As I thought about the past two years I kept hearing a reverberation of this line from ‘Ten Years’ by Paul Simon, modified to suit………..’Two Years come and gone so fast I might as well be dreaming’. We have no idea what is in store for us or what we can handle…….As I look back, these are the thoughts that resonate with me……and what better time to look forward but on the cusp of a new year.
1. I am grateful I have developed a strong loving relationship with myself, deepened bonds with friends (old and new) as well as family-but most of all is growing in one with God.
2. I wanted a new lease on life when I left home, and next time I will make sure I am careful to define exactly what I want; knowing now that God does give the desires of our hearts and it will come in unexpected ways. I am finally discovering the reason for which I was born, and it is empowering and peaceful and exhilarating and difficult all at once.
3. I have to admit that I had a misconception about adoption. I did not understand fully the ramifications of it and as such I had a very insular view of it. But I must open my mind to fully understand it, if I am to fully comprehend that each Christian is adopted into God’s family.
4. If we are to be honest, we are much happier when our relationships are in good shape. We are not happy if our connections are out of whack!
5. I think I am also learning to hear God’s voice with more clarity, which along with #3 are the two questions I have never stopped asking…………10 years and counting. It’s funny how God works, but always in the fullness of time……and usually through some wilderness experience.
6. I have learned that trust is earned…..people don’t trust you until you have earned it and the same should go for me…….Only God with perfect knowledge has no need to employ this strategy. Respect tends to work the same way with some, but I do not subscribe to that. I respect people from the get go…….as time passes that will change for better or worse…..
7. Love is a nebular term. I still cannot define it. It means so many different things to each of us…..for some you must perform and it must be seen tangibly. But love is not always shown in that way……I still think the best definition for Love I have found is at 1 Corinthians 13 v 4-7….
8. It’s okay, in fact it’s essential that we be vulnerable when necessary…..albeit with the right people. Admittedly, this is not the easiest thing to do. But I think of it, in this way, the more difficult thing to do cannot be the weaker option. Furthermore the easier option will not give you the results you desire…….but will only give you exactly what you wish to run away from in the first place…….breakdown in relationships, resentment, lack of trust etc. Choose wisely, what you fear the most usually does not materialize….
9. I love to quote ” God never leaves us or forsake us”. I have said it repeatedly and I believe it, but I always struggled to explain it. I think I can now. It’s true……….the reason we think he is absent, silent or distant at times is because we have an agenda for him, our individual and collective sights are blinded to what we want…….but according to GK Chesterton, “we must train our eyes until they learn to see”……
10. Christmas rituals are different in each place……..there are some things I have learnt here that I would love to replicate at home. Like reading the Christmas story with kids directly from the Bible…..having a really special candlelight service to commemorate the birth of that special baby……..and then there are the things I remember as I child that I want to share with other kids now. Receiving/giving Christmas cards and caroling……….we must hold fast to some traditions or customs, especially those that make Christmas special. I loved Christmas at home…..there was the north breeze, guango peas and Seymour grass in full bloom, sorrel, poinsettias, and Grand Market………I don’t want to be away from home another Christmas.
11. On what foundation do we stand? How do we define ourselves? Who am I, What matters to me? I was never one to give myself permission to ask, never mind answer these questions, it felt too much like narcissism. But I must. Am I a black woman, a daughter, a Christian, an accountant, a friend, a niece, a god mother? Are these roles or are they my identity? I have been seeking to acutely define myself on a strong foundation, as most things crumble or dissipate over time, what then? I am a child of God……
12. Oh and I cannot forget the stereotypes. I believed some things that were appalling, but I believed them just the same…………..like most stereotypes they were born out of ignorance and miseducation. Thankfully they have been shattered. That’s the danger of a single story and the beauty of diversity and inclusion.
13. Boundaries…..oh that was a word that had only face value in my vocabulary. I never felt it was right. Period. But then I learnt they are meant to keep us safe. And too, I saw how much I was abused without them. And then I recognized how I shortchanged myself when I ignored them. God has boundaries for us humans, so why shouldn’t we have them for people too? One thing I know, and it’s that a parent feel as much or even more pain when they have to tell their child No or enforce a rule……..but it’s for the child’s benefit….and they will be grateful for that later on……if not now. We have to look to the longer term benefits rather than at short term gratification……So shall it be too with us and our boundaries……..
14. Get comfortable in your own company and with yourself…….learn to go it alone.
15. For the first time in my life, I am learning self acceptance. I am learning to be kind to myself, to forgive and not be hard on self. To accept every single part of me…..including the flawed parts……self affirmation……..getting there. Self acknowledgement………..learning. Self-appreciation………learning.
16. I started a new job two years to the date I arrived here……and I have to wonder if that’s a coincidence. Patience is my Achilles heel and to be honest, it seems as if I have been in training to refine this attribute. From missing the bus and having to wait 30 mins, from waiting on people to call me, from waiting two years to find a new job etc…….and the biggest take away is just that I need to slow down……so many mistakes are avoided just by applying patience. So much time is saved by being patient, so much money is saved by waiting……and I am finding that I am becoming a better person by just by waiting. Give yourself some grace.
So as I move forward, I really am missing Home and missing my peeps and I really pray I get to spend time with them all again…..so much has changed at home. Friends and family members are having babies, getting married, dying …….a new year, fresh start, a second chance to do things better. And I can’t help but wonder what it holds.