Why are you awake? What your thoughts mean…

Nthabeleng Hlapisi

COVID-19 has been hard on almost all of us. It has made us realize ourselves in different ways, in both good and bad ways. Many of us had plans of how 2020 would unfold, some of us have had plans ahead to take us through 2020. For some, weekend getaways with family and friends, for others, parents’ anniversary getaways, conferences, starting a business, having a dream wedding, reaching for that milestone. 2020 is a year that has just revealed to us that what God says is true; in Proverbs 19;21, the Bible writes that ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ We all have planned, but only Gods’ purpose will always surpass. For most people, this has not been an easy year, but with everything, our minds have been working against us and not for us.

A definition from one psychologist (Dr. Jeffrey Huttman) of overthinking is that; ‘Overthinking is the process of constantly analyzing and anguishing over one’s thoughts. It may include rumination, in which an individual is stuck mentally rehashing their past or present decisions and/or actions.’ With a lot of plans on hold, with a lot relationships at risk, with a lot of self-discovery and growth, people’s minds have resorted to overthinking. At night people do not rest but have the 2am, 3am thoughts which end up to no sleep at all. Well, over thinking unhealthy, for everyone, no exclusion. Being a critical, analytical and inquisitive person is very rare and good character/skill to possess but when overdone, it can lead to negative mental health.

It is very important to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy thinking, Overthinking is an unproductive process where one over analyzes everything, over questioning and over analytical measures one may take. On the other hand normal thinking is a skill that one may have, normal rational thinking. There are multiple causes of overthinking, one may be anxiety which is often a result of fear, fear of what may come. For most of us, this year has not unfolded in any way close to what we wanted it to be. There are a number of things that have been ‘threatened’ by the pandemic; illness, uncertainty, financial distress, death are just a few of those that may pose as a threat to our survival hence the need to resort to ‘fight flight’ response to alert us of the dangers that may come; which then leads us overthinking. Another common cause is trauma, neuroscience tells us that trauma can cause our brains to be stuck in a ‘high vigilance’ mode to be alert for possible danger, whether real or perceived.

Now we have a little understanding of what overthinking is and what can cause it, what has really happened to us in 2020 and how can we overcome the sleepless nights and awkward stares to the wall or to nothing really? Do you find yourself wide awake at twelve midnight thinking about what happened to you with a certain individual and make a conversation out of the scenario by yourself? Finding yourself asking (all night), ‘why me? Why has this happened to me? What have I done wrong? Blaming yourself, or even making conclusions for the other party involved? I have been through this, a couple of times, constantly asking myself, ‘what if’, for the whole night making an analysis of events, concluding and giving myself assurance that it is the right way of doing things until I realized it did not happen for just one night but consecutive nights, that is when I realized it is a problem.

I listen a lot when people talk to me, maybe because I constantly want to learn and I remember what changed my life was one gentleman in 2017 who was conversing with me and said something I found profound, he said ; ‘ well, Nthabi, I never worry about things I cannot control, otherwise they will control me’. Moreover, a few months after I have a conversation with that particular gentleman, I read a scripture in Proverbs 3:24, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” I then realized that God has our back at all times, asleep or awake, our sleep is supposed to be peaceful and sweet. If overthinking took away my sleep and made me anxious and afraid then surely it was not from the Lord. If for every night I lay on my bed I had to worry about things I could not control instead of presenting them to God, then I would not rest and have peace.

“So, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)

What do we do to make our minds at ease? Firstly, we should remember whose we are, we should pray and read the word, 3 a.m., you are awake, just talk to God about it, pray and ask for help. Philippians 4;6; ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ Be sure to practice mindfulness; this is the cognitive awareness of all that is happening and allowing yourself to recognize the surroundings and your thoughts without any judgement. Always practice relaxation techniques, go for a jog, do yoga, breathing exercises, these can decrease anxiety and has been scientifically proven, yoga helps to reduce the secretion of cortisol which causes anxiety and PTSD, moreover it increases melatonin a hormone that regulates sleep.

Sometimes changing our focus helps, reading or focusing on our hobbies in times of overthinking, Proverbs 23;7 says; ‘as a man thinketh, so is he’. Focusing too much on things that one may not change can actually change you into someone who is very bitter and critical of every step, a person who is always unhappy or easily irritated. Another way to help is to journal down our thoughts, this reduces stress, anxiety and increases perceived resilience. Self-accountability is also very crucial, we are not always right, we cannot always control everything and we have to acknowledge that. This leads to self-reflection on our believes and thoughts, do we impose our beliefs to other people? Do we expect the world to understand us?

We have to understand that this year too shall pass, it is not the end and God loves us more than we can imagine. Keep working on yourself. Sow those seeds, one day they will germinate, keep watering those plants, in due time they will blossom. We should not give up due to our circumstances but we should have faith that because of the circumstances we shall overcome. James 1:2; Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him’ The coming years will be better, 2020 has to be a year of reflections, molding and lessons and our minds should not get in the way of that, overthinking is not good for our health and we should recognize that.

Love Nthabz xxx

Gratitude… kea leboha…it is a pleasure…It is(was) kind of you to…

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

While it may seem like an easy thing to say; ‘Always be grateful’, ‘Always be thankful.’ For some reason this can be a struggle. It may be because of the way some people are raised or wired  – believing that the universe owes them everything and there’s no need to be thankful (entitlement). Or maybe they are just feeling it’s their right not to be grateful for anything. But for others(me included), this is a love language. There are many barriers to thankfulness, which may include; envy, being materialistic, narcissist and cynicism.

However, this kind of behavior(s) can be very toxic because for some people it means they always feel people have to do things for them, that the world owes them something, that they are never wrong. They always blame other people for their wrongs or for literally anything and everything; which inhibits them from growth or even seeing the world differently. It may even close doors because once you see that someone is really not appreciative of anything, who would want to help them or work with them?! Gratitude on the other hand has so many benefits that can help us in all aspects of our lives.

Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

Let’s start with the basics, showing gratitude is a sign of good manners, but besides this, one of the benefits is an opportunity to meet new people or create new relationships. We live in a social world. One of my best ‘created’ phrases is ‘We are interlinked. We are a village.’ We are a community, whether we like it or not. A study that was published in Emotion in 2014 has shown that people who show appreciation are likely to make new friends. Appreciation can be shown in so many ways, writing a thank you note if not verbally expressing it, holding a door for someone who needs it and even who doesn’t. Being appreciative of the little things that people do for you in your life, and it starts with appreciating yourself.

It is scientifically proven that grateful people experience fewer pains and aches. This is from a study in 2012 which was published in Personality and Individual Differences. It goes to say grateful people always have a habit of seldom complaining about stuff but have a positive attitude towards life and their health. Such people often go to gym and exercise often to take care of their body and mind hence have longevity in life. Gratitude also improves one’s psychological health. It has also been proven that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression. To tell the truth, there are people who just say thank you to get you out of the way but I challenge you to mean it, not because the next person owes you anything but just be grateful and say thank you, “I appreciate your support, it is a pleasure to have you…”

Galatians 6:2-3; “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.”

Grateful people tend to have more empathy and less aggression than people who don’t. I think this is because they are more graceful towards other people and I know that each of us are not perfect but grace goes a long way. People who appreciate will always show more sensitivity and less aggression to others even in the midst of negative feedback or situations. Psychologists have actually proven that writing down or thinking about grateful things every night before sleep actually increases your chances of getting a better sleep.

Being appreciative also helps one have a better self-esteem because it reduces the comparison attitude and makes a person better understand that we are all unique. During hard and good times, gratitude increases mental strength. Always be thankful for something, our lives, the roof above our head, the grace God has provided us with! Colossians 3:15; “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” The Bible clearly instructs us to be peaceful people and have peace reign in our hearts. More importantly to be thankful. It did not specify what we should be thankful for but we should. My take is in everything we should be thankful, bad or good, we should appreciate and be grateful.

We need to understand that gratitude is one of the best disciplines we should bless ourselves with. It can never be enough to be thankful. It can never be enough to show someone kindness. It takes nothing to show it but has more benefits that one would expect. Being grateful can start with small exercises; writing a journal of things that make you happy on a daily basis or monthly, writing down thank you letter to people who mean a lot in your life or you may watch videos that encourage you and share them with other people. The most important thing is to change our perspective of life. Changing how we see the scenarios and challenges we face, how we deal with situations, deal with other people. They can either be our worst enemies or our best stepping stones.

NB: We are all standing in the promise of God our creator. We should be thankful for all His goodness and mercy!!!

I can sing a billion songs

Dance till my feet are numb

Spin till I’m empty and poor

 Can’t praise you enough

Thank You (feat. Steffany Gretzinger + Chandler Moore)

Love Nthabz xxx

Hey lady!! A woman in society…

Afternoons are always the best times for me to take a walk. With the beautiful sun against me and the road ahead of me. Usually during these times, I take time to reflect on my day, reminisce on the good that was achieved and try to find solutions to things that I’ve found difficult to do. It is during this time(s) that I take in the beauty of nature, watch how the sun is beautifully and perfectly placed in the atmosphere. On cloudy days I trace the contours of clouds to make shapes out of them or even ask myself why one is placed after the other. Most of the time, when I am home, this is also the time where people who work in the clothing factories knock off. I’d try to think of the type of conversations they’d be having with each other, how carefree they seem to be and how their laughter sounds so real and beautiful. Maybe I should place people watching as my hobby hey?!

These are also the times when construction workers go home. When they finally get to relax after long hours at work and take long walks home with their friends. Unfortunately, meeting this group is not pleasant for me because I normally feel like an object on the road, like I do not belong on the road and have to rush myself to walk past them. It is when I meet this group that I question how they treat their mothers, siblings(sisters) or even daughters. During such times I question my sexuality, “Why am I a female? Why can’t I be equal to them and walk as freely?” From this group, I get whistles, I get ‘HEY LADY, can I talk to you? Can’t you leave your number? You are mine.’ On top of all the verbal connotations, I will notice how their eyes undress me and look at me inappropriately. Yes, not all construction workers practice this behavior but most of them do unfortunately, it’s not only them. A lot of men do this when they see women walk by themselves on the road.

Growing up as a little girl, one already protects their mind against such behaviors just to make it seem normal but IT IS NOT NORMAL. Walking on the streets as teenagers, we always used to get nasty remarks from boys or even older men when we were just taking a normal stroll. Most women have cushioned their minds and allowed this behavior to be normal because, ‘men will always be men’, ‘its just boys being boys’ but when will girls be girls? When will we be allowed to walk on the streets without fear of walking in certain places where the boys hang out of the fear of remarks and looks? When are men going to have conversations with themselves that what they are doing to us females is wrong? The same female you are harassing could be your wife or the mother of your babies. That doesn’t even matter, the same female you are harassing is a human being who shares equal rights as you on earth, none above the other.

The Bible in Genesis 1:26 writes; Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” There is nowhere where it says men have authority over women or one human has power over the other. It clearly states, authority over THINGS not people and that is simple because people belong to GOD not to any other human being. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12; “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.”

It is very funny how the men who practice such behavior are always surrounded by other male counterparts, which makes me wonder, “Is it a cowardly behavior or bravery?” Nonetheless, we should treat each other as we would want to be treated. Women are not objects to be sexualized or idolized, we are human beings. We deserve to walk on the same streets as men do. We deserve to live freely without being afraid of what might happen to us, who is watching us or even how many whistles we will get by merely stepping out of the house. Women deserve love, care and freedom.

Maybe men should be part of the solution, they should be part of the feminist groups. Men should have conversations within themselves and ask themselves where it went wrong, why they treat women with such disrespect?! Why it is okay for them to have the superiority over women?! One interesting scripture in the bible says, “God made them alike, male and female” then further says “let us make man out of our image”. It doesn’t say man, it says both man and women, this clearly tells us no one has more value over the other. Numbers 27 speaks about five sisters whose father died before they reached the promised land. Unfortunately for them, it was times of the law, they were not allowed to own land because they were female. They took it upon themselves to go to Moses and narrate their story and Moses (a man) went back to the Lord (his creator), the Lord then instructed Moses to change the law and let the sisters inherit the land of their father. For the societal laws that men have given, ones they have laid, the same men should sit down and change the laws. They should sit down and rewrite what they have dictated and set out as rules.

For women, if we do not take God at His word, then we will always take men at their word. We are worthy because God says we are. 1 John 4:4; You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Numbers 27; 1-11

Zelophehad’s Daughters

27 The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forward and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”

So Moses brought their case before the Lord, and the Lord said to him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them.

I am not enough unless you come, will you meet me here again…

Cause all I want, is all you are, will you meet me here again…

Rheva Henry

Ndeka the loner.

‘Show me your friends I will show you your future’- Unknown.

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2;16

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
― Charlotte Brontë

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5;3

At this point we have all established I have a lot of friends, maybe some don’t consider me as their friends but surely, I consider them as mine (giggles). I have a friend who suffers a dysfunctional independence syndrome (DIP), well to start with I did not know the term until I read the book ‘Life loves you’ by Louise Hay. We all chose who to let in our lives and let stay but sometimes we have no choice over that. We all choose how to react to situations and experiences, bad or good and it is these choices that ultimately determine who we are as people and stand for. Some situations change us to be better people and some change us to be the worst version of who we are supposed to be.

I am sure you must be wondering what the dysfunctional independence syndrome must be and what the healthy independence syndrome (HIP) is?! DIP is basically people who believe are self-made, yes, people who believe are where they are based purely on themselves and their hard work. This is true to some extend but truth be told ‘I am because you are”. No man is an island and only that is true, no one exists own their own. Independence is good and always advised by from parents to teachers to therapists. But sometimes when taken too far, then it becomes a problem. As she says in her book, Louise articulates that; ‘we stop relating ourselves as individual expressions of the universe. Instead, we believe are self-made. We exist in isolation’. But on the contrary, even quantum physics eludes to the fact that all kinds of separation, including ego are some form of optical illusion.

Too many people have come to live lives where they have been disappointed a couple of times until they come to a conclusion that things cannot be done until it is them doing the work. Yes, sometimes it is hard going through life ‘alone’ or without any mental or physical support, with no shoulder to cry on or event vent to. This however can lead us to miss the joys in life because there is no one to rely on, no one to depend on and we must worry about our lives and the lives of others on our own. This can make us lose ourselves because of the wall we have put up of extreme self-reliance. Yes, people disappoint us, people always don’t have the same vision as us, but that is what makes life beautiful, we learn and act out of love. Here is a little story of my friend Ndeka.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― Frank Herbert

Ndeka grew up in a small village in KwaZulu Natal, alone from his mothers’ side but with other siblings from his dads’ side. His upbringing was not easy because they came from an impoverished family. Things did not get any better when his dad decided to leave to another city (Johannesburg) to potentially look for a job, but unfortunately that was the last time they saw of him. It was difficult for his mother, she blamed him for being born, for coming into this world to ruin her ‘marriage’, to have made his father run away. The situation was so bad that at some point she attempted to burn Ndeka with boiling water. The finances of the house were not looking well either until his mother decided to abandon him and went to get married in a different town. It was hard for the little boy, he was raised from one family to another, from one grandma to another. His psychology has obviously been affected to a point that he to this day questions the existence of God. The silver lining is, he has managed to work hard for himself up through university.

Nothing that happened to him was his fault nor did he deserve it. However, all the mis-harps lead him to have DIP. Ndeka has very few friends and finds it hard to trust people, maybe this may be rewarded to him having ‘lost’ his biological parents at a young age. He finds it so hard that when someone is nice to him, he thinks they have an agenda or ulterior motive, he does not believe in genuine relationships. His relationships with women are difficult, he is very promiscuous (dates a couple of women at a go) and does not believe in true love, he doesn’t believe in emotional intimacy. His defense mechanism is survival and nothing else. ‘No strings’ attached to anything including becoming one with himself. It is quite difficult being with him because at first glance, he comes off as arrogant. However, once you get to know him and his heart, you get to understand the kind of person he is; kind, cares for people and generous. All this good attributes however are mostly directed at the wrong people or situations hence he sometimes gets hurt, lonely or feels unloved. Most importantly he does not believe in God, nor any other god, he believes in himself and himself alone.

DIP is very lonely as it is an illusion that you can exist on your own, it separates you from the world and works mostly to brush your ego. Often times Dysfunctional independence stems from fear, fear of being hurt again, fear of being disappointed again. Unfortunately, in the long run this leaves one very empty, without a soul but just an ego. People who go through this build a wall around themselves to feel safe but this wall separates them from the world and themselves (their true self). This syndrome can also block love, love for yourself or the love for other people, people will find it hard to love you as you find it hard to love yourself. DIP has no humility, its works from a place of ego and fear. Unfortunately Ndeka has not seen the problem in the thirty years he has been on this earth, or maybe he has he just doesn’t want to acknowledge and maybe change it. Ndeka is no exception of people who are hurt or disappointed or even failed and believe they got themselves out by themselves but I do believe we will all heal.

1 Timothy 1;7; I am not made of the spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind.

On the other hand, is Healthy Independence (HIP), is a function of freedom from external forces. This kind of independence exists when one is not fazed or affected by what other people do are saying because they are rooted in themselves and what they believe, they know who their identity is in. These are people who do not try to be different only on principle but when integrity requires them to. These types of people seldom give away to self-criticism, to victimization or blaming. People in this category often serve without feeling degraded or used, they love in an underserving world and they live not in any box but by heart.

Question; How does one translate from DIP to HIP after years of failure and disappointment?

Proverbs 4;23; Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

“I am a broken person. And I know exactly where my cracks are and how deep they run. I don’t pretend to not be a broken person and therein lies the big difference. Because the truth is, we are all broken in places, but it is those who know exactly where and how they are broken, who also know exactly where and how they are whole! And we may not be whole in all places and in all ways, but we take whatever wholeness that we do have, and we make good of it. And we try hard to work on the broken parts, and we ask for help when we need it.”
C. JoyBell C.

Disclaimer – We all lead different lives and believe different ways however my writing is informative.

Love Nthabz

Stuck in traffic

‘I was sad when I didn’t have no shoes until I saw a man with no feet.’ – Muhmmed Gandhi

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  – John Bunyan

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”  – Steve Maraboli

A few weeks ago, I was driving on my way from town around the peak hour. I was stuck in afternoon traffic and my thoughts started running wild (maybe because I get bored so quickly), eyes darting in all directions to find something to keep me busy. Just as I opened the window to let down fresh air, I saw a young boy, maybe around the age of nine, walking from one car window to another asking for money from the drivers on the traffic jam. I only had twenty bucks in my wallet which was supposed to be used for the ‘savings’ I have for the end of the year. Well, I was in a dilemma of whether to give the boy money which he obviously needed more than I did. My thoughts were; twenty bucks wouldn’t change his life, he would buy fat cakes but what about tomorrow? He would buy a meal for the time but what about the future? Will I not be rubbing salt into his wounds by giving him little money? Is this all i can do, twenty bucks? Is this not and insult to him?

On the other hand, me keeping the money meant my savings would grow. It meant I would be meeting the week’s target into the month. All these thoughts came to me while literally stuck and no sign of movement taking place. Light then came flashing into my mind that, ‘Nthabeleng the boy needs money more than you do. It would probably be the first meal he ever has for the day or even week.’ Just as I rolled down the mirror to call him, cars started to move, people behind hooted at me because I was not moving and my head stuck out of the window calling the boy to come take the money…but he was too far and my voice seemed too soft. It seemed we are worlds apart and I’m just screaming in vain.

Missed opportunity? Missed chance to have or practice empathy? The feeling haunted me that, I felt like I was selfish and thought of myself and had not put someone first, someone who needed the help over me. Do you find it is difficult to let go of physical entities? Well, I wasn’t happy with myself and still am not. The endowment effect in psychology basically says that we often find value in possessions or things as soon as we own them.  This can be very unhealthy because attachment to material things on its own is unhealthy. The Bible in Titus 2:11-13 says; ‘After all, God’s saving kindness has appeared for the benefit of all people. It trains us to avoid ungodly lives filled with worldly desires so that we can live self-controlled, moral, and godly lives in this present world. At the same time, we can expect what we hope for the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.’ The Lord will and always will bring the spirit of self-control and morality to worldly things. This is always a struggle to most of us but we must learn to invite Him in all of our daily experiences to deal with self control and being self centered.

I felt very condemned after the endeavor on my way home, knowing that I did not give the child the money, I knew he ‘needed’ but I ‘wanted’, but maybe the scripture in Luke 16:11; ‘And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?’ convicted me more. I asked myself if I really want to serve others and always call myself a child of God but was stingy to help someone in need, what does it make me? Am I really that bad of a child of God? Would I even be trusted with bigger things or money if I cannot bless other people with the little of what I have? We always have a chance to do right, life is about changes and if we dwell on the present we will not grow and evolve.

Romans 8:1 scribes ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’  We should remember that we all sin, we all do not so good things. But the Holy Spirit will always confirm and assure us. What we do sometimes is not good and we need to turn away from the sin or wrongdoing. We should ask God for forgiveness, repent and forgive ourselves(hearts) too. We should strive to do better next time and stop beating ourselves up for the wrong that we have done but rather when the the next opportunity to serve presents itself, we should take it and serve. We should always look to God for answers and not to people. Yes, we sometimes are stingy and attached to our worldly possessions, but we need to realize that we are blessed to bless other people.

Romans 3: 23-25, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished

Love Nthabz 🤍

Repair me…

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”- Rumi

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
– Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it…”
Nicholas Sparks.

A lot of times we are able to solve our physical or even emotional problems, able to help others solve their problems but have difficulty in repairing our own souls. We are made of three parts; mind, body and soul. The mind is one part of our being that we are most familiar with, our train of thought. However, thoughts are very impermanent and having a mind is actually a blessing and using it is grace. Our bodies, on the other hand, are the physical part of our beings, the matter confined in a universe of space and time. The soul is independent of any religious institution, this means everyone is capable of developing his or her own personal relationship with their soul and spirituality. Our souls are connected to our purpose, faith and the energy (aura).

A number of people have gone through challenges but still continue to thrive through them. However, it’s not until it’s too late that someone recognizes that something is wrong deep within them. Sometimes healing of the soul requires breaking first, it requires pain and suffering first. Sometimes you feel as if you are so broken like dust scattered in different angles, but you are fixable. Fixable is an odd term but, yes, you can heal from all that you are going through. God can and will heal you. You have lost something inside you, but you haven’t lost God.

Exodus 15:26 (version): He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

Psalms 147:3 (version): He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

The funny thing is sometimes the healing process is more painful than the hurt. Have you found yourself having to think if it is really worth it? Going through the healing process and realize that it’s not easy at all! Have you found yourself in a situation where you had the courage of saying, “Heal me, oh Lord?! Break me apart, Lord.” But healing is twice as painful as the harm itself? How is this possible? Have you been in a situation where someone hurts you so badly and you think you are over it? You want to heal, forgive them and love yourself and love them but feel like it hurts you more than the act itself? Well, I think this is a crucial part of healing. The hurt and the pain. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be value in it. I’m not saying healing should always hurt but for a diamond to be precious, it has to be refined first.

“Pain is a pesky part of being human, I’ve learned it feels like a stab wound to the heart, something I wish we could all do without, in our lives here. Pain is a sudden hurt that can’t be escaped. But then I have also learned that because of pain, I can feel the beauty, tenderness, and freedom of healing. Pain feels like a fast stab wound to the heart. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air! We may not have wings growing out of our backs, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that wind against our faces.”- C. Joy Bell

A friend of mine has been struggling through this journey of forgiveness, a tough but fulfilling one… Basically, she has had difficulty in healing after what she has gone through. A lot of people that were supposed to love her, people who were supposed to protect her, people who were supposed to care for her. Unfortunately, those are the same people who hurt her, the same people who broke her heart, disappointed her not once, not twice but a couple of times. But the Lord works in many ways. She decided to go for therapy and yes it has been a journey, hurtful at times, good at times. As a friend, it hurts me when she always calls to tell me it’s not easy, it hurts and she doesn’t think she will ever heal. The most important step I think for her was to invite God into her life (that is the first step), inviting a therapist who believes in God to walk with her on the journey. I don’t believe that was coincidental but all the work of God. It hurts, yes, but not healing is more detrimental even though now in a time of healing it hurts more than the actions themselves.

Isaiah 40:31 (version): But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.

One thing we should remember is that we cannot heal by ourselves. We are intertwined, we always need people. James 5:16, KJV: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” What kind of people surround you? People, who always want you to be a lesser version of yourself or people who help you become the best version of yourself? I think we should always remember to bless our souls by surrounding ourselves with people that nourish us, people that water us and who we do the same for them. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 (version): ‘Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.’’ This is so true. If we are surrounded by negative people, even at our worst they will never help us through it.

You cannot avoid the pain, you can either avoid the pain of healing or remain in the healing of remaining the same’– Josiah Silva

Love Nthabz xxx

Jac Magic!

Boitumelo Tlhaole

The pandemic may have us all living under a new normal but the seasons of the year are not affected. Thank God Spring is here – the most colourful season! A season where nature forces us to take notice of its beauty. The beautifully blooming trees fill the air with flavourful scents creating a magical aura! Sadly, some only get to enjoy the lovely sight because of allergies while others only enjoy the sweet-smelling fragrance because of partial or complete loss of vision. One thing’s for sure though – we all get to experience the amazing energy that comes with this season.

I am particularly excited to see the bright flowers of the Jacaranda trees on campus. Not so long ago, I was sitting at the Library Lawns enjoying the sight of the birds flying to and from the fountain and I noticed something intriguing. Most of the trees’ leaves were green and full, even though it was winter, however, some just had a dull brown bark with not a single leaf on their branches. It then occurred to me that the dull leafless trees were actually Jacaranda trees (I’ve taken a few pictures in those spots especially during October)! Amazing how some trees can be green throughout the year while some only show the world their breath-taking beauty during a certain time of the year. Yet these flowering trees still have to remain planted in the soil and enjoy the sun and water; and even the beauty of the evergreen trees when they themselves do not seem to have any “perceived” beauty to offer the world.

Commuters on the streets of Johannesburg and Pretoria enjoy the purple rain (or Jac magic as I call it) that pours during late September until November because it is so extraordinary. ‘Jac magic’ is so powerful that it has Tukkies students believing that they will pass their exams with flying colours if a Jacaranda flower was to fall on them during exams season! All this joy and hope and faith and beauty that these trees pour into our lives was being cultivated when all we could see was a leafless tree with a dull brown bark. We dance, play and laugh with the leaves on the roadside because this tree was faithful to the ground in which it was rooted during its quiet season. When the sun came out during the day, it stood firm in the ground and enjoyed the sun even though it didn’t seem to be undergoing photosynthesis because it lacked that green component. It adsorbed all the water and nutrients from the ground, put in the work even when we could not physically see its fruit. It endured the pruning, just like the Evergreen trees, because it understood that there is wealth in health. Just like Evergreen, it also danced when the wind was making music maybe even laughed and celebrated the diverse moves that the leaves of Evergreen tree pulled off. Jacaranda is able to do all of this knowing that when the warm, flowery spring wind blows, its purple flowers are going to steal the show- literally! It knows that 99.9% of all its seedlings will mature into attention-grabbing flowers. Those flowers freely dance without having to remain attached to the branches because Jacaranda joyfully shares what it gained as a result of the “quiet” season. It is magical to me how Jacaranda knows and understands that it is not defined by the purple flowers, only identified by them so it generously shares with the world its gifts – the glorious purple rain.

In the summer and autumn seasons, Jacaranda basks in the nourishment and earthly, organic smell of the rain alongside Evergreen. At night time when the moon and the stars canvas the sky, Evergreen does not say to Jacaranda or any other tree that loses its leaves in autumn, “Make yourselves small because I am the king and onlyI get to enjoy God’s marvellous art!” It understands that it has great companions, great friends, with whom it can enjoy life with. Friends to giggle and celebrate with when that boy finally gets to kiss the girl he’s been asking to be his girlfriend for almost three months. Friends that will be able to house the bird’s nest when its own branches are too weak to carry the nest because of all the new eggs. Evergreen also knows that they were all uniquely created by thesame Creator to fulfil different roles, to contribute their own special truth to the world. The Evergreen and Pine tree both understand that they are not flowering plants and they cannot lose what they were created for, serve a lower version of themselves, because they want to be like Jacaranda. Flowers are not their truth. Jacaranda also understands that leaves are not its truth so why would it leave what it was created and purposed to do to be like all the other trees? Where is the fun in that?

Jacaranda’s truth? It knows that it’s a naked seed plant whereas Pine is a closed seed plant. Why is this an important truth? Naked seed plants produced flowers while closed seed plants do not. Isn’t it just inspiring how naked seed plants like Jacaranda aren’t scared of being vulnerable and sharing what they’re not even sure will come because of the changing climate with other plants and human beings? Those beautiful roses on Valentine’s Day. Some naked seed plants produce fruits from their flowers. Yes, that sweet peach on a summer’s afternoon was once just a flower. Courage. That’s what it is.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV); “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Judges 9: 8-9 (NIV); “One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’

Impermanence

“Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So, Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.” ― Robert Frost

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.” ― Paulo Coelho

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ― Alan Wilson Watts

Impermanence, do you believe that? That nothing on earth is ever the same? Impermanence of situations and events? Occurrences come and go, situations come and go, life is never always the same but memories are permanent. The sun rises in the morning and sets in the afternoon, day and night everything changes, hourly events change, even cells in our bodies multiply and some die but moments remain the same. Negative emotions can be very overwhelming but it is very imperative to remind ourselves that nothing is meant to remain the same. There’s no denying that all of us at some point in their lives will experience challenges but knowing that such situations are impermanent will make us face them head on with little to no fear at all.

Both negative and positive situations are not permanent, realizing this will give us a balance in life. The awareness of such can help us fuel our purpose and savor the wonderful passions in life. Our minds work in interesting ways I must admit, we always want things to be static, when things are going well, we don’t want to let go, we want the feeling to last forever – I am guilty of this, we just want things to be as they are by clinging unto them. While this may be good until it lasts the opposite is true, sometimes when terrible things happen, we hold on to them and start feeling depressed and stressed – attachment to the pain.

Living in a balanced mental state that is aware of the impermanence of situations will always counteract any negative cycles one may have. The research in positive psychology shows that external factors don’t determine someone’s happiness but rather internal ones. One can achieve happiness from within, from different sources such as mindful meditation and prayer. Attachment is in anyway a form of unhappiness, attachment to anything, your wife, husband, job, car will ultimately lead to unhappiness.

The Bible in 1 Peter 2:10-11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” The verse shows us that the worldly things are of no value to us, while we work hard to get that car, that house, that dress but without you having an identity in Christ and without you being happy from within, then it does not matter and will be of no value in the long run. 1 John 2:15-16 Don’t love this evil world or the things in it. If you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. This is all there is in the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. But none of these comes from the Father. They come from the world.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

What happens to us, is in such moments, we should remember that nothing is permanent and it is such experiences that often prepare us for better things in life. I remember having had false accusations from people I thought were my mentors, something in me gave me hope that it will be over. After the scenario I was woken up by a house full of smoke, a small residence room full of smoke, imagine a small room as small a bathroom with one window and door not ventilated and having a burning pot covered in smoke. Of course, I didn’t want to kill myself, but I had gone numb to the whole situation that had happened to me earlier that day, imagine all the gases produced during combustion in my lungs. I did not even feel any smoke until 15-30 minutes when I choked of the smoke in my sleep and all I could think of was my family, would I be a coward to let in and don’t act, would I be doing justice by letting all the carbon monoxide consume me, well because it was. A small voice in me just said, ‘Nthabeleng this too shall pass’ and I felt peace over me then I realized I had to open the window and door which I ran and yanked them open instantly. That night I prayed and asked God for peace most importantly a pure heart, to forgive those who had accused me of such and to just let everything go.

Well, my story is not scary but you may be going through worse, you may feel like you are at your very worst. Just know things are not permanent, there is light at the end of the tunnel, most importantly the love of God will always sustain us. God said in His word He will never leave us nor forsake us. Going through my experience, I learnt resilience, I learnt when to fight and when to trust God, I learnt to not over think situation and always be the peace because ultimately things always will work out if you bring the light of God through situations.

What happened to me was not permanent because after a few weeks I received apologies and special treatment but all I could do is thank God for his glory and not letting all the gases consume me that afternoon. Nothing lasts forever, enjoy every moment, ‘marinate’ in every moment and allow yourself to feel the pain, the happiness and disappointment but rise up again and have faith. We should take all lessons from our experiences and be our own heroes. We should adopt the lesson in ‘What doesn’t kill me can only make me stronger’.

Romans 8:37-39 NIV 37 Now, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Love xxx Nthabz

Stay true to yourself

“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” – Unknown

“We’re only envious of those already doing what we were made to do. Envy is a giant, flashing arrow pointing us toward our destiny.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two seSotho (well Bloemfontein Sotho and Sesotho sa Moshoeshoe) speaking girls in a foreign land of Zulu, this was supposed to be a blessing – it did end up being a blessing but we had to fight so hard for it. Me and Sarah met in Bloemfontein and we decided to go to the Zulu land to further our studies. You would expect people to understand that we have to be friends but this wasn’t the case, we had to fight, we ‘had’ to be rivals in order to please people. She has more experience than I have, that I must admit maybe that’s why she inspires me so much. Well one as day I sat in our secretary’s office and she broke the news that Sarah is going on a conference to London, I was super happy like genuinely happy to hear that. Partly because I knew what this would mean to her and how much of a hard worker she is, I knew she disliked anything that doesn’t change the world including the traditional chemistry of which some of us always go the lab for. In any case her going to London meant her meeting with people that might help and inspire her in the direction she’s taking in life, who knows she might meet a business contact that side.

Okay, like I said I was ecstatic, I was literally over the moon over the news. However, I think that was my mistake, my mistake was showing another woman that I am genuinely happy for another woman, my mistake was supporting another woman in her path and being unapologetic about it. My mistake was not being sarcastic and complaining of when I will go to London or any overseas trip for that matter. I received backlashes from someone older (a woman), I received feedback I did not expect I would, I was named jealous and undeserving. I was told that they knew I will be crying or complaining to my supervisor about when my next trip is. I was in utter shock, like literally shocked. This is one of many instances where we were made to fight like you put two bulls in a kraal. But honestly, I respect us. Both me and Sarah, I respect our approach of never to hate each other but to support each other against all odds and learn from each other.

You can always tell who the strong women are. they are the ones building one another up rather than tearing each other down’ – Unknown

I think we both understood that if God has placed a blessing in our name(s), no one or nothing can take it, not even the hard work or backlash, not even the competition you give to the next person. Sometimes someone tells you something and you find it hard to comprehend and start asking yourself questions like why not me, why is she so lucky, how does she always wear nice clothes, why is she so blessed? Have you even in the slightest thought to yourself, what did she have to go through to get there, what can I learn from her? What battles did she have to fight to get to where she is? How can I be the best of myself and stop looking at me in her? The minute we stop wanting to find our identity in other people and start being who we are created to be then we will thrive and not survive. And this is what drives me, I really never compete with anyone, woman or man, if I find myself in a situation where I have to compete, I immediately withdraw myself. It is not healthy for me, for my mental or physical health, I am content with where I am, my strengths and weakness will always make sure I grow.

One thing about staying in your lane is the freedom and the grace you give yourself to learn. The Bible in Philippians 2;3 writes; ‘Do nothing from rivalry or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.’ This is hard I know but I think with practice and discipline it gets better. The more we serve each other and allow other people to be important in their moments and genuinely be happy for them gives us peace more to that; this really brings love in our hearts which we were commanded to. It says in 1 Peter 4; 8-9; Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Love always wins and with love, one gets blessed multiple times, it may not be material but best believe you will be blessed.

The period I had physically with Sarah brought a huge impact on how I see friendships and relationships with people in general. We should stop pushing people to fight, to hate each other, to always compete. We should allow our differences to bring us together and love each other dearly, what I have you don’t have and vice versa and this will always help in this puzzle of life. Instead of fighting for spaces lets encourage each other, build each other and help each other in every way we can, we only have one life and we would want everyone to be happy right? 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. What do you have to lose to help me? What do I have to lose to encourage you? Let us be Kingdom focused and remember to also love ourselves first and give each other grace.

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by you, this is how I fight my battles.  – Michael W Smith

Love xxx Nthabz

Lessons from Spathy

Boitumelo Tlhaole

Aright, now before all my curious friends start asking, “Who names their child ‘Spathy’?” allow me to introduce you to her. Spathy is just a short version of her real name. Her full name is Spathiphyllum and she is my flatmate’s pot plant. I call her Spathy because I haven’t heard my flatmate talk to her and I wouldn’t want to call her something that she’s not (The power of words). To be honest, I did not know that Spathy is also known as Peace Lily until I googled her for this blog. For the past two and a half years that I’ve known her, I have not seen her produce any lilies. Yes, I may not be that curious to google every name that I don’t understand, but I have four eyes.

Recently, I noticed that Spathy’s leaves were starting to wilt. I’ve never seen them like that. It scared me. I decided to take a closer look and when I lifted the pot, I realized that it was very light so I thought, “Aaahhh, Spathy is thirsty! That’s why her poor leaves are wilting.” I reached for a cup, poured water from the tap and helped quench her thirst (or so I thought at that moment). Later that evening when I went downstairs, I noticed how lively and stronger her leaves were looking and I was beaming with pride, “Tumi, Tsholo’s dear baby didn’t die in your care. I’m so proud of you!” But another surprise was waiting for me the next evening. The leaves weren’t growing horizontally rather they seemed to be heavy and some of them were starting to become yellow.  With a racing heart, I finally decided to consult Rabbi Google. And to my surprise, learning how to take care of plants also brought revelations on life.

The first thing that popped up on my Google search, “watering plants”, was a picture of what Spathy looked like – I had overwatered her! Plants, just like human beings and animals, cannot drink a ton of water all at once because they will drown. Plants need water to flourish, but too much water robs them of the much-needed air also producing root rot. Additionally, tons of water prohibits the roots from absorbing nutrients needed to support the stems and leaves. Overwatering can be prevented by properly draining out the water after watering. The plant is not supposed to sit in collected water on a saucer. The water must be discarded after at 30 minutes. This made me wonder, “Isn’t that what we sometimes do when we’re going through a dry season?” We find ourselves overindulging in something that we were just supposed to consume minimally. Our sitting in the corner and weeping was meant to be temporary, however, we have made it a permanent residence. Our tears were just supposed to water the seeds, the lessons, so as to produce fruits. Our tears were only supposed to clean out our lenses and help give us a new perspective but because we’ve been there too long the seed drowns and fungus and mould starts growing in the soil which eventually leads to death of the seed. Yes, we see the signs of bitterness and resentment in our attitude but we just don’t want to let go. We hold onto offences and hurt and block our own drainage system. We can’t allow forgiveness, peace, joy and love in because there is no space for them. Our tears and anger and frustrations have occupied all of the space resulting in heaviness.

How did I save Spathy? Taking the plant out of the pot and placing it on a layer of newspaper or a highly absorbing material can rescue the plant. However when there is too much water in the soil, carefully removing the soil from the roots and placing the plant in fresh soil followed by gently watering is the best route to save your beloved plant. Dying or dead stems or foliage must be removed using a sharp pruner. Changing our environment – our mental state, our perspective – can save and liberate us in ways we would have never imagined. The courage to remove ourselves from situations that contaminate and decay who we are at our core and the determination to place ourselves in environments that heal our brokenness and nourish our growth may seem drastic to others, but our future selves will thank us for being the hero of their destiny. Just making the decision to be nothing but a better version of yourself, a higher version of yourself, and allowing the Vinedresser (John 15:1) to prune all that is dying and dead gives birth to a journey of healing and wholeness. That gentle watering with tears on the journey helps keep the new soil moist preventing another drought.

While the plant is still recuperating, it shouldn’t be working hard for nutrients. Plant food like hydrogen peroxide can give plants that extra boost. We also need help and shouldn’t be scared to ask for it on days when we can’t do it alone. We should allow ourselves to be vulnerable with our loved ones. If therapy is your hydrogen peroxide, great! And most importantly, we always have help available to us (Isaiah 41:10). Helping a plant thrive means knowing and understanding the special needs of your plant because plants are unique. Spending time with your plant and knowing the environment of your plant will assist you in taking better care of it. Sometimes it will require you to put a finger into the dirt (maybe you may find it gross) to check if the soil needs watering, and other times you will just have to know that a smaller plant in a cool area doesn’t need as much water as a large tree in a sunny and windy environment. We too are different. We too are special and unique. Investing time to know ourselves will help us thrive at being the best version of ourselves. Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Believe in your tomorrow and nurture it. And perhaps unbelief was the reason why the world hasn’t seen your beautiful lilies.

Psalm 1: 3 (NKJV), “He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that brings forth its fruits in its season, whose leaf shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

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