How You Can Prepare For Your 2018 Part 1: Reflection

Reflection image
Photo Cred: Berveley Shiller Tumblr

 

Hi bAw family!

 

The New Year is LITERALLY around the corner. Can you believe it??! I feel like I blinked and 11 months swooshed by. It’s crazy how life can happen to you sometimes which is why I decided to do this post.

 

Just FYI: this blog post is a tad long but that’s because it’s more of a coaching post which will get you involved. It’s well worth it though I must say so just set aside an hour one of these days to run through it. You’ll be glad that you did.

 

In brief, this is what this post will help you to tackle:

  1. Reflecting on yourself – noting your strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents and other qualities that you discovered in 2017. You will learn what these reveal about you.
  2. Reflecting on unhealthy habits/mind-sets – you will intentionally discover the blind spots that may be preventing you from progressing in life.
  3. Reflecting on your greatest victories – you will look at the things you achieved (big or small) to help you repeat or build on them going forward.
  4. Reflecting on God – you will reflect on how you experienced God in 2017 to equip you for the New Year.

 

Writing in your journal
Photo Cred: Ana Rosa Tumblr

 

As I’ve alluded to already, I’m going to put on my Coaching hat in this post, and hoping it helps just one person. I used to be that person that never planned for anything to be honest. I played victim all too well and at the end of a year, I would just go out and have some fun hoping that the New Year would magically be amazing. That I would finally achieve the things I hoped to in life without actually having to think about or change anything.

 

And honestly, it was because I didn’t know better. We’re hardly encouraged to be intentional about stepping into a new season of life, and into a new year, within our black communities. December is about playing – eating mounds of food; having party after party; and just really kicking back.

 

There’s nothing wrong with this at all. We certainly need to take it easy and rest our weary souls after a tough year. But when we set aside a little time to prepare for our new chapter in life, it makes the celebrations all the sweeter. Plus, we get to enter a new year with a clear mind and renewed, directed passion! For your year to be better, you need to plan for it. You wouldn’t travel to a foreign country without doing some form of preparation.

 

Road ahead
Photo Cred: Linxspiration

 

Today I’d like to share a brief exercise for you to do before all the crazy December celebrations come through. The most important step in preparing for a new year, is reflecting on what the current year was all about. You can learn much from it and also see what areas to target in the new season – whether relationships, career, habits, mind-sets, ministries, businesses, school etc.

 

Go ahead and get yourself a fresh journal or fresh writing pad, and find yourself a quiet spot and invite the Holy Spirit to help you with this exercise. He will point out the truth to some of the questions I will be asking you (John 16:13). You can choose to answer the below questions as they relate to your life generally or to specific parts like relationships/business/emotional health/physical fitness etc.

 

  1. Reflecting On Yourself

On your fresh piece of paper, make 5 columns and give them the headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Gifts, Talents and Other. Under each column, write out the things you learnt about yourself in each of these areas – for the “Other” column you can choose an area not mentioned. Who does this reveal you to be?

You may have gone through this year or even your whole life without realizing who you really are. This little exercise is not going to give you the full picture, but it’s a great start. Understanding what you are made up of wakes you up to what you’re able to do and where you need improvement or external assistance. Seeing yourself right (not through foggy glasses), means that you’re better equipped to face the challenges and opportunities that a New Year brings.

This year, I learnt that one of my greatest gifts is the ability God has given me to see people right – to see the potential He has put inside of them that they often overlook. And to encourage them to pursue that relentlessly. One of my weaknesses is lack of discipline and follow-through. If I do not consciously work on tasks, I do not finish what I started. What about you?

 

Fall in love with taking care
Photo Cred: Soul Wellness

 

  1. Reflecting On Unhealthy Habits/Mind-sets

What unhealthy habits or mind-sets did you consistently engage in this year and what led to them? On the left-hand side of a new page/paper, list each habit or mind-set and next to each, jot down the things or people that led to them.

It could be habits or attitudes like eating too much junk; believing you have nothing of value to add to anyone; not getting enough rest etc. Unhealthy habits/mind-sets can block your progress in life. Doing this exercise will help you become aware of what to avoid or adjust in the New Year. You will keep repeating what you don’t acknowledge.

This year, one of the worst habits I engaged in was to blame other people for my unhappiness. Whether or not their behaviour was wrong, I was not taking responsibility over my own feelings and well-being. It meant that I was constantly open to other people’s manipulations because I was waiting for them to fix things or to do right. Next year, I need to seek to recognize unhealthy conduct from people and choose to set appropriate boundaries or speak up without sulking endlessly or expecting someone else to change.

 

We repeat what we don't repair
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

  1. Reflecting On Your Greatest Victories

On the left-hand side of a new page, list your greatest victories in 2017. Maybe you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro or you finally got your Driver’s License. Maybe you broke off an unhealthy relationship, or you started to serve in your local church. It doesn’t matter how small or big the milestone, it’s just one that fills you up with pride when you think of it.

Next to each victory item, jot down what you believe led to that specific victory – external sources; your skill/effort; opportunities that you grabbed; an attitude you adopted; people around you etc. Reflecting on your victories will reinforce to your mind that you can achieve your goals, and it will help you see how you can repeat or build on these for 2018.

One of my greatest victories for 2018 was stepping out of my comfort zone and hosting events for women I had never met but that God planted a passion in my heart for. This victory was a result of the help of amazing friends, family and strangers who gave of their time, money and skills to make them a blessing. Going forward, I am encouraged that what God has called me to do, He will fulfil and provide for.

 

Success is a series of small wins
Photo Cred: Instead Of Ashes

 

  1. Reflecting On God

This is probably the most important reflection theme. What did you learn about God this year through the good and terrible circumstances you faced? Do not limit yourself with this step. Let your pen free-flow on your page as the Holy Spirit reveals the truths you experienced about God and His character in 2017.

The most important thing we can do in our life is to see God right. He reveals His character through our experiences in life whether good or bad. This is why Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. God does something amazing with every experience we go through, if we would just allow Him to show us. Seeing God right through your past experiences, equips you for the new ones you will walk through.

One of the things I learnt about God in 2017 is that He is good even when I don’t feel it or see it (Psalm 145:9; 1 Chronicles 16:34; Nahum 1:7). His intrinsic nature is to allow things to shape up in a way that ultimately benefits me. I have learnt to wait on God rather than throw tantrums when things appear to be going pear-shaped because He always reveals His goodness to me. Going forward, this gives me such confidence in Him as my Father and Sovereign Lord over my life.

 

The coolest thing about God
Photo Cred: YouTube

 

Once you are done with your reflections, you will find that you see yourself, life, people and God through different eyes. You are no longer seeing through eyes that have been tainted by society or lies or fears and doubts. You are not seeing through your own desires or wishes. But, through the universal and omnipresent perspective of God who sees where you’ve come from, where you are and where He is taking you.

 

I hope you found this exercise useful. If you have any questions or would just like to share your experience of it, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email at theblackafricanwoman@gmail.com. You can also get a hold of me for personal coaching sessions if you feel stuck in a rut in your life or you desire healing and to see yourself the way God sees you. My desire is to help you live a more fulfilled and wholesome life as God intended.

 

Look out for the final instalment of posts for this year which will help you plan forward for the New Year. Thanks for reading as always!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

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Our Perfect Expectations Of Love

Perfect Couple 2
Photo Cred: Munaluchibride 

 

There is no such thing as a guy who is “ready for marriage”.

 

Well, this is the conclusion I have come to based on endless hours of reading up on relationships and marriage, and speaking to married folks that I respect and look up to.

 

For some reason, our generation has been convinced that before you marry a man, he has to have all his stuff together – this is a belief held by both females and males mind you. We believe that he needs to have a good job, a great house, big fat bank account, and a fabulous car to chauffer you in, plus an extra one for you of course!

 

For the super spiritual peeps, we also believe that he needs to be serving deeply within the church or his own personal ministry. He needs to be so deep in the word of God that you feel like you’re listening to Jesus when he is speaking. And and and. In a nutshell, we’re expecting the brother to pretty much be Jesus Christ Himself. These are honestly great and important things to seek in a partner but I do not believe they are deal breakers, especially because we ourselves are not this way as women.

 

What screws us up most
Photo Cred: Nice People Are Cool

 

The thing is, this is what I believed for quite a while. Because truth be told, what I desired was good and I wanted to be wise in my choice. I felt like unless you ticked all the boxes I had presented to God (not the ones God had revealed to me) about my ideal Christian man, I wasn’t even going to give you a second thought.

 

You were just going to waste my time and reverse all the “hard work” I had been putting in to become this amazing Christian girl. If I gave you a chance it would be a reflection on me that I don’t have worth – that I allow imperfection into my space (ouch!). It would suggest that I am not destined for a great and life-changing marriage. I couldn’t have that!

 

Then I purposefully engaged in some research on real-life relationships: from conversations with family and friends; to reading testimonies online. And I realized that the picture perfect pre-marriage state was actually not a thing – was not necessarily the experience of most married people.

 

I mean, I learnt that a man (even the most devoted and God-fearing) is not fully who he has been called to be by God when you meet him. He is not a finished product. He will make some really dumb choices. Lol. He will probably hurt you at several points. He will test you and the wonderful Christian qualities you’ve been racking up. And that is because no person is perfectly prepared for any stage of their life.

 

Rather, the stages of life perfect characteristics in a person as God leads them. We love to say that saying, “God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called”. But we love to say it in context of serving in ministry for God and we do not apply it in other areas of life including romantic relationships.

 

Expectations vs Reality
Photo Cred: Brian Tracy Online

 

Today, I’m speaking to my fellow perfectionist sisters who literally fear giving a man a chance because he is not a walking Bible character. The truth is that God does not bring you a perfect person to marry and because of that we may keep passing on our potential partners (talking to myself here as well). I think what has caused us to believe this deception is mainly social media. Social media influences our perceptions of relationships in the following two ways:

 

  1. Perfect Expectations – we are a social media generation. Social media has given individuals the power to be who they want the world to believe that they are. We post up only the best pictures that we have edited several times so that they are appealing. We post up our successes and victories and seldom acknowledge our struggles or fears. We have this whole “Stepford Wives” vibe thing to a tee in terms of how we represent our life.

 

The problem comes when we start to believe that this perfection applies to every aspect of our lives: Our food should arrive the way we see it perfectly depicted in food magazines; our outfits should sit on us the same way that they are displayed on the mannequin; and likewise, our potential hubby should possess all these wonderful qualities that we read about on Christian blog sites or according to men in the Bible that we are told to look up to (à la Joseph/Abraham etc).

 

The reality of life, however, is that we all have defects in our characters (Romans 3:23). The reality of life is that our backgrounds and circumstances have shaped our thinking and informed the behaviours that we are trying to overcome through Christ (Romans 7:15). The reality of life is that we are still a work in progress and still being sanctified. We have not attained perfection yet – yes, even us “good Christian girls”!

 

So when we meet a guy and are considering a relationship, we act like we are shopping in a catalogue which should only possess the “air-brushed” man for our consideration. Should any defects pop up, we convince ourselves that these are warning bells from God that this is not the right man for us. Just as you have your own hectic flaws within your lovely qualities, the man God chooses for you will have some qualities (not foundational to his character) that will drive you UP THE WALL! Let go of the perfect expectations.

 

Who hurt you
Photo Cred: We Love Soccer Online

 

  1. Perfect Comparisons – I love to read up about fellow Christians who inspire me and have come through the other side of tests and trials in Christ. Not that they are now perfect, but they have gone through seasons with God and their faith is being proved. These people naturally like to celebrate their love and to inspire and encourage others by sharing images of themselves with their spouse doing life. It’s so beautiful to see but the problem comes when I begin to convince myself that it should always look that way from the beginning. We convince ourselves that a man should already be kind; loving; patient; hands on in the home; willing to rub your feet when you’re exhausted etc from day one of marriage.

 

The truth is that these people we look up to were not always like that. They have worked hard with God and with one another to grow into the people God calls them to be. They have prayed earnestly through some really rough seasons. They have almost called it quits because they couldn’t believe that this was the same person they fell in love with.

 

But we only see the end results and compare our potential partners to years of experience, moulding, prayer and testing. The devil encourages a lot of comparison in today’s world which leaves us feeling so discontented. One of God’s 10 commandments is to not covet what belongs to another (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21) and that includes wishing you had someone who was like the husband of another woman.

 

God is so wise in this admonition. He knows that as humans we don’t get to see the full picture. We have not walked the exact journey that this couple has. We do not possess the same qualities that the wife had that He worked with to mould and build up the man to be the amazing husband that he is today. And so, when we are considering our own suitors we cannot compare them to finished products but to the standard Christ reveals to us personally.

 

God won’t give you a finished product because then what would be the point of marriage? Marriage is there to challenge us and expose our sinfulness and to change us to become more like Christ. It is there to ensure we fulfil our oath to God on this earth. That is the main aim of marriage. And so that means you need someone who needs challenging and exposing and who is sinful – just like you by the way. That may be the guy currently hollering at you that you’ve written off.

 

Have courage and be kind OG
Photo Cred: Etsy Online

 

In a nutshell, my fellow single sisters, I am just encouraging us to not be unnecessarily hard on and demanding of our brothers. Let us be kind as they shall have to be kind to us and our shortcomings. I am not saying take someone who is an obvious liar or adulterer or just someone with no basic regard for God’s law (which by the way is summed up as loving God wholly and others as yourself).

 

I am saying let us look for a man who is willing above all else. That is a good man. A man who has a teachable spirit and is willing to work with God and with you to become all God has called you both to be. Let us let go of our fantasies of Mr Perfect, and let us embrace the Mr Imperfect with whom we will have the pleasure of walking through the journey of life to grow to be all God has called us to be. This, I believe, is the true definition of love.

 

Because, at the end of the day we will experience more joy and fulfilment when we can stand back, watch that man care for his children; treat us like a Queen; and honour God in all he does because we were willing to go through the rough patches with him. I mean think about it, you would cherish the Chanel bag that you had to work and save up for despite how hard it was much more than the one someone hands over to you for nothing.

 

What have been some of your expectations of a spouse? How do you think we can attain the right balance in accepting a godly but human man as a husband? Let’s chat!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

Guest Post: I Was Hijacked By Lupus by Nompumelelo Simango

Shattered Glass
Photo Cred: Bloglovin’ Online

 

Imagine driving down a quiet suburb, with beautiful scenery, on a Sunday afternoon and then suddenly you are confronted by a couple of assailants; they smash your window, demand that you get out of your car with a gun pointed in your direction. Can you imagine how you would feel? The fear, the confusion, the shock and suddenly the world seems so much more different to what you had believed it to be.

 

Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I received the diagnosis on the 28th of August, 2013. For years, prior to the diagnosis, I woke up each morning with aching joints and muscles. I wondered what could possibly be the cause of the pain. I would visit my family doctor hoping that she would tell me something different but she would conduct numerous blood tests and find nothing.

 

Draw near to God
Photo Cred: Prayer Note Online

 

For years I lived with an illness whose name I didn’t know until a random swelling in the eye prompted my GP to refer me to an Ophthalmologist. He tested for a completely different element but, even then, when the results came back he assumed it was either one of these obvious two, HIV or an STD.

 

Then, when the HIV/STD results come back clear, he spoke of an Autoimmune Disease. When he said that, I was thinking; what in the world is that? Like how you would probably think, as the assailant approaches your car, is this happening to me? Right here, right now?

 

I was referred to a specialist to determine which of the Auto-immune diseases I may possibly be living with and that’s my story, that’s how I found out my body was hijacked by a chronic illness called Systematic Lupus Erythematosus or better known as Lupus.

 

His yoke is easy
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Most people have never heard of it. I, myself, only heard of it when Toni Braxton disclosed to her family in their Reality TV Show. So naturally, I was afraid, confused and shocked but I don’t think I experienced all these emotions at a scale higher than that of my parents. I recall the moment I tried to explain what Lupus is; I laugh today as I think back to that moment.

 

Being an African child makes the experience of living with an illness like Lupus completely unique in that there is not much awareness around the condition or any of the auto-immune diseases. In light of that, I was bombarded with numerous theories of what could possibly be wrong with me.

 

I was told that there is no such thing as an immune-system that is harmful to the body, I must just accept my “calling” as a Sangoma. I think the most bizarre of all the theories, bizarre because it came from the Christian community, was that it was a demon and I just needed to be delivered.



I simply cannot imagine where I would be right now if it weren’t for the fact that I have my own unique and personal relationship with God. It has kept me grounded but also, it has given me the will power to continue living.

 

Strength and Power
Photo Cred: Imgfave Online

 

Paul writes “…In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

 

And so, 4 years ago, I was given a thorn in my flesh to keep me from becoming conceited. The moment I accepted that the grace of God is sufficient I began living in the power of Christ. Not afraid of death, not afraid of pain anymore, I love God even more fiercely now and whenever I have a flare up I turn to my body and speak to this “thorn”:

 

“Lupus, you live in my body. Play nice because if I die, you die too.”

 

In the African context, living with Lupus is an everyday challenge. We are either considered lazy, bewitched or have some sort of calling. To all the beautiful bAw’s living with Lupus, you are stronger than what you believe and what you are suffering from has a medical explanation; but God is still in the business of healing. Even in the face of all the biological facts; have faith that defies logic.

 

Victory Found in Jesus
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

Love,

Nompumelelo Simango

Mpumi Pic

Mpumi is a gorgeous young woman who is passionate about God and spirituality. She is a middle child with an older brother and younger sister. Mpumi holds a degree in Political Science and currently works as a PA. She enjoys reading, writing, singing and outdoor activity. You can find Mpumi on Facebook or Instagram to get a glimpse of some of the inspiration she shares.


 

Thank you Mpumi for your vulnerability and testimony. God truly has been good to you and may He continue to be your strength and joy.

Thank you sisters for reading. If you would like to share your story, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at theblackafricanwoman@gmail.com. Your story can set someone free and bring them healing.

I’m still praying for you.

With love,

Sonia Dee

The Hardest Thing About Being A Single Christian Woman

Single Christian Woman 2
Photo Cred: Space For Inspiration

For whatever reason, God has seen it fit that I bear the cross of singleness in my life. And over the more recent years, I have been fortunate to see the blessing in my singleness.

 

Ever since I was in my pre-teens I have dreamt of getting married. At one point I would walk around day-dreaming about being Nick Carter’s (former Backstreet Boys member) wifey and living a charmed life (Haha!). Marriage was the ultimate for me. It was one of my many idols, and from a young age.

 

So, God has had to take me through a process where He has kept me single to shift my mind-set around what is of ultimate importance in my life. It certainly is not marriage. I have come to appreciate the peace and true joy in embracing (and not fighting) the single season.

 

When you let go
Photo Cred: Instagram

 

Today, I was impressed to share the realities of being a single Christian woman. To share some of the things that make being single really tough for us in hopes that as a community of believers, we can better support our single Christian women.

 

Now, to all my single Christian sisters, I’m sure you’ve faced some awkward and sometimes annoying questions about your relationships status:

 

  • “Why are you still single?” – This question from people who read the same Bible as you and share the same beliefs you do, and so know that you know that you are the one to be pursued and not to pursue – so why would my single status be on me when I must be chased? And with the knowledge that everything happens in God’s time.

 

  • “Why are you so picky?” – Again, this question is asked as though you yourself do not sometimes wonder why you must have such high standards. Trust me, there are days where I have thought, “You know what? Who needs a God-fearing man anyway? As long as he goes to church I’m sure we’ll be alright.”

 

And the questions go on.

 

Surrender
Photo Cred: ProGood

 

The above questions (and those similar to them), I have learnt to brush away. I get that very few married men and women in the church truly get the circumstances of single Christians today. And I don’t even hold it against them because deep down they mean well.

 

But over the last couple of years, the one question or statement that has caused me my greatest struggle with being a single Christian woman is:

 

“You are such a beautiful young woman who clearly loves the Lord. How is it that a woman like you is still single?”

 

It’s similar to question number 1 above, except that it has added salt that rubs into the wound. It’s one thing to know that you are a single Christian woman who is seeking contentment and healing from past relationships/mistakes/mind-sets. You have no doubt that were you to enter a relationship now, it would go down – and not in a good way because you’re so broken.

 

The older I get
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

But then, it is another thing to know the journey you have walked with God to receive healing from all that. You are still on the journey, yes, but now you can turn around and look back to see how far you have come with and through Him. It leaves you in tears knowing that you are not the same person you were years ago.

 

This question then suggests that there is something wrong because you are a prime candidate for marriage yet you remain alone. It can cause even the most grounded Christian woman to wonder, especially because it is a recurring question. It can threaten to undo all the work God has done in you up to this point.

 

From family, to friends, to colleagues and even strangers (yes! I’ve had people I’ve met for the first time say this to me), such a question is probably one of the hardest things to carry as a single Christian woman. And more so because it is a question that you probably ask God in the crevices of your heart before anyone else voices it.

 

God I'm frustrated
Photo Cred: Immanuel Prayer Wheel Online

 

I’ve stopped dating for the sake of it. I’ve stopped watching movies that make me pine after men. I’ve dedicated my life to Jesus and I’m walking in His purpose for me. I literally seek to live a life of worship and my favourite pastime has become spending time in God’s word. I’ve finally laid down that idol of marriage. Yet, this gnawing question that suggests I am doing something wrong consistently follows me.

 

This has been my greatest struggle family, and maybe some other young woman’s too. I feel as though I have gone through all the steps of struggling with singleness that a Christian woman can face and this one is the biggest sucker. And probably because of the context of the African culture we grow up and live in.

 

Yet, this very question I have taken to God in my darkest moments and asked it to Him – “Why God? Why have you allowed me, a woman so devoted to you to miss out on a desire YOU planted in me? Why have you allowed others who didn’t even care to go through all the groundwork to get married and have babies while I watch? Why?”

 

I ask such questions not because I believe I am better than any other woman or even understand their circumstances that led to their marriage etc, but because this is my reality. This is what I am grappling with today.

 

Free women vulnerable
Photo Cred: The Free Woman Online

 

What am I trying to say? I have learnt in the last couple of years that being transparent with God will get you through such hard moments. It doesn’t matter how long you have walked with Him or how much Bible you know or how long you’ve served in the church or how much you’ve grown content in your singleness – you are human and you will still battle with these tough and painful feelings/questions about your status. And that’s okay.

 

It just reminds you how much you desperately need God to do life. It reminds you of your humanity. It establishes and maintains the intimacy with your God. It builds trust with Him. John the Baptist understood this which is why he questioned Jesus on whether He really was the One who was to come or if they should wait for another (when he was locked up in prison and Christ was not trying to save him). Or why Christ cried out on the cross, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken Me?”

 

See, we often like to jump to the part of our Bible heroes’ stories where they share such profound statements of faith and don’t doubt God’s goodness – definitely all things we should seek to fulfil. But we skip over all the messy, human parts of their experiences and in the process nullify our own experiences which causes us added heartache. Just like you, they went through doubts and depression and anxiety and fear. But the greatest of them expressed these to God.

 

You don't protect your heart...
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

One of my favourite Bible characters, David, understood this so well which is why I believe he was called a man after God’s own heart. In Psalm 18:6 he says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”

 

So sis, take the hardest questions about your singleness to Christ and don’t deny them. In your quiet time, pour it all out to Him because He cares. He wants to know. And He has the anecdote that will take away your pain and replace it with joy and peace. He can show you where you need Him to enter and transform you even more when you’re this honest. I have personally experienced it.

 

And to all our married friends and family and colleagues who don’t quite get it yet, no this post is not an indication about how sad or bitter we are about our singleness. It’s just an education of our experiences so you can better support and encourage us. So you can be a little more sensitive about the questions you ask us, no matter how well-meaning. To those who are already doing that, please don’t stop. You have no idea what it does for us.

 

Thanks once again for reading. Let me know what’s been the hardest thing for YOU as a single Christian woman. Encourage another woman. And remember that God loves you more than you will ever understand.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

Photo Cred:Worship  Gifs & Conexus Counselling

 

Before You Go Sis:

Would you like to be part of a community of black African women who are daily speaking and seeking healing for different aspects of their lives and returning to their true identity in Christ? Then join us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat soon!

Guest Post: How Going Natural Was A Journey Of Love by Paloma Ka-David Ncoco

 

Journey Of Love
Photo Cred: Ana Rosa Tumblr

 

Are you confident? Headstrong? Did you believe “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” So was I till the day I decided to do something different.

 

I was 17 going on 18 and I had been relaxing my hair for years. If it wasn’t relaxed it was always blow-dried and straightened. I would spend hours the night before frying my hair to bone straight perfection. That was what society deemed ‘acceptable’ so that was what I fed my mind until one day I decided to make a change. Little did I know that that change would come with hurt feelings and hiding a part of who I am once again.

 

Pain of Change
Photo Cred: i.pinimg.com

 

I had learnt how to put my hair in twists at night and let it out in the morning. This was one of my go-to tricks when I’d wear my natural hair (there were times I’d go up to 8 months without relaxing and only blow & straighten). One day I decided I’d wear my hair natural at school and so I did.

 

When I walked into my first class the white kids started to laugh at my hair asking, “What did you do?” “Where you electrocuted?” The black kids felt my hair and would ask why it’s not coarse or why it felt like cotton; “You’re not really black then”, they’d say to me. After that day I was so overwhelmed with emotions of hurt and I knew then I wouldn’t wear my natural hair for a very very long time.

 

Words kill or words give life - you choose
Photo Cred: Pktfuel Online

 

My big turnaround came towards the end of 2015. Mid-year I had bleached my hair and the ends were fried & dyed to death so I had to chop them off. My friend had been researching natural hair and I asked her to share with me tips on how to take care of my natural hair and I myself began to do my own research and I started buying the correct products and wearing my hair natural with the occasional straightening.

 

This time around I wasn’t in high school and over the years I had grown a thicker skin. The world around me had grown and was more socially aware and accepting of change so if there were negative comments I knew those words wouldn’t affect me as much as they had years before.

 

Give some love to yourself
Photo Cred: Walk The Talk Show

 

In 2016 after experimenting with different hair colours for months and bleaching more than I should, I went and did ‘the big chop’. I must admit I felt like “What did I do? Now I look like a boy.” But eventually I fell in love with my new look. My hair was growing at a steady pace and more importantly it was healthy and strong. This time around I was accepting of myself rather than accepting of what others expected.

 

My journey has been more than just switching lanes from chemical treatment to natural haircare. It’s been a journey of learning self-love; not letting the opinions of others affect me enough to change who I am and making sure I have beautiful strong hair to show for it.

 

Paloma Pic

Paloma ka-David Ncoco, is a 23 year old creative and designer who currently lives in Sandton, Johannesburg. Her passion in life is creating whilst using many different art forms to do so. She completed two courses in makeup and photography and is currently working as a photographer and makeup artist whilst making plans to complete her fashion degree. Paloma is a strong young woman who is determined to live life not bound by the opinions of others.

 

 

I’m so grateful to Paloma for sharing her personally painful but hopeful experience in seeking out her true identity. She has reminded us that your journey with your hair goes far deeper than the external. It is an expression of what is going on within you.

What has transitioning to natural hair meant for you personally? What challenges/obstacles have you faced in this journey? I would love to hear about your experiences too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

 

Your Mess Is A Message

Message in your mess image 3
Photo Cred: lukass1094.deviantart

I spoke recently at a week of prayer targeted at young women and shared about purpose. God placed it on my heart to share about how there are many people (not just women) who have disqualified themselves from living a purposeful life for one of two main reasons.

 

They believe that they have made too many mistakes:

  • lied too much;
  • had sex outside of marriage;
  • had a baby/babies out of wedlock;
  • hurt too many people;
  • they’ve messed things up in their relationship with God or don’t know His word well enough;
  • wasted too much of their life drinking, clubbing, smoking etc.

 

Then there are others who feel that life has dealt them an unfair card:

  • they’re not smart enough;
  • they haven’t been raised in a good enough environment;
  • they don’t have anything profound to share;
  • they come from a messed up family;
  • they don’t have the right networks to make a real difference.

 

Your past does not define you
Photo Cred: etsy.com

 

This month, my team and I made it our sole purpose to celebrate black African women on our social media pages – whether they are currently doing “big things” or they are your normal everyday woman. We took this decision specifically because we have a strong belief that every single woman has a story and is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalm 139:14).

 

When we sent out requests to feature women and young girls who truly inspire us, there were mixed responses. There were very few women who took up the offer with no hesitation at all. Then others who hesitated strongly. There were responses of “I don’t have anything profound to share” or “What would I say about myself?” to “Really?! Me? I inspire you?”

 

It honestly made me sad to know that the majority of women doubt that they have anything of value to impart to this world. We tend to limit all that God would do in and through us because of external circumstances that are precisely the tools God has employed for us to be vessels of hope for Him.

 

your story is the key
Photo Cred: WordPress.com

 

When I spoke last week, I shared the story of Jochebed (Mother to Moses) who, despite the slavery, oppression, fear, and hopelessness she faced in Egypt, raised her son for God. She was intentional in how she cared for him and even how she released him into God’s hands when she could no longer hide him.

 

Today, the majority of the world knows the name of Moses. We have the first 5 books in the Bible because of this man. We have been blessed with the commandments of God through Moses as a conduit. He was one of the greatest men to ever live and all because of a woman who dared to believe that God could use her unfavourable circumstances for good.

 

your path of pain
Photo Cred: Shining With Sparkle

 

What am I trying to say?

 

Sis, how you allow God to shape your story will be the reason that someone doesn’t give up today. It will be the reason that someone will choose to try again to pursue their dream because of how you have done the same despite failing so many times before. It will be the reason that someone will finally decide to face their struggles honestly and do something about it.

You need to be aware that the devil comes to plant doubts about whether God can use you for His good and the good of others. Yes you may have sinned but remember the promise of Romans 8:1 which states that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

You see, it is precisely the parts of you that you feel are too boring or too messy or too embarrassing that are used by God to bring glory to Him and to bless those around you. Your story, your life, your experiences are not just for you – they are for the enlightenment of others (Hebrews 10:24). There is healing in telling our stories – both for those who hear them and for us who tell them.

 

Healing quote Rick Warren
Photo Cred: Pinterest

 

And so my prayer today is that women would own their stories, their past, their failures, and their mess, and allow God to birth their purpose through their pain. That we would stop benchmarking our effectiveness in this world with people who seem to have it on lock or with what society says is success. That instead we trust that God’s grace is sufficient for us and allow Christ’s righteousness to fulfill what our own filthy righteousness can never do.

 

For as long as your motive is to honour God and to live life according to His will for you, you are an inspiration to the person next to you. Through your smile, your determination, your perseverance, your kindness, your humility, your compassion, your quiet grace. Lift your head up high sis. Don’t count yourself out. The world needs who God created you to be, and that includes your messy life experiences.

 

You can learn a lot from your mistakes
Photo Cred: E-Global Natural Health

 

Do you have another understanding of why we as women generally struggle to believe we are inspiring? Are you someone who already believes they are an inspiration to others? Please share with us so we can learn from each other!

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

You inspire people who pretend
Photo Cred: Tovares Grey

Women’s Day Post: In Conversation with Tsitsi Dangarembga

Arise
Tsitsi Dangarembga
Filmaker / Playwright / Poet / Activist
Photo Cred: Davina Jogi

 

 

This Women’s Month, my team and I really wanted to celebrate black African women (bAw) each day on our social media pages. To celebrate God’s gift of women who are making waves as activists, artists, and go-getters but also to celebrate our everyday sisters, friends, mothers and daughters. To be able to capture the essence of who the bAw truly is as formed by God.

I remember watching the movie “Neria” as a young girl and being moved by the plight of the widow Neria. That movie was ahead of its time and clearly highlighted the struggle of the black African woman in a patriarchal society. And so, it was a life-changing moment when my sister Rumbi reached out to the author of “Neria”, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and she agreed to engage in a conversation about her experience as a bAw.

Today, I would like to share her genuine and inspiring insights:

 


Rumbi Dube: What is the greatest hurdle you have had to overcome as an African woman?

Tsitsi Dangarembga: The greatest hurdle I have had to overcome as an African woman is lack of access to resources to maximize on my abilities, skills and achievements. Sometimes this hurdle manifests socially because society tells you that a black woman can only do this or this but not that. When society makes that decree, there is little to no support when you as a black woman opt to do the thing society has indicated you should not do.

This can even begin in the home as you grow up, because most of our families are patriarchal, this includes our mothers.  Many of us have had patriarchal mothers. I am glad to see some change in this respect, but there is still a long way to go.  At other times the hurdle is material, for example, when I have no access to resources, such as land and buildings to realise a dream that needs to go further.  At yet other times the hurdle is lack of access to human resources because men or political parties or patriarchal women – of which there are many – may not support your excellence.  The hurdle is also financial since, generally, as a black African woman, you are excluded from capital.

As a black African woman on the continent, you are generally relegated to donor aid and this donor aid is usually tied to political or another form of power.  It is also predicated on a world view that sees Africa as a continent of peasants who need to be saved.  So if you are not grass roots, and do not need to be saved, but need to be empowered to fly, you seldom qualify for donor aid.  I call this financial apartheid This brings me to the last hurdle in that the cumulative outcome of all these other hurdles is that one’s ability to contribute to one’s community and society is seriously compromised.    

 

RD: What do you wish the black African woman would come to realise?

I wish black African women would come to realise that we have to work together, that when we work together we can produce more than the sum of what we produce individually.  I also wish that black African women would realise we have to pull ourselves together and stop accepting a victim identity.  A victim identity is extremely dangerous as it can become an excuse for all sorts of negative tendencies and behaviours.  When captured in a victim mentality, people tell themselves, ‘It’s all right for me to do this because…’  They justify actions that are clearly not acceptable.  This results in serious ills for society.  In short, a victim attitude encourages selfishness, which, in spite of the Kardashians, is not cool.

 

RD: Which African women inspire you?

TD: Women of my generation have few female role models on the continent.  We have to be the role models for ourselves and others.

 

RD: What legacy would you like to leave for other African women?

TD: I would like people to say of me, ‘She never, ever gave up’.   In terms of external results, in the same way that black African women are too often excluded from capital and ownership, we are excluded from representing ourselves in narrative as we see ourselves in our diversity, agency and beauty.  Narrative, like resources is power.

Narrative is particularly important because we learn about the world, come to understand it and communicate with each other through narrative.  The exclusion of black African women from narrative is another reason why we have few role models.  So my desire is to create a strong institution that can focus on telling the stories of African women from the point of view of African women in a way that is accessible to many and has powerful impact.  This means film, rather than writing.  Writing has its uses and I pursue it also, but film is ideal on the continent for reaching wide audiences.

A decade ago, having realized this, I designed a project called Hitting a High Note.  It was to portrait at least half a dozen exemplary African women of achievement in half hour documentaries to record their stories for posterity so as to act as inspiration for future generations.  Well, that project never saw the light of day.  But I persevere.  I have already begun setting up the institution.  It is called the African Women Filmmakers Hub. Our pilot programme is successfully being carried out in Zimbabwe, Kenya and Malawi with support from the Ford Foundation. The next step is to roll out the five year programme across the continent and to create an African women’s film fund that will exist for a minimum of five years in order to enable a critical mass of African women to tell the stories that are important to them.

 

RD: What does the future hold for Tsitsi Dangarembga?

TD: I have a confident expectation that I will realise my career dreams.  They all revolve around boosting the creative industries and growing the creative economy on the continent.  As human beings, our creativity is the path through which our inner being is manifest.  If we do not sustain our own creativity and its products, we will end up consuming and mimicking the products and creativity of others.  The world will be a poorer place if this happens and will not develop in the way that is intended, because black African women are on this planet to participate and contribute as much as everyone else.  Preventing their participation and contribution is preventing the great plan of being from coming to its best fruition.

 


 

Thank you Tsitsi for engaging with us and giving us insight into your journey and life as a bAw. It was humbling and encouraging to see that someone who has already achieved so much in her life faces similar challenges and struggles to us who are getting started. We wish you more love, joy and strength, as well as God’s best in all your future endeavours!

To my bAw family, I hope today is a special day for you as you are celebrated for being a beautiful creature of God! I also hope that the experiences of our fellow bAw, Tsitsi Dangarembga, encourage you to continue to pursue the purposes and goals God has placed on your life in spite of the resistance you may face. That we may truly band together and uplift one another as women in fulfilling the great work God has imparted on our lives.

Happy Women’s Days sisters!

With love,

Sonia Dee

 

 

About Tsitsi Dangaremba

Born in Mutoko, Zimbabwe, filmmaker, playwright, poet and activist Tsitsi Dangarembga completed her education in her home country, where she worked as a copywriter and started writing seriously as a poet and playwright. She obtained her Masters in Filmmaking from the German Film and Television Academy Berlin.  She has produced several documentaries and has credits on most of Zimbabwe’s feature film classics, including EVERYONE’S CHILD, which she co-wrote and directed.

She lives in Harare where she founded the production house Nyerai Films and the International Images Film Festival for Women.  She also founded the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa where she works as director.  She has received international awards for her prose and film work.  Her award winning short music KARE KARE ZAVKO (MOTHER’S DAY, 2005) was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.