A new personal perspective on breakthrough

It’s been a season for me of wrestling with the concept of “breakthrough”.

If you’ve been a Christian for some time, you would have probably been in conversations where people talk about trusting God for a breakthrough, or thanking Him for a breakthrough.

This is probably one of the most frequent conversations I engage with.

Normally, when people say that, they mean that they have been trusting for circumstances to change. A sudden positive turn of events. Some form of release.

Promotion. Sickness healed. Pregnancy going full-term. Marriages established or restored. Salvation. Hard hearts softened. Addictions conquered. Politcal corruption brought to justice.

There are levels …

I’ve always associated breakthrough with the experience of being moved (personally or collectively) from a state of feeling or being “stuck in undesirable or stagnant circumstances” (related with feelings of frustration, desperation or even incarceration) to a state of being released from that space into what Christians often refer to as a “spacious place”. Of freedom, fulfilled desire, or a general experience of victory.

I do believe that this understanding of breakthrough is Bibilcal and valid and a part of the journey of Christianity. I also believe that there is a breakthrough anointing. A specific Holy Spirit authority to intercede for evil spiritual strongholds to be demolished, and Life to flow. Let Heaven come … This is sort of part of the basic mechanics of spiritual warfare.

I have the privileged of being part of a worship team. In this context, I often stand before the Lord, and a bunch of people, internally longing for a radical display of His Glory and a physically tangible outpouring of His Spirit, so that people can taste and see that He is good, and worship Him in abandoned freedom. The spiritual resistance to that cry for breakthrough is more often than not, simply put, exhausting.

It has taught me something about how to redefine breakthrough, in all areas of life.

I’m just starting to refocus what I mean when I personally pray for breakthrough.

When we’re “stuck” in circumstances or seasons that we really don’t like, we can often get really focussed on just wanting to be not in that circumstance or season any more.

We often stand before the Lord with a catch-22 statement, and a very real heart-cry: “This cannot stay like this. This has to change!” … and then … “Will this ever change?”

That “deadlocked” place is where I am currently confronted with my perspective on breakthrough.

I’ve started to change the focus of my prayer.

In circumstances that I believe require breakthrough, I now have a new cry:

Lord, reveal Yourself.

Let Christ be known.

Let me know You. Let me know myself as one known by You.

I am starting to see that the revelation of Christ (ie, when He is seen, known, received and worshipped for WHO HE IS), is breakthrough.

So, my prayers have changed from “Father, I trust you for a breakthrough in the area of …”, to “Father, please reveal Your Son to me in this area. Jesus, be known in this.”

It’s a personal cry (I want to know You in this), but it is also a corporate cry (let Yourself be known in this. Here I am, send me.)

My understanding of breakthrough has changed.

Breakthrough is when light dispels darkness. Truth replaces lies. When love wins hate. When wisdom wins foolishness. When hearts see Him.

It’s not super spiritual or airy fairy.

It is truth.

He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

And the knowledge of Truth, sets free.

To know HIM, in all things, is breakthrough.

Selah.

Feet fitted with readiness …

I bought a pair of shoes yesterday. Nothing too profound about that.

Sneakers with Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom printed on them, to be precise.

The prophetic nature of my almost involuntarily triggered actions hit me later.

I saw a campaign on social media, which I thought was a really clever piece of strategic creativity. However, South Africa doesn’t always get in on the cool stuff launched internationally. So, working in the brand communication space, I shared the campaign on various work-related platforms for inspiration and made a (not really) joke about someone from the US please helping me to get my hands on a pair … this is all documented on Facebook and Instagram … so you know it really happened :).

Basically, I saw something I wanted, but I didn’t think it was actually within my reach. Either, it would be ridiculously over-priced to import, or physically unavailable to source locally.

Can you see where this is going …

Lo, and behold. I actually have friends in the US, so that would have been an option … but we actually do have the shoes in our stores, as one of my collegues pointed out to me. In-store promos and all. Go Vans and van Gogh Museum! We weren’t excluded from the cool stuff … go South Africa! :).

So, Friday after work, I got in my car, sat in silly traffic, and drove to a mall 30km away that has a store, to buy the exact shoes I saw and wanted without really even being too concerned over asking about the price. I had a amount in mind (birthday blessings …) that I would deem ridiculous to go over. But I just had a sense that it would be below that number, in my number …

Which it was. Only just. But hey. Count the cost …

I simply knew when I saw them that I wanted those shoes, and when a realistic opportunity actually presented itsself, it was a no-brainer. I jumped. Immediately. Having counted the cost for a long time leading up to the moment of action …

It’s not that I desperately needed another pair of sneakers. Let’s be real. I’m comfortable in the shoes I have. They’re great shoes. I’ve walked many a happy mile in these shoes …

It’s never really about the shoes, is it …

You see, since the season started to shift, I have been looking out for a new pair of sneakers.

Just casually, as one does when you have something on the back of your mind that you don’t actually need urgently, so you’re willing to wait and save up for the right thing … Saw a few cool options in shop windows, but it was never quite right … So, I passed. Didn’t even bother to try them on. I knew.

Swiped left, if I may.

(Sidenote: At my lifestage, one should know oneself well enough to not waste the shop assistant’s time with shoes you know you’re not going to invest in. Mini-selah.)

So, no. I didn’t impulsively fall for a clever brand campaign.

I just found what I knew I had been looking for, when I saw it.

Then I started the process of inquiery. To test if it was, indeed, meant for me … looks being deceiving and all that … And to my surprise and delight the doors opened … and the resistance crumbled … and now I have blue shoes with a cool story … *adds drama for effect* …

Do you see where this is going …

I was reminded about the year I got to study at Rhodes. And the time I got to do a graphic design course at Vega. Both, for free. One on a Reserve Bank bursary, the other as a trade exchange … Things I only realised how much I wanted to do when I did them. Both completely out of my financial reach at that stage, were it not for the divine appointments that lead to the opportunities …

I have had numerous occasions where things I thought I could never afford at all were made available in a way that I could access it, simply because God made a way. Things I really didn’t even know I wanted, and needed, for future doors to open.

Sounds a bit like grace, doesn’t it?

People sometimes ask me why I don’t push harder or compete more aggressively for the things I say I want now.

Well, I guess I’ve just learned to allow desire to be tested. And there’s nothing like time, resistance, and the impossibility of making it happen for yourself to do just that.

This is not to be confused with passivity or unbelief. I often act on desire. I just act with a fine-tuned ear out for the “abort mission” command. To try and avoid breaking a nose, or a heart, against a door closing in my face. Or ramming into a brick wall. Or sinning. Which are all less constructive plans of action than waiting for a good gift from Above.

I believe in having “dream big” and “follow your heart” bumper stickers. But I believe in sticking “test your motives” up alongside it.

God is faithful in His “no’s”, even during my times of stubbornly pursuing things not meant for me.

But on the other hand, I thought about all the other times in my life where something I dared to want, and wait for, became a realistic opportunity. I also know what a “Yes, now!” feels like. Often, after long periods of discouragement and disillusionment, faced with seemingly impossible situations, bolted doors, thwarted plans or just plain desert drought.

Canaan, much?

Grace. It’s all grace.

Peeps. Please tell me you get that it’s not about shoes.

It’s just been a really, really, really long time. Waiting. Longing. Leaving. Laying down. Letting go. So, a small, even silly glimpse of fulfilled “desire”, actually helps to sustain hope …

This morning, as I write to unpack this cry for a season shift, for newness, I remembered a poem my late godfather wrote in my autograph book in 1993 …

“Amandelblom in somerson,
die rostrumstance(sic) jou somersdroom.
Prestasie of wen is als wederom
want amandelblom se trots dra die lewenskroon …”

For those who missed it: Amandelblom means almond blossom …

It’s about knowing who you are, in becoming who you are created to be. I won some stuff in school. In fact, I guess #winning was my motto… the poem was sort of meant to encourage me that gifting is great, and winning is a noble goal to pursue, but that my value is not based on basking in the sunshine of standing on a podium … that be the context. I think. I may have just made that up. By hey. That’s what we do with poetry …

I never got the chance to ask what the poem was supposed to really mean. My late godfather, my late mother’s brother, passed away some time before my late father, his best friend. Lot of lates in that line. Loaded with lots of heart-ache. As you might imagine.

So, you grow up. #winning seems to get harder. And then, you’re 37, and you’re not so sure what #winning even really looks like anymore …

And those be the times where you need to find shoes with priceless masterpiece almond blossoms on them. Having waited, and being subconsciously on the look-out, for something that you didn’t even know existed.

To remind you about the inheritance of flourishing that has been spoken over your life. Paid for, in full, by the Only One who could afford it.

To make plain the revelation …

There are seasons in life where no one sees you wrestling with flesh to remain kneeling in submitted obedience, aching for a true conviction to act on, while fighting lies that present false fulfilment on a platter.

There are seasons that refine those convictions. For real desire to be revealed. For fake/fleshly greed/lust/pride/ambition to fall away.

Ephesians 2:10For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

It’s about the faith that forms when you have to keep believing, for so much longer than you ever thought would be required, that “good things” are still meant, and kept, for you. To be released, again, in season.

Proverbs 13:12… but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

To stand on the word that His plans with your life will be established, to serve the purposes of God in your generation. To know that your life, and your personal breakthroughs, matter in the bigger picture.

But that it’s not about you.

Ephesians 6:15… and shoe your feet with the readiness of The Gospel of peace.

How’s that for taking tekkies to levels you never imagined they could go …

Take courage. my heart. Be steadfast, my soul. He’s in the waiting …

Isaiah 60:22… in its time I will do this swiftly.

Selah.

🙂

Verwyste pyn

Binne-sien word buite-woorde
soos wat geloof gestalte kry …

Verwyste pyn
kom uit die rug uit
wanneer kern-stabiliteit
nie lewens-impak reg herlei nie

Opgekropte senuwee
skiet in tone
terwyl die oorsaak
hoër op skuil

Dieper redes
vir dowwe knelling
waar net Lig, Klank en Konfrontasie
verlossing kan bewerk …

Selah

An osmosed MBA in Leadership

When I started to journal this morning, I initially couldn’t really think about anything I wanted to “unpack”. I was on the verge of sort of just writing the past couple of days … weeks … off as one of those “it flew right by me” seasons, close the journal, and get on to whatever activities I constructed to fill the weekend …

Then, the lazy-Saturday-morning-coffee kicked in, the fog of being automatically “on a roll” with life started to lift, and I began to think about the significant conversations I had, and the caliber of people I casually get to spend time with, even just over the last couple of days.

Five pages later, I realized how much wealth had been osmosed into my life during this past week, and actually every week, through observations of and conversations with phenomenal people. Some of these observations require more discretion than others, but all of them hold powerful principles and nuggets of wisdom to internalise, and I believe, share.

We often joke that our town is an eagle’s nest, referring to the concentration of vision, ambition, and talent per square meter … In this context, spending time simply listening to acquaintances, friends, and colleagues, and observing how much character it takes for true wisdom to prevail, is actually a subliminal MBA in leadership …

Here are just a few of the leadership and character insights that osmosed into my now-deliberate consciousness, from being around inspirational people this week:

Leaders listen to learn: I had a quick dinner with a someone that I haven’t seen in a long time … I hold this person in high regard for various reasons. Foremost of these reasons is the respect I have for how they love their family, and how they generously serve the faith-community they lead locally, and influence nationally and internationally, through the multiple layers of gifting they have. What I appreciated a lot from the conversation was being asked thought-provoking questions, and then actually being listened to. I observed deliberate empathetic listening, with the intention to learn … which is sort-of scarce in the ranks …

Leaders verbalise values and model culture: We have team-times on Fridays where topics of interest are robustly deliberated … This week, handling stress and maintaining emotional health was on the table. Such an important topic to have conversations about in a high-paced workspace. I realised again how valuable it is when the leader of a group, or company, verbalises the values of that company, and how privileged I am to work where my personal values are largely aligned to the culture modeled by the leaders. A culture of family-first. People-first. A culture of integrity and honesty. Accountability and transparency. Respect and sincere care. Where there is space to figure things out, and own the implementation of solutions. I observed again the flourishing environment that results from exceptional leadership … and I salute that …

Leaders make space for other people’s strengths: One of my friends leads a new initiative … I observed how they are purposely drawing people around them with strengths that complement their own, and the work they’re doing to create opportunities for other people to step into their areas of competence through serving together. It is a blessing to see their intentionality to establish a culture that sets others up to function in their areas of strength … a sign of a secure leader …

True authority contextually acknowledges vulnerability: I observed a level of authority that leaders with the emotional intelligence and humility to acknowledge vulnerability in the appropriate contexts carry, that outweighs by far any positional power that they may also have, but choose not to wield. Acknowledging vulnerability in the relevant contexts demonstrates character and strength … and is one of the keys to building trust …

Higher purpose enables principled decision-making: A friends is responsible for multiple dynamics relating to a sizeable group of people … The group is part of a complex bigger picture with a dynamic public narrative. I observed how a difficult, principled, decision was made in a sensitive situation … demonstrating a commitment to cultivating Kingdom culture …

Leaders use every opportunity to equip: Another friend leads an exceptional team … In every conversation we have, I learn something fresh about maintaining positive team dynamics and nurturing individual potential, while pursuing collective purpose … and equipping others to do the same …

A title is not a prerequisite for, or a guarantee of, great leadership: This one I got from the Bible. I got stuck again into the story and poems of one of my Bible heroes. Then I began to again observe how those meta-narratives still apply in the stories of people around me, and personally. My primary observation in this round of reading was that having a title is not a prerequisite for, or guarantee of, positively impactful leadership … but having your character and calling tested, and humbly walking in the devoted fear of the Lord, is.

So, actually, on second thought, the past few days … weeks … didn’t “fly right by me” … they actually osmosed into me, through continuous encounters with eagles, reminders that … even me, I might still have, albeit slightly storm-battered, wings …

Selah.

PS.

I wonder who picked up on the slightly contrived intentional gender and race neutrality of the wording of the insights above. Which is another observation I made this week.

I’m concerned that our (granted … needed …) intentional efforts to be PC about narratives relating to gender and race equality is turning into a bit of a minefield, making it more difficult than what it should be to simply appreciate and receive leadership from whomever, and wherever we encounter it in a positive form.

But I will leave that one to simmer there, for now.

Selah 2.0.

The seal of significance

I may have been going through a mini existential crisis.

Like I’ve mentioned before, my soul is very much like a barometer, or a thermometer. I sort of involuntarily “feel” stuff, and react to it in some or other emotional or physical way. Sometimes it’s a case of discernment of spirits. Sometimes it’s just plain intuition. I have also recently come across research about Hyper Sensitive Persons (HSPs). Beginning to form an idea that I might be on a spectrum towards that too.

It takes me a while to unpack what it is that I am sensing/feeling, and when I hit the root (with the Holy Sprit’s guidance) it normally leads me to a) repentance or b) insights that other people don’t necesarily need to now that I have about them, or about a group culture, or whatever else may have been the source of spiritual discomfort. Enter wisdom and prayer.

It’s however always an intersection between internal (sometimes, irrational) realities and external (often, unintentional) influences. We interpret what we observe and “sense” through our own biases and tendencies. Classic perception forming theory. It doesn’t take psychotherapy to realise that we get it wrong more often than we get it right. Especially when we are unaware of or blind to some of our own dispositional internal weaknesses.

I know by now that my dispositional internal weakness, is insecurity.

I have also been rebuked enough, in love, to know that feeling insecure often is a fruit of some form of “idolatry”, normally related to “fear of man”. (Unpacked: If you place your trust in stuff or people that is not eternally secure (ie idolatry), you will subconsciously feel insecure because you’re not actually standing on solid ground).

You might want to Selah right there for while.

Moving along, to the point being.

Over the past while my “barometer” has been tuned in to the concept of significance.

Perhaps it is because I am approaching the latter part of my thirties, or perhaps it is still the aftermath of grief and mourning.

Whatever it may be, I have been confronted with two question:

“Am I significant?”

“Is my contribution (in whichever context) perceived as being significant?”

The first question is easier to respond to, from the reserves of truth in my spirit.

There is no question that, in being created, I am significant. Jesus died for me. My sense of personal significance is deeply rooted in the knowledge of God’s demonstrated love for me.

It seems like in simply “being”, I don’t have insecurity about my significance.

It is however in my “doing” that I seem to be more frequently confronted with a sense of external resistance and internal futility.

This is unrelated to current vocation, or income, or external positive recognition for work done.

It somehow goes deeper than that, venturing into the terrain of Solomon’s Ecclesiastes.

Enter, mini existential crisis.

I am thankful for the foundation of Truth, and years of mind-renewing grace where I have had to wrestle my personal sense of value and significance loose from being based on the work I do, the salary I earn or the lifestyle I live. Or the relationships I have, or desire but don’t seem to be able to enter into.

But it is flipping hard to maintain that sense of inner security when you are faced with the projected perceptions that others have, or simply don’t have, about what you do, or what you contribute.

And that is why I started this reflection with the pre-emting exploration of making sense of emotional reactions to situations by considering internal realities and external influences.

Internally, my reality makes sense to me.

I have always done things differently. It’s a mixture of intuitive artistic creative freedom (maternal genes) and pragmatic/logical strategic foresight (paternal genes).

I see links between concepts where others see unrelated topics. I learn at a rather breakneck speed.

I see ten steps ahead, and I am disposed to finding a “way” that makes the most logical and logistical sense to get from point A to point B. But I make the way up as I go, so I sometimes have to go back to start over. That’s why I sort of shy away from leadership, even though it is a natural gift. I simply don’t always know how the path I choose will turn out, so I hesitate to take people with me the first time I try something …

I create frameworks and explore boundaries. I figure out systems, and want to improve them.

I write poetry and construct project plans. It happens to be communication plans, at the moment. It was however, never meant to be limited to that.

I design course outlines and form two hour lectures from one-word mindmaps.

I majored in both Economic Journalism and Creative Writing.

I have a masters degree in Music Technology, with a thesis based on a Business Model Canvas. I sing, and I spot business ideas around every corner.

Creativity and Strategy. Art and Business. Music and Systems.

It really does not fit into any one category.

I like who I am, and how I think and do stuff.

This “self-knowledge” has been a sense of some frustruation though, because the world looks at “work” and “significance” in a very siloed manner. Just read any job description.

Enter external influences.

There seems to be a hierarchy of jobs. From menial to consequential.

If what you do seems to fall into the former category, in whoever’s projected perception, you will end up continually struggling with the significance thing.

Guess what. Most of those projections are just that. Mirages of your own insecurity.

Just do you, boo.

Be that as it may, I am questioning many things, from “calling” to “purpose”, in the light of figuring out what would be, for me, the most “significant” way to express my thankfulness for the talents and abilities that I have been given, which have been developed through the phenomenal opportunites that I have had. There have been many special people in my life, who believed in me and opened doors way beyond what I could ever repay them for.

I do think we find a sense of significance, in terms of what we do, in the context of relational community. As long as I feel like I what I do, serves someone to their benefit, it feels like what I do is significant. The problem comes in when they don’t neccessarily see it that way. Building up some resilience to that is good, though. I guess that’s what parenthood teaches one. They say.

Maybe that’s the key to the door that I have yet to fully unlock?

Perhaps significance is, and always will be, sealed within the sacrifice of selfless serving. Even in the face of denial and rejection.

Sounds about right, given the Kingdom Way.

Still exploring, but that does feel a bit closer to Eternal truth concerning significance. Regardless of inner realities or external influences.

Selah.

Kronkel-liefde

Van hierbo uit die ge-propelleerde vliegtuigie uit, is dinge duidelik.

Alles wat God gevorm het, kronkel. Dit vou oop, met grasie en genade. Berge en riviere, landskappe en wolkpatrone. Lewe en orde, met kuns gekroon.

Alles wat Mens gemaak het, is reguit. Paaie en kragdrade. Grenslyne. Hard ge-ets, asof om die stempel van mens-in-beheer af te druk.

Dalk is dit hoekom ons sukkel om liefde te verstaan. Ons wil reguit lyne trek. Grense afkamp. Die pad van punt A na punt B uitkaart.

Terwyl liefde eintlik ook maar net wil kronkel. Om soos ‘n bergstroom sy stilseker pad te vind.

Selah.

Adjust the pace, for longterm mobility

So, recently I posted a photo of my Achilles heel with a transact plaster on.

Two days after, I posted photos of a mountain adventure, which obviously involved me using said Achilles to propel up said mountain.

It seemed to have been a juxtaposition for peeps, and a topic of some discussion. Even a rebuke or two.

Here’s the thing.

The foot has been sore for over five years. It flairs up when I start to run, and it gets better as I get fitter. If I manage to push through the first phase. After I’ve decided to ignore the hip, which is the fruit of a hairline fracture in my lower back.  Long story.

Just because we don’t always see bandages, doesn’t mean there isn’t pain.

This is what I’m learning.

There will probably always be an excuse to not do stuff. Some form of pain.

I just know I want to walk up mountains, even if it is sore.

Which basically is a metaphor.

I’m going to have to invest in some proper medical attention and personal training (again) if I want to deal with the pain properly. Which probably is the wise thing to do, for longterm mobility.

But in the mean time, I can’t let it stop me from moving. I just need to go at the pace that won’t hurt it more.

Same with inner wounds and relationships.

I’ve had to commit to invest in counseling. Regularly. Bouts of depression and episodes of mental turmoil calls for professional attention, as much as it calls for prayer, community and healthy recreation.

We are often really good at keeping busy, but not so much at getting better.

I write this after a longweekend spent on a lovely overnight mountain hike, an impromptu trip to the theatre, and a long walk on the beach. As well as hours in prayer and journaling.

I guess I know a few things about keeping busy. I’ve made it God’s responsibility to make me better.

Activities help to keep debilitating loneliness in check for the few hours that we’re occupied. I guess hiking is healthier than shopping.

So, yes.

There is almost always something sore.

But there are views from the top of mountains that cannot be missed, for as long as grace enables.

I’ll just stick to my own pace.

Selah.

Jis, meisiekind …

Partykeer vergeet ek om die deur te sluit. Nie omdat ek nie bang is nie. Net omdat ek partykeer vergeet …

Ek het jou ’n jaar laas gesien.

Toe, op die vooraand van jou groot dag, daag jy op in my droom. Jy het my vasgehou, stywer en langer as wat ek verwag het. Asof jy woordeloos wou verduidelik. En toe het jy gelos. En toe was jy weg.

En toe.

Dit was hoe ons altyd as kinders gespeel het. “En toe doen jy dit … “ “En toe sê jy dit …”

Maar jy het nie saamgespeel nie. Jy het nie gemaak soos wat ek gewens het nie.

Dit het vir ‘n rukkie gelyk of jy mik, maar jy het anders gekies. Ek het gemaak of dit nooit iets was nie. Maar ek moes my hart losskeur.

Ek het gekies om die denial van vals hoop te ontwortel. Ek het dit gelos by die deur van jou kerk, die aand toe ek uitgeloop het.

Dit maak in elk geval nie nou meer saak nie. Daar is niks bitter in my nie.

Jy was nie my eerste woordelose wens nie.

Ek onthou nog hoe hy gestap het. Massive houding. Beste junior vlinderslag swemmer in die provinsie.

Ons het gewag langs die swembad by ’n gala. Sy aflosspan het langs myne in ’n ry gesit, ek en hy voor. o’13 seuns, o’12 dogters. Victor en Victrix Ludorum. Hy het afgekyk en heeltemal spontaan en verbaas gesê: “Jis meisiekind, maar jy het mooi bene.” Ek dink my reaksie was iets soos, “Ag voetsek, man.”

Ek dink dit was die enigste twee sinne wat ons ooit vir mekaar gesê het.

Maar, in my meisie-wees het ’n woord geval wat my tot vandag toe dapper maak. Ek het hom geglo.

Sy pa is later die jaar oorlede, en ek het vir hom ’n gedig geskryf oor ’n duif. Ek kan dit nou nog opsê. Ek weet nie of hy dit ooit gekry het nie. Ek het dit anoniem in hulle posbus gelos.

Ons paaie het weer op hoërskool gekruis, want Affies en Waterkloof het toe nog teen mekaar geswem.

Maar ons het nooit weer langs mekaar gesit in ’n aflos ry nie.

Op universiteit het ek hom een of twee keer op ’n afstand gesien op kampus, met sy rooi skoene. Selfde houding, kop gekantel asof hy musiek kan hoor wat ons nie van weet nie. Teen daai tyd het my hart al ’n paar ander draai geloop.

Hy het getrou.

Dit was dit.

Julle het basies dieselfde houding.

Nonchalant. #Winning, and not too fazed by it.

Hy het nooit my hart gebreek nie. Dit was maar net my eerste aching bewuswording van mooi.

Dis net dat “verlief” vir een of ander skrewed-up rede in my kop sinoniem geword het met “unrequited”.

For the life of me kan ek nie uitfigure hoe dit gebeur het nie.

Die een helfde van die standerd se seuns wou langs my sit in die klas. Letterlik. Die juffrou het dit in die klas getoets. Sy het op ’n dag almal gevra langs wie hulle wou sit. Helfde wou langs my sit, ander helfde langs ’n ander meisie.

Sy was later hoofmeisie. Ek was later onder-hoofmeisie.

So, dis nie asof daar ’n tekort aan aandag was nie.

Dis net dat ek vasgehak het by dit wat ek in my kop besluit het onbereikbaar was. Sien, hy was nie my standerd nie. Hy was in die ander swemskool. Ook by Hillcrest, net in die ander bane. Die vêrste bane.

Hy was my eerste hartswens wat nie waar geword het nie.

Om sterre te kyk, was vir hom.

Tussen hom en jou was daar drie beduidendes. En ’n paar meteoriete.

En nou is daar niks.

Ek weet jy het nie regtig geweet nie.

Hy het ook nie.

Nie regtig nie.

Vandag was seer.

Teen more het ek weer iets anders gedroom.

Partykeer vergeet ek om die deur te sluit. Nie omdat ek nie bang is nie. Net omdat ek partykeer vergeet …

Finding time to bleed

There are two pretty intense themes intertwining in my mind this week.

They are not related. Or maybe, on some deeper prophetic level, they are. We’ll see.

Stephen Covey says that, in order to be highly effective, we should start with our circle of influence, and not worry too much about our circle of concern. So, here goes.

Last Sunday, I had friends over for lunch.

Everything was going according to schedule, until 10 minutes before my esteemed guests arrived.

Let me pause, for effect.

To put things in perspective: The day was very much planned. Skip church to prep lunch in the morning (I am not a regular cooker-for-more-than-one-person person, so it takes some prepping), kuier with my peeps over lunch, be at church in the afternoon to sing at two services (which requires a certain degree of not being flapped-out), then dive back into Monday, with the week also pretty much planned and plotted out to the last minute. As is every week … #ADayintheLifeof …

So, when something interrupts the flow, it has the potential to derail a train pretty much on full speed.

Some more perspective: I am a planner. My brain is wired to see, or at least consider, the implications of actions on future actions. I’m also sort of naturally inclined to want to make sure things happen in the sequence that is most effective. Or find the path of least resistance, first in my head, then in the real world. With some trial and error, but with a clear view of how things should play out … It’s just how I roll. It doesn’t imply inflexibility. In fact, it enables flexibility, to a large degree. It basically means I make sure I have all the data I need pre-journey to be able to adjust course when needed mid-journey …

The reason why I have time to be spontaneous, or sit for hours in a coffee shop to blog, is because I plan blank rest / reflect space into my weeks. Don’t count on me for anything on a Saturday morning … just a heads-up …

So, with that in mind.

10 minutes before my guests arrive, I quicky wanted to wash the cutlery dirtied in the preparation process. To save time later …

Enter flipping sharp vegetable knife.

The word that came out of my mouth when said knife showed its true colours on my thumb, was unfortunately not hallelujah.

I intuitively knew that this was not a wound that I could just ignore, and hope that it would sort itsself out. It would bleed all over my kitchen and lounge and bathroom …

I needed to deal with it immediately.

Ran into the bathroom, and grabbed the medicine bag.

Only to discover a MASSIVE rainspider on the side of the bag. I kid you not.

Those who know me would be able to understand the intensity of the full-on assualt I experienced in that moment.

To say I HATE spiders is the understatement of the year.

I HATE spiders on the level of associating them with the demonic realm. No jokes.

So, to bleed profusely and having to deal with a spider on the medicine bag where I needed to find the solution for my wound, felt a bit like a spiritual attack.

Anyway.

I was actually surprised at the logical of the actions that followed. Grabbed a roll of toiletpaper to block the bleeding. Grabbed the can of Doom. Dealt with the spider accordingly. Bandaged the wound to deal with it later.

Rescued the bacon from the stove.

Restored calm to my internal scene as the guests phoned to say that they are at the gate.

Thankfully, said guests were all close friends, so I could download about the trauma immediately 🙂

Had a lovely lunch. Sang from a truthful heart about the goodness of God.

Fast forward to today: The thumb is fine, after being prayed over and given wonder-salve.

The spider entered eternity swiftly. Probably hell …

All’s well that ends well.

But reflecting on the seemingly silly “derailing” moment made me realise something about the pace of life.

Life, in all it’s fantastic fullness, actually leaves us little space to bleed.

And the places where we intuitively run to for healing sometimes have unexpected spiders to fight off. Fears to face. Mental and emotional webs to detangle from.

My thumb is teaching me about my heart.

The death of two parents cuts deep. Being single, still, cuts deep.

Community does help to bring healing. But in community we are sometimes confronted with the fears we hold deep. Fears of rejection. Fears of being taken advantage of. Fears of falling into sin.

God is faithful. We are fragile.

My thumb-wound has pretty much closed up on the outside (restoring my thumb-print … read: identity …), but it still is very tender.

Sort of like my heart. And my identity.

Selah …

***

Stop here if that felt intense. It’s about to go up a gear.

The second theme on my mind is the motion set in action to investigate the amendment of Article 25 of the South African Constitution.

There are real fears, and real moral dilemmas to face by all South Africans in this season. Personal and collective decisions to be made. Wounds to heal. A nation to love.

Or a ship to jump.

A Kingdom to seek first.

I simply don’t know if Africa will ever acknowledge that she has a white child too. Even if it is one that she was forced to adopt in generations passed. It does not mean that she is loved less as a mother, from the perspective of the child who does not know any other motherland.

There is no contention to the facts: In South Africa passed, white fathers sinned, and white children benefited. Land was stolen, legitimised by unjust law.

In South Africa present, it feels like payment for the sins of the fathers is demanded from the third and the fourth generation.

Selah.

I pray that the “turning of the tables” will be guided by a true desire for restorative justice, enabled by wisdom and grace, and not fueled by a destructive thirst for revenge, concealed by passing another racist law.

Revenge and justice sound so similiar in the mouths of politicians.

We all have selfish, and moral, questions.

I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to defend my white priviledge when I ask questions like: Does land ownership also imply investment portfolios with significant shares in property … like pretty much every RA and investment fund option available in South Africa?

Where do we even go to with our questions? Social media is not helpful.

Selfish questions. Practical questions. Real questions.

Can we allow one another the space to freak out about the things we fear (probably fueled largely by ignorance), and also the space to grieve  for wounds that were never given proper time to bleed, and heal? Can we hold this tention, and really be a nation that champions unity through diversity?

But I will leave that there for now.

You can draw your own prophetic lines between the two themes for now. I sort of lost the thread …

Selah

Dealing with detachment

Today is 8 months and one day since answering an unexpected phonecall on a busy side-walk.

It seems like the emotional and administrative shit-storm has subsided. Many miracles, much grace, and numerous encounters with the love of God through people later.

I’ve always been real and vulnerable about my emotional journeys. I find that writing about the unravellings I experience (hence the tapestry analogy of this blog), has helped others feel like they’re not as weird as they thought they were …

So, as a result of this intentionally introspective habbit, I sort of am a participant and an observer of my own soul-state.

Especially, since I am very much still see-sawing through the stages of grief, it is helpful to pause and recognise why I’m going through, often unintentional, shifts in behaviour. Life gets busy, and people tend to forget that bereavement is an ongoing underlying process.

The first few months after a major loss is really just a confusing mess.

I’m only realising now that I actually had a few full-on anxiety attacks. The levels of stress that depleted the nutrients in my blood have only recently started to lower. It wasn’t just the emotional stress of loosing a mother, a few years after loosing a father. And a god-father, and a grandmother. There were also other storms that I might write about, eventually.

It really did seem like the latter half of 2017 was deliberately trying to crush me. Read the Psalms. It happens.

Speaking to other people who are going through similar experiences, it seems like some of the “symptoms” are actually pretty normal. Not like many doctors seemed to recognise that. Intense lower-abdominal pain, fears of having cancer, fatigue, insomnia, defensiveness … all grief-related.

I am happy to say that it does feel like most of those intense emotions and physical symptoms were left in 2017. There is the odd insecurity relapse, and the odd massive mood-swing, but that’s not an altogether uncommon occurrence …

I’m sort of discovering a new phase now.

At first, I was slightly concerned, because if felt so unlike me. Then Dr Google helped me out.

It seems like emotional disconnection, or detachment, is a perfectly normal coping mechanism to protect the mind and soul from anxiety.

It’s like I’ve developed the ability to choose to distance myself emotionally from people and stressful situations. Not in a mental disorder / “inability to connect” way, or in a “run-and-hide“ avoidance way.

Just in a “not my circus, not my monkeys” way. With empathy being one of the top-five in my strenghtsfinder profile, this is actually a personal life-saving technique at the moment.

It’s almost a sense of objective indifference, but not to the extent of not caring. Just to the extent of “can’t deal right now”. A slightly more task-oriented approach to life.

It’s fantastically liberating.

I do believe that we are meant to carry one another’s burdens. But it’s necessary to balance out the weights according to grace-capacity, given in seasons.

So, I’ve re-established boundaries. Pushed back demands on my time and talents. I refuse to engage with the slightest wiff of emotional manipulation, in any form.

I’ve taken ownership of my current emotional capacity. I have identified anxiety triggers to avoid.

By the grace of Jehovah-Rapha. Who’se Name I called 3am one morning not too long ago, when I felt like I was officially loosing my mind.

If you are going through this journey at the moment, may you be encouraged by the testimony that things do stabilise, eventually. If you are not going through this journey, thank you for remembering that whatever someone who is grieving seems to go through, is not about you. They’re just dealing with coming to terms with a new normal.

Selah.