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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Before you go sis, just a few things you may be interested in:
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.
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!
We’re thrilled to announce our upcoming event in celebration of women! The Healing | Exhaling | Reflecting (H.E.R.) Hike aims to bring women together for a moment of reflection. We would like to encourage our fellow sisters to embrace the journey their on and take a moment to appreciate how far they’ve come. So often we focus on moving forward or on how far we have to go. This time, we want to take a moment to celebrate how far God has brought us.
H.E.R. Hike is for every woman who needs a moment to exhale, and what better way than out in nature at Kliepriviersberg Nature Reserve.
Hosted by the formidable Zandile “Zahr” Mqwathi, a drama therapist trainee, we want to get your endorphins kicking with the hike, followed by a lovely picnic and conversation about life and how far we’ve come.
Book your tickets here before space runs out. A big shoutout to our sponsors, including BOUNCE South Africa.
We hope to see you there!
Should you encounter any issues with purchasing your tickets please do not hesitate to contact us.
This is a gentle reminder to book your seat at our upcoming breakfast event! Limited spaces are available, so go ahead and secure your booking at http://qkt.io/1LBlw3 asap. Bookings close this Sunday, 30 April.
You can look forward to:
Getting to know your fellow sisters better;
Some soul-searching around our personal struggles of feeling left behind;
A personal testimony from a young woman who went through a humbling experience of struggling with getting her career going until she was 30-something, while her peers had elevated in their respective fields;
An opportunity to be encouraged and to encourage another sister in the journey of accepting where we are in our respective lives;
A delicious 2-course breakfast with tea/coffee;
And a chance to form a bond of sisterhood going forward as we seek to walk through our life’s struggles.
As promised, this year will see a number of events on our calendar as we seek to cater to the needs of the bAw family. We really appreciated those who took the time to fill out the surveys as they helped us to prepare for the functions, programs and initiatives that we will run.
This is our 2nd event of the year! And one that is dearly close to my heart because God first deposited the idea for it in my heart about 8 years ago. It is the first of a series of similar events where we come together and remember the pain we have walked through and relate it to fellow sisters so as to uplift them. To also give each other our listening ear, our words of encouragement, our prayers and hearts. The aim is to walk towards a place of healing for the various struggles we may face as women, and to be each other’s keeper. This is based on Galations 6:2 which says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
This specific event on the 7th of May is an intimate breakfast conversation on the struggle of feeling left behind, inspired by a blog post I shared not long ago which a number of you resonated with. Whether you feel or have ever felt as though you’re behind in terms of your career, your relationship status, your financial standing, or any other area of your life, and it feels like you’re the only one – this is the event for you.
Please note that there are only 15 spaces available and the ticket price of R140 includes a two-course breakfast at Buitengeluk, tea/coffee, gratuity, and a chance to form a bond of sisterhood with other women facing similar challenges to you. So rally your girlfriends and go book your spot online until the 30th of April.
I am so looking forward to spending this quality time with you.
This is just a reminder that our survey is still open and we’d love to hear how we can best cater to your needs in 2017! Thank you to those who have already responded. If you would still like to respond, please go ahead and fill out the below form.