Dear Jonah

You’re probably on the run now. You’re done, you’re tired. You feel a little betrayed. You know how this story would turn out so you will not allow yourself to go through the disappointment or even public humiliation. You can’t afford to believe when you know your hopes will be shattered… again! So you choose to go furthest from where God wants you.

You are hurt, yes you are. Carrying wounds from all the hopes you had, faith in things turning out exactly as He said and despair from the countless disappointments. You know how it’s like to hear from God yet after doing as expected, the results were different. Maybe it’s the jobs you felt Him leading you to apply for, maybe it’s that relationship you got into after praying enough but it left you broken and disoriented. It could be precious friendships brought only to be taken away. Or possibly all the prayers and faith for healing which you thought you experienced but somehow, the same thing is back or something different and worse. How about the prayers you made about school but despite praying and reading; those bad grades keep coming back.

The truth you might not know or are avoiding to confront is that you are wounded and probably feel a little betrayed by God. Oh none of us will quickly admit to being mad at God or feeling like He’s disappointed you enough that you’re hesitant to trust Him with things you hold dear. If you look carefully, you might see how your heart felt slightly stabbed each time you trusted Him with something but it didn’t work out. Yes you know He’s good and said that it is well because He’s in control. What you didn’t know is that each time that happened and you didn’t deal with it adequately, it hurt you deeper and deeper unknowingly. Now you’re like a wounded puppy in a corner and do not want to be touched.

Too many of us carry such pain over time. Yes hope deferred make the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12) and it’s okay to get to the point where you acknowledge what you feel. It could be haboured anger or pain. However it manifests, know that running is not a permanent solution.

Eventually you’ll find yourself drowning in deep dark waters and when that fish swallows you, you’ll have to confront everything and make peace with God.

You see, I know how you feel and I will not condemn your running; whether your running is having left church or being there following the motions yet your heart is detached or simply being in a place where you still do everything expected of a ‘good christian’ but it’s routine stuff.

It’s okay to go through all this. It’s in such a place that you see things you’d never have seen before. You learn that God isn’t threatened by your questions or your doubts. In fact He likes them because you get to walk through it and finally have strong reasons for your faith; He takes you through them and helps you find the answers you need or the peace required when answers are not there.

In that place is where you get to see the beauty of grace, mercy and love. Redemption no longer is a word thrown about but a real experience. You see a God who picks you each time even when you don’t deserve it. Most of all, you’ll see the Hound of Heaven in action; beautifully and constantly pursuing you. He will follow you to the destination you ran off to. He will be there when you’re in the raging waters of the storm. He will send the help you need in form of a big fish and He will be right there in the belly of that fish when you have those conversations you need.

In the end, you will see that running far away from where you were supposed to go, will still lead you right back where you were supposed to be. Sometimes it’s in running that we find ourselves and get to where we need to be.

*Story from the Book of Jonah in the Bible

Death

I woke up thinking about death today. Yeah, you heard that right. My spirit felt heavy and I had such despair and resignation. No, I absolutely have no plans of facilitating the ending of my life. As I lay there in bed trying to force myself to get up and go to work, all these thoughts flooded my mind at once and hopelessness sipped in as rain does through cracked walls. It wasn’t that I was tired of living, I simply had resigned to whatever comes whether a long or short life.

This definitely wouldn’t be a conversation I’d have months or even weeks ago. I love life to bits! I love everything about this imperfect life: the people, the created things and nature. I have carried a certain fear for too many years; fear that life on earth would end before I accomplish the things I’m meant to. The idea of facing God aware of the tremendous potential He placed in me as He lavished me with excess abilities and ideas, yet having done very little or nothing at all; would make me shudder. My greatest fear was being the girl who had such great potential but never got to live it out. The other fear was to leave never having selflessly loved and given my all while allowing myself to receive the same. Then maybe not having the little girl that I’d want to have would be a real bummer. Needless to say, death freaked me out.

A few weeks ago, God had me doing plenty of thinking on this. I was to write a post on it and begin with explaining all the things I’d never get to carry out of this world. I’d been getting a different perspective on life. Being reminded of how the things we’re focused on chasing are temporary.  We don’t get to carry our money out of this place, our cars, phones and social media accounts don’t go, businesses or jobs are left behind and even the marriages we’re too caught up in (either managing the one you have or the one you want), expire as life here does. They all end here. You only get to have you (your spirit and soul), people, rewards for things you’ve done according to God’s plans and your relationship with God.

Back to today morning; I had such peace about the whole thing. God’s gotten me to the point where I no longer fear death because He made it clear that whatever you fear, you become a slave to and it robs you of life. So as I had all those thoughts and talked to God about it, I was okay. I still don’t like the idea of dying young but what’s there to fear when you realise that you’re simply slipping from one life to the next as you reunite with the Lover of your soul, the One who longs for you, the One who made you and the One who can’t wait to introduce you to your real home. As for love, it occurred to me that I have been lavishly loved! As for people, I have loved imperfectly and been loved imperfectly but it’s been beautiful. The friends, family, kids and young people I’ve talked or interacted with have loved me in ways I can’t explain but have learnt to appreciate even more.

Don’t let fear of death rule you; as long as you fear it, it controls you. This crazy myth we keep perpetrating about people only talking about death when they’re about to die, has to end. I have seen how the more you think about death or talk about it, the more you get to live. It changes how you see life, the people around you and your priorities. Maybe we need to have more conversations on this.

Lots of love from me to you!

Rejection

It is almost impossible not to think about this word because my world right now is flooded by reminders. Rejection. One word, innumerable effects.

My devotion this morning had me reflecting on things that wounded me emotionally. This drew up quite a number of memories. Last night, the same thing happened and I found myself asking God to have any of the bits of my heart that were still hurt. From friendships that ended and left with chunks of my heart to guys who whether dating or not, left with bits of my soul. From disappointments and anticipointments, to moments that were beautifully high but left me broken the minute things crumbled.

The other trigger was a TED talk I watched on 100 days of rejection that encouraged those of us who’ve felt the sting of rejection enough to make us hide in our cocoon, to expose ourselves to that very feeling. The point wasn’t to get you wounded further or get you hooked to pain. The activity is premised on the fact that the more you expose yourself to rejection, the less it hurts and eventually, you become immune to it. I won’t lie, this sounded exciting; I mean, who wouldn’t want to be immune to rejection? I considered trying it for 30 days and each day I would go request something that I knew would be outrightly rejected (maybe asking for a raise from my boss should have been my starting point, Lol).

When I thought about it, I agreed with several of the things stated on that talk. Most of us fear rejection because of our perceived reaction by the person bound to reject us. We come up with all sorts of reasons why we were rejected: I wasn’t good enough, she’d never accept a guy like me, I am not his type, I am not good enough for this position, they don’t usually consider people like me, it’s because of my background… and on and on we’ll go. However, we’ll never know unless we ask. The guy giving the talk one day knocked on a random door and asked to go plant a flower in the person’s backyard. Of course his offer was rejected and he had all sorts of ideas as to why plus had begun beating himself up for this. Then he decided to ask the person why he refused his offer and turns out he had a dog that uproots things in the backyard so he didn’t want to waste the guy’s flower but he referred him to a lady who loved flowers. Not surprising, the lady was ecstatic about his offer and accepted.

This morning, one of the first things that met me on Facebook was an article shared explaining how guys break the hearts of girls even when they were not dating. This I easily relate with! From my own experiences and those of my friends; in fact if I had a dime for each time this occurred, I’d be a pretty rich woman right now! All the friendships where the guy was sweet, always listening, always there for you, crosses oceans for you, is your go-to guy for everything, always telling you how beautiful you are, willingly stating how much you are missed every so often and practically acting like a boyfriend without the title. Then you fall for him only to realise it wasn’t mutual or discover he started dating some other girl. Rejection stares at you with its big ugly eyes again.

It’s never a funny thing to hope and miss; to put your best effort and be met with a no; to invest so much only for things to fail; to try even against all hope and still be disappointment. It kills something inside of you each time and you either end up shut tightly away from anything threatening or masking your wounds and constantly portraying a picture perfect you. None of that helps and eventually you’ll see that healing is necessary.

Healing starts with exposing your wounds bit by bit, by choosing to step out and try again even when you’re scared. Most of all the ultimate remedy lies with the Maker of our hearts. He knows exactly how that wound came, what shape it took and how to heal it effectively. He breathes onto those wounds, pours out His liquid love to wash them and holds us gently until we’re well.

Purpose For The Pain

I met someone over the weekend; not the kind of someone you think 🙂

The kind of person who puts plenty into perspective. Meaning is found for queries long unanswered. This particular one was a girl in high school. We were at their school all weekend and I had missed students’ ministry. We had just finished facilitating a session for all the girls who wanted to become lawyers. She followed me as we walked out. I didn’t mind; as a matter of fact, I absolutely love those one-on-one conversations.

I initially assumed it was a career related issue since that’s what we were discussing. Wrong. Turns out, while we were winding up, I mentioned how my coming this far sincerely took God and hinted at the crazy health drama I’ve had. That’s the part that got her attention.

She begins to speak and I it feels like she stole the script from the story of my life. She sounds kinda like me and our personalities are too similar; but this wasn’t it yet. She starts to explain all the health issues she’s had. No way! She’s literally stating all the areas of my body that I’ve had trouble with. I listen to her almost speechless. This is more than unbelievable! She’s in tears and I’m almost following suit but I hold them back.

I can’t recall most of what I told her afterwards but I narrated my issues as well and we exchanged experiences that had left us emotionally drained, mentally overwhelmed and on the verge of despair. Things that people around us probably never get. The relief! Seeing that in this world, it’s possible to have someone who truly understands the very lengths, breadths and heights of your pain. Needless to say, we hit it off and became friends.

As I was reflecting on this later, I got thinking that if this was all the purpose to my pain, then it was worth it. Sharing my story with someone who was living it as well and encouraging her to not give up because I too was making it through. Being there to remind each other that all the dark days and all the tears, were not for nothing.

We might never fully see the purpose our tears, break downs, valleys and unbearable moments accomplished; but rest in this darling: it wasn’t pointless. God never wastes our pain. Someone somewhere will survive what you’re going through just because of your story. Hold on, fight through; it sure is worth it.

Mountains and Valleys

I have finally decided to come here and fess (this should tell you how reading Little Women all week and watching the movie, has had an effect on me). I have carried enough and since writing helps me unpack, I’m doing just that. 

This has been a gloomy week, which makes little sense because I had the most wonderful Easter weekend. I’d planned to go home and enjoy plenty of introverting since the whole family was travelling upcountry. Needless to say, my plans backfired beautifully. Don’t you like it when God wrecks your plans and trades them for lovelier ones? 

Friday turned out to be my turn to enjoy being daddy’s girl. Went to town with him and had quite the shopping spree then late lunch at some Resort. He told me to call my little sister (not biological) to come join us and her classmate who he has a spot for since her accident. That man has such a big heart! Went to pick my friend for a sleepover and had fun ‘shopping’ in her house (that’s what true friends do, Lol). 

Saturday was mostly cooking for guests and the compliments are always worth the effort. Then ended up in town again, this time round having a girls’ day out with mum. This time round I got more than I expected from the shopping including a pretty high-low dress that had my dad voicing his concerns since he believes I’ve grown so fat that the poor dress wasn’t fitting (smh).

Sunday in church gave me plenty to meditate on and friends to reconnect with. Went for an Easter concert in town since I’d promised little sister that I’d go. Oh the praise and worship was everything my spirit craved! Decided to go for coffee which we thought was unwise since we both had limited cash. Goodness, the surprises God pulls! Someone came and paid for our mochas and cakes in advance! 

I travelled back the next day with my heart very full. I’d been more than loved on and God took me from one amazing experience to another and another. I’d received more than I’d ever imagined.

So why was it hard to have all the wonderful memories overshadow everything else? Monday evening had me battling depression alongside a misbehaving body. Later I realised the link between the condition disturbing my digestive system and depression. 

From then, things haven’t been too different. Ennui at work, long hours that made a point to move even slower, heavy downpours and dull weather that seemed to reflect my internal state and feeling completely alone. 

I didn’t go to work today; I have my misbehaving body to thank for that. Which means I’ve been in bed all day and have had all sorts of thoughts. Feelings of despair have been the thing this week. Eventually told God how I felt I wasn’t worth entrusting the gifts or talents He’s given. Wasn’t worth giving a family since I can barely keep my own house. Wasn’t worthy of love. Basically feeling like I wasn’t worth the things I hoped for.

It’s been a lot to handle and I’m not bearing it all too well. I should be drawing especially close to God right now but I’ve been lost in books and social media because I feel like I don’t even have the discipline to be intentional with God like I should. He’s been very nice and constantly present so all I’ve been doing is conversations with Him while nicely tucked in bed. 

I’m not sure how the next days will turn but I am not perturbed. Valleys precede mountains and dark days don’t last. Sorrow may last for the night but joy sure comes in the morning. So yes, this not-so-little woman will keep keeping on.

Strange(r) Tales

​Today I’ve had the most incredible experiences with people I haven’t personally met or hadn’t known at all. Each of them dented my life significantly.
I was enjoying a nice lazy Saturday when the first encounter happened. I received news of her death and it completely broke me! I couldn’t stop crying. I had too many questions for God. This lady was an icon of hope for thousands if not millions of people. Her battle with stage 4 cancer and her faith in God through it all had spread unimaginable hope. I couldn’t get why. My own health battles had been enough and I had been encouraged by her recovery. I had never met her personally but her death wrecked me.
In the midst of my tears and heartache, the second person reached out. I can’t even remember when we became ‘friends’ on Facebook but I’ve known him there for quite long. I’m still in awe of how God worked. I had a very fruitful conversation with him and God used him both to teach and remind me of several lessons. By the time we were done, I was in complete peace; not just comforted but led right back to where God had wanted me. 
Immediately after that conversation, I had to leave for a sleepover. I decided to take a long walk instead of using a more direct public transport option. Armed with my earphones, I started out really well. By the time I was getting to the second song, I met this kinda old lady. I said hi to her as I was passing her, just out of politeness and because I love saying hi to strangers. 
Little did I know that it was the genesis of a conversation that would take me through my entire walk. She began by talking to me in a dialect I love but know little of. Eventually I had to admit that I wasn’t getting everything. Lady told me tales of God’s faithfulness the entire way! Two random people and somehow we found so many things in common. I was greatly encouraged and my faith challenged. 
Let’s just say I’m in awe of God and how He works. It’s unbelievable how He used 3 completely unexpected people who I barely knew, to break me then build me and leave me better than I was. Evidently there’s nothing He can’t do and no one He can’t use. That He’d do all this leaves me overwhelmed by His goodness and love.

Eyes on 97

It’s lunchtime and I am hardly excited about it. Not because I’m not hungry but because I’ve been dealing with this persistent nausea all day. Who knew something seemingly small can cause this much trouble? I’ve been trying my usual remedy and it’s not helping much; I can’t even remember the number of pellets of menthol gum I’ve chewed so far (Wrigley’s should hire me as their brand ambassador).

I’m having one of those I’m-completely-fed-up-being-sick moments. Sick and tired of dealing with similar issues day in day out. If you’ve been in a similar predicament then you know how tiring it is to be stuck with something for a long time when you can’t completely get rid of it. And no, I’m not talking about pregnancy; though maybe pregnant ladies can relate.

These are the kind of days I gather enough questions to ask God and it flows over from the health drama to everything else. That’s how I found myself having a conversation with Him on why my life isn’t as straight forward and easier to figure like many people. It doesn’t help that I have absolutely no clue what I’ll be doing in about 5 months after I’m done working here.

I have all these varied ideas and passions and plans, but can’t seem to figure how to merge them just yet or where to begin. This mostly leaves me feeling overwhelmed by how much I aspire to do vis-a-vis the little I’ve actually attempted. Then I crawl back into my shell and wallow in feelings of failure. When I try to crawl back, I’m reminded of how old I am yet I’m still in a position that people 2-4 years younger than be, ought to be in. I don’t even bother comparing myself with my peers ’cause that would be depressing.

My one consolation and greatest hope is that I am right where He knew I’d be and going through things He allowed in His wisdom. The best part about knowing that the One working behind the scenes in everything is Someone who loves you insanely, is the realisation that He has a pretty good reason, has my best interests at heart and is working everything for my good.

For example, I may have all these ambitious plans that seem too far fetched or scattered, and it feels unfair that I have to have a harder time than most people figuring it all out; but boy am I glad to know the amount of growth that will happen as a result!

All the health drama has taught me how to slow down and appreciate life. What started by turning me into a constant complainer ’cause I always had health problems daily; eventually taught me how to be grateful for the 97 things that are not wrong when 3 bad ones taunt me. I have learnt grace. Learnt how to empathise with people a lot more. Learnt how to appreciate problem-free days. Learnt how to be keen on detecting if someone wasn’t okay.Most of all, I have learnt resilience and how to keep moving when beaten down or worn.

So yes, I’d still easily trade off this malfunctioning digestive system just to get rid of this nausea, but in the meantime, I’ll keep living and keep trying to enjoy the rest of the day. I’ll take my eyes off the 3 and focus on 97.