Today I woke up feeling all of my 34 years of age. I just could not do this adulting thing because I was feeling the full weight of it. I was feeling all kinds of different emotions, maybe it is adulting or PMS or both. All I know is that I was not feeling fine, had zero motivation for work and I just did not want to engage.
But, I managed to remind myself that a bad day does not mean a bad life.
Now that the day is almost over, here I am still wishing:
…it was Friday already.
…I could have a full day or weekend off.
…I could have days to relax and not have to worry about all the things I have to do.
I prayed more than usual today because I know that worry is not from God. I went to God and cast all my cares onto Him. My faith was being tested for a few hours, but I remembered that God never promised us perfect days in which everything flows without stress, but He did promise that He will never leave or forsake me. I held on for dear life to that promise.
What kind of day are you having? How do you deal with a bad day?
God is good and He wants to give us good things. I experience Him as that Father who finds it hard to say no to his little girl, no matter how big the ask is. As I grow older and continue my walk with Christ, I question my motives in asking God to grant me some of my desires. Am I asking for something that will please me and not glorify Him? Am I living in obedience to Him and His will or I am simply asking because I want those things. He is so faithful that He will listen to us whenever we go to him, but like David, we should be able to stop and say
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
The lesson for me today is to stop and question my motives. By going to God and asking for Him to help me deal with my issues, I ask myself if I am living right? Have I been obeying Him and following His word? I know that God does not give according to our actions, otherwise, I would not deserve anything due to my constant sin. God gives according to His grace and mercy towards us. But, are we the kind of people who are satisfied to simply ask and never give anything in return?
1 John 2: 3-5 says:
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.
What this does for me is that it takes the focus away from the need I had to Him who made me and loves me with the greatest love. He already knows all my needs, so if I shift the focus to loving on Him, my joy is restored and I trust that He is handling all things on my behalf ❤️
If you have been following this blog you will know that for the past ten or so years, my life has been a series of big moves. I feel like I have been living in my suitcase and living a semi-nomadic life which has affected my social life. Just to give a brief history (because context is key) 2005 saw me moving from my home country, Zimbabwe to pursue my undergraduate studies in neighbouring South Africa. My early adulthood years were more stable than the later years because I managed to live in South Africa for 9 years after that, which made it my second home. South Africa became the place I experienced most of my early adult traumas and achievements. But, in 2014, the wanderlust and ambition kicked in and I moved to the Republic of Ireland. If you are interested in reading more about that particular move, you can read this post right HERE.
I did not stay for too long in Ireland because my Masters’ program was a year long. I decided to move back to Zimbabwe in October 2015 for a brief period. I knew that going to Zimbabwe would only be a temporary move because life in my country has not been the same since I left. Anyway, I quickly sought opportunities to leave again and by God’s grace, I was out of Zimbabwe in July 2016 on my way to Hong Kong. Now, this was a drastic move because not only had I never been to Asia, I was also going to begin my PhD studies (in a foreign land, where I did not know a single soul or speak the language). Yes, that is the story of my adventurous life. I stayed in Hong Kong for three years as some of you may know, and at the beginning of 2020, I made another bold move back to my second home, South Africa.
Someone would wonder why I have moved around so much and not settled in one place. Well, the answer to that is that I am a seeker. I love finding opportunities and seeking out new experiences. I don’t believe in staying in a comfort zone just because it is familiar.
I move also because I am not a tree, but even trees extend their roots underneath the soil and connect to new sources of nutrition.
I go where I find opportunities, I don’t just move. My current move comes with a career opportunity which I am very grateful for. After completing the PhD, I fell into a bit of a slump because I had no idea what the future held. But thank God that He always knows my future and He was already paving a way for me to be where I am now.
So, as I write this, I am in Johannesburg, South Africa where I plan to stay for a while. Before I left South Africa in 2014, I lived in Cape Town, so Johannesburg is a new experience for me. My previous moves were all for academic reasons. Now that I am done studying 👩🏽🎓, maybe this is the place I will finally call home? Well, we will just have to wait and see. I do hope that I will not be making another big move anytime soon because I recently developed an unhealthy fear of aeroplanes since the Ethiopian airlines crash last year. If I can help it, I would want to be on solid ground for a while.
Johannesburg is great so far, I am experiencing it as a place filled with new possibilities and new challenges. I don’t have any friends here so I am looking forward to making new ones. I have already started using up my social networks to meet new people and it is going great so far. I also have family living in Johannesburg, so settling in is going smoothly. I will take my time to get settled and find my place in this fast-paced city. I am excited to include a new category on my blog about living in Johannesburg, so I hope that will be fun. I know a lot of people have heard stories about Joburg being rife with crime and xenophobia, but I hope that I will be able to integrate into this society. I don’t speak Zulu or Sipedi, but I can understand enough to have a conversation (with me answering in English of course)☺️.
I leave you with a recent picture of me in Johannesburg because your girl has already started exploring the city.
How do you deal with toxicity in relationships, be it with family members, close relations, friends and acquaintances? I am reminded of 1 Peter 4: 8 which talks about loving one another above all and how love covers a multitude of sins. What does this mean when it comes to dealing with human relationships which have become toxic? By toxic I mean any individuals whose behaviours fall into any the following categories:
individuals whose words and actions have betrayed your trust in them,
who always disappoint you and still somehow expect you to stand with them,
or they manipulate you into thinking that everything that goes wrong in the relationship is your fault, and somehow they are never wrong,
and they never apologise…
Personally, in 2020 I feel like saying enough is enough and cancelling people who have toxic energy. But, as a Christian, I am struggling with this. I am aware that I need to forgive every offence and pray for those who continuously offend me. I am also aware that giving the other cheek when slapped is what Jesus would do, but how easy is this for us as humans to do? We are fallible and find such conflicts in relationships very difficult to handle.
I came across a blog post earlier today titled “The love that listens” written by fellow bloggers @Fochwoman and it really helped me put this issue into perspective. You can also read the amazing post HERE. I was reminded of the verse Proverbs 19:11, quoting from the New Living Translation:
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.
As much as I would want to “cancel” people who have already wronged me at the very beginning of the year, I also want to be a sensible human being and try to understand them and why they may be the way they are. By overlooking their faults, I choose to love in spite of their weaknesses, the same way I would also wish to be loved with all my flaws. This is by no means an easy choice, and yes that little voice screams that “they have always been doing this” and “they will not stop disrespecting and abusing you”; “you’re enabling them by forgiving them”, “yada yada yada”, but that is not the voice to listen to right now.
What makes it easier for me to make this choice right now is the knowledge that I don’t have to do it alone. The Holy Spirit will guide me in knowing the right words to respond when the time comes. And this makes me feel more secure and frees me because I do not have to carry bitterness or unforgiveness in my heart. Through prayer and constant reflection, I believe we can all get to a place where we think before we respond. We can be the light in the darkness and refuse to be the gasolene in the fire of toxicity by speaking back or refusing to pray for those who offend us. I hope this encourages someone today.
On my recent trip to Malaysia, I was very intrigued to observe the different kinds of personalities and behaviours displayed by the group of people that I travelled with. This was my first time travelling with a group of people who are not necessarily family or close friends. Since it was an all-girls trip, I assumed all will be smooth-sailing. It did not take a day for me to realise how our different personalities were causing tension. For the purpose of this blog, I will describe the different instances in which I observed our differences creating tension:
Type-A likes to have a fixed itinerary, plans days before what they want to do and ensures that they visit every place on the well-googled list.
Type-B does not plan anything, wants to go with the flow and see where the day takes them.
I am a type-B traveller who is so not into the military-style planning and waking up at a certain time of the day to catch all the touristy sites suggested by Google. We had initially agreed to travel together within the city to minimise costs; which meant taking one taxi/cab or grab as they are known in Malaysia. Anyone who would opt to go their own way would end up paying the full fare whereas if four people went together, the fare would be split four-ways. This meant that there would be times when one is forced to take part in activities they were not interested in or choose to go their own way and pay the full fare. Within a few days, the group had split into smaller groups with similar interests. Speaking of similar interests; the group was also made of people with different religious beliefs. Malaysia has a lot of temples, mosques and churches. When it came to the itinerary, it was not surprising that some of the people wanted to visit a mosque, some wanted to go to the Buddhist temples. I felt that I had no reason to visit either of the two, so I opted to find something else to do. I also remember there being some old tombs to visit on the list. I opted for a relaxing sound-bath Read more about what it is here that actually helped me to relax and reflect on why I needed this break.
Some of us wanted to go restaurant-hopping and tasting all the food in Malaysia. This is fun if you’re into that kind of thing, but for me, it wasn’t something I was interested in because I don’t eat that much. I was fine tasting one meal at a time, but I draw the line when it comes to spending the whole day eating. Malaysia is known for its amazing food and I did enjoy sampling some of it. (PS: I will do a separate blog for the food).
We used the Air BnB because we all decided we preferred cosy apartments rather than the hotels or hostels. It also made sense to share the apartments instead of having separate ones (cost-effective). The result was that we had one apartment with several bedrooms, but sharing common areas (lounge, kitchen, bathrooms). With different personalities came different morning routines. Some people are weirdly happy and chipper in the morning and then there is me; terribly grumpy and generally unfriendly until I have at least had my first cup of coffee. I found myself having early morning conversations about what we were going to do that day before I even had a chance to open my eyes. Some days I would wake up to meetings that were too serious to be had in the morning. Lesson learned for next time, get your own room.
I am a social person especially after I wake up properly and have my cup of coffee. One of my main aims on this trip was to meet new people and socialise. I love meeting and speaking to strangers, I believe that is how you make new friends. Now, with the different personalities in my travel group, it meant that some were interested in meeting new people and others were not. Picture a scenario where you all decide to have lunch at a local restaurant and another group of travellers approaches your table to greet the people at your table. You then find out that you’re the only one who is keen to speak to the new group and that your group prefers not to add new people to the group. How can you travel to a new place and only want to talk to the people you came with? This is when I realised I needed to separate myself from the group and go my own way.
Treatment of service staff
When you travel with a group of people, you will find that not everyone treats service staff the same. I was shocked to realise how some people can justify being rude to waiters, cab drivers and security personnel. I witnessed a number of arguments that could have been avoided with a little common courtesy. At the back of my mind, I kept worrying about being guilty by association because I was part of the group. I am the kind of person who believes in treating people with respect, no matter who they are. I also realised that I was in a group of people of different age groups, different backgrounds and upbringing. As I was observing, I was also trying to understand what would drive certain behaviours. During the trip, I purchased the book “Surrounded by Idiots” by Thomas Erikson which is a great book if you want to understand the people around you and how to interact with them. I found myself reading this book every night after my observations so that I could make sense of what I was experiencing.
I guess I had high expectations of the kind of conversations I wanted to have on this trip. I hate small talk and so I tend to seek out deeper and more meaningful conversations. Travelling as a group meant that I was with people who were either into that or not at all. I soon realised that some people in the group preferred not to converse at all and others were more interested in discussing the weather or some other random thing. I found myself seeking out strangers as had been my earlier plan because I wanted to learn new things and have memorable conversations. I will also write another blog about the interesting conversations and people I met during my trip.
In a nutshell, I really enjoyed my trip, but I doubt that I will be opting for group travel any time soon. Maybe, it just was not with the right group of people. It might have been a way for me to know what I prefer between being a solo-traveller or travelling in a group. I also learned a lot about what kind of traveller I am. What has been your experience with group travel? Please share below and maybe I can learn from your experiences too.
I was about to call it a night and head to bed when the thought of my last conversation with a good friend popped in my head. I remembered how he told me about how God can literally guide someone’s footsteps, not just in an abstract sense. He explained how he has been experiencing his walk with God and how it sometimes feels as if God is giving actual directions like a GPS saying turn left, walk straight, now turn right. At the time of our conversation, I remember thinking WOW!!, I could so use that kind of experience right now. Not because I feel like I am lacking direction, but to experience that kind of intimate guidance from God at this point in my life would be so great.
I imagine God telling me what to do about that situation that has been bothering me for weeks. I could literally sit down and feel the advice pouring into me and I would know what to do. Can you imagine such a feeling? I imagine waking up in the morning without a single plan for my day and await God’s direction for the day. But we are so inundated with to-do-lists, weekly and monthly plans, annual, two-year and five-year plans that we often do not stop to ask God for His direction. I imagine a situation of complete surrender to God’s will and direction as a way of life. Would that not remove the weight of anxiety and fear that so often steals our joy?
Here are some verses from the Bible that illustrate God’s guidance:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
I believe that prayer is our way of speaking to God, but I am often guilty of taking action right after praying before taking the time to listen to God’s voice. In my mind, I will be thinking I have prayed so everything is going to be fine, so I should get on with my day. But, I want to practice listening to God’s voice more and it is usually that still small voice that demands a quiet, reflective moment in order to hear it. We are too busy and too much in a hurry that we often miss it. Our minds are also filled with so many distractions that it is difficult to focus on what matters.
I’ll just end with a word of thanks to my friend for the insightful conversation. I had no idea that your own experience could resonate with me so much that I want the same for myself. And that is truly how we nurture one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Since I came to Hong Kong, I usually found myself forming friendships or associations more with international people more than the local Chinese people. The reason behind this is mainly due to the language barrier, I do not speak a word of Cantonese and my attempt to learn Mandarin did not go very far. I did try though and I wrote about it a while ago in thisPOST.
As a result, I do feel more at home with English-speakers. Usually, when we meet as friends or acquaintances in the places we work or socialise, we always find the common topics of discussion to be centred around our experiences of being here. It is not uncommon to hear complaints about how non-locals feel they are being treated by the locals or how this and that is difficult or how it would be different in other places. I guess that is the story of anyone living in a foreign land.
I found myself in the least expected company the other day and the experience brought home this thought about how shared experiences can bring people together. There is a sayingmisery loves companywhich suggests that somehow people who are going through the same circumstance may find solace in their shared experience. So there I was, a female from Zimbabwe, seated with a guy whose heritage is mixed Indian and Russian (first time to ever meet someone with such an interesting heritage, massive conversation starter and he uses it to his advantage) and the other, more loud and confident, born and raised in Manila, Philippines. As the three of us sat at a table having dinner we suddenly found it funny that here we were, in Hong Kong, all three of us coming from completely different backgrounds, but we were speaking the same language, in the sense of having experienced some of the same things during our stay here. What are the chances that we would find similarities in each other’s stories? This blew my mind and immediately, I knew these two men would become my friends. One thing I totally forgot to do was to take a selfie, but next time I see them, I will remember to take one so I can share with you guys.
We talked about, among other things, our different experiences of racism and discrimination, each of us having a story to share. I could write a book on this topic alone really. We also talked about our home countries and the concept of “home”. This is important to me because, at that moment, I realised that a lot of young adults are beginning to lose this concept of “home” as circumstances force them to leave the countries of their birth to seek greener pastures. However, each of us was so sure that there will be a day when we will all return back to our “home”.
At that moment, we were so different yet so much alike.
We also had a chance to relearn what we thought we knew about the other (black African, mixed Indian-Russian and South East-Asian) and filling in the blanks. This was such a beautiful learning moment and it made me realise that we are all HUMAN, period. Our differences make us who we are, but we can all find a place to meet as humans and find that we are not as different as the world makes us out to be. Stereotypes and prejudices are the things that separate people.