Why we don’t ever have to be jealous.

The neighborhood I grew up in was vibrant like most townships, children playing in the streets till the late hours of the day, people constantly roaming the streets. My mother didn’t allow me to play outside the gate so as an only child I’d watch other children through the gate yearning for companionship. We rented a backroom in this Old lady’s back yard before my mother bought her own house. She was a nice, that old lady, but she cared nothing for dolls.

She would look after me after school until my mother came back from work. She would chat to me and tell me all sorts of interesting stories, but my heart was on the other side of the gate where my age mates were getting so dirty they returned home resembling the dust they’d spent the whole day playing in. This quickly changed when my Mother brought home a friend. I was elated, she was my age and we played together in the yard whilst our mothers sat outside on a bench and laughed whispering things to each other and laughing out loud.

I don’t remember my little friends name but I remember going to her house for the first time one Saturday and I will never forget how many toys she had, different dolls, each with their only set of clothes. She had her own bedroom, which was new to me because I slept in the bed with my Mom. I remember feeling something and not being able to articulate exactly what it is I felt. I had one doll, which had one set of clothes, we had one bed, we lived in a backroom and here’s this princess living in a house, multiple dolls and other toys with her own bed, something didn’t add up.

I asked my mother why they had more things than us. She told me some story about my friend’s father and how he was a businessman and how wealthy they were. It just didn’t make any sense to me at that age and the more I played with her the less I seemed to like her. I decided solitude was better than this new found friendship. Which seemed to remind me of how much I lacked. Luckily my Mother brought a house and I forgot about my friend and what I felt everytime I went to her house.

I wish that feeling never resurfaced in life but it did, it happened in classrooms, in church, in friendships, in social group, in my community. Until I couldn’t escape it, everywhere I looked someone was better.

It doesn’t matter how well you think you’ve done in life, someone always seems to just have it all in every possible way. Just scroll through Instagram and you’ll see. There’s always a bigger house, a bigger car, a longer list of degrees, better skin, better hair, It’s all there. I didn’t know what that feeling was until later in life I realized it was jealousy. And we all feel it, we’ve all secretly resented someone because of what they’ve achieved and what they have.

Jealousy

jealous/ˈdʒɛləs/adjecti

feeling or showing an envious resentment of someone or their achievements, possessions, or perceived advantages.

My first attempt at solving this problem was to ignore it and pretend I was fine. This failed, you can only contain resentment for so long, eventually it exposes you and the dark thoughts you’ve harbored.

My second attempt was to compete, to secretly work at becoming better. This also didn’t work, what you attempt to achieve with effort some people achieve purely by talent.

“What you attempt to achieve with effort, some people achieve purely by talent”

Why we don’t ever have to be jealous

All my previous attempts failed and that’s when I realized I needed to find a working solution and fast!

Firstly

I had to be honest myself, I had to acknowledge the fact that I felt a certain way about people’s belongings and achievements and this okay, we don’t really choose how we feel. What I feel is not the problem.

Psychology says:

Feelings arise as a reaction to our emotional responses. And they may differ from one person to another.

For example, the sight of tigers in a zoo might trigger admiration and awe in some. But others will feel anger and bitterness at the sight of caged animals, which they believe should run free.

Comparison

Firstly I had to let go of comparison. I read a quote once that said: “comparison is the thief of all joy” my friends toys were not the problem, the problem was that when compared to my own they were better and this left me with a deep sense of inadequacy.

Comparison robs us of seeing what we truly have, when we spend our lives watching scales we rarely enjoy what we have. When we spend our lives looking at the greener grass it prevents us from watering our own. Your life is rarely empty usually it’s filled with neglected passions, relationships and dreams. When you spend your time wanting what others have you forget that you are truly capable of creating and somehow living your own dream.

Gratefulness

This is Being warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received.

If we lack gratefulness it opens up a wide door of jealousy, as a child I lost sight of the fact the I had a doll, a place to sleep and a mother. I wasn’t thankful for these things, I didn’t realize that there are people who long to have them. Gratefulness is an art that we can learn, it doesn’t come naturally. I have learnt to be grateful for what I have. The more I started being grateful the more my life started being filled with blessings and this is a beautiful thing. Sometimes in life we need to count what we have and be grateful for it.I read about a woman once her name is Ann Voskamp, she wrote a book titled One thousand gifts and she said:

“Thanksgiving is the art of giving thanks in everything”

What have you overlooked whilst wishing you had more? What blessing is right in front of you but seems to be clouded by the blessings you see in other people’s lives? This is a beautiful practice and we need to begin living it.

Lack of faith

Lastly and most importantly jealousy stems from a lack of faith. When we forget that Christ is the ultimate treasure of our lives we will spend our time fixated with all the world has to offer and unfortunately Or rather I should say fortunately our souls were made for more.

“We were designed for more than the trivial pursuit of pleasure. The hard truth is that we will never find relief if we continue to seek it through possessions or through people. Seeking satisfaction in the things of this world is like chasing the wind. Once you’re finally exhausted and weary from your pursuit, you’re left empty-handed and disappointed. You’ve wasted valuable time chasing nothing when you could have been pursuing true joy and peace” ~Phillip Holmes

I don’t know what has made you jealous in life, I don’t know what the dolls and big house represent to you. I do know that it’s time we let go of the jealousy and embrace all that God has blessed us with. Some days it’s waking up and doing a mental recap of how blessed you are, sometimes it’s acknowledging that you’re not in competition with anyone because we’re all honestly trying yo make sense of life and most days we’re failing.

It’s understanding that social media is only a collection of the good moments in people’s lives no one posts the bad days, the issues they have, the struggles they deal with and where they’ve failed, this might mean taking time out to truly reflect on what matters in life.

It’s remembering that your life isn’t just meant to be a ladder to climb up but a table to welcome others to, let’s let go of the need to climb and begin to to invite people in to this freedom we have found. Because deep inside all of us is just a need to know that we’re loved. To know We’re seen and that we’re valued and we can find all of this in Christ.

And the next time jealousy rises in your heart remember: you are not a slave to comparison, gratefulness can be your response and lastly even before you achieved a single thing you were loved by God and this is enough. And this is why we never need to be jealous.

Colossians 2:6

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Life is Art.

The Good Samaritans in my life

Having been locked in the house these past few weeks has given me more than enough time to deeply reflect on what I’m grateful for. I’m mostly grateful for the people in my life who have truly been a part of my journey.

This started when one morning I read the Parable of the Good Samaritan. I have read this parable multiple times and honestly had never put much thought into it. Until recently when I read it and I saw my own life in it.

An expert in the law had asked Jesus after a discussion where He had made reference to one’s “neighbor”, for more clarity into who that neighbor might be. To which Jesus responds with the parable:

Luke 10:29-37 (NIV)

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

In this parable we see 4 people.The first is the injured man, the priest, the Levite and the lastly the Samaritan.

My life has been much like the injured man, I have been robbed by the enemy by losing those in my life that I love, I have felt completely beaten up by many challenges that I have faced and I have been left to die during a phase when thought I wouldn’t survive. I was overlooked by members in my own family (we are slowly reuniting again), I was overlooked by those whom I had expected help from. And at my lowest when I just waited for death. I was found by good Samaritans

The Musokes (Sylvia and Peter)

I have known this family since 2004 I became friends with their eldest daughter Vanessa and they welcomed me as their own. This was my first time experiencing what home should be, a complete family unit a Mother and a Father raising their children together. It is here where I was first bandaged, the love this family has shown me has been what what has kept me going, kept me praying and kept me striving. The “Inn” they brought me too to was none other than their own home the kindest but sternest people I know who have lovingly corrected me and loved me even when I least deserved it. I have made noise in this house (a lot of it) I have been prayed for and spurred on in so many ways. I am most grateful for you, I’ll never forget about a year ago when they came with me to my graduation. You could have sworn these were my biological parents how they held shoes, held my hand and screamed my name as I walked on the stage. I am so grateful for you! I wish I could write it in all the skies.

The Rabes (Anneke and Ralph)

I met the Rabes in 2010 at a time where my world completely turned upside down. The darkest most uncertain time of my life, I like the injured man was waiting for death. On the verge of burying my dreams when I was quietly putting away my hopes. Here comes the most interesting people in my life. I say this because the first night we slept on the farm our alarm at 5am was U2’s “Beautiful Day” on full blast, I still laugh at the thought, Uncle Ralph was waking us up, I’m grateful though because I might have missed my simple alarm. Again we found ourself in this “Inn” filled with genuine smiles and prayer and love, this family has exposed me to a world I would have otherwise not known. Taken me in as one of their own in every way. They have travelled with me, they have prayed for me and have mentored me into being the women that I am. I have come here and left better, by them putting in the “denarii” of their time and supporting me completely. My most memorable moment is being in London with Mom Anneke and feeling like I could conquer the world. I am grateful for you.

My friends

Busisiwe Mbatha, Sinethemba Mthethwa, Bathandwa Isaac, Frank Ntshangase, Bonga Mdletshe (my brother)

When I started writing I was so afraid, afraid that no one cared what I had to say, you are the first group of people who commented and kept telling me I could do it until I started to believe it myself. With each post I became more confident my fears became soft and my whisper became a roar and this is what I love most. In your own way you’ve all contributed to this safe space. Thank you. I’m not stopping, each time I’m too afraid to go all in, I think of you and how like the in-keeper you all “looked after me” with some of you really far but brought so close with words. You are my Good Samaritans and I hope you never forget. If no one told you today you matter and you are deeply appreciated.

And lastly my Lord and Savior. Who has seen my every flaw and loved me all the same. My life has been filled with Good Samaritans because in your grace l, when I was the least qualified was not given what I deserve. But Grace upon grace from your fullness. May my life be a testimony to the glory of your name.

Because giving thanks is a way of life and in the darkness we all find ourselves in we need just a glimmer of light.

I don’t know who the Good Samaritans in your life are but maybe they need a reminder in this time that they’ve been good and you are grateful and you haven’t said it in a long time.

Life is Art.

On Fathers and why we should forgive them

My earliest memory of my Father is when I was about 6 years old, washing his gold Cressida, man I loved that car. My 6 year old mind was convinced that it was the fastest car there was, that and the fact that my Dad sped pretty fast when we drove in it.

Driving long distances with him was my ultimate pleasure in life, much to my mother’s demise because often he’d collect me unannounced, they didn’t live together, he’d tell my mom to give me quick bath and off we went. On the road I remember him saying “look at how fast we’ll overtake this truck” and with a swift change of gears we’d blaze past it in no time! It was magical, he got away with speeding because he was a policeman, I suppose as a man of the law it’s highly unlikely that you’d get in trouble with one of your own. He had friends everywhere too every one knew him.

He’d make a few stops in town and greet friends, which unsurprisingly happened to be mostly women. I concluded it was just how he was. I’d always wait in the car when he did that, afraid I’d be left behind when it was time to leave. He’d tell me my duty was to safeguard the car make sure no one did anything to it, I took my job seriously.

Often he’d leave so long I’d fall asleep, but when he came back the adventure would start again and all would be forgotten.

My father was a large man, very stern often harsh and was mostly feared. There was something about his presence that commanded respect, he carried a gun and I suppose that made a contribution to the above. He was good at everything, he passed on his love for reggae, his horrendous dancing skills and his free spirit. The only place he fell short was in how he loved my mother. How him and my Mother became an item will always be a mystery.

I could never understand as a child why they fought so much about my father’s “female friends”. Deep down I resented my Mom for that, what was her deal anyway she’d always fuss about how long my Dad would keep me whilst he ran his unending errands, and after one of their fights my Dad would stay away a really long time. After a few weeks the Cressida would come speeding in, with it came groceries, I suppose the women in my Mother’s time cared nothing for flowers. They’d make up and things would be okay for a while until my Dad started with his usual antics and that roller coaster continued for a few years until my Mother became more religious, bought a house, qualified for her degree and showed my Dad the door for the last time.

It seemed no amount of groceries could save them because no matter how often he’d come, how much he’d buy, my mother would send me to collect the groceries, exchange a simple greeting and he’d leave.

His lack of consistency was due to the fact that he was a Casanova of note, the man could charm his way in and out of anything. It’s how he charmed his way into my mother’s heart. Unfortunately it would also be the reason why he’d get the boot. As s result we’re still trying to locate all his offspring. We’re on 8 and counting.

As an adult my parent’s relationship unintentionally taught me the following:

1. Men are unstable

My mother used to tell her friends how sick and tired she was of my dad, how he’d go in and out of his life as he saw fit not once considering how she felt. I’d hear these conversations and cared nothing about their fights but I’d miss him terribly. I couldn’t dismiss my mother’s point of view however, She was right and as much as I’d loved him, I hated this game he played with her heart, with her time and mine with it. I made a mental note that said “don’t trust men, they don’t stay long”

2. Apologies are meaningless

My Dad knew his way around my Mother well, he knew what to say to make her laugh. He’d maneuver his way back into her life with grand gestures but his behavior stayed the same. Until my mother stopped being impressed, she wanted more that items she herself could purchase she wanted him to change, no apology was enough if it meant the situation stayed the same. She loved him but not at the expense of her heart

3. Men are not dependable and Independence is a women’s best form of revenge

My mother was very quiet. She was a doer, she hated lazy people, she hated stagnancy she was on a constant move. She worked hard to buy a house, finish her studies and buy a car(she later lost it in an accident). Her best revenge was getting her life in order. She used to say “You don’t depend on a Man! You get your own things you work hard! But don’t make a mistake of depending on a man!” I wished I could roll my eyes at the time I didn’t understand, I missed my Dad. “That low life you call your father, is gone, thats what men do”. My Mother taught me independence is a women’s most powerful tool. She did it in the most bitter way.

4. Solitude is peace

I never saw my mother with another man. Not once. I wouldn’t be surprised if none approached her out of fear of my Dad, the guy was scary. She missed him though, I didn’t understand their relationship but I knew it was him she longed for. But she’d tell me being on her own was how life should be. She’d tell me she never wants to be with a man again in her life. “being on your own brings so much peace” she’d say.

Experts say:

“Parents are our first example of how to communicate, develop, and maintain relationships, especially with another gender,” Noni Ayana M.Ed., sexologist and relationship expert, E.R.I.S. Consulting LLC, tells Bustle. “Many of us have come to develop a set of expectations, using our parents relationship as a blueprint. Whether parents know it or not, their children are watching, and developing their own ideas. I find that parents don’t often discuss the process of what it means to be in a relationship, and children draw conclusions based on what they see, as opposed to what they know.”

My parents tumultuous relationship left me scarred and it played out in relationships. My inbuilt mistrust, my drive to not depend and my fear of men and so the walls grew higher and love stayed farther. It was only when I went to therapy that I could slowly unravel this mystery and make sense of my predicament.

I don’t think my father knew what damage his actions would cause.

As I became an adult I started to ask more questions about my fathers upbringing. I was desperate to understand him, to locate the root cause of his dysfunction. I had to go as far back as childhood, by that time He and my Mother had long passed and I needed answers. Why was he the way he was. I came to a shocking discovery.

My father had a very difficult upbringing, his parents separated when he was still a young. When his Mother left he was still young and was left to the care of my grandfather who was quite the disciplinarian and he was raised by a very harsh stepmother, often robbing him of food, he was neglected as a child. My grandfather apparently owned taxis and only came home a few times a month. The abuse carried on for a long time. My grandfather eventually found out. He sent the woman packing but by then the damage was already done. And he would suffer for generations to come.

My father loved me the best way he knew how. He like most men was broken and he didn’t know how to make that right. I wish I had more answers, I wish he would have been honest with me before passing about what in his childhood broke him. I wish he would have received counseling or therapy before meeting my mother. I spent so much time being angry I not once thought about the reason behind it all. And when I found it the pain had no place. I had to let it go.

WE NEED TO BE THE GENERATION THAT STOPS MAKING EXCUSES AND THE GENERATION THAT HEALS OUR CHILDHOOD TRAUMAS NO MATTER HOW HARD THE PROCESS IS.

What did your father do that you need to forgive? Maybe that journey needs to start now.

We need to forgive our fathers because they didn’t know better, we need to understand they did what they knew was right at the time. We need to forgive them because harboring feelings of resentment means we’ll continue the cycle of bitterness and that will be given to our kids and the cycle will never stop. We can do better.

Forgiveness is hard, it takes time. It’s a process but the Bible says

Colossians 3:13

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

The journey begins when we let go and we embrace change and maybe we won’t get it all right the first time but we’ll definitely try and we’ll be better for it.

Life is art

The weight of Singleness

weight

/weɪt/

noun

the heaviness of a person or a thing…

Growing up like most girls I watched mostly fairytales. I wasn’t too crazy about Repunzel, I had days when I’d enjoy Snow White, occasionally I’d watch Sleeping beauty and the others who were not as important hence I haven’t mentioned them by name, but my ultimate favorite was Cinderella. Oh Cindy she was the ultimate Princess, a classic rags to riches, ordinary girl turned into royalty. I could relate to that. She had mean relatives who tried to get in the way, she had chores but she was beautiful. I loved how her Prince went house to house on a personal search for the love of his life.

And in the end she was found and of course they walk into the sunset and they lived happily ever after.

Life is no fairytale. It has real people, no castles, no fairy godmothers or shiny chariots just normal people who are flawed.

I’m 28 and I’m single, really upset that my prince charming put in the wrong address in his GPS because I’m really tired of waiting and explaining myself. And if one more person asks me if “I’ve met someone yet” I’ll lose it. “No Margret, I’m still, as single as I was was a year ago, eat your cake!”

I had a horrible approach to singleness, but I wasn’t aware. I learnt from a young age that it’s all about waiting, watching out of the window, keeping one eye on what’s in front of you whilst the other spins vigorously trying to locate a possible suitor because that’s what women do. That’s when life begins. So the twenties come for you in three phases:

Phase 1

This was the early twenties. Things are fine you start earning an actual salary, everyone graduates, friends buy cars. You go on a few dates nothing serious. You take things slow, you’re at your peak. There’s no rush.

Phase 2

This was the mid twenties. You start to panicking everyone starts getting married, you’re bridesmaiding on most weekends, and if not you’re at weddings, shortly after that those friends who got married start getting pregnant and now the baby showers start rolling in and you’re side eying God. You date with more intention but unfortunately nothing works and you spend more time obsessing over this than what you’re likely to admit. You get the “You’re still single?” question more now because people see you attending weddings, you’re at the verge of holding a man at gun point so he proposes but unfortunately there’s no one around, or should I say fortunately for their sake. You feel the weight of singleness.

Being single is like a disease, Social Media is full of couples, dream weddings and proposals and at the back of your mind you’re thinking “there must be something wrong with me” It seems everyone is getting hitched.

Phase 3

These are the late twenties. Singleness becomes an unbearable weight on your shoulders. People worsen the load as if you’re not already crucifying yourself enough. Everywhere you look people are coupling.

You go back to the drawing board something isn’t right.

The thing is no fairytale prepared us for singleness.

No story from childhood equips you for being on your own.

Strange that this is the case even though Statistics say:

“that roughly half of all South African men and women are single– particularly those aged between 18 and 34. More than half of all men and just under half of all women in South Africa appear to be single, according to new research.”

With so many single people we need a better approach. We need to stop assuming the worst about a person just because they’re single. There are worse things than being without a significant other.

There’s no template for how life should be. Of course I made mistakes in dating and I’ve had my fair share of challenges but life doesn’t stop.

So to my single people:

STOP WAITING AND LIVE

Start setting goals. I’m not saying give up on love, no give in completely but on the right love this time, Love is a person and his name is Jesus. He’s better than all of the Prince Charmings combined.

FIND YOUR PURPOSE

I read an amazing blog by a good friend mine. Which came in three parts namely 1. MASTER 2. MISSION 3. MATE.

In it he goes in-depth on what singleness should look like especially for believers.

This is no. 1 which MASTER

Thriving in your single-hood: Part One- Master

So Travel, write, sing, speak, find your dream. Heal from your childhood traumas, go to therapy, set goals, save, start a business. Learn the true essence of love.

The bible says


“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF. Sometimes people want a relationship because they can’t stand being on their own. This is a problem.

Singleness doesn’t have to be a burden and if it is now we’re going to put the load down. And where better than the cross. The cross of Christ.

So go easy on yourself, you may be single but you’re not alone. Love has come and his name is Jesus and there’s no place he won’t go to find you, to heal you, to save you.

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Remember life is ART.