect the person you are today?

What happens when our would-be mentors in the work place are the biggest source of negative energy? What is the expected outcome when our parents tell us we are worthless and/or compare us to siblings/other families without giving us a chance to shine in whichever path we have chosen? Where do we turn when our partners, our friends who were meant to be our biggest cheerleaders become the greatest source of darkness?

Hurt people, hurt people. Can we think about this the next time we inflict pain on others or feel like we too have been wounded?

Many a time we go through life like we are immortal, other times, like we are untouchable. Once in a while, we acknowledge that we might be gone tomorrow but quickly forget and go back to our old ways. I know how guilty I am of this. While we don’t know the day or hour when we shall say goodbye, we do know what makes our hearts smile. We know what it feels like to be broken, betrayed, unloved, alone, forgotten, alienated..ashamed. It is because we know and have felt all this that we should not inflict such pain on others, and yet we still do.

dessert

The year seems like it is already over but in reality we have plenty of time. 31 days.

31 days to

love yourself

pamper yourself

remember yourself

teach yourself

31 days to love others, unashamedly-

31 days to say

I am sorry

I was wrong

I forgive you

I will change <and mean it>

31 days to let go,

Of that which steals your light and shine

31 days to chase

That which brings you joy, even if you don’t catch it <now>

31 days to be that person whom you wish you had in your life.

 

I can’t promise what the outcome will be, but I hope it will help you with a fresh start, or better still, a happier journey that will flow into the new year.

Xx

 

fear

 

 

 

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War room

I had it on my to do list to watch the movie ‘War room’ but the opportunity did not present itself until last night. I am glad it did because I have an uncanny talent that leads me to watch movies several months or even years after their release *SOS*

From the on-set, you can tell that it did not cost an arm and leg to shoot this movie. The actors were unknown to me, which was both a good an bad thing. Good because you get to discover new talent and bad because there are scenes in which I had someone in my mind who I thought could have given a stronger performance. Nonetheless, the message was brought safely home and that is the most important part.
P.S If you have watched Courageous or Fireproof, the brothers behind it; Stephen and Alex Kendrick produced War room. If you haven’t, I recommend them 🙂

Without giving away too much; In the movie, Elizabeth is married to Tony and they have one daughter, Danielle. Elizabeth is unhappy in her marriage mainly because her husband does not listen to her, verbally abuses her, is drawn to other women and has no time for her or their daughter. When Elizabeth meets an elderly lady, Clara during her rounds as a realtor, she is introduced to ‘The war room.’ This room is a small room that was once a closet but Clara turned into a prayer room to pray for her husband and family. Here, she spends quiet time with the Lord and articulates her needs while crying out to him.  She tries to encourage Elizabeth to do the same. Elizabeth is adamant at the beginning but later submits. It is when she (Elizabeth) is fully immersed in faith and belief in the power of prayer that her life begins to turn around.

If you are a Christian or a spiritual person watching this movie, it presents moments of conviction, learning and reflection among other things. If you are agnostic or even an atheist, there will probably be moments when you’ll roll your eyes till you can see your brain. Hopefully though, after the eye roll, you can appreciate one or two messages therein.

On a personal level, I could relate to this movie in many ways. I actually remember a time a few years ago when the phrase ‘I’ll pray for you’ sometimes rubbed me the wrong way. It is not that I did not believe in the power of prayer, it is that I wanted it to be backed by some tangible support. If hypothetically I told someone we are trying to raise money for a loved one who needed an urgent operation. I expected them to either offer support, ideas, ask me how they could help or at the very least offer to/spread the word. If there first reaction was ‘I’ll pray for you,’ I felt cheated for lack of a better word. However, I have come to realise that if it the prayer is more than just a promise, if someone is actually going out of their way to pray for you, prayer does indeed change things. Fast forward to the ‘current me,’ I am now the one ‘stressing’ people with my I’ll pray for you. I am very much still an advocate of backing prayer with action. After all, faith without actions is dead. So, for example, while I pray for my unemployed friends to get job, I shall also send them links for jobs, offer to proof read their applications and then provide as much moral support as possible. You need not restrain yourself from going the extra mile, in prayer or action.

prayer

In the movie, the underlying theme is prayer so you might think, “If my spouse is abusing me, should I just go into a closet and pray?” There are obviously many other courses of action but I believe the writers/producers saw the need to remind us that before we should not involve the world or fight battles alone when we can begin with letting it all go and submitting to the Lord. Once you know that ‘someone’ stronger, mightier and more capable than you is taking care of your business, it is easier to worry less and sleep more.

sin

Last week, I had my own rock chasing me downhill. I was not able or willing to reveal its full intensity. One night,I decided to seek out to a few friends whom I knew would pray with/for me even when I failed to myself. I mentioned exactly what I wanted and then I went to sleep. The next day I woke up with that “I believe I can fly” attitude. I was singing and dancing in my room like I was being paid. Had all my problems vanished overnight? Not at all. Did I believe that they would? Yes. Did reminding myself that I was incapable of fighting alone help? Yes. Did my prayer and that of my loved ones change things? Oh yes!

faith

I am no expert in these matters, far from it. However, I have seen what suffering does to people. I have seen what it does to me. I know what it is like to feel like there is nowhere to turn, like God has forsaken you. Except, that is when he is working overtime! He allows trouble to pursue you and I. Through these troubles, he leads us to discover the gifts in darkness, the lessons from tribulation. I can’t reiterate enough what joy there is in learning how to wait, to be still in anticipation of his next move. While me may need to wait for him sometimes, other times he calls us to leap. To leave everything we know and love and go on a journey. Think of all the faithful men and women in the Bible. Now begin to meditate on the trials each of them overcame. Did God test them because he hated them or did he allow their faith to transform them? And so the learning continues…

John-1010

Overall, it was a good watch, with many learning points. It would be nice to watch it with your spouse and is suitable for family viewing.

Recommended music from the movie

Shake loose- Vickie Winans

Press on- Mandisa

Warrior – Steven Curtis Chapman

Crazy faith- John Waller

To know you- Casting Crowns

Healing begins- Tenth Avenue North

What were your thoughts when you watched the movie?Do share 🙂

X

Putting pain to good use

On any other Monday, I would be as fit as a fiddle, running around trying to do anything and everything that time can allow. Instead, I am lying in bed trying to type this post at an awkward angle.
For the past five years, I have been hospitalised at least once annually for a condition that is yet to be ‘correctly’ diagnosed. It comes in small doses during the year but there is always that one episode that comes prepared to crash and burn. When this happens, I run several tests with the hope of a new, more satisfying response but these efforts are mostly futile. Still, one must keep trying!
Last week when I saw a ‘new’ doctor, I recounted this to him and he asked “Have you been admitted this year?” I happily responded in the negative and he added, “So, is today the day?” I told him I hoped we would find an actual problem this time and treat it so I could go home. Several tests were done and they each came out negative. I left with drugs to take care of the symptoms, feeling worse than I did when I made my way to seek medical attention.
The fact that I know my body sometimes turns against me means that when I am 100% healthy, I have to be 150% active. When I work, it’s like my life depends on it with 2,345 items on my to-do list. When I dance, it is to ‘finish my money,’ never mind that half the time, no money has been paid in the first place 😛

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

There’s a positive side to all this and I guess that is what I would like to highlight today. Experience makes you wiser and wisdom gives you insight that can help you ‘save’ others. Let’s see if I can illustrate this.
My grandfather was a humorous man who always had a joke up his sleeve. When he got Alzheimer’s, it was difficult for us to tell because most of his actions resonated with the personality we had grown to love. When he was diagnosed, it all started to make sense, albeit too late. Thankfully, he came to live with us to ensure he was surrounded by love and maximum care in his last years.
One of our family friends whom I shall call George noticed some changes with his own father a few months later. When he shared this, mom quickly recommended grandpa’s doctor. As suspected, he too, had dementia. He began treatment immediately and the gentleman who had looked after grandpa during his illness is now a caregiver to George’s dad. Whereas we lost a loved one, another family benefited from the lessons we  learnt.

The irony is that as I treat my yet to be identified condition, I am constantly dispensing mostly unsolicited advice on the meaning of certain symptoms, which specialist to see and when to seek a second opinion.
My ‘experience’ as a full-time participant in health issues concerning myself, my loved ones and those around me  has ensured that I often make the right call ‘accidentally.’
Recently, I visited a friend’s mother after her surgery and very soon the room filled up with her friends and relatives. We exchanged several ‘horror tales’ of our country’s health system. After a while, her cousin tapped me and asked “How long have you been a medical professional?”
It was sadly funny.

I guess my message today is to encourage you not to let any kind of pain go unused.
This might sound pretty strange but you need to make the most out of it, in any shape or form that you can possibly muster.

Julie lost her job and it turned out to be a great time of self reflection for her. Before long, she knew exactly who her real friends were because the fake ones walked out the door the moment they realised she was broke.
It didn’t matter that she had picked them up during their lowest moments. They quickly forgot that and became instantly unavailable whenever she needed them.
As she starts her new journey, she knows exactly whom she’s carrying along for the ride and those she will happily leave behind.

We all have these moments. They come in form of different experiences.

You break up with Bosco, the love of your life and suddenly everyone has evidence to prove that he is such a low life. *Never mind that none of these friends told you when you were together. * <smh>

Before long, your heartbreak turns into a ‘good riddance!’ and guess what, you still continue to breathe after this failed relationship.

As cliche as it sounds, what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. The best gift you can give to your current  and future self is to deliberately seek out the lesson in each situation that threatens or even manages to break you. After all, you can’t mend that which is not broken in the first place 🙂
It’s only a matter of time before it is a distant memory and the best ‘revenge’ you can ever get is to take a seat, grab some crayons and draw your little rainbow when it’s all over.

jumping