The Punctuality of Apologies

Humans, we are such complex creations. Made to live in community and pursue connection, the differences in our character make for a beautiful jumble of stories: stories of pain, of victory, of love and loss. There is so much joy in the knowledge of our consciousness, our awareness of self and those around us, and the greatest gift of all – the privilege of knowing our Creator.

We’re created uniquely; each man with his own capacity for emotion, physical duress, spiritual connection and that for love – giving and receiving it. The greatest example and highest standard is God’s love for His creation: it’s the unconditional nature of it, it is unyielding, unrelenting and unending, and oh what a blessing. I am comforted by the security of my Father in Heaven’s love: Who, in spite of everything I do daily to break His heart, my fearful responses to His calls to take a leap of faith, my despondence to what I perceive to be His indifference or silence and my tendency to yield to my fleshly desires – He stands firm in love, correcting me, allowing His words to be a lamp unto my feet. I don’t give Him enough credit.

Which brings me to my next point. Our complexities are often cause for contention, where there is conflict, there is hurt – one never sees smoke without fire. Hurt breeds brokenness, and broken people only perpetuate this cycle by projecting forth what they feel. I am one of those people, and I have hurt those closest to me because of my experience at the hands of two broken individuals. I understand my hurt, and the reason for much of my thinking and perception of the world around me; on the most part, I like to believe that like a broken jar of clay, I’ve been put back together and made even better than before – and yet, the scars, or fragment joints remain to remind me of what once was. I look at myself and think: “I am not this person. I am not defined by experiences long past.”

There’s a story in the Bible, of a man who was forgiven a great debt, and another, who was forgiven of less. The question asked by Jesus in the end, is who does the reader think will display greater gratitude? The obvious answer is the former character – but the plot thickens… shortly after being forgiven his great debt, this man continues to demand repayment from a friend for what is a penny in comparison to his original debt. Word gets back to his creditor, and he has the ungrateful man thrown in prison until he can repay his original debt: chiding the man for his ungratefulness. I know I am this man, in terms of the great debt I owe God – but daily, He offers new mercy and grace for the day. It would be unfair of me to similarly begrudge forgiveness on others, in light of my own shortcomings. I have lied, many times, and it seems mostly when it’s mattered the most to speak the truth. I have acted selfishly too, blinded by my own hurt, that I refused to think of the consequences of my actions on those closest to me. It is for these reasons that I feel obliged to give freely the forgiveness and grace I receive with such generosity, at the break of each day.

I can’t speak for another person’s hurt, but I can take responsibility for it where I am concerned. I will never know the intimacy of private thoughts in another’s mind, but I can interpret actions displayed for the world to see. I will never understand the mathematics of an apology withheld for months, but I can choose to value an apology given, trusting the timing of God’s hand over my life. I don’t believe anyone wakes up with the intent to bring me hurt, I also clutch closely to my heart the belief that those who love me have my best interests at heart, and want to see me grow to become an amazing woman. Love believes the best of another, love pursues connection in times of hurt, love forgives, love is kind, love is not circumstantial, but it is consistent, even in times of intense dislike or dwindling desire. Love guides our integrity, and it protects. Love always hopes.

Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved.
– C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

I commit to trying to understand the pain behind a person’s decisions, especially the ones that have adverse effects on myself. I don’t want to live in constant blame of others, always withdrawing my victim card. I am responsible for what happens around me, because of what I project.

…suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads.
– C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Promiscuity’s Danger to Our Society

Yesterday I thought of the time I had my art exhibition in matric, and how my mom told me over the phone at the last minute, that she wouldn’t be able to make it because she was held up with something. Admittedly, I felt very dejected, swallowing the threatening lump in my throat – I knew, however, that she was doing her very best to be everything to everyone only months after dad’s passing, and resolved to cheer myself up by joining on to families of my friends. One incident that struck me significantly, was what I saw that immediately made me aware of a gaping void in my life: while walking through an isle, I saw my friend Danielle’s family standing in front of her display – I mean, her mom, dad and two little brothers were there and so engrossed in the pages of her source book and art works on display. I remembered then, the fact that I would never have that in the capacity of a child, but instead, I could only strive to make that a reality for my children.

Now, the dynamics of my family are fairly complex: my parents were married, and truly, until death did they part. My dad suffered from cancer for almost two years, and eventually succumbed to his stage 4 liver cancer. In his health, he played his part as “dad” by: taking care of our transportation needs during the week, grudgingly, and with much complaint, letting go of R20-R3O for my lunch some days of the week (LOL: I miss you dad!), asserting his authority by occasionally denying a request to go to the mall with friends, giving mom awkward pecks at the most inopportune moments, giving me a congratulatory handshake when I received my term’s report (I actually looked forward to these.) and every so often, making time to hangout at the car wash after school – which I hated then, but wish I had appreciated more now. Guys, to call a spade a spade: my dad wasn’t the best of dads, but he was present – to some extent, I think that matters.

See, parenthood is a serious character building responsibility, not just for the parents, but the children too, who become the products of their parents’ choices and methods of upbringing. This quote terms it better:

โ€œAll parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.โ€
โ€• Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

We may perceive damage as negative, but with enough introspection and awareness of self, we may find it is quite the contrary: my parents damaged me in many ways. Mom, too often, yielded to many of my requests for junk food, and I became a fatty (STILL recovering!). She damaged me with her kindness, both good and bad – I knew I could rely on her to oblige any of my requests if I just asked nicely which in the end, fostered a terribly bratty attitude in the face of rejection, on the other hand, I grew to view the world with much optimism and certainty that things would work out in my favour – I had one person who would view me in a positive light no matter what I did.

My dad, in his difficulty and rigid character, helped solidify the mushy marshmallow mess my mom had made me become, he helped me grow in patience and eventually, strength of character: towards the end, I realised that I couldn’t choose when and not to honour him as my father – despite my reservations about so many matters concerning him.

When babies are born, they are like a bag of flour – what happens thereafter, is the parents choice: will they rear him/her to be a little croissant, macaroon, loaf of bread, chocolate ย cake, dumpling, brownie, tortilla, pizza base, doughnut, cookie or waffle? Our nuclear families act as institutions: here, our character is moulded and identity defined (sometimes…), morals and values are instilled, our levels of self-esteem are largely influenced by what happens behind the closed doors of our homes, a level of discipline is set, a sense of belonging is inspired, & humility and understanding of one’s self as a member of society and small community are taught. All these things are like measured quantities of salt, sugar, baking powder and the like – to create a fully rounded individual, ready to face the big bad world.

Modern culture has opened the door for a sexual liberation that is detrimental: we’re so bent on maintaining this new notion of absolute freedom, that anyone who stands in opposition of that, is seen to be a thorn in society’s side. Apart from the health aspect, our rampant “sexing” is affecting the individuals that are consequently being born to single parent homes. Please don’t get me wrong, one does not automatically become a lesser being because they’ve grown under the care of a single parent, but we must agree that single parenting has its disadvantages: after all, and you may think this argument to be quite elementary, if the “family” was meant to work ideally with one parent, we’d reproduce asexually; also, if we weren’t created to grow in family settings, we would be R-type reproductive strategists (I hope that’s right) – giving birth to many offspring and abandoning them at birth.

Guys, we’re messing it up. It’s easy to chat a woman up and get her into bed without intention to maintain a relationship, for women, it’s maybe even easier to express your sexual freedom by sleeping with whomever comes your way – but what thought has been given to the little person who will be born into this world, unwanted and unplanned for?

Our lives never happen exactly the way we plan. Things go wrong along the way, and many times, when we need it most, the people we care about the most let us down and leave us in difficult positions. My little brother will be the product of single parenting, and I know my mom is doing a stellar job! My older half sisterย who was born to another woman after my parents got married, on the other hand, didn’t have the same luck – she’s living on whatever little means she can manage to make, with two children to feed and a home to keep warm.

Our circumstances are never the same, and no family is one like the other: on that note, the next time you’re caught between the choice to engage in unprotected sex or not – don’t: use protection! Otherwise, as an unmarried Christian, you should probably just keep it in your pants.

 

 

The Thing About Boy Friends

The Thing About Boy Friends

Or girl friends… But you see, that blank space joining the two words is definitive: it speaks volumes about the boundaries within that relationship, and how those two interact.

Modern day pop culture has brainwashed and robbed society of so much; there are many beliefs that are deeply engrained in our minds because of the standards that are set by what we see on our television screens. For some reason, we’ve been made to believe that platonic relationships are hard to come by, and even more of a challenge to maintain: like one of those “one in a million” scenarios. Rom-coms tell us that one way or another, one of the two individuals in the relationship are bound to develop romantic feelings for their friend, or worse so, as according to Friends,ย the two may end up in bed!

I don’t keep many friends, and in that relatively small circle of mates, there are probably more gents than ladies… The reason? Many female friends = drama – that is a guarantee! I’m a non-confrontational girl, and a serial avoider of conflict: I like to think that after some time, as friends, we understand and know each other enough to co-exist peacefully, with only one or two hiccups along the way. So I thought I’d share a few reasons why I think platonic relationships are pure gold, and also, why we should fight for them as we do romantic relationships. Continue reading “The Thing About Boy Friends”

Quote of the Week:

That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on colour instead of taste. 

– John Green, Paper Towns

A Letter to my Future Husband

A Letter to my Future Husband
(To be read again after our wedding – LOL)

My love, hey.

I have wrecked my brain about you for so many years; it will be both a relief and a pleasure to finally meet you! I am certain that you will be everything I imagined and more. In the same way, I hope that by the time it is appropriate to read this to you, I will have grown into the kind of woman you have dreamt to marry.

While I have been mildly obsessed with the idea of you, I’ve spent more time obsessing over our Creator. Consequently, I’ve grown to root my identity and self-worth in Him, rather than a secular relationship status; because of this, I’m complete in my  own capacity and I, thankfully, don’t need you to come into my life to fill a void of any sort. I am hopeful, that because of my fervent prayers, you’re a fierce leader and a patient, gentle man. Actually, I can be sure that you’re well versed in the art of patience, because getting to know me is a tedious process at first (see this) – I’ve probably been a klutz, lost grip of my calm disposition (although, I’ve never actually had that..) and I have spoken A LOT of junk in the name of fearing awkward silences, and simply resorting to vomiting words as a coping mechanism, for what I imagine are my ridiculous levels of stress and anxiety around you.

I look forward to having sleepovers with you, my best friend, every night for the rest of my life. If you’re a snorer, that’s okay, because I sleep like the dead. I hope you’re into cuddles because I certainly won’t let you go for the first six months or so… and, you BETTER have warm feet because mine are always cold & socks never (I mean, ever.) do the trick. You must know, that I won’t wake up at 4a.m. to quickly brush my teeth before you wake up, in an attempt to save you from the reality of my ponging morning breath (Haha! I’m sorry my love!). However, we will have epic cereal breakfasts during the week & make it a point to have a special brunch date every Sunday after church: I’ll take care of the carb portions, & you can fuss over the healthy stuff. 

We’re going to be a servant powerhouse: serving with passion in our respective areas of ministry. We’ll open our doors to people, leading them by example & in truth – and babe, with whatever we have, we will be generous; giving time where it is needed, feeding empty bellies & clothing bare backs.  May there never be a day when we look at our finances & fear for the future, even in full knowledge of God’s faithfulness & His promise to provide for us. Whether or not our bank balances reflect negative values, we’ll know we still have everything we need: our faith & trust in God to do with us what is just & good. You’re going to lead with strong conviction & direction – not swayed by the whims of your heart… Love, we will not be led by our emotions. 

Gosh, younger people will look to us as their #relationshipgoals & our peers will admire what we have. Our children will grow up knowing that they are loved by their mom & dad; they will be secure in that & relate to the world around them with the view that they are valued: we won’t have to worry about our daughter dating men beneath her, or our sons becoming the men we warn our daughter about. They will bring us joy & push us to become better people and work harder to provide the best lives we can for them. They will be academic boffins, multi-talented athletes & expressive artists: we will encourage & nurture their talents. Please promise me that we will support their chosen career paths, even if it seems at first that it will pay poorly, by our standards. 

I’ll teach them to drive, because my mom taught my family, and I’ll probably be able to practice more grace & patience with them, because of the way mom pushed each of her students gently in the right direction. On that note, I hope we’re going to be financially successful because I have an intense love of beautiful cars – one in particular is the Mercedes Benz GLE 450 AMG Coupe: it’s on the market at the starting price of R1,2 million… I see it in white with matte black rims, parked in our garage alongside a mystery vehicle that belongs to you. We’ve got our work cut out for us! Oh dear… I’ve touched the matter of a car, but don’t get me started on our home!

I hope you’re fond of new places, because I’m so keen for us to travel far & near. We’re going to get our hands on an RV for a few weeks & go on all the road trips you can imagine; and trains, I’ve always dreamt of traveling somewhere scenic by train for a few days – one with comfy bunkers, delicious food & good music; we’ll fly too, because we must see Europe & the East, but we must comb through Africa first. Of course, a sea cruise is in order, but let’s start small at first, I have an unexplainable reverence for the ocean. 

 We’re going to get old and age, so I understand that you might grow a bit of a belly, & I might too, but can we make it a point to live healthily & pursue fitness throughout our lives? We can be those amazing black parents who age well, and remain contemporary & “in with the times.” We’ll attend the kids’ games & join parents’ races at their sports days. We’ll go to cool coffee spots & jazz clubs to hangout: our children will be familiar with romance in a Christian context, growing to love the idea of marriage – because of us! They’ll know that mom & dad often make out, that’s it’s grossly beautiful but weird, they’ll know that we go on weekends away to have time alone, and that intimacy within the context of marriage is a good thing! 

There’s so much we have to give the world as a couple, but we won’t forget that in our marriage, we are two. Let’s keep each other accountable to achieve our respective goals, and understand that we must push each other to grow in our individual knowledge of Christ. 

I’m so excited to see these things come true, hey husband. Baby, let’s just stay together, do this life thing and be great! 

Yours faithfully,

Your wife: Ayanda _______.