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Stuck In The Mud

Hey,

Hope you are well!

I have not been consistent with blogging at all, but I have been adamant not to put out content just for the sake of it. I was explaining this to a friend last week and she asked “why do you think you have writer’s block”… the thing is I have been writing posts just none I saw as worthy of posting. I started this blog when I was in a really challenging place and beginning to overcome those challenges. Now I feel I am in a place where nothing is really “wrong” so I have no groundbreaking testimony to share with you all. She said, “why don’t you share your current situation, it might help someone who feels the same”. So here we are…

I am in a weird place…

I am at a place where I tick a lot of boxes on paper but nothing feels completely right. A lot of the happiness I encounter feels very short lived. I feel anxious about the future and I am still healing from the past. My relationship with God is requiring me to submit more and more as I can’t seem to hide under ignorance anymore. I appreciate and love all my friends, but there is a void there. I lose and put on weight faster than I typed this sentence. I have a good job, but I feel unfulfilled. I have a blog and I rarely post. My skin has a mind of its own and the list goes on. Each of these “issues” on their own may seem very minor but combined can be very draining.

That’s exactly how I’ve felt… Drained. I am constantly tired both mentally and physically. I feel stuck; I am constantly torn between ‘be content your life is good’ and ‘fight and have faith you can achieve anything’ the latter of the two is very difficult when the time is not on your side and your relationship with God is suffering. The former is difficult because you are constantly trying to decide whether you’re really content on just complacent.

Stuck In The mud Mind. 

I recently turned a year older (Virgo szn) and as much as I had A LOT to be grateful for I am quickly realising time waits for no one. Yes, past triumphs are great… but next? I can keep being proud of yesterday’s victory but today is a new day, what will I achieve? How do I keep momentum? How do I ensure I do not fall behind? Where will I be in 2 years time? Where will I be in 5 years time? What do I really want from life and what steps am I taking to get there?

Unlike many of my other posts, I am not writing this one as something I have been through and successfully overcome but I am definitely in the process. So I thought I’d share some things that have definitely made me feel better over the last few months.

  1. Honesty – This one is simple but difficult. I have been cutting off delusion and just being honest with myself (and sometimes others) with exactly how I feel. Accepting my thoughts is the first step to bettering them.
  2. Prayer/Word of God – This one is the most important for me. Whenever I am distant from God is when I am at my worst. I have been making more of an active effort with my relationship with God. I have been listing to sermons on YouTube as often as I can, listening to Gospel more and praying more. I found when I am just letting life live itself I tend to let go of certain disciplines, so taking control of what I do each day has really helped. On a Sunday night, I really carve out time to go on my knees to pray and worship God. This often brings me to tears, but I start the week on the best possible note, and God has really been showing his face! Matthew 6:33 | But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. 
  3. Gratitude – When I am talking to God now, I am always sure to mention I am grateful for where I am now and where I am going. Even in the midst of all you go through it is so important to acknowledge how God is still blessing you.
  4. Work on The Physical – One thing that often makes me feel crappy and blah… is my body. I love junk food but the love is certainly unrequited. Making sure I make a conscious effort to eat better; meal prepping, green tea, 2+ Liters of water daily. These things really do make a huge difference, once my body feels good I really do start to feel like a bad b. I have also recently signed up to the gym again, and because of the way my schedule is set up I can only go before work, and waking up at 5am is no fun, and sometimes I fail but I am refusing to give up! The feeling after the workout always makes it worthwhile.
  5. Being Better – One of my goals this year was to work on my relationships with people. Over the years people have been upset with me regarding my lack of / delayed responses to text messages or my inability to maintain relationships. So I have really been putting in more effort to check up on people and make regular contact with people. We can get very consumed with our own life and pursuits but I find great joy in letting people know how much I love them and maintaining healthy and positive friendships.
  6. Enjoy Moments – For some people this is second nature but for someone like myself who has a Ph.D. in overthinking and suffers from [social] anxiety, this can be challenging. But I have decided to just let someone moments happen, to live a little carefree and to “go with the flow” and for this reason, I have created some amazing memories this year.
  7. Be Realistic – A lot of time, when I start to feel down it is because of my worries for the future or my comparison to others I perceive to be doing better than myself. But what does this worrying, doubt and fear do? … nothing but hinder me! I have learned if I want things I have to make them happen. I am realistic about my goals and what time frame I can achieve them in. I write a to do a list of what I can do each week, I stretch myself but not to the point I feel overwhelmed.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Matthew 6:25-27

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more value than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Jeremiah 29:11

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

So even if you feel stuck in the mud, pull your feet out, you’d be surprised at how much strength you actually have. Sometimes this may mean leaving your shoes (baggage) behind, but the freedom is absolutely worth it!

Kind Regards,

Sis x

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2:2 and Suicidal

Hi guys,

First of all, I would like to apologise for my absence. I was/am going through it, pray for me. This probably is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write or open up about. I kid you not my hands are shaking as I am writing this, but I know someone needs this.

*Deep breath*

I want to say congratulations to everyone graduating with amazing grades! It is a beautiful thing! Enjoy and celebrate, you deserve all that and more. However, the thought of finishing university is not positive for us all. I recently saw a tweet saying something along the lines of a girl saying she would commit suicide if she got a 2:2. The rage, the anger, the fear, the upset I felt reading that stupid comment cannot even be limited to words.

Here’s my story…

1st Year 

In terms of my academics, my first year was pretty chilled. I was not too worried because I knew I just needed to pass because it would not count towards my degree. So that’s what I did. I got a high 2:2. In terms of life itself, there were ups and downs but nothing that threw me off course for a substantial amount of time.

2nd Year 

During my first year I put on some weight, so during the summer between first and second year, I ate healthily and went to the gym every day. I also met someone. Let’s put it this way, I looked good and I felt fantastic. I knew I had to focus more this year to get my grades up. However, the happiness I felt from my relationship quickly turned into misery, because of this my skin became terrible. I was insecure in every dimension of the word. I would lock myself away in my room, I went to the gym every single morning to distract myself. I would go into uni in the middle of the night to study just to avoid seeing a lot of people. I was on & off with church and God. My education suffered, I would spend hours “studying” but really I was staring blankly at the words on the pages, often wet from my tears. I was also placed on the pill for my acne and it REALLY messed up my moods. I knew deep down I would not do well, so I applied for impaired performance and a gap year.

My results came out and I almost passed out, I thought not doing well might be a high 2:2 again. I got a THIRD. What the hell was I going to do with that? I came to find this was partially because a piece of group work I had summited was under investigation for plagiarism. My whole group was under investigation, but I was so down, I did not get involved in the group chat drama. I just prayed and cried, hard. I did not want to attend physically to defend myself, so I wrote a letter. The university wrote back to me to apologise that the only text of mine that matched were the quotes used. With that coursework added I got a low 2:2 overall, which still was not ideal but anything was better than a third.

Gap Year 

Early into my gap year Job, I finally got rid of the toxic relationship I was in. My skin started clearing up FAST. My body was in great shape, I was making money and I was happy again. Soon after I met someone new. Yes, I didn’t learn my lesson lmao. Towards the end of the year I started feeling apprehensive again, I knew I would have to smash final year in order to even get a 2:1 as my second year counted as 40% of my degree (which is quite high).

Final Year 

My skin was amazing at this point, not even trace I ever had acne, my relationship was still thriving, my body was different … but good. I could afford to get myself a nice 3-floor apartment for my final year, so I did. I made sure I was as comfortable as possible because I knew that year would need a lot of focus and discipline. I took my degree incredibly seriously. I attended all (well most lol) of my lectures, seminars, whatever it was I was there. I even went to one on one office hours for some modules. I saw my university tutor for advice, more than I had in my first and second year combined. Don’t get me wrong, I had struggles but I was refusing to get thrown off; the cracks in my relationship started to show, I was giving up on my youtube channel, I was putting on weight…AGAIN. Worst of all, I started having mini breakouts due to the stress. But, as I said, this time I was going to stay focused no matter what.

Throughout the year, I had terrible headaches on a daily basis, which I ignored. I then started to have visual blackouts, they almost did not feel real. So I only told my parents after it happened a couple of times. To cut a very long story short. I was admitted into hospital 2 weeks before final exam season. I was diagnosed with a condition called Idiopathic Inter-cranial Hypertension (IIH), in which there is no known cause for but does link to weight gain. I was in and out of the hospital and only returned back to uni to study for exams 6 days before. It was my worst nightmare happening all over again, of course again I applied for impaired performance.

Results day… I cried, I cried and I cried. seeing 58.9 for my degree mark was like a dagger in my heart. I had got 1:1 or high 2:1’s most of my final year, so it was my second year haunting me all over again. Even my final exam I was most worried about and threw up in-between I got 85%. I never really knew how impaired performance worked so I assumed I was granted it. It would be insane not to grant it to me considering all I had been through and the proof I had? My coursemate advised me to call the uni and double check. To my surprise, I was not granted impaired performance in my second or final year. My final year was not granted because my grades were above my overall average and of course it was too late to contest it for my second year.

So I appealed and the battles began. My appeal was rejected. So I appealed again, but my graduation date was creeping closer. I was advised by one of the people dealing with my appeal to attend my graduation regardless of whether a decision was made yet or not. It took all the courage in the world, but I did. I was seated in the hall, 14 minutes before the ceremony started, I received an email on my phone that my appeal had been rejected. That day I experienced a new level of wickedness, I also had my first and hopefully my last ever panic attack. I got a car as a graduation present, a party, gifts, over £1000 cash, my grandparents and other family flew out and NOTHING could give me a genuine smile.

I spoke to someone the next day from my uni and they said they would bend things a bit for my “exceptional circumstances”. They said I could repeat modules during the summer Special Assessment Period (SAP) with no supervision. So I spent the whole summer including my birthday doing so, I asked for help in every direction I could. I received my SAP results on the 21st of September 2017. One grade improved my 1 mark which had no impact on the overall percentage and one was exactly the same. I cried…I cried…I cried again.

A few days later I decided to call my university just for explanation. I had accepted the grades but I just wanted to know why. When I called, I spoke to my course administrator, who explained they were willing to offer a year free tuition and supervision for modules I would like to retake (they would have never told me if I did not call). On that same call, I was told, “You have been through a lot, 1.1% does not make you, if you were my daughter I would tell you to leave it here, it’s not worth it”, and for a second I bought it. I told my mum and she was raging “good thing you are not her daughter, you are mine and we can do this”.

A Year After Graduation 

For a few months, I could not find a job, I was broke, newly single, insecure, and still battling with my health. I questioned my existence. I did not want existence. Friends never really understood, some never came to see me / check up on me despite my physical health issues. I quickly learned people will not do for you what you would do for them and my family is PRICELESS. People would tell me to be grateful for life and I never understood why I would be grateful for something that hurts so much. Since I had no job, I decided to do one university module…AGAIN. I was so embarrassed, so I kept it to myself not even my closest friends knew. I would always be “busy” / “working on something”. Soon after I did find a job, it was just that though…a job. Two months later I was headhunted for a much better role, and I got it. So here I was at my new job two weeks in asking for days off here and there because I was struggling to manage university work and a full-time job on the other side of the country.

I have made this story long enough, so let me put you out of your misery. On the 5th of July 2018, I got my results and I got a 2:1 in Social Psychology BSc Hons from a Top 5/10 university. For some people, this is no big deal but I am so grateful for my family and God for keeping me. The Joy I felt on this day made all the pain I have been through worth it. I have also just been discharged from regular hospital appointments regarding the IIH.

Whoever you are that needed this.. you are so much more than a certificate, your life is more valuable than a degree, you can achieve great things without it as did I … like starting this blog. However, if you want something, FIGHT FOR IT, it will be worth it… I promise. Take care of YOU, pray and trust God…always. Every situation is temporary.

Kind Regards,

Sis x

Celebrities who got sh*t degrees

 

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A Tears to Laughter Story #3: Mickael Bolenge

Hi,

Hope you are all doing well!

So term time is coming to an end, yay! However, for a lot of final year students, this means they about embark on the real world. Unemployment amongst graduates is not new news, however, it affects us all the same. Unemployment really does mess with you mentally, well that is what it did to me. What we forget in those low moments is that just because we don’t have it all together today does not mean we never will. I spoke to Mickael who shared his inspiring story, and I am so happy to share this with you guys because I KNOW someone will be blessed!

 

The Interview

So tell us about yourself?

My Name is Mickael Bolenge. I am 24, but by the time this comes out, I will be 25. I am a manager of a company I will not reveal lol. I would say I am very energetic, easy going and laid back. My friends would probably describe me as very silly, chilled and “different”. Personally, I love being around different types of people, does not really matter who you are. I love my TV shows, I love watching my Anime, and I love writing. Writing is something I am very passionate about as I am an author. I have a blog and recently released my first book this year called “A String of Lies”. Make sure you get that on Amazon!

Have you ever been through a challenging phase in your life?

Yes, I have had multiple challenging times in my life, to be honest. Life as a whole is challenging anyway. I would say one of the most difficult phases I experienced was when I was unemployed. It started when I was in university, I was not working because I wanted to give myself time for studies and my dissertation. Then, coming out of university, I was looking for graduate jobs. I began to apply for jobs here and there and sending my CV to employers. I was not getting the responses I wanted, this put me in a real pickle. My mindset started to change, and I just had no idea what was going on. Is it just me? Then I began to look at other people around me, and it felt like I was the only one in this predicament. I thought, what am I doing wrong? This put me on a spiral, right into depression. I was not myself for months, months and months. I remember just looking at other people and just wishing I had what they had. I would lock myself away in my room, not really talk to anyone because I did not want to be a burden to anyone with my problems. I did not want to ask for help, I am the type of person that dislikes asking for help. I felt I could get through things on my own, even though I knew it was not healthy. My friends would ask me “what is up?” “are you alright?”,  I just felt like the easiest thing to say is “yes, I’m fine”. Especially with a personality like mine, I am seen as the bubbly type, I am not easily triggered or rattled, so everyone sees me as that guy that is always smiling, so, for me to let them know that I’m going through something would be shocking.

How did this difficult period make you feel?

I was constantly going through a wave of emotions, it was actually crazy. One minute I was bubbly and happy, and the next minute I was just down. Sometimes I did not even know why I was down. Subconsciously I would know it was because of what I was going through, which was unemployment and therefore not being able to do certain things that I wanted to do, simple things like buying something to eat. Like I said, I don’t like asking people for help, even my parents because they have got their own things they need to take off. I remember friends asking me to go out and I would have to come up with an excuse as to why I can’t come and when you keep on doing that, over and over again it sinks in. I started to ask myself “what is actually going on?” “When is my situation going to change?”.  At times I would just be angry, I could randomly lash out at people. Even coming to personal life, things like getting to know a girl and wanting to take her out on a date but not having the money to do it. It’s like what is the point of even trying? The way society is set up, there are just certain things you need to have money for. It was just hard, very hard.

Are you in a better space now? What has changed? How did you overcome those challenges?

100% in better space now. I am in the best shape of my life. Everything feels like it is coming together. The main thing that has changed is that I am working now, I have been for a while now. The money is good too, lol! I like the position/role I am in as well, it fits in with what I want to do in the future.

The first thing that helps me overcome my challenges is that I started praying more. I feel like that was really the catalyst for change. Alongside prayer, I started watching sermons online and I really got closer to God. A pastor called Steven Furtick, from Elevation church; his sermons spoke to me, I felt his messages were directed to me, for me. I feel like that was just God’s way of telling me that he has always been here, it just needed me putting in the effort to trust in him again. Once I started praying more and reading the Bible more everything started falling into place. I got happier, I was not watching what others are doing anymore. Watching what other people were doing was restricting me from being me, I was not able to be laid back, I was always stressing about something. Also, now I go to my friends when I’m down. I realised my friends are there for a reason they are not just there if I want to turn up or the occasional gossip. Even with me writing my book; when I was unhappy, stressed and depressed, I was not able to write I had constant writer’s block, but when things started to look up, I started writing more and I was able to release a book! I started going to the gym too, which is something I would recommend because it gives structure to your routine and improves your mental health.

What did you learn about yourself from these challenges?

A lot of good things came from my hardship. I realised I am a very independent person, once I put my mind to something I am able to accomplish it. I don’t feel the need to rely on people in the way I did before. Like if I wanted to go out somewhere, I would always rely on a friend to come with me but now its like I just go places myself and meet new people and just let my personality shine through! I realised I am strong minded and I like putting myself out there, I like exploring new things and getting out of my comfort zone! I don’t like playing it safe, safe is easy and when things are too easy I realised I lose interest.

What advice would you give to someone going through a similar situation?

  1. Hang in there – I know it easier said than done. Especially now that I am talking having been through it, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  2. Keep at it – It may feel like things are not going your way, but don’t give up. Keep applying for jobs, update your CV and use different websites.
  3. Pray
  4. Block out negativity 
  5. Put yourself first 
  6. Know your worth – don’t let anyone talk down to you, or settle for less than you deserve. Don’t let people undermine your craft.

Romans 8:18 is a bible verse that really did help me.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. [Romans 8:18]

End Of Interview 

 

Mickael’s Book: A String of Lies

Blog:

Wattpad: Mickz Writes

Yours Sincerely,

Sis & Mickael x

 

 

 

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Character > Complexion

To whom it may concern,

Before anyone gets defensive, I want to make it clear this post is not to attack, offend or blame anyone. I am just a dark-skinned black woman who has had enough and I want to use my platform to express how I feel.

It actually blows my mind how people can place less value on someone else simply because of the of the colour of their skin. No wonder Albert Einstein referred to racism as “the disease of white people”. But what is equally as horrific as racism is colorism. It is an illness. As a community (Black people) that have collectively regarded racism as inhumanity, how can we knowingly sustain a divide amongst our own?

This post is a response to “recent” events in relation to colorism, although, I will not be naming and shaming. I say recent, but this is something that has been prevalent for centuries and something some of us face right from the day we are born. A lot of the time I avoid tweeting my thoughts on issues regarding racism and colorism, not because I don’t feel I should speak up but because the fact that some discussions even take place in this day and age petrify me. If greater women before me have said the same thing 100 times over and little progress has been made, what impact will what I say have? But hey let’s try!

I know men face issues of colorism too but I want to make it clear that this for dark skinned women.

A PHASE

Why did you go through a phase where my skin tone was the bud of your joke? Why did you go through a phase where I was undesirable simply based on my complexion? Why did you go through a phase when my kinky hair and my dark skin were considered disgusting? Why did you go through a phase where girls of my skin shade just were not your type? Why is it normal to dehumanise black women. Why are dark-skinned women at the bottom of the totem pole? What did we do to deserve this?

I have had so many questions since I was a young girl that has been left unanswered. So many wounds that have been left untreated. I remember being a young girl in primary school always just knowing I was the “ugly” friend, not because of my features, just my complexion. Based on the assumption, the lighter you are the prettier you are. All the black guys fancied the white or mixed race girls or maybe the black girl that did not have type 4C hair. But that’s okay, right? Because at primary school boys should not be a priority. Okay so secondary school, I had a boyfriend who called me “blick” and consistently made jokes about my dark complexion. Take a second to let that sink in… not an enemy or a stranger… one of the people I was closest to at the time, I allowed them to make jokes about my complexion because I was that desensitised to it. I hated playing in the sun as a little girl because I could not stand the thought of getting any darker than I actually was, and I remember a few of my friends thought exactly the same way I did even if you want to say I am just insecure.

Of course now as time has gone on, I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I have become “woke”. Now I love my chocolate skin. I certainly would not entertain a man who has a problem with it either. The men that still think this way don’t bother me because I fancy them, because clearly, we are intellectually, emotionally and socially incompatible. They bother me because the more such toxic views exist the more of a chance colorism survives another generation and affects another little black girls confidence.

ACCOUNTABILITY OR NAH?

People may think “jokes” about red lipstick or how we cut our hair may not have an impact on our self-esteem, but they do. So stop. You don’t need to ‘grow as a person’ to realise simple things are wrong. People often use age as an excuse, as a 16/17/18 year old I may not have known half of what I know now, but I understood insulting someone based on their skin was wrong, killing was wrong, stealing was wrong. I understood right from wrong as many of us did. The truth is people who ridiculed dark skinned women knew it was not nice and possibly you just made a bad choice. However, the lack of accountability when these things arise is astonishing. If apologising sincerely is such a burden, save yourself the hassle and do not cause the offense. Let my words not be misconstrued, I am not here for demanding apologies because insincere apologies are waste of everyone’s time.

INSECURE 

Every time an issue arises regarding colorism, specifically aimed at dark-skinned women. You see black men and black women of a lighter shade make reference to our insecurities. “Clearly you lot have deep rooted insecurities” “why you guys so insecure” “you dark skinned girls need to understand you are just not some peoples preference” Sometimes I wonder if these same people lack half a brain cell. Dark skin women have been ridiculed from every direction growing up so YES a lot of us have deep-rooted insecurities. So when something pops up, whether it was said  2018 or 2012, it triggers those feelings. How can we be blamed for being the victim? A lot of us are angry and tired of defending ourselves, and we are WELL within our rights to be.

Women from certain parts of the world are notorious for bleaching their skin, risking DEATH (as bleaching has been said to cause/trigger for skin cancer). I mean an insecurity does not get much deeper than that if you are willing to die for it. I did my dissertation on self-concept and race and I found a reoccurring theme in previous studies and even my own study is black women’s lack of self-belief or feelings of undesirability. The famous doll study is a perfect example of this, black girls and boys seeing the black dolls as ugly/evil and the white ones as pretty/nice. A particular study I found said that although on average black girls had the best grades, they had the lowest academic self-concept in comparison to white boys and girls and black boys. If that is not a red flag for insecurity, I am not sure what is.

DEAR BLACK MEN 

Some of you will hate me for this but I going to keep it brutally honest. A lot of the issues dark-skinned black women face is not because of you, but a lot of black men have played a role in enabling it to continue. This is not to 10-year-old Tyrone who knows no better and has been socially conditioned to believe “lighter is better”, or 56-year-old Michael who grew up in the village and barely knows his left from right. This is to 24 years old Tunde, with a Bachelor of science and a Masters yet can’t seem to master the basics of emotional intelligence. Who does not seem to understand bullying/teasing (1) + Lack of representation (1) = Anger and insecurities (2)? I mean it’s quicks maths. When issues arise that disfavor black woman, why are some black men the first to tell us to quit our whining? Why are they the first to start making jokes? I promise I am not saying this to attack you but to enlighten you. These issues cut deep and even if they don’t, that’s worrying. Because none of us should be “okay” with the way we are treated. For me personally, I want us to know that 10-year-old Tyrone can think differently, it starts with us, to teach our boys from young that a women’s value is placed in her character and not in her complexion. It is not too late to correct 56-year-old Michael and teach him that actually beauty is not a thing of shade. We need a united front if we want these things to come to an end, otherwise, we give these “racially ambiguous” women the fuel to insult and feel superior our daughters, and the cycle continues. One of my worst nightmares is to have my daughter come home in tears because someone insulted her complexion. Or worse my son believing that women who look like his sister and his mum are inferior to women of lighter complexion.

Black / Dark skinned women are not Jesus, but even Jesus bled when he was crucified. We do not deserve to be punished for your lack of knowledge. You can’t praise us in one breath and abuse us in the next. And we certainly do not deserve a crown of thorns.

“Stop comparing skin tones. Who cares if your skin is lighter or darker than the person standing next to you? Change can only happen once you can truthfully look in the mirror and love that Deep Chocolate, Cinnamon, Mocha, or Caramel complexion.” –Alicia D. Love

 “I think that beauty is subjective. I’ve heard that statement [less classically beautiful] my entire life. Being a dark-skinned black woman, you heard it from the womb. And “classically not beautiful” is a fancy term for saying ugly. And denouncing you. And erasing you. Now … it worked when I was younger. It no longer works for me now. It’s about teaching a culture how to treat you. Because at the end of the day, you define you.” –Viola Davis

“I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within.” –India.Arie

Kind Regards,

Sis x

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Forgiveness Begins At Home

Hey guys,

Happy Easter!

So this year for the first time ever I took part in lent, I decided to give up chocolate. If you know me you know I am a chocoholic, so it has been challenging. But when I think of Easter and really grasp the concept of salvation, and how God forgave me even before I did wrong I would give up chocolate another 40 days and it still would not be enough. God’s mercy is something we can’t quantify, let alone afford. Which leads me to the topic for today…

I am sure you have all heard the phrase “charity begins at home”, which simply means “a person’s first responsibility is for the needs of their own family and friends.” In my own words, you can only make an impact on your wider community once you have impacted your smaller circle, including yourself. I think this principle should apply to many aspects of our life, especially forgiveness.

START WITH YOU

I am someone who STRUGGLES with forgiveness and letting go. I wonder, what hope is there for me to forgive others when I do not forgive myself even though I know the deepest corners of my heart? It is even more difficult to forgive someone who you have no idea of their intentions, their level of remorse or whether they will offend or cause you pain again.

I have this habit of beating myself up for decisions I have made that have caused me some sort of pain. Years after a situation occurred I will still be so harsh on myself. Whether it is taking back a guy you should not have, doing something “ungodly”, not studying hard enough at school, or not biting your tongue when you could have; I am sure we all have regrets, big or small. What we all need to accept is that we do not have a time machine in this life and we can not change any of these incidents, unfortunately.

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does change the future”.

Harboring animosity towards yourself does not make you a better person. Hold yourself accountable without holding yourself hostage. Accept you have done wrong,  apologise if necessary, and then move on. I know, easier said than done! Come with a pure heart is the most you can do, leave the rest to God. Some things will be easier to ‘get over’ than others, dependent on the extent of the relationship and the extent of the offense. But ultimately, you can not expect someone to forgive you if you have not forgiven yourself. See yourself as worthy of forgiveness before you ask of it from another person.

How can I see myself as worthy of forgiveness?

1. Confession: Whether you are religious or not, there is a freedom that comes from accountability. This does not mean telling everyone what you have got up to in your darkest moments, but rather than running from your actions, facing them and accepting the only way to truly move forward is to acknowledge the past.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness [1 John 1:9]

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord [Acts 3:19]

 2. Surrender: This part for me is the hardest, I am able to accept when I have done myself or someone else wrong, the trouble is just letting go. Realising that punishing myself does no one any good.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! [2 Corinthians 5:17]

3. Acceptance: This is the part we move forward. If God has forgiven me, who am I to still hate myself?

Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.[Hebrews 10:17]

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; [Daniel 9:9]

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [Colossians 1:13-14]

I am saying all of this because, if you have had trouble letting go and forgiving others, I think it is wise to take a look at yourself and see if you have had trouble forgiving yourself.

FORGIVING OTHERS

It is inevitable for people to offend you; Strangers, acquaintances or loved ones. I believe it is vital to hold the ones closest to us to the same new standard we hold ourselves. How can we forgive the stranger who steps on our foot on the morning commute, or the entitled middle-aged woman that just shoved you, or that one colleague who always makes ignorant comments? We have more room for forgiveness of trivial things when we have exercised our forgiveness on the DEEP issues we have faced. I always say, the people we love the most have the most leverage to hurt us. “But, some people in our lives have done things which are simply unforgivable!” But God can forgive ANYONE! As painful as it is, God can forgive a murder, a liar and a thief. Nothing is too much for God to forgive. If you are anything like me you’ll be saying “I am not God” or “Jesus is still working on me”, both of which are right. However, the main message I want to pass on is that we do not forgive others for their own good like God does, we forgive for OURSELVES. We forgive so we can love again. We forgive so we have peace. We forgive so God forgives us.

“…And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [Mark 11:25]
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. [Ephesians 4:31-32]

 

Kind Regards,

Sis x

 

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A Tears to Laughter Story #2: Lydia Komolaffe

Hi Guys,

Hope you are all well!

I am someone who struggles with body confidence, and when I say struggle I mean there has been so many time where I have cried myself silly just due to those insecurities. From my weight to my uneven complexion, to my boobs (mum, don’t kill me), I feel like there is always something I am self-conscious about. Lately, my weight has been such a big issue. If you know me you’ll know I love the gym, and because of my schedule the last few months, it has been impossible. So I have gained a couple pounds if we are being nice. However, one person that has really made me realise my current problem is only temporary is Lydia.

Hear her story from her yourself…

THE INTERVIEW 

1. Tell us a little about yourself. 

Hi, my name is Lydia, I’m 24 years old and I’m currently a student nurse studying in London. I think the 3 best words to describe myself are compassionate, funny (even when I’m not trying to be) and adaptable. I’m quite boring so I don’t really do much for fun, going to the gym is the most fun I have these days lol.

 

2. What is something you have struggled with? 

I have struggled A LOT with confidence and only now trying to work on it. When I was younger I didn’t really have anyone to tell me to stop saying negative things about myself so I would say these things to myself as a way of making myself get used to horrible words others would say to me. I did not find myself conventionally beautiful, and would often punish myself by calling myself all sorts of names and in turn slipping into a state of depression. I would even go on social media and tweet whatever I was thinking at the particular time which would often be about my looks. Some people thought I was just attention seeking, but it was a way of me offloading some stress because bottling it in made me feel even more depressed. 

 

3. How did this make you feel? 

I remember I was as young as 9 when I started keeping a diary just to write horrible stuff about myself. My parents hardly knew about it as they are African and I guess they would not have understood why I felt such a way. I got so used to insulting myself that it followed me through secondary school, college and even university. I would hate to be around friends for too long because I felt singled out, my friends are beautiful and I felt like I was “ugly”. They would get a lot more attention than I did, which was understandable. My self-confidence was so bad that I did not want to make eye contact with guys, let alone talk to them. I did not even realise I had a problem till when a guy I liked in college rejected me because he said I had “low self-esteem”. I mean,  people had told me before that particular day that I needed to work on my confidence, but I never understood why they were so concerned. I would even get angry that they were trying to tell me I’m “beautiful”, thinking they were lying. Receiving compliments was a problem, I used to get so upset if someone said I was pretty because I felt like they were trying to patronise me. I just wish I had understood the concept of self-confidence from a young age because I feel I would have been a whole different person. 

 

4. What did you do to overcome this?

If I was to tell you that I have overcome this obstacle, I would be lying to you. However, I see a lot of changes in myself that I never thought I would see. I don’t argue with people when they compliment me, I am more sociable than I was before as I have tried to adopt this “I am beautiful, who can tell me otherwise” mentality and it has already shown it benefits. I don’t look around the room to find someone to compare myself with and I smile a lot more too.

My weight was one of the things holding me back from being great.  Last year I remember seeing a picture of a social media personality and she looked so good. I don’t know why that particular picture had a such a major effect on me because I have seen other beautiful pictures. This one picture really did something to me!  I started a low carb diet and started going to the gym 5-6 times a week. And after SEVERAL attempts to lose weight, I gradually started to see my body change and also my whole persona. I won’t lie and say the journey was easy, however, I feel like I completed it in a week, that’s how fast time has flown by. Just because of this I have been able to make more friends.  So now, I am just going to keep going and make sure I stay focused on my goal! 

1.Tell us a little about yourself. (Keep this brief and cute, let….jpeg

5. What advice would you give to someone who felt the way you did? 

Having low self-esteem and a lack of confidence can be very damaging and can mess up a lot of good things. I don’t know what the most appropriate advice would be for me to give but I want to be truthful and say I’d hate for anyone to feel the way I felt. I wouldn’t wish it on an enemy.

  • If you do ever feel low about yourself, talk to people around you. I wish I did because that way I wouldn’t have bottled so many things up as much as I did.
  • Something I do a lot more now is looking in the mirror and being proud of my achievements, telling myself that I am beautiful till I eventually believe it.
  • If you’re trying to lose weight, start following fitness accounts to stay motivated, keep a diary writing all your weekly achievements, don’t write anything negative.
  • Write about what you did right and write about how you will move forward to become and look better!

Like I said, I have not fully overcome it but I’m in a much better place now than I was the last 15 years of my life.

END OF INTERVIEW

I think an important message to take here is that everything you are going through is a journey, things CAN get better. These Tears to Laughter Stories are not meant to show you perfect people but REAL people. You might not be exactly where you want to be, but you do not have to be where you were. Appreciate the little accomplishments along the journey.

YOU CAN DO IT!

Kind Regards,

Sis & Lydia x

 

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When Will You Marryyy?

Hey people,

I thought I’d give the singles a chance to recover from Valentines Day blues before I triggered y’all. This is for everyone who spent the day thinking “must be nice”. This is to tell you “get a grip”, but nicely.

People have always made jokes that once you finished university the next thing in an African household is marriage… they did not tell a lie. As much as my parents aren’t brutally traditional, the idea of a marriage has been hinted more times than ever since graduating by them and everyone around me. Hopefully, even if you are not African you will be able to relate.

I consider myself to be quite a strong-willed person, so I really don’t feel any pressure for marriage per say, but it would be nice one day. But, in order to get married one day, I need a boyfriend to become a fiancé, and I would need to know him for a minimum of 2 or 3 years and be engaged for a minimum of 1 year. So according to my calculations that makes me about 25 – 26… minimum! Let’s be honest now, the likelihood of me meeting my LIFE PARTNER who needs to be God-fearing, 6ft+, dark, handsome and rich (just kidding/ not really) tomorrow is slim to none. Especially in this economy. Let’s face it, the game is freezing. There comes in uncertainty, so how long will I be single? Will my next relationship be my last? Will I be the last of my friends to get married? What if I never get married? So the anxiety sets in, am I going to be 60 and still praying for a man? Are the standards I set too high? What if what I am looking for does not even exist? Should I settle? Something is better than nothing right?

CHECK YOURSELF

The truth is none of us can predict the future. What we can do is look at patterns in our past and be careful to avoid making the same mistakes. The real questions I should have been asking; why has it not worked in the past? Were there signs at the beginning that could have saved me time and heartache? Do I have a type? What do I NOT want in a partner? Did I involve God? After doing some soul searching I found the answers to the questions all link to one thing…WHOLENESS (an entire topic in its own right).

We so eagerly want to have it all together on paper, the job, the car, the partner, the kids, the money, the house etc. However, all that will not last if we are not ‘all together’ without any of those things. The times we find ourselves without the things we hope for is the time we should use to build ourselves into people worthy of those things we desire. The only way your standards can be too high is if you don’t meet them. So rather than looking for the best version of someone else, work on being the best version of yourself (I know it’s cliche). It is easy to get carried away and become so obsessed with the idea of loving someone else that you forget to love yourself.

If you don’t love yourself wholeheartedly you make it very difficult if not impossible for someone else to. It is incredibly unfair and draining to expect another person to make you constantly feel secure in your insecurities. I don’t doubt that we all have moments when we doubt ourselves, and of course, it is beautiful for a partner to reassure us in those moments. However, no matter how much a person cares for you it becomes a burden when they are solely responsible for your confidence/ happiness. Truth is a lot of us have trust issues, daddy issues, mummy issues, communication issues, confidence issues and the list goes on, yet we waste so much precious time trying to find someone to accept our flaws, that we neglect to better ourselves as individuals and potential partners.

MARRIAGE IS NOT A TREND

It is crucial not to become so infatuated with the idea of marriage and a relationship, that the significance of the significant other becomes minimal. Meaning, it is not about being on Bella Naija, it is about finding someone you are so in love with, that you want to commit to, before God to share the rest of your life with. It seems like common sense right? I thought so too. But this constant drooling over weddings / popular couples and not love proves otherwise. I think it is safe to say most of us want a beautiful wedding whether big or small, but the other human being you decide to do this with is more important than the colour scheme for Aso Ebi.

“MARRIAGE IS NOT AN ACHIEVEMENT”

Some people will tell you; “There is more to life than relationships”, and I completely agree with them. However, that does not invalidate the want to love and to be loved. Some people will even go as far to say “Marriage is not an achievement”. My advice to you? Don’t mind them! What we all consider “achievements” are subjective, you decide what will make YOU happy. Do not allow people that do not have your same life goals deter you from what you really want just because “not everyone will get married”.  Well not everyone will be a millionaire, do most of us still want it? Yes. So strive for what you want!

For the ladies; some forms of feminism have somehow concluded that marriage is oppressive and have “facts and figures” to back that up. At the end of the day; every home and relationship is different. As a feminist myself, certain types of feminism have been getting it wrong for decades on what is oppressive to women and what is not, so if you want to take Ciara’s advice and #LevelUp, do so, and if you don’t, continue walking in the spirit of girlfriend. There are no right or wrong answers.

Unfortunately, those are not even the people that bug me the most. It is the people that put a ticking time bomb on your wedding cake, as if to say if you are not married by a certain age you become extinct. The people that every time you see them, that is the only thing they can discuss. The people that want to hook you up with every son/daughter, niece/nephew and brother/sister going. The people that look down on the “unmarried”. To be honest with you, I think it usually comes from a good place, sometimes they just do not know any better. However, the pressure they apply can be so detrimental to our self-esteem and the value we place on marriage. That constant obsession with marriage often leads to the person joining in and obsessing too, or feelings of inadequacy because of “singleness”.

Marriage and love are beautiful, but not to the point the desire becomes detrimental. Don’t let others make you feel less than for your “singleness”, not even your MCM on twitter asking “where is your boyfriend”.

When Will You Marryyy?

The truth is no one really knows if and when they will get married. Not you, not the aunties and uncles pressuring you and not even those in relationships today. The only person that truly knows is God. The plans God has for us are of good and not evil, to give us hope and a future. We can’t control many things that happen to us in life, and this happens to be one of them. You could be the “flyest” guy or the most “wifeable” girl and remain single for reasons beyond than human comprehension. So, King and Queen, work hard, rest, and live your best flipping life, life is too short to be stressing over non-existent bae.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ” [1 Corinthians 13:4-7]

Kind Regards,

Sis x

 

 

 

 

 

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A Tears to Laughter Story #1: Tomilola Awosika

Hey guys,

I was reading a book by Myles Monroe (May his soul rest in peace), and he was discussing how showing genuine interest and asking questions is one of the greatest ways to build relationships and in turn influence people. It is a powerful thing to be vulnerable and open with your life, especially if the lessons you have learned can aid someone. I have vowed to do just that, but I have not been through it all and I want you all to understand I am interested in YOU; I decided to start this series “A Tears to Laughter Story” so I get ask you questions and you hear from others, that indeed the storm does not last forever. You might not see the light at the end of the tunnel because you are the light, THE LIGHT IS IN YOU.

I am so delighted that the first person I get to do this series on is one of my dearest friends. I am so proud of her and all she has overcome. I remember feeling so down and forcing myself to meet up with her and my other princess (Audrey), and when Tomilola spoke about her journey I was SO inspired, I hope you will be too.

I am confident that she is in the process of becoming even greater, but I asked her a few questions so you can understand her journey so far.

THE INTERVIEW 

  1. Tell us a little about yourself

Hi, my name is Tomilola Awosika but also known as Tlow (by no choice of my own) I am 23 years of age. I believe the people closest to me would describe me as Clumsy, Dramatic, Sociable and stubborn. However, I would describe myself as uniquely coordinated, Creative, Selectively social and Determined. I have a degree in psychology but I currently work as a financial resource consultant and I am also the executive director of a production company called Eternal Ages.

 

  1. Tell us about a challenging time in your life.
  • This question is one I have come across a few times, typically in an interview setting.  I find it difficult to answer a lot of the time not because I am afraid of being open but more so because 2015 – 2016 was one of the most trying times of life and there were a plethora of experiences that really challenged me, physically, mentally and spiritually.  So, I never really know what experience I should single out and talk about. Anyways, I call this period ‘MY SEASON OF LOSS’.
  • So where do I start? So for as long as I can remember my mother has suffered from an incurable disorder called retinitis pigmentosa which is a rare genetic disorder that involves the disintegration of eyesight & hearing. The sufferer rapidly loses cells majority of the tiny cells within the retina. Now, my mother is an extremely hard working and defiant woman, so she did not ever let this condition stop her from doing what she needed to. However in 2015 that changed and her RP had become so bad that she was registered as partially blind and unfit to work, it also began to affect her ability to complete mundane tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. As a single mother who has always upheld her household and children, she became dependant on her two daughters. As an away university student I quickly felt responsible and equally helpless, I now had the juggle my degree along with the physical, emotional and financial support of my mother.
  • Following from that in January 2016 (During my final year of university) I was admitted into the hospital where I found out that I had developed Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).  I was told that if I had come to the hospital 48 hours later the blood clots may have traveled to heart and could have resulted in me losing my life completely.  Later on, in March 2016, I traveled to Nigeria to visit my dad after developing DVT in order to see him during this period. Whilst there I got into a serious car crash on the Third Mainland bridge, so bad that the car was completely written off. Because I was the front seat passenger I went head-on into the windscreen, whilst being on blood thinners (which is extremely dangerous).
  • My flight back from Nigeria was also delayed and I missed the physical submission for my dissertation and this resulted in me being told I could not graduate that summer.
  • Following on from all this as many girls have experienced, In November 2016 I went through a very disheartening and difficult break up which at the time I was not sure I would recover from.

 

  1. How did this affect you / make you feel?

This is where I talk about my feelings right? Wow okay so…..

One of the best things my mother ever introduced to me was Jesus, and although I was born into a great church and I have a relationship with God, I am not perfect and I do not know it all. From a very young age, I was taught that in the Midst of a trial- you ‘send Judah up’ in other words you give praise to God.

So when my mum stopped working although it devastated me I immersed myself in prayer and worship. I became so dependant on God and I honestly did not doubt that he would just sustain my family through it all. So I did not feel defeated for very long ( or so I thought). However, developing DVT was a near-death experience and the side effects of the medication I was put on afterward really took a toll on my physical appearance: my weight and skin changed drastically and I was constantly physically weak. I began to really question God and I began to feel like my time on earth was limited. I know it may sound dramatic, but I honestly just felt like I was disintegrating, I lost my personality, lost my desire to be around people or really do any of the things I loved.

The car crash I think was the turning point for me; at that point, I convinced myself that everything was working against me and I was supposed to die. Instead of being thankful that I survived I instead I became very down. For someone who was/is very bubbly, never ever cried or was down; I found myself crying at least once a day.  I was experiencing frequent panic attacks, I became anxious around large amounts of people (at church, in lectures etc). I just became someone I had never once been. I was very much depressed at the time, although, I was not aware at the time, nor did I understand what really depression was.

After being told I could not graduate and as result having Graduate role offers retracted from me I began to feel like anything good in my life would be and should be taken from me. I resented anyone or anything positive in my life and began to jeopardize opportunities and relationships because I had convinced myself I would lose it eventually anyway.

 

  1. Are you in a better space now? How did you overcome your challenges?

I mean talking about this is crazy because I am nowhere near the person I was then.

I am in a much better space.  After my breakup, I was just so devastated and I could not recognise myself. I felt so empty and I also was struggling to understand what I was living for. Although, I was never really suicidal I was not really sure of my purpose anymore and what the point of me living was, the best way to describe it is I was really just fed up.

NYE was my turning point, I went to the crossover service at Worship Tabernacle and I can’t really explain what it was about the atmosphere but I remember leaving feeling restored. Pastor Tai spoke on ‘returning to your natural habitat and thriving’, in summary saying we could only inherit the promises and blessings of God if we remained in his presence.  At that point, I realised how much I had run from God and I was so desperate for joy again that I promised myself I would return home (To God).

I decided from that day I would throw myself into the things of God, I decided to start attending bible study at my church, attending my church youth outreach more, I would start my mornings with Gospel and just read my bible more. I also decided that I would honor God with my finances so when I was at church I would always give offering or tithe.

I had also secluded myself from some of my closest friends especially those who would speak wisdom and life into me. Particularly my best friend Samantha Jayne. So I made a conscious effort to speak to and spend more time with my friends who were strong in Christ and or had gone through similar situations to me. In spending time in positive environments and around positive people I learned to focus on what was still good which motivated me to make things better for myself.

The last thing I decided to do was be completely single for a year and not date, in order to really understand myself and become the best version of me before I give of my time energy or spirit to someone else. Especially because my relationship with God became a priority, and I did not want to jeopardise that.

 

  1. What good came from your challenging period?

What I had forgotten is,  God is a God of restoration and his time is always best. For the first time, I learned how to study my bible and not just read it. I found that there are a lot of events that happened in the bible with good tangible tools on how to really cope and overcome circumstances. So yes a lot of good came from that period:

So firstly, My mum has always been amazing at planning parties and events. So she found herself an assistant to help with mundane tasks and at the end of 2016, she established herself as an Event Planner.

Although I lost graduate offers in July I was offered a role as a Credit Management Consultant although the salary was not what I had wanted the job itself was still great. In Jan after committing myself back to God, I was given a pay rise. This salary exceeded the offer of the initial role that I was devastated about losing.

In December, I was told I could graduate and did not have to retake the year on a part-time basis.

Finally, and most importantly, in January 2017 I went to dinner with my friend Stephanie and really spoke about what I had been through and where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. It was almost like a 5-hour therapy session.  In that dinner we came up with the concept of Eternal Ages since myself and my sister had written a few scripts for fun it just all made sense. I then decided to use a few of the bible stories that were helping me overcome my mental state as the basis of a storyline for the play about Mental Health. Low and behold 9 months later we sold out an entire musical production to an audience of 500+ a cast of 30 and a team of 21. All self-funded. I found my purpose and I also witnessed team and cast members give their life to Christ. This has been my biggest achievement to date and I was resilient enough to see it through due to the things I had experienced the year before and the inspiration for the script and storyline came from my misfortune.

So yes it is true “All things do work together for Good for those who love God”

 

  1. What advice would you give to someone currently going through a difficult time?
  • Be honest and open about what you are going through the first step to healing is speaking about it.
  • Look at your surroundings, are there any contributing factors? Control what you can, distance yourself from things and people that are counterproductive or threaten your wellbeing.
  • READ READ READ (or listen to audio-books) Christian or not the bible honestly has some great tools and coping mechanism for trauma and pain. Read the scripture listen to sermons, praise worship and pray.
  • Stay with people who love you and are wiser than or have experienced more than you have. Do not seclude yourself it’s okay to have alone time but humans were made for companionship.
  • LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE

Pastors sermons I would recommend watching:

  • TD Jakes
  • Sarah Jakes Roberts
  • Toure Roberts
  • Joyce Meyer
  • Andrew Wommack
  • John Gray
  • Heather Lindsey
  • Derwin Gray
  • Michael Todd

Churches in London  I’d recommend attending:

  • Praise Christian Centre
  • Jesus House
  • Worship Tabernacle

Books I’d recommend reading:

  • Lost and Found
  • Hollywood Commandments
  • Dusty Crowns
  • The Power of a Woman
  • The Purpose room

Things I’d recommend doing:

  • Go on regular walks
  • Work out regularly with another person
  • Eat out once a quarter at the minimum
  • Go to the cinema /Theatre do not always watch things at home
  • Travel
  • Go to networking events
  • Attend seminars and lectures around your respective field

END OF INTERVIEW 

This message is to also teach you, not to look at others in envy, because you were not there to endure the pain and fight the battles they fought to get their victory. It is important that we understand that, joy, success and laughter; it is all a process that varies vastly for each one of us. Your life may not turn around in just a year like Tomilola’s did, but trust and believe, you will look back at the moments you can’t seem to see past right now.

Your tears WILL become laughter!

Kind Regards,

Sis & Tlow x

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Can Faith and Depression Co-exist?

Hi,

Hope you are doing great!

I’m sure many of us have had times where we have felt down, anxious or even depressed. Life has a way of stripping you down sometimes, no matter how strong you are, life has a way of telling you, you could be stronger.

As a Christian who has had difficult periods, I almost found myself feeling guilty for the way I was feeling sometimes. Did I not have faith? Don’t I believe God can do it? There are countless scriptures in the Bible where God instructs us to lay our burdens on him, to be anxious about nothing, and to trust him always. So by feeling anxious and depressed are we disobeying God? Can faith and Depression really co-exist?

MENTAL HEALTH IN THE CHURCH

I have noticed that some Christians tend to brush off mental health-related problems. Not because they mean to, but because there is this common misconception that mental health is a matter of choice and or circumstance. I once heard someone say “I choose not be depressed” and I totally understood where she was coming from; it is not something she wanted for her life, which is fair enough. I saw in her comments she got a lot of stick for that comment because it is indeed insensitive to assume the millions of people suffering from mental health choose to suffer.

As well-meaning as saying things like; “it is well” and “pray about it” are, there seems to be a large discrepancy in the way some Christians respond to mental health challenges versus physical health challenges. You hear someone has cancer and you are binding and loosing (praying), but you hear someone is depressed, and it’s “awww”.

The way we recognise the severity of physical health challenges, is the same way we should in mental health challenges. They both have the capability to result in death.

FAITH 

So if mental health is not a choice, why do we feel guilt? Why do we cover it in shame? Truth is, there are many possible answers, but the one I would like to dive into is Faith.

God see’s us as the light of the world, yet depression seem’s like you are in a room full of darkness.“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” [Matthew 5:14] How we see ourselves in such moments and how God sees us, conflict. That is where the guilt creeps in. Who am I to tell God he is wrong?  That is where shame comes in. How do you let the words, “I think God is wrong about me”, out.  The answer is… you don’t, so you suffer in silence. How can you receive treatment and get better without consulting the doctor and examining the issue? Sometimes we are the ones that trivialise our own problems by hoping they will go away without doing anything about it.

I have heard so many testimonies of people being delivered from fatal diseases, yet I have thought depression is “too complicated” to talk to God about, it was my faith that was lacking.

As a psychology graduate and someone who prioritises my mental health, I also recognise that God’s infinite mercy supersedes all things. The way someone can have cancer and still have faith in God for healing is the same way faith can be applied to any mental health condition and indeed any other condition. So YES, faith and depression can co-exist! But rather than attempting to let the two live harmoniously, the faith should override them all.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” [1 Corinthians 3:16-17]

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” [Romans 12:2]

Those scriptures are so important to me because God is telling us our bodies are precious to him and anything that aims to destroy it will be destroyed. Depression CAN be destroyed. The world will tell you, this is what you are and this is what you’ll be. As for me “I choose” NOT to place my destiny in the hands of human beings or to let my mental health be reliant on human beings.  I rather choose to transform my mind by renewing it daily and to have FAITH that God can deliver me from anything.

SUMMARY

The main message I am trying to portray is that mental health challenges are something to be taken seriously even as a Christian who has faith. God has given knowledge to experts for a reason. However, God always has the final say over our lives. I know it is a contradiction, to accept depression and reject it at the same time.  Like an addict, the first stage of recovery is realising you have a problem. Don’t feel bad for feeling the way you do, because it only means you are one step closer to overcoming it.

Here are some scriptures that we should remind ourselves of daily when going through it:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”[John 16:33] 

 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” [Ephesians 6:11]

“He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength.” [Isaiah 40:29]

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” [1 Thessalonians 5:5]

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” [1 Peter 2:9]

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” [Deuteronomy 31:8]
“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”[Psalm 3:3]

“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” [Psalm 34:17]

Finally, I pay God will turn your Tears to Laughter.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” [Psalm 40:1-3]
Kind Regards,
Sis
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A God Man Vs A Good Man

Hey,

Hope you had a good Christmas and a Happy new year.

Typically, the first post in the new year would relate to something like productivity or goals. But I have decided to make this post on something that had a significant impact on me last year. Although, nothing I am going to discuss is really new to me, experiencing it first-hand means I value it more and I wish someone had reminded me, this time last year.

Relationships are a tricky one. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert for the simple fact that I’m single. Then again, you have people who have been married for more than twenty years who wouldn’t consider themselves experts either, and you have people who are divorced who are marriage counselors. So, as I said, it’s a tricky one. What I can speak on is what I have experienced first hand, and the lessons I have learned.

My Experience

Disclaimer: In order to validate some of the messages I want to pass on, I think it is important for me to display some transparency. Whatever I say here is the same advice I would give to a friend, so it is important that you guys know where I stand on the matter.

A couple years ago I was in a relationship with someone who appeared to be a God-fearing Christian. In reality, he was a liar, cheat and used God as a tool of manipulation (the very opposite of God-fearing). Not long after, I entered another relationship with someone who was not a Christian, but was “good”, did not try and put up a facade and seemed to be a decent human being. However, when life was not all bed of roses I quickly realized this man and his worldly ways could not support me nor my future children the way I desired.

You see my dilemma? The first relationship I mentioned made me realize I need to be with someone who is a good person right down to their core not just “Christian”. The second relationship made me understand why God does not want us to be unequally yoked to an unbeliever. Realistically, what are the odds of finding a man that ticks all the boxes when all “men are trash”?

I found honesty to be such an attractive character trait, especially after being scarred by deception. This was the very big difference between my two exes. I ran so far away from anything that seemed dishonest, I came across someone brutally honest, or so I thought. When I look back now the second relationship was not great for me either but because it was the opposite of what had previously broken my heart I held on for way longer than I should have. The irony is even the guy I thought was “good” or at the very least honest, was caught in his fair share of lies. The harsh truth is, nothing makes a person more “good” than the fear of the Lord, because such an individual sees themselves as accountable to God, who is omniscient. So even if they can deceive you, they are aware they can never deceive God.

The debate of the A God-Man Vs A Good Man is one I have struggled with, especially in times where my self-worth has hit rock bottom. Although I don’t have all the answers, I hope anyone reading this gains some clarity when it comes dating, especially dating as a Christian.

Compromise

If like myself you want to live a life more Christ-like. The “good” man is one you flee. He is good according to the standard of the world and so is a sin. Putting yourself into relationships where you don’t place the same values on basic principles, means that every day will be a constant battle, and the more you battle the more you compromise. Which I think is unfair to both parties. Temptation is a constant battle we face as individuals, talk less of when someone who you consider your other half, takes part in temptation rather than helping you flee it.  Whether you are religious or not, everybody has things that they desire in a partner, and it is unfair to settle for less than you desire and punish the other person for not fitting into your ideal. I’ll use a silly example; say I only want to marry someone with brown eyes but I find myself dating someone with blue eyes. I can’t be angry at them or force them to change because I entered it knowing they had blue eyes even though I wanted brown eyes. But often we find ourselves settling for what we do not want because whether we like to admit or not, we hate being lonely. However, it is crucial to not let today’s loneliness cause you tomorrow’s heartbreak; in simpler terms “it’s more trouble than it’s worth”. There are so many unproductive relationships we can avoid if we are secure in what we want and do not settle for anything that presents itself as less.

Let’s keep it real though, not everyone that calls themselves a Christian will flee sin (we are all sinners at the end of the day). That is okay… that is none of my business nor is it my place to judge, to be honest. The only time it becomes my business is when it relates to the person I decide I want to date. It is important for us to be with people who have a similar mindset and goals or at least ones that do not conflict with ours. More importantly, the same desire to be Christ-like, otherwise, like I said it becomes a constant battle and a continuous compromise. If you want to date someone who is striving towards the same things as you, it should take a whole lot more than the quotation of a few bible scriptures to get you practicing your wedding vows. After all the devil himself used scripture in an attempt to tempt Jesus #Justsaying.

When entering a relationship with anyone whether you are religious or not, it is beneficial to ask yourself what are my “non-negotiable’s”? Meaning, what are things I will not compromise on, and what are things I am willing to meet someone halfway on. Having non-negotiables requires wholeness and patience because depending on what they are you’ll filter out about 80% of people in your dm’s. So, if you are insecure and desperate, you won’t be negotiating anything, you’ll just take what you get.

“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.” – Margaret Thatcher

“Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval.” –  Thomas S. Monson

“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” – Mahatma Gandhi

That last quote sums it up for me. Whenever I was compromising I felt drained, like I would take one step forward and ten steps back. Something always felt like it was missing, but God was never lost, I was just blind to my self-inflicted pain. I was giving my all and getting nothing, then wondering why I felt empty. Don’t Plant your precious seeds in darkness and expect growth. 

Take Home

  1. Finding a life partner is not about ticking a few boxes. Sure a 6’3 ft chocolate cutie would be nice, but will he pray for me even when I don’t know?
  2. A man or woman’s heart who is TRULY after God, actions will speak volumes regarding his relationship with God. Finding someone with a fear of God is different from someone who can quote the Bible back to front. However, let’s not confuse this with being a ‘saint’, I did not say he or she would be perfect… so ask God for discernment.
  3. We often mistake a nice person for a good person, when the two are totally different. Everyone has the capability to be nice, being nice is such a shallow and in-unique quality. Not every person that is nice to you deserves your love. What you want is someone who is good, not just to you but to those around them, look at their friendships, their relationship with their family, why things ended with their ex’s (subjective). If you can identify patterns in these relationships these are things that tell you a lot about a person’s character. Finding someone who is wholeheartedly good is crucial; people who have been married for years often say that there are moments when love is simply not enough. When a person is good, no matter how they feel towards you they treat you with decency because that’s who they are.
  4. Not to completely discredit the second relationship I was in; but I found myself in that relationship, willing to compromise the core of my world (God), just because a “Godly” man had broken my heart. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing, we must be wise to avoid them, but that does not mean going after wolves in admiration of their honesty and openness about their flaws. Just because it did not work out with one Christian brother or sister does not mean every Christian is a liar. The world of dating or courting is a complex one, and as mum always tells me you have to kiss a few frogs before you meet the “one”. Whatever issues your ex had is not a free pass to lower your standards, in fact, it’s a wake-up call you need to raise those standards.
  5. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” [2 Corinthians 6:14]

Kind Regards,

Sis x