Oh South Africa: prayerful reflections

Sunday 2nd April 2017:  Reflections on SOUTH AFRICA

These are some of the guidelines, reflections and conversation points that emerged during a time of prayer and discussion this afternoon.  Restitution, personal reflection as well as praying for your nation happened. Thought I would share them in anticipation of #blackmonday and the proposed national shut down on Friday in protest of a presidential cabinet reshuffle. 

 Who and what is our role?

There are lots of voices at the moment shouting about Zuma, about who is allowed to criticize who, about what needs to happen and what needs to change.  In the midst of this all, some significant conversations have happened in my world.  I thought I would share them with you as some reflection moments before pressing into prayer.

AS WHITE SOUTH AFRICANS…

Was at trauma conference on Friday and obviously, the happenings of the time were discussed. There was a big discussion of “whites being silent”… the final outcome was that whites need to listen more, really listen (which you’ve done for years) but important to be engaged and involved too… not to be silent as this means you not taking accountability and not working for the future… may God’s spirit lead you this afternoon.  (My friend Kirsten Thomson, echoed by Sharlene Swartz who was at the same conference).

Unless we are as committed to restitution and redistribution as we are opposed to corruption, we need to carefully think about why we are wanting to wear black in support of #blackmonday (Sharlene Swartz’s tweet that has been tweaked)

 

Why does this matter?

One of the recurrent themes, as I listened to different speakers at The Justice Conference SA was as Christians , why are we seeking justice? What do we believe about justice?

What do we believe about God in this? About who God seeks justice for?

What do we believe about people and God’s relationship to them?

A scripture commonly used to explore the justice space is Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,[a]
and to walk humbly with your God?

As Christians, we believe that we are in the not yet -now space:  We believe that the Kingdom of God was revealed in Jesus and that the age of Heaven is to come and YET, we are called to be a part of ushering in the kingdom now. A kingdom reflecting equity, belonging and a God who has created, ordained and celebrated diversity.

As a country we don’t see this in our legislative history (think Apartheid which was an extension of the colonial system).

We also don’t see our current leaders pushing towards this.

SO other than reducing this to about one man who is an easy target currently in his actions, Zuma, we need to look at what is required of us in pursuing justice for us all.

There is an invitation to engage beyond just #blackmonday.

Can I invite you to join us in prayerfully exploring this space around the following topics:

What do Zuma’s actions mean, not just for us, but for our nation and for the most vulnerable in our nation?

What does this mean in terms of what we need to be praying for in our leaders as a nation?

  • Are we praying for the standard to be God’s righteousness or for things not to be disrupted?

Are we able to see bigger than just Zuma?

What opportunities for justice do I need to be responding to?

What does this mean for the sphere of influence in my world, as well as what communities is God asking me to consider walking with?

What can we commit to in action in response?

What areas of our lives do we need God to being clarity in so that we can, in good conscience, advocate and pursue justice?

  • Some of these might be comfortable spaces, some less so, yet the call for justice is revealed throughout the Bible from the beginning to the end.
  • Think about Joseph, Daniel, Ruth, the Pharisees
  • Think about Jesus and the tax collector
  • Think about David and Saul and the role of the prophetic.

Where do we confuse:

  • Networking or nepotism vs creating opportunities for newcomers into our economic and income earning spaces
  • Who is responsible for healing our nation?
  • What sense of restitution do we hold? Does this scare us?

It might be helpful to reflect on:

  • Where we feel hopeless in South Africa
  • Where we feel hope in South Africa
  • Where we feel powerless and what we believe about God’s power in this
  • What can we dare to pray for and believe for South Africa and ALL who call this nation home?

This is an ongoing journey towards a healed nation.

May we lament as appropriate, repent as appropriate, respond as required.

Lord have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

Nkosi Sikilele iAfrika.

 

i say NO!

Forgiveness and Primal Screams

Yesterday I experienced a sense of terror like I haven’t in a very long time.
Waking up to discover a “want to be intruder” about to step into our bedroom was something that I don’t want to experience again. Ever.
People asked me if he took anything. No. Not anything physical.
Just my sense of being safe in my home- temporarily.
My sleep for the night.
My voice is strained still.
My gut reaction was to scream.
To scream from terror.
To scream that this wasn’t okay.
To scream NO!

I know that he didn’t consider that anyone would be awake – would scream.
36 hours later I am saying NO.
NO MORE.
No more of saying that this is how it is.
No more of the fear.

And the only way I know to say no is to say I forgive you.

I forgive the fact that you violated my space – whether or not you think I need to.

I forgive the fact that you intentionally tried to walk into my intimate space with bad intentions.

I forgive you and pray that you will know a conviction of heart that this is not the way to walk.

I have the luxury of neighbours who immediately responded. Who called the police who arrived less than 5 minutes after the call was made. If I look at the stats in this article I still have more luxury despite what happened than many of the people who call the same city home: http://thisisafrica.me/apartheid-geography-murder-cape-town/

I have the luxury of spikes being placed on walls the next day as a deterrent.
According to the police my scream was a deterrent and you won’t be back.

It wasn’t just a scream. It was a no.

I don’t know your story. And I don’t need to in order to forgive you.

I need to know that I am not going to let this incident define me. It’s not going to define my commitment to this city, to this country and to healing, hope and justice.

The fear you bought with you cannot stay. That fear gets too much voice already. It has too much power and too much place in the narrative of our communities.

It’s time forgiveness got a louder voice. It’s time healing and hope got a space to be seen as bigger than fear, than crime, than violence.

I say no.

Despite the challenges….

It’s been a while since I posted anything – not for lack of writing – but rather because processes have a way of “being covered in manure” sometimes before they makes sense. Seeds grow and germinate well in rich soil – the smell of manure at different times of the year from neighbours garden’s always reminds me of this (unless I get too focused on the manure and forget about the long term process at work). The reminder of Jesus’s words in John 12: 24 is seen around us all the time: Seeds need to die to become fruitful and more than just a single seed.
Things that seem to be sprouting at the moment include the possibility of life looking very different. Include the possibility of being excited about new beginnings. Include the possibility of new habits/ neural pathways and ways of being.

This morning I started reading a book on changing habits. One question that was asked is “what do you do first thing in the morning?”. It was hard realisation, again, to acknowledge that my habit is to get up and GO! From sleep state to MAX energy in whatever it is – often driven by a sense of underlying urgency or anxiety. So I STOPPED and asked myself was this necessary?

Were the reasons that I was GOING at this pace still even there? NO. Actually not. Intentional decisions have been made to ensure that this is not the case. My days are more measured.
Each day this week I have had to rewire my brain to accept that this week, this term and the rest of this year is not going to look like the past 12 months did in terms of work pace. It’s a habit of busyness at full tilt that needed to be broken. It’s okay for days to be full, but not perpetually full and rushed.

Honouring this slow-down process has been challenging in different ways. It’s required mindfulness. It’s required recognising where I have been messing up: in choices I make, in the way that it has impacted my relationships as well as in the impact that it has had on me: my body and my emotions.

It has been challenging when we come back from a time away to discover that there are unexpected glitches resulting in a BIG financial stretch due to complications in my husband’s transition from an old work season to a new one.
It’s been challenging for this “I always have a plan person” to not be able to take control of this process and want to look for extra work as we seek to save to buy a home; to shake off all financial stress and to trust that this is maybe a part of the process too.

It has been inspiring and affirming of a prayer prayed together with my husband of Lord grow our faith! It has been incredible to see my husband remain solid in this. It has been affirming of the marriage relationship to see us talking about other stuff – not the mess that has happened. In the midst of this big rollercoaster ride, my husband is still dreaming about homes and the goals that we have for life together in the long term.

This is the process of change and fresh starts. I am not sure why I thought it would be totally stress free?! The challenge for me really is to learn to live well, intentionally, despite the challenges, not without them.

Between I will and I do….the “baby” question

Getting married at this stage of my life has its definite advantages. There is much of what I wanted to achieve and do that has been done.  It also comes with its own challenges.  Challenges that one would expect like learning to let go of some independence, learning what inter-dependence looks like and figuring out how to share my space naturally with another, appreciating that when God says two are better than one and a cord of three isn’t easily broken, that the bonding of this cord happens as things are resolved (this means wrestling, stand offs, choices and inevitable conflict at times). Challenges as families shift in their understanding of each other and the way that we are involved in each other’s lives.

It also means that we learn to trust another’s involvement in our lives and our life choices:  not because the other is the “boss of me” but because the other actually cares about me and wants me to be a good “boss of me”.

One of the hardest things for me, especially as we have made choices not to live together, not to sleep together and are doing our courtship the “old school” Christian way of preparing for marriage- there is lots of anticipating and excitement, but also recognising that our first year of marriage may have lots of ‘refining moments’– is the fact the people frequently feel the need to tell me to hurry up and have babies because I am getting on…. (Open private speech bubble: It’s hard not want to ask you what you know about my ovaries or my fiancé’s reproductive capacity in these conversations: Close private speech bubble)

Thank you for believing that I will make a good mom.

Thank you for being interested in our lives.

And now I am going to thank you for trusting that this is something that my fiancé and I have spoken about; have prayed about; have made choices about too.  A wise friend said to me when I voiced my frustration:  There isn’t only one way of having babies nowadays – and there are no guarantees regardless of age or planning or how much of a good parent one may potentially be. My Ouma had her last child at the age of 44, AFTER a mastectomy and a bout with breast cancer.  He is perfectly healthy.  Yes, the risks are there.  Yes, it may be harder but it also may be easier for me than for some of my other friends who have done EVERYTHING right – they eat well, they keep their body fat at the optimal percentage, they exercise, they LOVE children and they have a supportive community around them and yet, I know their heartaches and things just not happening despite trying for months at the optimal age. Not just one friend – numerous friends! There are no guarantees in any of this.

It has been hard to know how to respond when the day we got engaged people started telling me I needed to start trying; or asking how long we planned on waiting because….well, you know, Lex, you are old; or going to an appointment with the lady doctor and being told to go home and make a baby now because the egg was in the perfect place according to the scan (She got asked to behave!).  It’s hard when I know that people don’t mean this badly. 

We would like to walk down the aisle first.  We would like to be in a position, where as a self-employed person, I don’t need to work for 3 months and we will be financially comfortable.  We would like to have memories of us 2 before we make memories of us 3 or us 4.  We also know that we want to choose a baby –regardless of whether we ‘make a bio-baby’ or not.

In the midst of all the pending changes, the last thing my heart, my brain and my body can cope with is the idea of being a mom on top of this all.  Yes, there are risks. We are risking joining 2 lives.  We are risking making decisions around careers and homes and futures as a couple.  We are risking giving up individual adventures to have a joint adventure.  Allow us to risk this well before we risk together with the life of another little person.  We want to risk for and with them. We want to love them well – more than well.

Just give us a little bit of time to get there!