End It Now: Abuse Prevention Day

End It Now - 26 August Poster

Hi bAw Family

 

This is a quick check-in to invite all the ladies in the Johannesburg area to join in on a conversation about abuse and where the church fits into all of that. You will get an opportunity to listen to messages of hope and to hear testimonies from survivors of abuse. Yours truly will also do a brief presentation on warning signs to look out for that indicate whether you’re in an abusive/unhealthy relationship.

Invite some sisters and join us at Sedaven School in Heidelberg on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Healing begins with us and with sharing our stories and struggles.

With love,

Sonia Dee

Guest Post: Maybe Things Need To Fall Apart by Larissa Subira

Things Falling Apart - Niquita Deviant Art online
Photo Cred: Niquita Deviant Art

 

I have been wracking my brain on what to write – what else I could say that has not been already said about abuse.  Many discussions have been had: we’ve been told the signs to watch out for (see the article from two weeks ago); and we’ve been told about the maladies in us that create the abuser and abused. What kept striking me is that most cases of abuse happen at the hands of those closest to us, at the hands of our families.

And for some reason, the close proximity of abusers somehow translates to paralysis of action: A wife suffers in silence for years in fear of her family falling apart. Her children see this, the toxicity seeps into their lives and twenty years down the line the same parents wonder why their children can’t seem to get their lives together. Or the wife reaches out to her family for help and she’s sent back with a harsh lesson that many women have been through the same, so she must suck it up and keep it moving.

A daughter or son is molested, they tell an adult in the family. Most of the time one of two scenarios takes place:  The adult family member rubbishes the claim and vilifies the child, branding them a trouble-maker, or; the adult raises it in a family meeting, and the situation is quickly ‘dealt’ with – the perpetrator may get admonished and banished or the child is sent away for their ‘protection’.  Case closed. No counselling, no acknowledgement of the pain and trauma and definitely no discussion about the work that needs to be done to ensure this never happens again.

The need to maintain peace has somehow taken precedence over the healing of the one who has been hurt. Many steps are taken to make sure the story doesn’t get out. Families are ravaged by this secret, split into camps and the abused are left to navigate the minefield of their lives with very little support.

You can see the common thread here right? The goal is to not shake the boat, even if the boat has a couple of holes in its sail; the sailors manning the boat are blind; can only row with one arm; and the captain is missing in action.   The boat will eventually sink. How can it not? But that’s the irony – we fight tooth and nail to keep the boat afloat when it will sink anyway because it’s battered and bruised, rocked by storms. So why not let it sink and build a stronger one?

Let the ship sink. Let it fall apart so once its laid bare, it can be taken apart, the problem diagnosed, to help figure out how it was incorrectly built and begin the work of rebuilding a stronger boat that can weather any storm. Can we not try something new? Can we put those that have been hurt first? Put a hedge around them, love them, protect them and fight for them and their healing? What do we have to lose?  We’ve tried the whole maintaining peace at all costs for generations, how has that worked for us?

Above all, if family is meant to be a reflection of God’s love, can one truly say our need to portray false perfection shows that? I leave this with you to ponder upon: 1 Corinthians 13: 7: “*[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

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The gorgeous Miss Subira is an integral member of the bAw team. She is a passionate, smart, driven and opinionated young woman seeking to improve the lives of those who are unfairly oppressed. You can find some of her thoughts on FB, Twitter and Instagram.

Warning Signs That You Are In An Abusive/Unhealthy Relationship

 

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Photo Cred: blkwomenart.com

Disclaimer: This article should not be substituted for psychological/medical advice. It is based on personal experiences and lessons garnered from my studies and personal reading plus the experiences of those around me.

 

The issue of violence and abuse in the South African community has garnered much attention in recent months, and rightfully so. More people than we realize are in abusive relationships. Abuse is such a personal and deeply painful experience that can be extremely detrimental to the life of the person who receives it. It can destroy families and generations – just look at Jacob’s family drama (Genesis 34) or David’s for that matter (2 Samuel chapters 10 – 15). It can even cost your salvation.

 

The sad reality is that more and more young people are entering romantic relationships at younger and younger ages, and without any counsel or guidance. This is mainly driven by the fact that we are an independent generation, and we “mind our own business”. We no longer value the community aspect of life that can act as a shield against harmful situations. Nevertheless, we are blessed with different platforms, including blog sites/online reading, that allow us to gain information that can help us in our situations.

 

As I have written before, I have witnessed abuse and I have endured emotional and verbal abuse myself. God’s love, compassion, patience, mercy and goodness has led me to receive (and to continue to receive) healing over this issue. There are signs that I have managed to pick up on from experience and research that indicate whether you are in an abusive/unhealthy relationship. I thought I would share these with you today:

 

You begin to hide your relationship. I remember my very first relationship. I never discussed it with my family and actually felt relief that they knew nothing about it. I didn’t necessarily acknowledge it then, but I was not sure about this guy and how we related. I knew that if my loved ones got to understand what was going on between us (constant fighting; cheating; being put down in front of others) they would be shocked and disappointed, and would ask me to let him go. If you find that you don’t want even those closest to you to know about your relationship, something may be wrong.

 

You constantly defend your partner to yourself and to others. This one has to be one of the most painful ones for me. Your partner may be extremely mean to you and to those around you yet you find yourself fighting to highlight his/her “goodness” at any chance. You convince yourself that he/she is not that bad but the problem is that it has become a daily exercise. Every person has their flaws and in a healthy relationship this is acknowledged and addressed with your partner. However, in an unhealthy/abusive situation, these flaws and bad traits are the norm in how you relate. If you’re having to regularly excuse your partner’s behaviour especially to yourself, it’s a red light.

 

Your partner wants to know your whereabouts 24/7. In the initial stages of a relationship a couple wants to spend as much time as possible together and send cute messages of “So, what you doin’?” or “Where are you? I wish I could be there” etc. There is nothing wrong with being interested in the activities of a partner, but it becomes concerning when a partner needs to know your exact moves all the time. Not only that – he/she needs to know who you will be with and for how long. This is especially disturbing if you are not even married to this person because it will be magnified in marriage. If you are not free with your time and in your relationship, you are not free in your life.

 

You begin to doubt your right to make choices. Following on from the above warning, another red flag in a relationship is when you can no longer make decisions without the input and direction of your partner. God created you in His image which means that He has blessed you with wisdom and with the authority to decide on things for your life (Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22). He is Sovereign and Lord over all, yet He chooses to allow you the free will to decide what you want in your life including having Him as your Saviour. Therefore, there is no reason that another creature like you should determine your own free will and choices (this is outside of the argument of parents raising their children or spouses making joint decisions). If you find yourself unable to make your own decisions because of what a partner would say or what they tell you, something is not right.

 

You feel like you can’t trust anyone because they don’t get your relationship. I distinctly remember the time when my friends were trying to alert me to the fact that my boyfriend had been and was still cheating on me, and putting me down in public. My gut knew it was true so I confronted him about it. He manipulated me by reminding me that we are in this together and some people don’t want to see us together so we need to be careful of what others say. From that moment, I began to view friends through suspicious eyes because I felt that they were trying to cause a rift in our relationship. An abusive/unhealthy partner does not want you to interact with people who can help wake you up to the unhealthy situation you find yourself in, and they will isolate you from the counsel of loved ones. You will begin to believe that other people just don’t understand the relationship the way you two do and so you’ll deal with it (and all its unhealthiness) alone. If you find yourself unable to be honest with anyone else but your partner about your relationship, it’s a red flag.

 

You have extreme highs and lows in your relationship. All relationships go through great times and bad times. But a healthy relationship has a general balance, calmness and normalcy to it. I had past relationships where we were either so on top of the world and it felt like no-one else could ever make me that happy or I was extremely hurt, unhappy, sad and confused by that same individual. I did not have a general sense of well-being or security in our relationship and unless I felt those extreme emotions when I was with someone, I believed that the relationship was not a good one. I believed that a great relationship meant feeling either euphoric or highly melancholic – it was a literal drug. A healthy relationship should nurture your emotions rather than constantly drain them through either extremely good or extremely bad feelings.

This list is not exhaustive and there are countless articles online that deal with the realities of abusive relationships. I haven’t even touched on the physical and sexual aspect of abusive relationships and I am mostly speaking from a dating perspective because that is my experience. Nevertheless, warning signs of abuse are generally mostly emotional.

 

Sis, if you have identified with one or more of these warning signs, I plead with you to seek help for your situation. You don’t have to deal with this alone. Or if you know someone who seems to be in this kind of a relationship, please get advice on how to best help them. You can feel free to contact me or you can contact:

  • Lifeline on 011 715 2000;
  • POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) on 011 642 4345/6;
  • SAMSOSA (South African Male Survivors Of Sexual Abuse) on 071 280 9918 or;
  • T.E.A.R.S. Foundation (Transform Education About Rape And Sexual Abuse) on *134*7355#

 

If you have any other warning signs that you have identified, please do share with us in the comments section so that we are all the wiser. Let us be each other’s keepers.

 

I am praying for you.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

Dreams For The Black African Father

Father with his daughter
Photo Cred: Instagram

 

Hi bAw family

 

In honour of Father’s Day this Sunday, I thought I would pen dreams and wishes that I believe some black African women (bAw) have for their fathers. The relationship between daughter and father in the African context has been a complex one, and I believe that if a young bAw could write a letter to her father it would read something like this:


 

Dear Dad,

I wish that you would freely express your love for me in words and in deeds. Although I know you love me because society says a father loves his child and because you pay my school fees or make sure I am fed, I need to hear this from you. Hearing and knowing that I am loved by you eases my anxiety to receive love from others.

 

I wish you would spend more on-one-on time with me where we just enjoy each other’s company and get to know one another better. Spending time together doesn’t necessarily mean that others must be there or that we must be running an errand. Being together literally means that. All we need is just the two of us. Being known by you will open me up to seeing myself more clearly because I know you will not lead me astray. And besides, I want to get to know all the different sides to you that others don’t get to see.

 

I wish that you could advise me on every aspect of life and not just school or career or finances. I want your words and counsel to be my directive when it comes to recognizing whether a potential suitor is the best for me. I want to be able to come and tell you what he did or what he’s saying so that you can warn me and protect me from the not-so-great guys that are out there these days. I don’t want to just speak to my friends or to Mum about it. I need a male perspective from the man I know would want my heart cherished.

 

I wish you could be strong enough to say sorry. To your wife. To your friends. To your family. To your colleagues. To yourself. To me. I know that you’ve been raised to believe that saying sorry is a sign of weakness but it is the best thing you could ever do for yourself and others. And making a mistake or hurting others is a part of life – we all do it. But very few people acknowledge it and own up. When you do that, it elevates people’s respect for you.

 

I wish you would seek out your emotional well-being a little more because when you are whole, it penetrates to your loved ones. I know that our African culture shuns any idea of talking your issues over, especially as a man, but even God states that we ought to carry each other’s burdens (Galations 6:2). No man is an island – as the saying goes. And it hurts me to know that there are some atrocious experiences and feelings that you carry alone that could be eased just by sharing.

 

I wish you believed that I harbour no ill-feelings towards you. Yes you may have hurt me and disappointed me before, but I have forgiven you. I recognize you are a sinner as much as anyone else is, and I entrust your life to God to be changed and moulded. So stop trying to deny it or cover it up like nothing happened. Seek to work through your struggles with your Saviour because I believe you are much more than your past or what think you are. Don’t do it for me or anyone else, but for yourself.

 

I wish that you could recognize how amazing a man you are. You are in the minority of men who stick around for their children regardless of how they may feel or what they have gone through. You work tirelessly from day to day to make sure there is always food on the table, three times a day, 7 days a week, all-year round. You carry the weight of that responsibility as though your life depended on it and I can see how you wish you could do so much more. That makes me love you all the more.

 

Finally, I wish you knew how much I respect and love you. Our culture doesn’t necessarily allow for the free expression of emotions with our fathers but I would freely tell you how much you mean to me. You are my King. You are my rock. You are my provider. You are my shield. You are my benchmark. I look up to you and always will so please don’t stop growing and becoming more of the man God created you to be.

Love always,

Your Daughter

 

What else would you add to this letter? What would you leave out?

My Daddy and I
My Daddy and I ❤

Wishing all the fathers out there, and especially my own Papa Dubez, a very Happy Father’s Day!! We see you, we appreciate you, we love you. Our lives are lost without you.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

While You Wait: Insight from ‘A Time To Remember And Give’ Event by Larissa Subira

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The gorgeous sisters who formed part of the first ‘A Time To Remember And Give’ Event (All Photos Cred: Noxolo Chalale)

I recently had the pleasure of spending an amazing 3 hours with 8 beautiful women as we delved a bit deeper into the struggle of feeling left behind. I personally left that breakfast feeling as though I was exactly where God needed me to be. One of the ladies who attended the breakfast, Larissa Subira, chose to share what she got from the conversations and time we had together.

Enjoy 🙂


I had the pleasure of attending the recent bAw prayer breakfast, ‘A Time to Remember and Give’ , where an intimate group of women gathered to share and reflect on their experiences and pray for one another.  One thing we all had in common is that we definitely had an area or two in our lives that we felt we were lagging behind in.

One of the hardest battles we fight as women are the messages we feed ourselves about our lives, be it our family, friends, our studies or career choices and our body image.  Perception is powerful, but what is even more powerful is what drives these perceptions.

 

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The breakfast was at the beautiful Buitengeluk restaurant in Broadacres

Part of the discussion we had was what are these drivers?  How does one discern between this feeling perhaps just being an insecurity versus there being an area in your life that actually needs work?  It is perfectly normal to want to grow in all spheres of your life be it spiritually, career wise or family wise. Once you’ve separated the lies from the facts of your life, what do you do with the information? You now know that something in you is called to move to the next step but nothing is working. You don’t have the money or every time you come close to attaining that next step it all falls apart.

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Taffy Pfupajena graciously shared her own struggles with feeling left behind

We had the lovely Taffy Pfupajena share her own personal experience with feeling left behind, and what God taught her in that journey. In the end, everyone shared their own story and we were able to pick up on some key lessons with regards to waiting on God’s timing for our lives.

Here a few nuggets I took with me from the breakfast:

  • You’re where you’re meant to be: As hard as it is feeling like you’re left behind and nothing is going your way, there is a reason why you are at this point in your life (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Rushing to where you think you should be before God has readied you tends to have pretty catastrophic results.
  • There’s a lesson you’re meant to be learning at this stage of your life: So you’re at this point in your life, looking at what needs to be changed but you don’t know how. It could be there’s something you’re yet to learn.  Remember, God always keeps his promises. He says it over and over – Isaiah 41:10 “ Fear not;  for I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.”
  • God needs to put you in a place spiritually, emotionally or physically where you can receive what is coming: Think about any blessing that has come into your life. Okay, now think about the time before it. Despite your frustration, there were some lessons you learnt that prepped you for what came into your life and you think back and thank God for His timing because had that thing happened when you wanted it to …again catastrophic results.
  • Leave room for God’s sprinkling: God will always work things out for your good. Don’t be so tied to how you want things that you miss out on God showing you another way. As you grow, you’re meant to reach a point where you’re completely at peace with your life, because you have the confidence of the promise that God has for your life. I am not talking new age stuff here but rather knowing that God ultimately wants the best for you.  “For I know the thoughts I have toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and hope” Jeremiah 29:11.

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The lesson here?  While waiting on the change in your life, enjoy the ride, learn what you’re meant to and arm yourself in preparation for what is coming and this can only be done through a constant walk with God. The challenge is what to do in the meant time. I am in the midst of reading ‘The Wait’ and one of the nuggets of wisdom I noted was that the time when nothing appears to be happening becomes your personal self-development laboratory. The trick is not allowing the ‘wish for more’ to turn into a self-hating exercise. The key is using this period of your life productively as you seek and work to reach the next point of your life. Ultimately, God is using this point in your life for you to draw closer to Him, and once that link is solidified ‘all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

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Larissa is an intuitive young woman with a passion for encouraging and uplifting others to have the life that God has purposed for them. She is also such an integral member of the bAw team who loves Jesus and is on the journey to fulfilling her purpose according to His will.

The bAw Team
The beautiful ladies that make up the bAw team

It truly was a time to remember and give 🙂

10 Things I Appreciate About Black African Mothers

Mama Dubez
The woman I am so blessed to call Mama

In a couple of days, many different countries around the world will be honouring mothers in wonderful ways. The 14th of May is a day that I am so glad sits on the international calendar because to be a mother is no small feat. In fact, it is such a special task that even though Jesus Christ did not have an earthly biological father He certainly had an earthly biological mother in Mary (Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-7). She was instrumental in helping to shape Him into the one-of-a-kind Man that He is.

I myself was raised and cared for by a phenomenal woman who recently celebrated a birthday. In recent years, I’ve been able to see all that she has done for me, my siblings and many other young people around her. And so today, I would like to take a moment to specifically appreciate her and my black African mamas for who they are and all they have done for us. These are the reasons that make the black African mother a gift:

  1. More often than not, she has sacrificed her personal and career dreams for the benefit and growth of her husband’s career and their family. My own Mum was a successful Town Planner but she chose to say goodbye to her career at the age of 31 years so that our family could relocate to a different country because of my Dad’s new job and his career advancement. I have never once heard her complain about this sacrifice she had to make, and in fact she speaks with such joy about how she was happy to be there for us. Mothers make a sacrifice look like a gain.
  1. She always has a way of making it look like she never gets ill, and is always ready to help you out no matter how she is feeling. I don’t ever really remember my Mum complaining about feeling ill. But I remember many times when I wasn’t well and she’d nurse me back to full health like I was her only care in the world. Mothers are the most uncelebrated super heroes in this world.

 

  1. Regardless of the terrible circumstances she has faced in her past or present, she carries herself with such grace and dignity. Most of our mothers grew up in the times of apartheid and similar ideological movements, facing a lot of discrimination, abuse and rejection. They may even face discrimination in their workplaces today. Yet, looking at how they dress and present themselves, or how they address those around them, you could swear they never went through any of that. Black African mothers are the strongest people out there because they do not allow their negative experiences to define them.
  1. She has a way of celebrating every little achievement in your life from your first day at school; to making your first friend or; even getting the part of curtain-raiser at your school play! My sister likes to say this a lot, and I agree with her – my mother is our greatest cheerleader. She makes you feel like you have conquered Mount Kilimanjaro even if it’s just the fact that you went to the first day of work! Mothers have a way of making you feel like the winner you are but haven’t quite yet believed in.
  1. She is the only person who can reprimand you so badly about something you shouldn’t have done, yet make you feel like you’re deeply loved all at the same time. The black African mother has a way of sharing her disappointment in your behaviour while still allowing you to feel as though she still believes you are better than your mistake.

 

  1. She is the most forgiving human being on this planet. Our mothers have been hurt deeply by family, friends, strangers and everyone in-between. They are tested on a daily basis by their employers, their husbands and their children yet they pour out their love and concern for these individuals as though they had never slighted them. Black African mothers have the deepest hearts and the shortest memories I have come across to date.

 

  1. She throws it DOWN in the kitchen! I have not come across a mother from my parents’ generation (1960s/1970s and before) who does not have a minimum of like 5 special dishes that leave her guests licking their fingers. My own Mama has so many self-made recipes that I am still trying to get right. Cooking is second nature to her and her food always exudes the love she has for those she has prepared it for, even if she has just met them for the first time. Mothers are the best, yet most underpaid, chefs in the world.
  1. She is a mother to every young person she comes across regardless of whether she knows them or not. My mother knows (to an extent) what is going on in my friends’ lives and gives her advice/counsel to so many young people around her. She does it without even realizing it, and people always leave her feeling encouraged. Black African mothers recognize that being a mother is a full-time job and her child is anyone who needs guidance and support – whether or not she gave birth to them.

 

  1. She would die for you. I have seen how my mother carries my own burdens as though they were her own. She won’t sleep and she’ll try and see how she can best support or help you through your trial. If possible, she would take my place and go through the pain on my behalf. Thus, it is safe to say that a mother, given the choice, would give her own life that her child should live.
  1. Her hugs still bring such comfort no matter how old you get. I’m 31 years old now and when I’m feeling a little low I will still go put my head on my mother’s lap or ask her to give me a hug. When I’m in her arms my sorrows disappear, and I believe that all is well once again. Mothers have a way of enveloping you in their love by being nurturing.

 

These are just a few of the many reasons why I have deep respect and love for black African mothers. I would love to hear what you appreciate about your black African mother or one that you know. Let’s give back to them in whatever small way we can, the love they have selflessly poured into us over the years.

With love,

Sonia Dee

Mama and I
My beautiful Mama and me 🙂

How We Hurt Each Other As Christians

Bringing Each Other Down in the Church 2
Photo Cred: imgfave

 

You know, on most days I am hesitant to be known as a Christian. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because of my Saviour. God Himself is phenomenal. He is the one and only Person on this Earth you desperately need to have in your life. If it wasn’t for the fact that He desires for us to fellowship with others at Church and form part of that body so we grow and learn together and pass through tests together, I would have been fine chilling at home with just me and Him. The main reason I struggle with Christians (myself included), is how we treat others. More specifically, how we treat each other as fellow Christians.

 

It was Mahatma Ghandi who famously quoted,

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

 

He hit the nail on the head with that statement. We Christians truly misrepresent our God and His character. We chase people away. And I’m learning that it’s not necessarily in terms of how we treat people outside of the Christian faith, but more so how we treat each other within the body of Christ. At church. I am beginning to understand why Christ emphasised that we ought to love one another because “by this all will know that you are My disciples” (John 13:34-35). I think it’s mostly because you can tell how someone is going to treat you based on how they treat those dearest and nearest to them – their family members. And so, if a non-Christian sees a Christian being downright “unchristian” to a fellow Christian they conclude that how they will be treated will be even worse.

 

The thing is, as Christians we like to talk the talk but barely do we walk the walk. I remember there was a time (not too long ago) when the main reason I loved being at Church was so that I could show off my latest outfit and get compliments. It was also so that I could see my friends and all those people I really wanted to chat with. It wasn’t because I wanted to evangelize and find out how people were really doing most of the time. I mean, I was already serving in the church. What more did they want from me? Oh, and of course I was going out with the youth to homes for the less fortunate and to feed the homeless once a year in winter. And of course, I read my Bible and all the other spiritual books that came with it. So hey, let me enjoy getting mine while I’m at church. And allow me to talk about so-and-so to see how we can “help them out”. It’s so easy to slip into that way of thinking about why you’re at Church. Trust me I know.

 

That’s the thing with us Christians. God has recently been removing the scales from my eyes and showing me how much we are unloving towards each other (again, I’m preaching to myself first here). We stand up in church and deliver earth-shattering, tear-jerking, mind-blowing and eschatologically correct sermons or prayer garden messages or offertory readings. Or we post up deep quotes and messages on FB or Insta. We dress better than the royal family themselves on our church days and take strategically poised pictures to post on Instagram and Facebook later so the world can see what good church-going folks we are (and of course we get our egos stroked in the process).

 

We organize bi-annual trips to homes for the poor where we play with the children for a few hours and feel good about giving our time and resources. We organize program after program after program with powerful speakers for ourselves so we hear messages that have been preached to us millions of times before but still haven’t changed us – we just want to hear how this Pastor/Evangelist will twist the message in a way we haven’t heard before. We don’t go to worldly concerts but best believe we are there at the church concerts where we’re pretty much behaving like we’re at a Rihanna or Kanye gig – screaming our lungs off and dying over the cute guys or girls singing!

 

So, on paper we’re great. But then, we loooove to do sinful things undercover. We have sex with each other in the church outside of marriage (and sometimes in marriage) and we’re not exposed. We fight for guys as girls and even end up taking a guy our “friend” was interested in because well, “he didn’t like you anyway”. We may not drink but some of our get-togethers would shun the presence of the Holy Spirit. We gossip – that’s our favourite one. We dissect people and their lives and intentions for breakfast, lunch and supper. We can also be so fake towards each other. We give insincere hugs and greetings at church – sometimes because the person stopped us as we walked by. We greet those we like or believe are worth our time or are important enough, and ignore people we don’t know or who “aren’t good enough” for our standards. We defame each other’s characters and paint one another in such negative light. The list is endless but I think you get the picture.

 

Now, I’m not writing this because I want to point fingers or to make anyone feel bad. If you feel bad or angry or guilty, it’s a good sign. Take it to God and ask Him where you fit into this equation and how He can help you change. Sometimes we don’t know our behaviour is hurtful until it is said. Truth is, I’m speaking to myself here first. I’m guilty of most of this stuff and over the last few months God has been rebuking me on it. I’m writing this because we are meant to be each other’s keepers. We are meant to share the truths God reveals to us so we grow better together. It’s like keeping the cure for cancer to yourself. It’s not right, we need to share it. I need to share the revelation I have received in my own life.

 

I am writing this because we’re failing God guys. As His children and as His disciples. We’re hurting each other. We’re putting each other down at “home” in front of guests. We’re telling the world that it’s impossible to be different. That it’s impossible to be like Christ – to be genuine; long-suffering (patient); kind; loving; encouraging; and to have each other’s backs. I literally see a scene in the wilderness where a pack of lions is ripping each other to pieces. That is what we are doing in our conduct with one another. And believe me, non-believing visitors may not be there every Sabbath at church to witness what goes on, but on the days they are around the devil is sure to expose our nastiness to them. Just on that one day, we may do or say something that is so opposite to what we would have just preached or shared and it causes a non-believer to never want to seek Christ again.

 

Our lives are not our own (Psalm 100:3). We don’t get away with sounding like Christ’s children but acting like Satan is our real father. Let’s not pretend to be peacemakers while murdering someone with our thoughts or words later on. Christ rebukes us in John 8:37-47. He expressly says that if we were God’s children we would hear His words and do (not speak) His will. We would fulfill the 2nd greatest commandment He ever gave to us – to love one another. Instead, our actions sell us out and show that we truly belong to the devil. These are not words we like to hear. Trust me I didn’t enjoy having that highlighted to me. But though the truth hurts, it does set us free (John 8:32). And I love God so much because He does not show us our wrongdoings so He can leave us in our mess. He reveals to heal.

 

And so, as a young black African woman (bAw) who is also a Christian, my desire is to see us truly love one another and represent our Father correctly in the Church. To also see us take pride in the wonderful family God has established for us and that He died for. Time is running out and Jesus will soon return for us. Let us work hard to allow Him to change our hearts and our sinful behaviour so we can work with Him to bring more souls to His kingdom – his life-changing, life-giving and amazing kingdom! We can’t do it if we’re being fake with ourselves; with Him; and with others.

 

If you’re reading this and feeling angry with what I’ve said or feel I’m unfairly accusing you, please take it to God. If I am wrong He’ll direct you in the right path – that’s why we need a personal relationship with Him. If you’re feeling really terrible and as though you’re a bad person because you’ve done or are doing some of this, don’t allow the enemy to imprison you in condemnation. God still loves you and desires to change you. Give it to Him. Ask for forgiveness and let Him walk you to a repentant life. If you’ve recently woken up to the fact that your behaviour needs to change, I am so happy for you. You’re in good company. Let’s keep praying and allowing God to change us.

 

The truth is that none of us deserve the very lives we live. It is by His grace and love alone that we are even blessed with the lives we have and with the opportunity to know Him. We can never repay Him for this goodness but one of the ways we can show our gratitude is how we treat each other as His children.

 

Heaven will be beautiful because our relationships will be based on love. It won’t happen automatically. We must work on getting there on a daily basis. So why not start now? Why not start in your small church community. As we genuinely learn to love one another with the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit, we’ll attract more brothers and sisters into our family. I wish you all the best in that endeavour and I ask that you please pray for me too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee