Saturday, August 19, 2017

Is It a Thoughtless Ritual?

I was just reading Leviticus 16 and before I could even finish the chapter I was struck by how often in order to be cleansed, the various "unclean" people or the defiled priest or the one who took the scapegoat out into the wilderness had to "wash with water." Wiping the dirt off, dusting off one's own clothing was not good enough. Water - a symbol of purity - was needed.

By the time the real Fountain had come to earth, the Israelites had forgotten the significance and symbolic meaning of the water. They were so engrossed in doing things right that they forgot WHY they were doing things a certain way. The meaning had been lost.

Isn't that like some of us? We eat right, but forget WHY we're doing it. It's like a young lady who was so proud of herself because at a new workplace a new colleague who knew nothing about her nor her beliefs offered her some biltong and her disgusted response was, "No way! I would NEVER eat THAT!" What happened to, "Oh, thanks for the offer but I don't eat meat?" How do we become so proud of our 'rituals' that we want to act like the pharisees who looked down on the disciples for not washing their hands while ignoring that the real Cleanser was the Man they were going to murder?

 Love, mercy, understanding, a gentle tone can be found in the same person who indeed would 'never' eat/drink/wear THAT if we remind ourselves of WHY do it and Who we are aiming to glorify. James reminds us to make a difference in how we react to people. Some need gentle treatment, others need to be grabbed from the fire. I would hazard a guessed that the ones in the fire who need grabbing are the ones who already know not to offer us biltong. The rest... Maybe we need to start by showing them the necessity of having the Cleanser, and not the necessity of our ritual acts of cleansing.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sabbath Thoughts: My Sabbath Tears

I'm one of those who everyone tends to come to for help-friends, relatives, strangers sent to me by friends, and acquaintances. But I tend to lose friends who are actually friends to me. Just this week, another close friend has left the country. And so, another shoulder to lean on is gone. And then everyone else's burdens overwhelm me while no-one seems to give a moment's thought to mine.

So what happens when there's no-one in my life to be strong and caring for me? No-one who will give me a physical or virtual hug and tell me they're always thinking of me? What will I do with those emotions when, like Christ, I'm craving human sympathy?

One Sabbath, I lost my composure. We were visiting a little church where I didn't know many people. Those who know me know that I've had chronic back pain since 2011 (Degenerated disch, mild scoliosis, rheumatoid arthritis.) The only position that does not hurt is flat on my back. You can imagine the pain I'm in on Sabbaths when I'm anything BUT flat on my back for hours on end. (At least at home I can stop the dishes and come rest. Stop the playing and come rest. Ask the big children to feed the little ones and come relieve the pain.) But this Sabbath, like all other Sabbaths, I was faking it. Pretending I was ok. Well, I was just ignoring it really. You get to a point when pain is normal, when you stop asking God to heal you. So, there I was leaving the building, ready to get into the car. I had two friends walking out with me.

And one asked with so much concern, "How are you these days?

How's your back?"

I was touched. "No-one ever remembers my suffering because they're too busy telling me about theirs," I thought to myself. And I was in serious pain. I was tired of it. Tired of not being able to worship freely. I could not hide the pain, because her question caught me off guard and the tears came unbidden as I thought of the pain I was feeling at that very moment.

The mask fell off that Sabbath and because it did, my other friend got to see how bad it actually is. She finally realised that my life is pain. Pain is my life. And ever since then, she has mentioned it. The most recent time she wanted to come clean the house because of how my winter time arthritis "must be making your pain unbearable." My tears gave me someone who cared and did not stop caring despite her own problems. (And now she's gone. Oh dear.)

The other tears were over 12 years ago. Sabbath school in a village near Nairobi, Kenya. I'd been diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We had asked my medical doctor herbalist father-in-law to send any herbs he knew of that would help us out. But he was in rural Zimbabwe. They took ages to arrive.

(Oh first, let me say this. I believe our people have wisdom. We have knowledge of the right plants to use for different situations, just like the Amazonians do. We have wisdom that has been untapped by Western Medicine and I will never look down on our traditional health practitioners just because their natural remedies do not appear in a peer reviewed journal. I am an Afrikan.

Also. I have recently realised that maybe it was my hormones that were messed up. I did testing via an NHS GP in Britain and left the UK before receiving my results. I don't know where they fell on the continuum, when I called the receptionist she just said my levels were "ok." And the doctor in Kenya didn't test them again. A couple of months ago I requested they be tested and ja, things were not good at all but I improved them drastically in just three weeks just by using one specific tablet that I put myself on. If that can work, imagine how African herbs could help!")

Back to the story. One Sabbath, I was in a village church. No walls, no roof. Just a simple church with my brothers and sisters, having been invited there by friends we'd gone to UCT with who were Kenyan. I was infertile. Unsure what to do. Having tried and failed one type of infertility treatment (three times) and not able to do the more invasive types. I was grieving. But I hid it well. No-one knew. No-one ever commiserated with me. No-one said, "Let me pray with you." I had no Eli to intercede for me like Hannah did.

Until my tears. Little children, small children singing and reciting their memory verses in their childish voices and I thought, "But God, this was my dream. To have my children-both biological and adopted- singing for you with their voices that tug at my heart strings. Am I never to bear a child?"

I could not hold the pain in any more. The tears flowed unbidden. I was so overcome that I had to stand up and stumble out from amongst the benches so as not to call people's attention to myself. But our friends noticed. The wife later asked why I had been weeping. I told her my story. She was amazed that I was still 'functional.' "But by month 9 I could not take the burden any more! I had to get help with my inability to conceive. I went to see my husband's aunt. She's also SDA and a herbalist. Don't you want me to take you to her? You can't spend all this time in pain. Please, just try her."

And so I went. She gave us herbs. She didn't want any payment.

And a month later, I was pregnant. My Sabbath tears opened the door to my Samuel. A boy whose second name means "Jehovah heard."

If you happen to cry Sabbath tears one day, I pray that you too will receive the drying of tears that I received on those two painful Sabbaths.

Happy Preparation Day and Shabbath shalom.

Can the Curse Be Broken?

Originally typed on Thursday but ended up on a Lock Blog Interchange for some odd reason!


I know a family. Both parents, not with their original partners. None of the children able to be in one faithful, monogamous marriage with the wife of their youth, till death do them part. Not a single one.

It reminds me of the advice EGW gave of how the background should be investigated before one gives their heart to someone.

But, can't the curse be broken?

Are the children's children also destined to become heartbreakers? Is there no hope for such families?

I honestly don't know. All I know is that after everything I have seen, background does matter. This woman thought her husband would escape the curse. That he was different to the rest. That when he promised to be faithful till death separated him from her, when he promised that his affections and words only meant for her his bride would only be said to her and no-one else, he meant it and would mean it forever.

Alas...
He made another woman know that she was his every waking thought.

And devastated this wife was. "They're all the same, no-one knows how to be married to one person and to die with that person. Breaking hearts wherever they go. I should have never married him."

I don't know if there's anything harder in a marriage than to wonder if you were wrong in thinking God led you to that partner. It is so difficult to wonder if all along you were hearing God's voice but you actually weren't. God feels far away when you start to think you were never actually walking with Him.

I don't know if the curse can be broken. 

I do know that men from faithful parents can also become unfaithful, so choosing based on background is NO guarantee of anything.

I know that once more, another 'christian' man has fractured the foundation of his marriage.

How do we let go of Christ so easily when we owe our everything to Him? How do we do, say, write things that He is not pleased with while claiming to live our lives honouring Him?

I don't know, ladies.

I'm just tired. Tired of the pain, the devastation all these ladies are living with. Tired of the knowledge that today they're smiling, tomorrow a memory comes unbidden and the tears well up.

I'm tired.

Tired of the curse.

 It's bad enough when natural disasters or outsiders come to destroy. It's worse when it's those who promised to be joy-bringers who bring destruction and heartache.

I beg you. If your parents were either unable to stay married to each other, or stayed married but had hurt each other. If you have siblings who have broken hearts, break the curse by God's grace. Be the one who will be different. 

Stay faithful.

Never, ever let your wife (or husband, I've said before that I personally know a male who has been wounded like this) feel that they now come second best because you've put an enemy where s/he belongs AT YOUR CHOOSING.

You chose to marry. Choose to be and act married in every single way that God expects you to.

You can break the curse. You..and God.



Image from here 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Mother's Eyes

Last Sabbath, someone we visited in the afternoon was analysing our youngest and asked if we're "really going to keep him" and if we can't send him back to his foster family.

Why?

Because they see disability.

On the other hand, I see a child who without therapy has made leaps and bounds that shock the therapist each time I take him. "I haven't done anything! All the improvement is YOU and your love for him!"

I see a boy who despite his discomforts tries to enjoy life and the anxieties it brings.

I see quirks, not failings.

I see hope, not defect.

This mother's eyes see possibility, not disability.

So no, though it's not the first time someone assumed adopted children are dispensible, they're not.

Special needs parenting is an opportunity to grow even more into Christ's likeness. It's not a burden, it's a blessing

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sabbath Thoughts : Christ in My Friends

If there's any group that I believe has it 'hard,' it's women. We are the ones who are to have a "meek and quiet spirit," who are to dress humbly while the world dresses so differently (men in the workplace are generally as covered up as they've always been so choosing modesty isn't that different) and we are the ones who are to submit.

Imagine finding out you've been submitting to a man who wasn't submitting to God!? Your whole marriage becomes a sham and you start second guessing every decision. After all, he wasn't in the right place spiritually and was OBVIOUSLY making harmful decisions!
But I only know of one person - not a friend - who completely lost it. My friends have been different.

They have never lived the "throw his clothes out the house and burn the car" or whatever angry reaction the movies used to show. Instead, they have shared their burdens and been taunted by so-called friends and hurt by relatives. Yet still, they reacted with grace. Voices were not raised in angry slur and demeaning words about their husbands' manhood (this has happened with people I know but she wasn't a friend) and hatred has never sprung forth from their hearts, just despair, profound sorrow, despair and depression. One of my friends had a profile picture on whatsapp that stated, "What I've gone through would kill you." It's true. No way I could handle the different forms of emotional and physical abuse she has suffered. But still, she turns the other cheek, praying for him.

I have seen Christ in my wounded friends. I am in awe. They have not attacked, not besmirched their husband's floozies or sent them threatening messages (Yes, this has happened out there.) They have preferred to be broken rather than to break. To stay and try to overcome the hurt while looking in the face of one who broke their covenant. They have not hidden the look of sorrow that Christ gave Peter, but they are ready for their husbands to be broken by guilt and become better versions of themselves. Never have they spoken disparaging words about their husbands. Never. They've just detailed what has happened, and shared their emotions. Again, I am in awe.

Christ is in my friends. If you are one of them, or someone like them, your very brokeness is a testimony to the God Whose presence you no longer truly see in your life. I will never condemn you for not going to church, for I commend you for being able to draw breath each day while remembering to honour the Sabbath while feeling God left you. I am proud of you for having the courage to admit that your faith is floundering. That you find it hard to talk to God. The fact that you have never railed against God, never said an angry word against Him nor doubted His sovereignty means one day you will be able to heal your relationship with Him. He's not going anywhere. And I'm glad you are still around to see the Son shine when the storm of extreme pain and shock will be over. 

Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why They (We) Struggle to Divorce Their (Our) Cheating Husbands

And so Eve was told, "Thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee."

Love.

That pesky four-letter word. Love.

You can't turn it off when you need to, even when he isolates you from your friends and beats you because he says you're cheating on him when all along he's the one with the girls' numbers in his pockets.

Love.

You cannot let go of it even when you hate him for breaking your heart, your marriage, your trust, and your belief in true, happily ever after..love.

So, they stay. I should make it 'we.' I am part of the sisterhood and I value the sisterhood, which is why I can imagine myself maybe one day breaking down and having a chicken burger (I've been off meat for 17 years!) but I cannot ever imagine myself telling any woman's husband that "I've been thinking about you all weekend." Unless I mean him and his wife and whatever trial they're going through! I can't. There's a code you don't break-being the cause of another woman's pain. So, I'll say "we" when I mean the sisters whose hearts have been shattered.

We cannot do it. We find it very hard to just go off into the sunset and pretend they never existed. Now, considering the only person who doesn't have a child is the one who's not married, it's even harder for 'us' to pretend the men don't exist. There's that little thing called co-parenting that we would still need to do. We cannot move on and forget about them. There's the heartbreak we can't forget. The betrayal we can't understand and hope never to, for that would mean we'd done the same.

So, we limp along, in disbelief that this could ever happen to us. We hope it's just a bad dream that we'll wake up from. Then we hope the other woman will apologise and say she knows our husbands really love us and she was just a diversion. But... We don't know. But we can't leave. Because we still love them and want to believe that they really do love us, only us, and that the other floozy was just a floozy and not some new love. Limping along, we say "I love you" but even when we say it, we are thinking, "And I hate what you did. Do you actually love me or are you waiting for the golden opportunity to leave me?"

I remember someone telling me, "No, I'm not leaving. But if he brings a second wife to our home, I'm taking our child and giving the two of them space." Ahh, the joys of living in two worlds- a Christian man who looks like he wants to become an African polygamist. That's the pain of love. You'd rather have crumbs than have nothing at all.

Love hurts. And brings you false hope and paralysis.
And that is why some women (some of us) struggle to divorce their (our) cheating husbands.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Trivialising Women's Day

Too many people and businesses have trivialised and 'pinkified' it.

The erasure of the heaviness of our suffering continues.

The reasons for today have been lost in "celebrating women" today.

There's more respect for overseas suffering than for our own.

May the spirit of our grandmothers live on in their granddaughters.

God bless them for standing up for us.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

PSA for Low-Income South African Infertiles

Because I was there, because I know what it's like to have absolutely no clue where to go next, because I am more informed now than I was back then.



Because there are some taboos our culture needs to break. Because too many African women are unfairly stigmatised, called ugly names, even forced to watch their husbands take second wives... You know, because apparently only women are infertile?

Infertility-according to the WHO-is a disease. A disease. When you have a disease, you treat it, right? You check out the symptoms, go to the doctor, doctor gives you some course of treatment and if it fails, sends you to a specialist. Or realises immediately that it's beyond her ken and sends you to a specialist immediately.

Back then, I was in the UK when I waited the requisite 12 months before getting checked out. (Everyone says you're infertile if you don't conceive 12 months after trying. Even the WHO does. But the NHS GP told me I should have gone sooner. He didn't have a good bedside manner!) If you're older than 35, don't wait ages. There's the small matter of egg numbers being lower and quality being worse. Then before I even received all my results, we were in Kenya which is where more invasive and painful testing was conducted on me, and testing for my husband. I really had no clue where to go and who best to see.

Number 1. Ladies, it's not always you who has problems. Men can have issues with their s---m too. Be it in low numbers, having the wrong shape, not moving well. It could be anything! We really need to get out of labelling women when a couple fails to conceive. Not that men should also be labelled. But unless the man has fathered a child elsewhere, how do people know he's not the one with the problem?

Number 2. There are fertility specialists. Gynae isn't the only one who deals with that part of our anatomy. If a urologist has seen your spouse and he's got the all clear and the 'easy' gynae tests don't show much, or show something s/he can't treat, see a fertility specialist. Some are expensive, some are not. Number 3: Government facilities like Groote Schuur and Steve Biko are a bit cheaper than private, and then there's Tygerberg which is even cheaper. You do not have to lose hope just because you can't afford private care. It's just a pity no medical aid covers it, unlike some health insurers in the USA. It's sad because we apparently have a very high infection rate that has caused our country to have a huge infertility problem. All you need is a referral letter and you can contact them and get the ball rolling. Obviously waiting lists and which part of SA you are in will have an impact on how soon you can be seen.

Obviously there is no guarantee that treatment will work, but I hate seeing my sisters in tears because they are called names by the community or feel horrible pressure from in-laws, or have their lobola demanded back just because of something that CAN be treated. If this will help decrease someone's emotional burden, then .. great!

At the end of the day, besides the external pressure, there's the sorrow you feel as month after month, you are reminded that what others find so easy, you cannot do. If this will alleviate your suffering, give you hope, then that's ..great!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Outing 'The Other Woman' and Your Anger

Do not let every step of growth in grace disappear because of one man. Not even a man who claimed he was the man of your dreams but dumped you straight into a living nightmare. Do not lose yourself in the mire of grief, he's not worth it.

Cry. Let the bitterness, disappointment, pain out, but the anger... The anger is a dangerous one. And once something is done, it cannot be undone.

It's one thing to shout out the same curses as David did against his enemies, but a whole other thing to vandalise his car. None of my friends have done it but maybe my friends' husbands are safe only because most of them don't own cars! Hmmm. But seriously, if Christ would humbly look upon those who spat on Him, we know what we should do through His strength. Maybe that's why I'm a "Hey, if you want another woman, feel free to go. I will not stand in your way. Let me leave you in peace" type person. The only fight we should have is against our own sense of self, our pride, our sins, not against other humans.

This anger leads to something else. The anger at 'the other woman' that never seems to touch the guilty husband. Some months ago, someone posted something on an online ad group about some woman who works at Mr Price and is known for hunting other women's husbands and had hunted this woman's husband too. She wrote a whole lot of negative things about this floozy, complete with a picture of her.

I asked for a picture of her husband and information about where he works too. The admin eventually took the post down after more of us also spoke up about the double standards.

Ladies, we have to be honest. Our men failed us, they deserve our wrath just as much as the other woman does. That other woman..she failed her husband or her god if she has one. If you want to spread her work details all over the place together with her sordid actions and shame her children, do the same for your husband too, he's guilty too after all. If she's a "skank," so is he. If she has no morals, neither does he. If she's a homewrecker, well so is your husband who has wrecked your home. If she is a "scheming witch," what do you think that makes your own husband who plotted secret meetings and stuff? It's time women accepted that their husbands are grown men with intelligence (of some sort. Not the type of intelligence God requires. ) and therefore willingly chose to either initiate, or follow up, something inappropriate with someone inappropriate. It's just the sad reality that common sense dictates we follow.

I am in a circle of friends, and I was touched by two reactions to a friend who had been betrayed. "You? But you don't deserve this. Why?? What's her number? I want to talk to her?"
And another reaction, "What? No! Does this woman not know who you are, how wonderful you are? Why would she hurt you? Can I have her email address so I can tell her she made a terrible choice?" We can allow our friends to be angry on our behalf. (But let's keep the other woman's details away from our protective friends. Especially as in this specific case, both these women had also been betrayed and knew the pain their friend was undergoing and were therefore VERY angry.)

Who needs angry public posts when you can find supportive friends who want to metaphorically bust some kneecaps to teach that woman a lesson on your behalf? Leave the busting of kneecaps to God. Vengeance is His, He will repay.

Oh, as for outing her husband or boyfriend? I can't say. I say if it were me and I knew him personally, I would tell. He needs to know she's lying to him and possibly exposing him to disease. I can't keep quiet when someone's life is in danger. But if not, I'm not going to hunt him down. Though I know of a case where an angry friend did the hunting down and told the poor man.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Who You Gonna Call? (After betrayal discovery) and Who You Are Married To

Too many have regretted telling certain people because they either have the wrong reaction, tell the whole world or rejoice over their misfortunes.  I know for sure the class you shouldn't tell. (Here, again, I'm talking to 'conservative' sisters whose experience I can best understand.) There are people who just won't know how to say/not say the right things and will only increase the pain you are in. People who do not have the same principles and standards as you do. I know of a mother-in-law who told her daughter-in-law that her husband (MIL's son, y'all!) would cheat on her because she had short hair and wasn't very sexual in behaviour. I was so busy being unimpressed by the shallowness of this MIL that I forgot to ask, "Wait a minute, MIL and her son are both proclaimed Christians, why would she not tell her son that she sees he is shallow and he needs to sort himself out before he falls?"
Then the friend who when she started reforming-stopping wearing pants, had natural hair-was told by her friends, "See, he's cheating on you with all those girls because they relax their hair and aren't as stiff as you are, you need to be like them." Obviously someone like the MIL and these 'friends' will be the type who shout, "See!? I told you so! It's your fault."

This one you will have more discernment on than I would. Sometimes his family is not the best to tell until you've come up with a way forward. Too many sisters or relatives will care more about him saving face and staying married than about the pain you feel having to daily look at him after he has wounded you. For them, living with someone you can not trust nor believe is not a big deal. On the other hand, other relatives-in-law are so principled that they will be fully on your side, listening to you and how you feel, rebuking him where he went wrong, and being there to support you-not him-while you figure things out. This one can be dicey. People who pretended to care about you might very well show their fangs when you need them most. Family..not a sure bet.

Your own family-especially if you're Black in SA-might be your enemy. They might be the very ones to tell you to just endure, or tell you it's not that bad. On the other hand, they might rush to your rescue and whisk you out of there, letting you live with them while you put the broken pieces of your life together again. Again, you'll know them better than I would.

So, who WILL you tell, if you can't bear the burden along? Your friends who have lived betrayal and made the same choice you make. If she kicked him to the curb, she might not understand why you'd stay. Or vice versa. She might be genuinely thinking you gave up too easily if you leave while she stayed. I do have a friend who is hopeful that her godly example will win her husband over one day so they both go to heaven, so she stays despite the daily pain and lack of confession and repentance. They know the betrayed feeling, the deep anguish, they understand that you can never forget and that the pain is permanent.

If your friends have not been betrayed (or their husbands or boyfriends have not been found out yet) talk to a friend with the same values as you and knows you very well. There is nothing as gratifying as a friend telling you, "I know what kind of wife you have been, don't ever blame yourself for this. He had no excuse." And nothing as soothing as a friend who says, "But he claimed to be such a Christian, how did this happen?" instead of the "Oh well, we all make mistakes, I like to gossip, others smoke... We've all sinned." (Yeah, I don't think smoking and gossip merit divorce, maybe I need to re-read my Bible!)

Switching topics a bit. "Who You Are Married To." I was disturbed by the MIL and friends thing. Why should my friends be told to change themselves to please a wayward husband? Especially with regards to the one who was becoming simpler and more modest to fit the Bible mold? Why would she regress spiritually to meet the perceived needs of a spiritually bankrupt man? We need to remember as women that our first 'groom' is God, not our husband. If He is happy, WE should be happy..and a godly husband will also be happy. I remember when I was also changing how I dressed to fit Bible standards of modesty, a male friend asked if my husband was not displeased by my change. It shouldn't matter. God first, then man. And honestly, if it's about dressing skimpily in public-it's not as if we don't undress in front of our husbands-then he'd cheat with any woman with relaxed hair and boobs out, whether we did the same or not. Do not compromise your values for a value-less man when God your Creator who values you so much that He sent His Son to the cross wants you just as you are. No man is worth losing your soul and identity over.

At the end of the day, even Christ needed human sympathy in His hour of suffering, so I would understand if you could not live this horror on your own. Just be mindful of who you tell. Once it's said, it cannot be unsaid.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sabbath Thoughts: Hope for Your Hurting Heart

This is for you if you are newly broken hearted. The shock and denial you will feel will make you feel as if you have lost your mind.

But you haven't.

The heaviness off your sorrows will feel as if you are being crushed. But you are not.

The depth of your grief will make you feel as if you are drowning in blackness. But yet you still breathe.

You may feel as if the world has nothing good and beautiful to offer anymore but it does. It does. See it in the blooming flower, in the smiles of your precious children. There is beauty. Your eyes will see it when the veil of perpetual sorrow leaves.

I cannot offer you my word that this will not (is not) happening again. I cannot promise that you'll ever forget. I can't promise you that ten years down the line when he's late your mind won't immediately wonder...

I can promise you that you will survive this hurricane of hurt. It is extreme, unexpected, undeserved, life-changing and will test you, but you will survive. If you are reading this, you are already surviving. One day down the line, you will be able to smile again. You will be able to laugh. Not because time heals all wounds -it doesn't - but because somehow, the storm itself will be over and though you'll have the after effects- the devastation the hurricane wrought-iron  to deal with, the rushing wind, the beating rain, the floods will be over. You walked through the valley of the shadow of death and you made it. You beat those feelings of utter despair.

One day you will realise that you don't have to be her, you don't have to compare yourself with her. Because there were many "hers" before but he chose YOU. You will realise that you were not the cause of your pain and you will stop beating yourself up, punishing yourself for your husband's failures. This is where I disagree with other counselors. Nathan did not go to David's wife to say, "This is what you must work on in order to rebuild." It was all on David. You have nothing to fix because of his choices, he does.

Your heart will keep beating. The hurt will not be at the forefront every moment of every day. You will stop crying. You will be able to walk with confidence again. It will no longer hurt to wake up.

You WILL find moments of joy despite the pain. Cling to them, welcome them. Embrace the happiness. Do not ever let another human steal your joy from you, not even the one who had promised to only multiply them yet instead added to your sorrows.

You are strong.

You will survive the initial onslaught of pain.

And one day, you will discover you never lost the beauty you thought he was missing when he went "a whoring" as the Bible puts it. You will realise the ugliness was in his soul and hers, not in yours.

You are Beautiful. Ask your sisters. Your principled sisters. (More on that topic -principled vs unprincipled sisters.)

You are beautiful.

Friday, August 4, 2017

To The Man Who's Sorry- Why 'I Love You' Is Not Good Enough

Matt 7 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

You read their confessions, "I love my wife, I regret hurting her." Or the men say it to their wives, "I'm sorry. I love you, I don't want her."

And when you choose to stay, they become impatient, "But I told you I love you, can't you accept that I'm sorry? Why do you keep bringing it up? Haven't we had ten (or 5 or 16) good years of marriage?"

Dear Cheating Men Who Say They Want to Stay Married,

You say you are sorry, you say it was a bad mistake, you say she didn't mean anything to you. You say you love us and it's time to move forward and stop focusing on what you did. You say that you never stopped loving us.

Here is why your version of love does not fill us with any sense of security or trust.

You never said you had stopped loving us when you did what you did. All the times you were with that other woman, all the times you were thinking of her, we assumed you were thinking of 'us.' We thought love was "Man, I wish my beloved was here, I miss her so much" and not, "Oh, Other Woman, you have a mesmerising impact on everyone you meet."

That's now how godly, marital love works.

Not the kind of love you promised us. Not the kind of love we have for you and expect from you.

See, here's the thing. When we say, "I love you," it means more. It means, "I love you, only you and my desire is to please you-and you alone. You are the only one I want to bring joy to."

When you say I love you, when you said it while in that inappropriate relationship, you meant, "I love you but I also want to please the Other Woman and give her joy beyond what she should get from me."

When we say, "I love you," we mean, "I wish I could spend my every moment with you, escape from the mad rush of the world and just breathe in your essence."
When you said you loved us, you meant, "But I can't wait to rush off to work/that flight so I can meet Other Woman."

When we say, "I love you," we mean, "And the only place I want to be is in your strong embrace while you hold me tight, "
On the other hand, your "I love you" was missing out the, "But I really, really can't wait to go give Other Woman a long hug."

When we say, "I love you," we mean, "When will we save money and go out for a date night?"
You mean, "I enjoy coming home to you but I want to spend money on Other Woman tonight."

When we say, "I love you," we mean, "No other man will ever take your place in my heart, thoughts and affections. The love we shared at our wedding day, when it was just you, me and God, is the love we have today. No third parties."
You, on the other hand, had no qualms loving us, and loving the company of the third party you'd promised would never exist.

Your love, when you spoke it all those years or months or days of being untrue, is not the quality of love you should have had. It is cheap love. Useless love. A love that is not principled, firm, holy, pure and true.

And if you could look us in the eye while deeply involved with Other Woman, and tell us you love us while deceiving us on the cheap love you were referring to, why should we believe you today?

We can't.

Your "I love you" is not enough any more. You proved you don't know the kind of love we deserve and do not know how to give it.

What has suddenly changed today that would make us believe your words?

So there is the dilemma. We need to know you love us, otherwise begging us not to go is futile-who wants to stay in a loveless marriage? So you need to say you love us. But at the same time, your 'love' hurts, because it wasn't real. Love does not lie. Does not deceive. Marital love does not keep secrets. It does not seek the embrace of a stranger. It does not delight in another's bosom.

You have a mountain to climb. A mountain of your own causing. You have to go above and beyond just to prove that you mean it. That your "I love you" encompasses all the things ours encompasses. You need to say it, show it, prove it. Arrive at home on time. Be open with your social media accounts. If she works with you, find another job. Don't just tell us you love us, tell us why you love us, what you love about us, tell us you love only us and want only our embrace, affection, thoughts and no-one else's. Because chances are, when you don't add those words, in the silence of those unspoken phrases we're adding ours. "Yeah, you love me but you don't know how to be faithful to me. Useless, empty words." You need to fill the silence with showing us the depth of that love, and the remorse you claim to feel.

Truth is, your words are meaningless, your promises of faithful love are vain. You spoke before witnesses and broke it secretly. Actions speak louder than words.

Time to start climbing that mountain you built and showing us your fruits. Then we shall know you and the love of which you speak.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sobering Response

Around 12 years ago, I asked a friend to help me with some things. She palmed me off onto her husband. We became close. Way too close. And when I realised that this was not what should be, I had a thought, "Why is she so comfortable with all of us hanging around her husband so much? I would never send my friends to spend as much time with my husband as I have with hers. What is going on?"

So, I asked her. "Aren't you nervous about letting us spend so much time with your husband?"

Her (paraphrased) response was, "Having spent so much time counseling faithful, middle-aged, devoted wives who come to my clinic suddenly sick with fullblown AIDS, I no longer believe men can be faithful. All men will cheat. At least if my husband cheats if it's with a friend she will feel guilty, and at least I know none of my friends are HIV positive, so at least I won't catch it."

Man. Oh, man, oh man.

And as I keep asking my friends, "Have you been tested since you found out? Is he clean? Are you clean?" I think back to the conversation with my friend.

I don't know what to think any more. When I started these posts, I mentioned that for a while now, attending weddings wasn't a joyous affair because I saw the sad side a few years down the line when couples would snap and bicker and make their children miserable. I found it hard to be super elated without hoping they'd buck the trend and live happier lives.  And it was before I realised how prevalent infidelity is. Now all the 'magic' is gone. He can act like the most devoted of men, meanwhile he's whispering sweet nothings in someone else's ear.

And as I 'know' that some friends have probably been cheated on but never found out...

It makes me sad. So very sad. How do we naively rejoice without hoping there will be no broken hearts a year or a decade later?

This is not what God wanted for his daughters. 

This is not it. 

Oh, I also want to acknowledge something quickly. Men also get betrayed. I have only one male friend who this has happened to, but I'm sure it happens more than we think. And considering some of the women who have been involved in helping men break their vows are married... Obviously married women are also unfaithful, and I do sympathise with the broken-hearted men. I do. I actually wish I could talk more with my friend about how he's doing right now but he's not in the Western Cape.
I just can't write on behalf of men because they're from Mars and we are from Venus.But I acknowledge the pain and heartache. 

When the African Adventist Church Hurts the Betrayed

This is true for some of the churches I have personally spent time at over my 37 years, and true of some that my betrayed friends are in in other African countries. I pray it's not true where you are and I can't talk about the American ones. My American friends have all kicked their husbands out soon after finding out, and gotten divorced so have not dealt with the church (non) reactions when still deciding what to do.

It starts with the African mamas who "prepare" their daughters for marriage by telling them that all men cheat. ie. 'So don't get all upset when your husband cheats, my child, it's normal.'

As Christians, we are called to a higher standard. And if your wife can remain faithful, then so can you. There is no normalcy about being untrue. Even God has shown how serious this sin is. I, as an African mama, will tell my daughter I'd rather she remained happilysingle but that if she ever found a man, to not ever force herself to 'endure' any pain from him but to rather take time out to think what her next steps will be in a neutral place where only she will be making decisions (Not other people telling her, "Please don't leave him") and I will support her in whatever the decision will be.

Then there are the churches. Oh. My. Word. I fought tooth and nail against the whole "MenAreTrash" hashtag because at the end of the day, men are God's human creation and I cannot label them thus. I can't even label full on violent racists like Mark Scott-Crossley, why would I label men in such a general way?

Then I saw how in a way, men are violent in ways that only harm women. NOT ALL MEN. But more men than I realised. In yucky, trashy ways, men are violent. In ways that break the soul and beat them down till they feel like dirt. The way a pregnant, unmarried woman will be disciplined (As in censured or difesllowshipped) by the church but the man who impregnated her doesn't even get a verbal talking to. That is yucky.

I know of a wife who after her church leaders already knew her husband had gone astray once, told the leaders of his second betrayal. As church leaders dealing with such an issue, they should have immediately followed the usual discipline rules and called him out on it and worked at finding out how he lost God and how to get him on track again and how they could make sure the fruits showed repentance in due time, and with her testimony as back up to their work and observations.

She called them devastated and weeping. She emphasised how this was now the second time he'd forgotten his vows.

Instead, the leader of the church told her to "love him. Love him more."

What kind of nonsensical response is that to someone whose vows have been broken? This leader went on to say that they were worried about the cheating man's "salvation" so she must be extra kind and love him more.

This is the first time I ever used the sentence

WHAT THE 'HECK!?'

How could they ignore her deep pain and his big sin and put the responsibility of his going to hell on her? Firstly, she can't stop a grown man from losing his soul.

Secondly, he chose to lose his soul when he made the choices he made. Now was the time for them to ask him about his salvation and pull him out of the pit he had put himself into. Why should it be her responsibility when he'd sinned against her ON PURPOSE?

Thirdly, what did he mean by "love him even more?" More than what? Than when she was loving him, sleeping with him, thinking of him, wanting to please him while he was messing around with someone who wasn't his? Not a single one of my friends could have loved their husbands more than they were. And it only got them heartache and gave the husband the ability to choose another's heart instead of theirs. Love does not save a man from the pit he throws himself down.
And it's a violent way of saying, "You obviously didn't love him before, that's why he broke you. You need to improve."

Fourthly, they should have been administering church discipline. That's Christian love. They should have immediately said, "Dude, you have erred big time. God says 'as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent' and so it is our solemn duty to be His servants on earth. You led another woman astray, that's a big deal. We need to help you but for that to happen, you need to realise how far away you strayed from God."

I remember a couple of years ago an unmarried friend of mine fell pregnant. The congregation did nothing about it. Her mother was like, "What? They're just pretending you guys did nothing wrong? If your church loves you, they will discipline you, like parents do when their children are rebelling. A church that loves you will discipline you."
If the church leaders couldn't actively 'love' this cheating man, why should the wife he betrayed?

Most importantly.
While they were fearing for the "salvation" of a man who had led himself into sin and led another woman too, what about the salvation of the woman who had been injured?
How many times have people left the church because of what other members have said/done/not said/not done? How much more when an allegedly 'godly' man does the unthinkable to a fully faithful, loving, devoted wife who spent her life submitting to him despite her reservations? How did they think she was faring after her faith was shaken and her world fell apart?

I guess they didn't need to think, they could have asked.

But they never did. None of them cared about the standing of her injured soul.

Well, every now and then, she did get asked by the same leader, "How are you now? About that thing? Are you ok?"

Umm, yes. That's super helpful. NOT. And that's all that was mentioned.

The very same leaders who should have according to SOP "suspended" the husband instead asked him to pray in church, asked him to answer questions... It was like some twilight zone where the woman was treated as if she was the guilty one!

Then a few months after the leaders did nothing... The same leader who told her to "love him more" had the nerve to say to her, "I thank God you are better. Now we can come celebrate. Before we didn't know what to do so we just prayed but at least now, you're ok so we can come visit."

Again.

WHAT IN THE WORLD? (Don't want to lose my strict readers with the real sentence I'm thinking.)

"Celebrate" what, exactly? That she no longer looks (though I know she still feels) suicidal? Celebrate that though she married a man who couldn't keep his word, she still functions and breathes despite the pain lodged in the broken pieces of her heart?

What exactly was he going to "celebrate?" That they as leaders got away with not disciplining a cheat?

I don't know.

All I know is.

They hurt her badly. She tried to show them but they are obsessed with praying for her to heal. If they just did their research, or actually you know..had spoken to her, they'd have seen how deep and incurable the wound is. There will be no 'healing,' just an ability to live despite...

I will say it again and again.

There was a reason God used to have adulterers stoned to death.

The wound is deep and permanent. It might scar over but it will ache and pain when something bumps against it, when winter comes along, when someone else talks about their wound.

There is nothing to "celebrate." They can't even say, "We're celebrating his repentance and rebaptism" because it seems he had nothing to repent from.

The sister's church hurt the betrayed and protected the guilty. And I'm very sure something similar happens at many African Adventist churches.

Not once was she asked, "So, what now? Can you bear to live with him after all this? Are you considering leaving or are you going to stay? How can we best support you? How do we try help you heal? Do you need a place to stay while you clear your head?"

They just all assumed she would remain - a victim to be cheated on and lied to again in the future.

Because that's what all 'good' African wives do.




Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Logic and The Men Who Might Deserve Second Chances

Ok. I'm Christian, God works miracles, He forgives, and on and on.

But He's the same God Who said adulterers should be killed and gave infidelity as a good enough reason for divorce.

Obviously, it's a BIG DEAL. Bigger than other lies, bigger than not cooking well. Bigger than being untidy. It's a deal-breaker.

And as I've said, my philosophy is, "If he's not happy being true to me, then he's free to go off and make a new life with his side ho. I don't have time to beg someone to give me what they voluntarily promised to give me."

But. There are the men. The ones who claim it was a mistake. (Mistake. For me, a mistake is taking your pen and leaving mine behind by mistake because they look similar.)
There are the men who claim they are sorry and will never do it again because they love you.( I have a letter I want to write for them in case any of them ever venture here for some odd reason. This concept of theirs of 'loving' the wives they've betrayed... Hmmm)
There are men who plead, "I don't love her, I only love you. I come to you at night, not her. She was just a distraction." (You should have been with me during the day too, dude. And every moment you were with her, was a moment you took from building 'us')
The men who claim,"I won't do it again, please don't leave me."

Ugh.
Whatever.

But I did say God forgives, right?

If I sound cynical it's because the damage caused by unfaithfulness will never be erased by any words. The only words that would take the pain away would be, "Look, see? It wasn't me, it was my twin brother. Here's where I was..." Or, "Look, I didn't type that, it was Bruce. Hes so sorry for messing our life up like he has.He wants to talk to you."

Here's my thing. I don't know about forgiving adultery and what that looks like practically, but I do know that you can't forget. And I know that logically, there are things that would make it easier to stay.

If he, of his own will comes and says, "I need help. I was tempted to stray but remembered why I love you and I need you to hold me accountable and pray me on the strait and narrow," there is great hope for that man. From a logical viewpoint. My logical viewpoint. Which is not worth much!

If he sends that one text/email and then writes another one to the woman saying, "Yo, what's wrong with me? Ignore that and pretend I never sent it. I respect my marriage enough not to go down this path. Sorry for tempting you to go against what is right," then, there's hope for him too.

If he sleeps with her (Yuck) and then afterwards says, "This was all a terrible mistake. I am so sorry. How could we do this?"  then there's hope. Kinda. I can't imagine myself getting that far without thinking about my vows and the unseen angels but it happens so I will just say...yuck-and leave it there.

But the men I struggle with believing are the ones who sent multiple emails and messages and had multiple trysts and shared embraces/ intercourse with that woman over months. Months. Do you know how many hours there are in months? How many times he could have come to his senses and gone back to where he came from? Worse yet the ones who did it over years. HOW???

I struggle to believe the ones who claim they are sorry AFTER BEING FOUND OUT... Then go right back like a dog going to its vomit.(Do dogs really do that? It sounds gross.) And then get found out again and then claim this time they are REALLY sorry.

I don't believe them.

They lied by starting in the first place.
Then lied and said they'd stop.
Then lied and continued.

At this stage honestly, I can only see my sisters doing it because they want the children to have stability.

These last groups? Hard to believe they 'deserve' extra chances. They didn't confess, they were exposed. They didn't do it then conscience stopped them, they continued till they were found out or the woman stopped it or her husband found out. My logical mind doesn't give hope that when the opportunity presents itself again, he won't go right back yet again.

That's where I feel like I'm either a bad Christian, or just logical.

If he lies multiple times, why believe him?

If you choose to stay, then just know you're married to a liar and expect no truth. And no fidelity.

But maybe they really are sorry and really won't do it again.

Doesn't erase the fact that they shouldn't have in the first place.

And when they get that second chance, it won't erase the pain the wife will feel for the rest of her life.


To The Ones Who Choose Special Needs

(I know, I came back and am all over the place with regards to topics.)

I used to see those postcard memes about how hard special needs parenting is, and though I understood it intellectually, I didn't really get it. I cringed when I saw the ones about how a special needs mom fights for her children because well, don't all mothers fight for their children?

Then I had one. Someone commented that other people would have given the child back to the adoption agency. Legally, I could within the first two years. I mean, the very first day we got him, I could tell there was something up, how did his foster parents, the paediatrician and the social workers miss it? But parenting is about making hard decisions. If I wouldn't give my biological child for adoption if born with extra issues, why would I do the same with an adopted one? They're all my children. But it's true, those memes are true. It's harder than raising neurotypical children.

And I don't mean in terms of fuel spent going to and from therapy sessions. I don't mean the financial impact of paying for treatments and tests and therapies. I don't mean the fact that I'm spending time on the road instead of homeschooling. I don't mean the physical toll.

It's hard on the brain and on the heart. You're constantly worrying, fretting, anxious, planning, hoping, watching, noting, fearing. You're wondering what that 'thing' means, you're wondering if you need to tell the therapist, if your child can handle a certain 'thing' that others can. Your heart hurts when they hurt from the needle pricks, the blood tests, the IV to put them to sleep, when 'normal life' hurts them and the things that bring other children joy cause them to suffer.

It is emotionally draining and lonely.

So, to choose it, to purposefully say, "We want to adopt a special needs child" is beyond understanding. I salute and admire all the people who-knowing what it's like-don't ask for a 'healthy' child, but choose to parent a child with extra needs. I know of bloggers who adopt many children with special needs!

God bless you.

I always admired you before, now I admire you even more. Yours is a selfless love. The emotional toll is immense, yet you choose it with a smile and with open hearts and arms. Blessed are you, and your children.

And no, I still don't think all the postcards as true. Some things are linked to all parenting, not just 'special needs' parenting. I'm in the club, I can say so now!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Get to Know Each Other First

There are people out there who should not be married at all, ever. People who have serious mental and/physical diseases who will make your life a misery.

Get to know each other first. Please.

Narcissistic people, cold, unemotional, unloving, uncaring people generally do not change. And you do not need that in your life. Get to knock them. Get to know their friends. Ask someone mature and wise who know them well.

For the sake of your future, investigate that potential life partner. YOUR life depends on it. A miserable marriage is not a marriage. 

Yes, adultery hurts. But so does being tied down to someone who has no idea how to love you nor anybody else.

Be careful who you give your heart to.

Get to know them first.