17 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Turned 21

21st Birthday
Photo Cred: Boho Weddings Online

 

Towards the end of last year, my aunt asked me to help her put together some advice/words of encouragement for a young lady who was turning 21 years old. She asked me to think about what I wish I had been told or what I wish I had known at the age of 21. As I did the list, I realized that there was so much that I was forced to learn from experience as I entered adulthood.

 

I think it is an assumption in our more modern black African community that you’ll figure things out as you go, especially because most of us are growing up away from home and from our elders. Granted that the best teacher is experience, but some guidance and counsel never hurt anyone.

 

Most of the words of wisdom we receive as we enter adulthood is to work hard, get a good job and get married – especially as black African women (bAw). As though that is the fullness of life. This got me thinking that there may be some young 21-year old who hasn’t had the opportunity to receive counsel on life and could benefit from reading up on a few key lessons that can help make their next stage in life more fulfilling. Or possibly, just a woman who needs to remember what is important in life.

 

And so here goes – 17 things I wish someone had told me as I turned 21:

 

  1. You are beautiful both inside and out. From this age onward, understand that society and your own doubts and fears will try to disagree with that statement. Begin now to choose to believe that you are beautiful and tell yourself that truth every day when you look in the mirror.

 

  1. You are more than worthy of love. You may find yourself seeking validation and worth in different places as you reach this stage of your life – in men, friendships, career, beautiful clothes or just looking good. In all instances, nothing and no-one will be able to validate you. Understand that your worth and value stems from your Creator God alone. This will serve you well in years to come.

 

  1. Be much kinder to yourself. You’re going to find yourself making some major mistakes in life because now you’re playing in the big leagues. There are enough people out there who will try to make you feel bad about this so don’t add yourself to that equation. Learn to be your number 1 fan by encouraging yourself when you fall.

 

  1. When it comes to people (associations, friends, family, romantic relationships etc) take those associations with an emotional maturity. Understand that not everything done to you deserves for you to take it too seriously. Most times, it’s not even about you.

 

Be Kind to Yourself
Photo Cred: WordPress.com

 

  1. Expect less. This is not about lowering your standards but about what you hope others will do for you. This gives you the opportunity to be taken by surprise in a good way in life. The less you expect from people, the better.

 

  1. Rejection and disappointment is not the end of the world. Now that you’re a little older, rejection and disappointment will hurt a little more than it did when you were younger. Try now to learn that it does not mean the end of everything. The sun will still rise tomorrow.

 

  1. People who were meant to shield, love and protect you the most may end up being the ones who hurt you the worst. Learn to discern the hearts and intentions of people early on so that you can gauge those you can lean on a little more. Remember that only God will never disappoint you.

 

  1. At all costs, avoid debt in your life. You will soon be on your own, making your own money and making your own financial decisions. There is such a pressure and a tendency to want to get all the wonderful things in life that you can’t afford just to keep up with others or to “show what you’re working for”. Try as much as possible to adjust this mind-set and attitude. Instead, pursue the freedom and peace of owning what is yours and living a lifestyle you can afford. This will allow you to sleep better at night.

 

Save Money - Don't Get Into Debt
Photo Cred: Frugal Farm Wife Online

 

  1. Make time for your family. Yes life is exciting and you’ve got so many amazing friends and adventures but remember where you have come from. Your family will always be there for you regardless of what you go through or how life changes. Remember to make time to appreciate and enjoy them.

 

  1. If you haven’t already found it, seek out your life’s purpose. This is usually closely linked to what you are passionate about or what you’re really good at and love doing. It’s the thing you would be willing to do without ever getting paid for doing it. Knowing your purpose makes life that much more of a joy to live. It gets you out of bed on a tough day. It warms your soul even though things are unbearable. It can also become your career. Find out what you’re on Earth for.

 

  1. Take your time and enjoy your season of singleness. Contrary to what social media/family/friends may say, singleness is a blessing. Seek to enjoy and bask in all the goodness that it holds for you – your own time; travelling; meeting new people; excelling in your career and purpose; making mistakes and getting back up amongst other things. You will never get this time back so get over being single and get into how amazing it is before it passes you by.

 

  1. Wait for a man of his word. You’re young and beautiful with so much life ahead of you and men will recognize and desire that. Try to keep a cool head when it comes to choosing the men you date. Be selective – be hard to get but easy to be with. Be a delight but set your boundaries early on. This will serve you well in protecting you from men who do not have your best interests at heart. Wait for a man who does what he said he will do and with whom you will have no questions about his intentions.

 

Be Selective 2
Photo Cred: Skinny Sticks Tumblr

 

 

  1. More likely than not, your heart will probably be broken despite all your efforts to wait on the right guy or to protect yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over that. Instead, learn from your experiences so that you are clear on what you deserve, which will make it easier for you to identify that in future.

 

  1. Understand that you will probably lose friends as you journey on in life. It’s not necessarily because you or they are bad people. As you grow, you evolve and so do those around you. You may not grow in the same direction and sometimes that may mean that you must part ways. It’s alright. People who are meant to be in your life will remain there to walk with you as you become your best self. The rest are for a season or a reason. Learn to differentiate who is who in your life.

 

  1. Find a mentor. Be on the lookout for a woman or women you admire in terms of how you desire to live your life and where you would like to end up. Women who uphold your principles in life. Seek to develop relationships with them. Life is not lived in isolation and as a young woman, you can learn much from your older sisters and mothers who have already walked the path you are embarking on – regardless of how “old school” you may think they are! Life and its principles never go out of fashion.

 

  1. Never make anything or anyone else more important than God – not even yourself. As long as you grasp this simple but powerful truth, you can have the best life ever and become all that you were meant to be.

 

  1. Have fun!!! You are young. You’re at the peak of your youth and the world literally is your oyster. Don’t rush to grow up because that comes with its challenges. Soak up every single year of your life because it will never be the same again. Have no regrets.

 

 

Have Fun
Photo Cred: Allure Online

 

 

And so there it is. Thanks to my colleague Tumelo Bosaka who also helped me out by sharing a few of the truths she wishes she had been told at 21. I hope this serves someone well as they enter into the next season of their life. Maybe you’re past 21 but you haven’t come across some of these. It’s never too late to learn and grow. Or you may have just needed a refresher. Let’s keep going ladies 😉

 

Let me know your thoughts on the list and please share any other lessons from your experiences. Maybe you had a completely different experience. I would like to learn from yours too.

 

With love,

Sonia Dee

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Photo Cred: Noxolo Chalale

Before you go sis, just a few things you may be interested in:

  1. We have a Hiking Event to celebrate you gorgeous bAw on Sunday the 27th of August at Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in the South of Joburg. If you desire to get out, meet other bAw and hear inspiring stories about how to best reflect on your life and live it in a way that God desires for you, this get-together is for you. We will have a lovely picnic after our short hike and some uplifting words from our older sisters who have learnt the value of taking stock of their lives. Come and let’s Heal, Exhale and Reflect together.
  2. Would you like to be part of a community of 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 Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to receive daily encouragements and connect with like-minded sisters!

 

Chat to you soon!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: The Joys Of Being A Single Woman In The Church Community by Larissa Subira

Singled Out Flower
Photo Cred: Kobaken

Oh the journey of being a single woman in the church community, where does one begin?  Let’s just say I’m an old hand at this game, and the journey of a single woman of ‘marriageable age’ – what that even means is a story for another day – in the church community is a challenging experience. It’s a world that has to be navigated with thick skin and a strong sense of humour.

Firstly, let me say that this is not a church-bashing exercise. It’s more of an opportunity to think of ways we can improve our church environments for all those who come for spiritual fellowship. Having said that, there a few assumptions the church makes about single people that make it hard to treat the church community as a safe space for fellowship.

Here are just a few:

  1. It is assumed that there is something lacking in your life. That you are incomplete without a partner. You may at one point have heard this: “Your standards are too high, you need to put yourself out there”; “You’re too outspoken, maybe you should be more lady-like”; and my favourite one, “You don’t act like you need someone in your life”. Statements like these can really leave you frustrated and hurt, leave you wondering if you aren’t more than your marital status. When an elder in the church is asking you how you are, do they ask about your spiritual life, whether you are content? What your dreams are for ministry? One doesn’t get a sense that there is concern for your spiritual life, rather than the ticking of boxes as one goes through certain stages in their life.  This is of concern as the focus on the external leaves a false sense of security that if this certain aspect of your life is ‘sorted’, you’re okay and yet that is generally not the case. Nothing is ever really as it seems which brings me to the next assumption.
  1. That contentment will be found once you’ve reached this point in your life. There’s such an urgent push for you to change your marital status and noting the growing divorce rate within the church, this perhaps may not be a healthy approach.  I believe the church does not emphasize enough the importance of being whole within yourself outside of a relationship. Who is this young person in Christ? Has God completed the work in this young person before they get married? Have they learnt the lessons they should have?  Does this sanctifying process necessarily have a clock? Does it naturally strike at 25 or 30 for all young women?
  1. So apart from being discontent, it is also paradoxically assumed that you’re this happy go-lucky person whose life is easy with very few responsibilities or challenges. This is probably one of the most hurtful assumptions. So many young people especially in their late 20s and early 30s are either financially or emotionally responsible for their siblings and parents. The majority of their expenses are spent on others. A young person may also be ‘parenting’ their younger siblings and yet when the church is having family life programs, no thought is given to young people that may need some parenting advice too. For example, how one deals with a younger sibling who has turned away from God; is failing at school or; with a parent who may have a chronic illness so they need to find resources for their healthcare and maintain a job to cover all these expenses. Most young people are dealing with the combination of such challenges.  This leads me to my final point.
  1. The assumption that guidance or counselling is not wanted is a fallacy. So many young people are dealing with questions about how to handle life on a day-to-day basis. As an elder, can you show me how to budget for ‘black tax’ and yet maintain my month-to-month expenses? How can I maintain my spiritual life the day I feel so burdened by life’s pressures? How does one deal with life’s frustrations, when you feel stuck, like life is not moving forward? How do I take care of those around me who need help and also continue contributing to ministry?

I could go on and on, the list is endless. My point is, marriage is a beautiful gift that God granted the world with, and in time those who are meant to have that gift will receive it. In the mean time, let’s treat young single people as individuals outside of this status. Can they be seen as adults who also have responsibilities and would probably benefit more from your advice in other aspects of their lives. It’s interesting, the church community exists within society and with that comes common expectations of young people of a certain age.  However, the world doesn’t care about my soul and my salvation, shouldn’t the church? Just a thought…

 

Larissa

Larissa is a beautiful Rwandan girl by way of DRC, Swaziland and now South Africa with an ever curious mind about God and the world around her. A driven, loyal person who knows who she is, a bit stubborn but always up for a robust debate. Larissa is sweet and courageous all at the same time, and a pleasure to be around.

Guest Post: “Speak Your Mind… Except To Me” by Rumbidzayi Dube

lips-talking

Source: Shutterstock Online

I am my father’s daughter.

Opinionated. Headstrong. Vocal. I speak my mind. A reflection of our patriarch. Qualities that my father himself has admired in me yet struggled to embrace since I was a child.

I’ve had numerous conversations with my father where I have voiced my views and opinions. After all, we were sent to school to understand the world and learn to develop cohesive arguments from what we saw. School taught me so much that goes beyond the classroom. It taught me to believe I had a voice and a valuable opinion. Joining debate teams, Toastmasters and public speaking competitions all helped me fine tune my natural disposition.

You will thus understand why it came to me as a great shock when, a few years ago, a young cousin fell pregnant out of wedlock and the advice from our fathers in this instance was “Boys, wear a condom. Girls, don’t have sex.” I have never forgotten that encounter. Nor have I forgotten an argument with my Pops where I was told “You should learn to keep quiet”. Our argument had been about principles that I felt strongly about. We were not seeing eye-to-eye and when I challenged his stance, my father was left with one form of ammunition that he knew I had no armour against as a young, black African daughter. He was my elder and what he says goes. Full stop.

Look, it’s not like I wanted to go on a sex rampage nor did I want to disrespect my elders. I just felt very strongly against the double standards that were staring me in the face. Was I destined to a life of stifling my opinions, my viewpoints, my feelings, myself? As long as I thought differently to my male superiors, was I to lead a life of self-censorship? That scared me.

That is the truth of the black African woman (bAw) in many instances. Of course there are leaders in any family and world. Those are usually the male figures in families and we can’t dispute the need for leaders. The problem, however, comes when you feel less of yourself as a result of censorship. Like you are being stifled and can’t be yourself. Looking to the generations before me, the pattern seems to be perpetuated. Women in the household have a very distinct role and it most certainly is not to challenge the men.

It saddens me because I believe there is a lot of benefit that comes from open dialogue. Yes, it’s not always going to be pretty or easy, but I think greater progress can be achieved in challenging, understanding and respecting one another.

This phenomenon isn’t only prevalent with older generations as far as I’ve experienced. Young men too can be threatened by opinionated women and shy away from that. If you call a man out, it is deemed unattractive. The expectation seems to be for women to tolerate all of men’s wiles and behaviours, even if disrespectful. It’s a catch 22 and has been a landmine to navigate in my short life.

All this has been cause for much deliberation and consternation in me as I seek to understand life. Surely God didn’t allow me to have these thoughts and views for them to be silenced? Granted, I am far from perfect and have been on a journey towards expressing myself in a way that others are more receptive to. All that being said, I know I cannot be an anomaly. I don’t believe I would be.

It is an ongoing struggle. Learning when I need to hush without stifling myself and speaking up when I need to whilst being respectful to others. One day, I hope it will be less taboo and more appreciated for opinionated and vocal women. For now though, a luta continua.

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Rumbidzayi Dube is a phenomenal young woman who is intelligent, brave and well-articulated when it comes to the daily struggles of a young black African woman. She is a beautiful child of God who is passionately seeking to fulfill His purpose on Earth and part of that includes running a thought-provoking blogsite at http://www.rumbidzayiishe.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

What are your thoughts and/or experiences around this topic? Do you think bAw are unnecessarily silenced? Have you struggled as an opinionated bAw? Do you believe bAw should know their place and not speak up unless asked to?  I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share below!

With love,

Sonia Dee

5 Reasons Every Young Woman Needs a Female Mentor

The amazing women who have poured into my life. Thank you!

Happy New Year family! I hope you had a lovely break and that your 2017 has got off to a good start so far. I’m pretty sure that some of you are making resolutions and goals for this New Year, or you may just be thinking about what you want to do differently in this new season.

One of the things that shifted my life positively was having older sister- and mother-friends who mentored and poured into me. I believe that every young woman needs her Elizabeths and Ruths to help her navigate the difficult terrains of life and to become all she was called to be. I’m hoping that this post encourages just one lady to resolve to pray for and seek out female mentors in 2017.

Let’s look at 5 reasons why I believe every young woman needs older women in her life:

  1. To Confirm What God has Told You About Your Life’s Purpose: When I look at the story of Elizabeth and Mary, when Mary enters Elizabeth’s house she must have been feeling overwhelmed (read Luke 1:39-45)! She may have even be doubting the purpose God placed on her life because it seemed ridiculous and impossible – I mean falling pregnant as a virgin?! And giving birth to her Saviour!! Yet, the moment she steps into the house, Elizabeth confirms the words that the Angel had just told Mary without Mary divulging anything (Luke 1:42-43). God used Elizabeth as an instrument to confirm His purpose over Mary’s life in case she doubted it at all or couldn’t quite envision it.

Even in my walk, the older women God has blessed me with have confirmed who God has called me to be. Through the revelation and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they see the gifts and capabilities He has put on my life – just like Elizabeth saw Mary’s. They scare me sometimes with how much they believe in that calling yet it encourages me that I am on the right path as I go along and whenever I feel doubtful. God allows only a few people insight into your life and it is these people that He uses to remind you that you’re becoming who He called you to be. It is so vital to have a few of these in your life.

  1. To Watch Over You: In today’s modern society, we often live far away from home and from the protection and guidance of our parents. Granted we may speak to them regularly but they are not on the ground and cannot fully comprehend the struggles and battles you face. And at times, they may be too invested in you growing in a certain direction that they miss understanding your challenges – from friendships, to career decisions, to romantic attachments and just your spiritual journey. As a young woman you are vulnerable – to hanging around the wrong friends, entering the wrong romantic relationships or even conducting yourself inappropriately at work and you may not see it. In the book of Ruth (Chapter 2), Naomi counsels Ruth about her career decisions and how to glean from Boaz’s field, as well as giving her advice about a potential romantic relationship. She has experience and she imparts her wisdom to Ruth.

Likewise, my mentors have coached me on a whole lot in my own life. They can tell from a mile away whether a guy is just trying to waste my time or not, even if I’m so into him and I try to hide details around him. They teach me about tough but important work ethics. They warn me about the people I let into my space. They pray for and with and over me and my life. They are my watchmen (Isaiah 62:6-7) and they will not tire of bringing me before the throne of God until He establishes me! What comfort, hope and security there is in knowing there are women who have walked through what you are going through and have your back! Especially in the spiritual realm, it is so important to have mature women lifting you up in prayer. The devil is seriously out to wipe you out and you need all the support you can get in 2017!

  1. They Call You Out and Challenge You to Be Better: I remember shying away from interacting with older people because I had issues with figures of authority and I projected it on any older person. I felt like they just wanted to control me and tell me what to do without understanding me. So I missed out on years of growth and development because of my fears and ignorance. I have come to appreciate that God places mentors over us to call us out on our ugly stuff as lovingly as possible. Unfortunately, because we are human and don’t like hearing the negative stuff about ourselves, we don’t always receive this well. But when we take time to think about and reflect on the feedback of mentors, we realize that it’s for our own good. We realize that they are actually genuinely concerned about our well-being. I am thankful to my sister- and mother-friends who do this with me.

Further to this, they push me to be better. They see my potential and are not satisfied with me being mediocre. This means that they will challenge me and ask me some tough questions. The same way God prunes us and it’s no fun. They get me to face things about myself that I don’t like or that I would rather ignore. This is because they believe in me and know that I can do and be better. I appreciate it now in hindsight and I believe that this is necessary for every young woman.

  1. To Teach and Prepare You for Future Stages in Your Life: My mentors have gone through things and are in spaces in their lives that I hope to enter one day. Whether that is running their own business; marriage; being a mom; or engaging in personal ministry. They are making waves in their lives and I pray to grow into such a phenomenal woman one day. And you know that they say one of the ways to get insight into the kind of person you’ll be in 5 years’ time, is to look at the people who influence you the most currently. My dad used to say that I should seek to be around people who are smarter and more successful than me and now I realize why.

My mentors have walked the journey I am on, so they understand the snags I will hit and what qualities I need to develop now to be successful later. They teach me by sharing their personal life experiences and by allowing me into their personal space – babysitting their children; attending events they are running; working on projects with them. They teach me by allowing me to observe their interactions with other people and by devotionals and prayers that they share with me. They teach me by being honest about their own shortcomings and humanity. I now understand why the bible encourages us young people to submit ourselves to our elders (1 Peter 5:5a). They have a lot to impart to us. You’ll be entering brand new experiences and stages in your life in 2017, and what better way to prepare for them than to speak to those who have already been there.

  1. So That You Can Pay It Forward: It is a good principle to share what you have received. Too many young people are messing up bad in life today because they had no-one to guide them in the right direction. If you have been fortunate enough to have someone invest in you, it doesn’t stop there. It is your prerogative to pay it forward. You will bless another young person’s life just by doing and sharing what you saw and received. It will also continue to grow and challenge you as a person. So as you are mentored, take notes that you can hand over to someone else later. Because one day a younger you will need what you have gained. That is one of the ways to be your sister’s keeper.

In a nutshell, it is so important to have female mentors because no man is an island. We all need help and we all need good counsel and guidance. We certainly don’t know it all, and one of the best qualities to have is to recognize this truth and have a teachable spirit.

Do you have older women in your own life who bless you? What is that like? Or do you have a different opinion about mentors? I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts around this topic!

Wishing you only God’s best in 2017 and beyond!

With love,

Sonia Dee

Guest Post: Busted! Caught Red-Handed by Sithabile Sibanda

Busted

Photo Cred: MTG Focus

 

“She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.” – Proverbs 3:15

Do you know your value? Are you aware of what you are worth? How often have you found yourself in the same place over and over again? Doing the same thing and expecting different results…

That was my story for a while until I got caught! Yes, I got caught. The thing is, I wasn’t busted by anyone around me, not my family, friends or anyone. It was God.

Many times we walk around and seem “at peace” as though everything is okay when we know that we are on a battlefield. We don’t know our worth neither do we know Whose we are. It’s a fight between what others say and what God says, between who the world says we belong to and knowing Whose we are. The war is never ending.

Not until a while ago did my eyes open to see what I had turned into. I had lost myself because of the few things that run my life, one of them being forgiveness.  It was a struggle for me, as in a serious struggle. I had mountains of pain erected over a long period of time. I had reached a point where, if I was told something negative (you are not skinny enough, beautiful, intelligent, well dressed, etc.) I would remember every detail of it – how it was said; by whom and; when it was said and I would replay it in my head each day for hours on end.

Yeah I know! It was bad. The problem was I had a number of negative elements that were running my life caused by un-forgiveness that determined what I was worth.  Funny thing is that I would still want to be attached to the cause of the negative – I expected different results all the time but that never happened. I was stuck and no one could help me and I wasn’t going to tell anyone even if I was paid to 😛

Hate is a very strong word, and I hate to use the word “hate” about anything. And I certainly hate the thought that I might actually have hate for another person. But that is exactly what unforgiveness is – the root of hate. Unforgiving thoughts turn to hate inside us. For years I entertained unforgiving thoughts because they had a ripple effect and that was looking down on me. When we don’t forgive, we don’t see clearly and we stumble around in confusion.  We become weak, sick and bitter. We push away everything and anyone that can help us get past whatever it is that is hurting us.

“Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”- 1 John 3:15

We choose to forgive whether we feel like it or not. It’s a decision and not a feeling. If we wait for good feelings, we could end up waiting a lifetime.

I made a decision to forgive those who had hurt me. But not only that – I chose to forgive myself. I realised that I had allowed people to run my life while they slept peacefully at night just because I held on to the one thing they said or did last summer. I looked at myself based on the judgement of others even just passers-by. It was way too much to live with on a daily basis, but I got busted, and it wasn’t nice. I had to look at my dirty laundry chilling on the line.

Realising that I had created a cycle in my life hurt, but it had to be fixed.  God had brought me to my knees and opened my eyes to all the murders I had committed.

“Either what women having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, seek diligently till she find it. And when she hath found it, calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” – Luke 15:8-9. For many years I tried to find my value like the woman who lost her coin but I am grateful that I got busted and God showed me where to look.

People who lose things have the responsibility to find them and thank God I got busted. I found the one piece I had been searching for and after I had sought for this coin everywhere, it then became easier to see that we all have a story. The same person who’s causing you pain may just need to numb their own pain. It doesn’t make it right, but the way you treat them may just make them a better person.

In my life there are healed wounds that have ugly scars but each day that goes by comes specially made and there is value added to me.

The journey continues…

With love,

Sithabile

 

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Sithabile is a young Seventh-Day Adventist Christian woman trying to live for God. She currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa and is vibrant, talented and loving. She is employed by Juta Publishing at the moment and is a business woman in her own right as well. Sithabile is passionate about helping others regardless of who they are. She’s a little crazy (:P) but is not above doing work required for the ministry of Christ. Most of all, she is saved by Grace.

Guest Post: Becoming Proverbs 31 by Ehui Osei-Mensah

Proverbs 31

It is no secret to many that the Bible is an amazing source of strength, wisdom, and encouragement. As a Christian working mother and wife I constantly need God’s written word to power through my busy life. However, the Bible is also a sharp critic. Sometimes I find it akin to a mirror with bright unflattering lights, exposing the flaky skin and zits that no amount of make-up can cover. In fact, nothing exposes my failings and whips me back into shape faster than the Bible. In His holy word, God clearly presents the standard that Christians should aspire to and if we fail to keep it (His unwavering grace in mind), living up to God’s standard can be quite daunting.

As a Christian woman, Proverbs 31 is one of such passages that inspires me and terrifies me all at once because of the truly high standards it espouses. I would willingly blame Solomon for using the collective skills of all his 300 plus wives to define an impossible standard for all women in this book. But I digress….the Bible is, after all, the inspired word of God so we can assume God’s voice in its every passage. Proverbs 31 is therefore God’s standard for what a superwoman should be.

The passage tells me that the ideal wife and mother barely sleeps but is still able to wake up early to start her busy day (vs. 15). She is a great cook, dress maker, and yet still a successful entrepreneur – buying real estate with her own earnings (vs.16)! She is a philanthropist, opening her house to the poor (vs. 20), and is a kind and effective manager and master planner, rewarding her employees generously and managing her home with poise and grace. She does all this while slaying in all her outfits. Yes! This lady is supposedly physically fit and fashionable! She has strong and toned Michelle Obama arms (vs. 17) and slays in fine linen and purple – in other words – haut couture (vs. 22). She ensures that her household is well-clothed too and brings honor to her husband and family (vs. 23).  She is good natured and a wise teacher (vs. 25, 26). Naturally, her husband and children are full of praises for her, who wouldn’t? Who is this woman? She is certainly not me on most days.

How on earth do I match up? Most days I’m stuck at step one. I, like the Proverbs 31 woman, don’t sleep much but I am certainly not springing out of bed before the sun is up with a smile on my face, ready to cook and clean before work. It takes many a slam of the snooze button and kind coaxing from my dear husband to get me out of bed and coherent on most days. I certainly do not manage real estate businesses. I have only one job – one busy job – but nothing compared to the strides of this Proverbs 31 woman. Though I love to look good, I can’t make my own clothing and the ones I buy sport labels of designers whose names you don’t need French training to pronounce (aka not haut couture) and this woman is out there slaying in bespoke fine linen and purple. Could she seriously be real?

For us working wives and mothers who still want to rely on God’s word as the standard for all our endeavors, is the Bible somehow setting us up to fail with an impossible standard? Is there ever a way to happily balance a high powered professional career with wifehood and motherhood, especially as an African woman in the diaspora with external family support miles away? Well, according to Proverbs 31, there are no excuses for mediocrity and yes, it appears possible to be a real superwoman! The one thing the passage doesn’t quite mention is the fact that this woman must be spending some time on her knees communicating with God for the wisdom to excel in all her affairs. I certainly need that divine guidance to be a high performer both at home and at work.

Many times, I think as black African women (bAw), we spend a lot of time recognizing and articulating the odds that we are up against. We frequently discuss the odds against us in the pursuit of a solid education and a successful professional career, a Godly marriage, heathy high-achieving children, and a good standard of living in general. Many of us spend many years wishing for and praying hard for that school, that job, that man, those kids, that house, those clothes, but we spend very little time praying in advance for the grace and power to manage all those blessings effectively when God grants them. Proverbs 31 describes a woman who has been blessed immensely by God in all facets of her life but we see that she needs to work hard and exhibit many impressive skills to manage that success.

Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” This means that He has the power to grant all our hearts’ desires, including success at home and work, according to His will. It also means He is a ready source for strength and courage to help us manage, to our full potential, those blessings that He grants us. I’m always going to need to tap into His source of strength and to draw from His well that never runs dry because this Proverbs 31 woman that I speak of, she can, by His grace, be me.

 

What are your thoughts on the Proverbs 31 woman? Do you think she’s realistic or should we just take lessons from her? Would love to hear your thoughts!

With love,

Ehui

 

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Ehui Osei-Mensah is a gorgeous childhood friend of mine who hails from the beautiful country called Ghana in West Africa but currently lives in the Washington DC with her small family. Ehui is a wife and mother of a beautiful little girl. She is a Christian and currently works as the Content Director at Hanover Research. She is a smart young woman with a bubbly personality and a love for Jesus.