Before I say I do…

…Single, never been married.

…Divorced or separated.

…Widows or widowers.

…Recent college graduates or students.

…People who have emerged from same-sex relationships.

…Independent and successful professionals who are aware of the quiet ticking away of their child-bearing years.

…Any of the above with a child or two that was conceived in or out of wedlock, virgins, those who have been around the block a few times, those who made it to the block but didn’t really go all the way around it, the broken-hearted, the naïve and starry-eyed romantics, the sceptics, the love veterans who came back from the battle of their lives, the proverbs 31 wannabes, the desperately seeking, those with hobbies and ministries to keep them happily pre-occupied….

This whole list is broken down into one very simple term in the church: “The Singles” – One monolithic block of inexplicably unmarried people.

Compare the people who are a part of this list to the Pastors and Church Elders who have been married to the same woman since the beginning of time, have neat little families all loving the Lord together and looking like bright and shining examples of God’s plan for all of humanity and you can see right away that there’s a cultural disconnect somewhere between the “The Singles” and their aforementioned married counterparts.

Why?

The unprecedented explosion of single adult households that we are currently in the midst of is the underlying cause of the disconnection. It’s one of three demographic changes that the marketing research firm Yankelovich Partners is advising Fortune 100 companies to consider if they hope to “stay on top”.

Seeing single mommies, bachelors well into their forties – still dating, bachelorettes who have it all together but no-one to share it with, etc. is becoming more and more common in society and the dating pool is getting wider and wider, teeming with people who are single and ready to mingle, but quantity isn’t really the issue when you’re looking for a life-partner, quality is.

When society devalues the institution of marriage and writes off its credibility, it’s no wonder that brokenness shows up in the church. With the hands-off approach parents and elders have slowly adopted when it comes to the dating habits of today’s singles, many single adults tend to go adrift in their pursuit of a life-partner, not sure if they should even be asking for help meeting and marrying wisely for fear of looking like they’re unsatisfied, too eager, interfering with God’s divine timing, unable to produce the fruits of self-control and long-suffering etc.

One wise pastor once told a group of single adults that he was sympathetic to the challenges of “Endless Opportunity”. Because he was a pastor, father and husband, the boundaries of his day were fairly well-defined from the moment he woke up in the morning. He knew his responsibilities and the priorities he had to attend to and didn’t have to spend a lot of time deciding what he was supposed to do, when and with who.

Single adults on the other hand have so many options that are available to them each day that making the wrong choice is fairly easy. I mean, unlike a generation or two ago, two singles can hook up, decide to move in together without getting married and not even consider that they are missing out on anything by choosing not to officially tie the knot. They’ll just do everything else without all the heavy commitments.

And this isn’t going to make much sense, but contrary to popular belief, my personal belief and conviction is that as a result of this current state of affairs (no pun intended) marriage is more relevant today than ever before.

Stay with me now, I’m about to explain.

There was a time when marriage was a given due to societal norms. Now it is a choice that is made as a statement of faith in true love despite the depravity of society, a choice borne out of the conviction that the person you love deserves your faithfulness and the security of a covenant that is made before God, both families and friends, a choice that isn’t externally induced by society but internally induced by a need to follow a divine order because you value this union and want it to be the foundational platform for future generations that will be born out of it.
Whether or not it is endorsed by movies and music videos, whether or not your own parents had a successful marriage, whether or not the statistics declare that the odds are stacked up against you, you still take that step, selflessly and sacrificially forsaking all others for one when you could have as many as you want if you’re willing to buy all those drinks at the club.

What I’m realizing is that what were once good reasons to get married in my parents’ time are rapidly becoming irrelevant today. For example:

So we can live together. Many couples live happily together for many years without getting married and it’s no longer frowned upon.

For sex. Please.

Financial Security. Both men and women now have the capacity to earn the income of their choice in relation to their skills to achieve a certain lifestyle without anyone having to rely on the other.

So we can have children. Many couples who live together eventually have children out of wedlock too and that’s no longer frowned upon either.

To make our relationship official. You could achieve that by posting up on Facebook that “…. And I are now OFFICIAL” and tag all the people that really really needed to know that and proceed changing your profile picture to one of those “they’re obviously officially together” pictures.

Cooking, cleaning, etc. Get a maid.

So what are we left with?

Well, marriage makes a relationship divine. It’s bigger than you and your feelings for each other, because marriage introduces God into the relationship and makes Him an integral link between the two of you. Until they are married, a couple’s commitment to each other is a human commitment, with all the limitations of being human. We can’t predict the future, what may change in and around us, how the other partner will wrong us. But the marriage covenant elevates the commitment beyond human limitations. It makes the union sacred.

The world has shown us that marriage doesn’t work.

But of course…It’s marriage our way in our own strength through our own intellect.

Of course it won’t work.

It’s not supposed to.

Only after the wedding is your love rescued from superficiality, selfishness and temporality, but blessed with the divine imprint of eternity.

Not that this ideal is dangling like a carrot at the end of my singlehood. It’s not the reward for being a good single person, for memorising enough scriptures, for praying hard enough, for all the occasions of self-denial I have survived etc.

I’m just willing to accept this ministry if and when it comes, understanding full well that as the steward of my husband’s life, I will release Him back into Our Father’s hands one day with an account of how I served faithfully in the position of his wife with the understanding that it never really was about me…

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Why So Insecure?

Whenever I find myself in a relationship, I am BOUND to be asked that. I’ve heard it a million times, but I always give them the “Oh no he didn’t” look.

Wanna know what’s the best way to discover how insecure you are?

Approach someone you think is really really awesome; enter into a relationship with them, and here comes the spanner in the works: commence being yourself and being totally honest with yourself and that person from that day onwards and expect the same from them, no questions asked.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find that to be a really tall order…

I mean, from day one?

Maybe after a month at best… But day one?

Around people that don’t particularly know me, people that I admire for some reason or the other, people from work, or even people from church, you can be guaranteed that I’ll put on either the “Cool-and-aloof-don’t-get-too-close Lindi”, the “All-smiles-everyday Lindi”, the “Always-trying-to-sound-deep-and-philosophical Lindi”, or the “Halleluyah-praise-Jesus-happy-clappy Lindi”, but never the real Lindi who gets nervous and needs someone to reassure her over and over again that she’s okay and it’ll all be okay in the end…

The Lindi who is immensely emotional and takes the things people say to heart when she really shouldn’t…

The Lindi who’s really trying really hard to make her friends, her family, her colleagues, people from church, people on Facebook, and even beggars on the street happy – but is slowly discovering that seeking approval is a lot like chasing the wind; you only wind up empty-handed.

Or the Lindi that makes mistakes over and over and over again… And sometimes has nothing epic to say to God except, “I’m sorry… but I’m sure You already saw that coming”.

I won’t admit to being that Lindi if it means admitting that I’m insecure…

And I won’t admit to being insecure if it means admitting that I’m vulnerable.

And I won’t admit to being vulnerable if it means that I have a need for acceptance.

And I won’t admit to needing acceptance if it means admitting that I need someone to love away all the pain, all the fears, all the negativity of my past, all the anxiety I have about my future, all the thoughts of me not being good enough or smart enough or righteous enough or captivatingly attractive enough.

I have touched on this topic fairly often since I started this blog; from the pursuit of the “Perfect Girl” to “The top Five Secrets to Weight Loss”, “Putting on My Sunday Best” and “Being Absolutely Godgeous and Absolutely Loving It”. So, it’s either I just have a lot to say about the importance of having a high self-esteem because I have some sort of personal score to settle with my awkward teenage phase when I had very little of it, or it could be that everything that pertains to achieving any sort of success or any level of peace and joy in your life boils down to your identity, what you believe about yourself and how you project that self-awareness into your words and actions. From the looks of it, that is the make or break factor for all that you endeavor to achieve with your time here on planet earth.

Since we’re really zeroing in on the issue of insecurity, I would like to define the term briefly:

A person who is insecure is someone who lacks confidence in their own value, and one or more of their capabilities, lacks trust in themselves or others, or has fears that a present positive state is temporary, and will let them down and cause them loss or distress by “going wrong” in the future. Insecurity may contribute to the development of shyness, paranoia and social withdrawal, or alternatively it may encourage compensatory behaviors such as arrogance, aggression, or bullying, in some cases.

It is often rooted in a person’s childhood years. Like offense and bitterness, it grows in a layered fashion, often becoming an immobilizing force that sets a limiting factor in the person’s life.

An insecure person is a vulnerable person, easily shaped by the views, opinions, and ideas of others because they’re uncertain about their own values and they’re unwilling to question the ideas of other people or to stand up for themselves.

This is not to be confused with humility, which involves recognizing one’s shortcomings, but still maintaining a healthy dose of self-confidence.

Insecurity is not an objective evaluation of one’s ability but rather an emotional interpretation that can very easily be a major exaggeration of the truth.

I think most Christians have been there, where the more we put ourselves down, the holier we believe we become. “Less of me Lord… Let me decrease” we say. “Let us be lowly servants, long suffering, we need to carry this cross and be a living sacrifice…” There’s almost an unspoken rule that we can’t openly value ourselves for fear of coming across as prideful, but to what end?

Utter self-defeat and the acceptance of abuse?

We also live in the sort of times where every area of our lives has an element of competition. I can’t just look alright; I have to have this season’s “It Look”.

I can’t just be living a comfortable lifestyle; I have to be a multi-billion dollar tycoon by thirty.

I can’t just get married to someone I love; they have to be “The One” that just missed being Jesus Christ the Messiah Himself merely because instead of robes, he’ll be in a Carducci Tuxedo on my wedding day.

If you can’t keep up, well forget it, you’re a failure. You’re not worth mentioning.

I’ve also found myself falling into the sort of mindset where if a good thing happens, I look for the catch. I can’t be so happy, something’s wrong. He can’t be so good to me, he’s probably hiding something. He’s going to leave. He’s cheating. Something’s bound to go wrong because it has in the past and it should in the future. I anticipate it and I look forward to saying “Aha! I saw it coming – I knew this would never work! Good thing I didn’t give my all into it.”

I was reading up on this earlier and this is what I discovered:

•Romans 5:1-2
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Our faith in God is what justifies us. Not our lover, not our family, not our career, not our pastor, not what we do for the church, not our attempts to “do good” and nothing we have achieved. This gives us inner peace, because we don’t have to toil night and day for it. Access to Him has already been granted.

•John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

God honors us by calling us His friends and including us in His plans. He chose us knowing exactly what we have and don’t have. What we can and cannot do. Often times we forget who we are and what God has done for us. It is important that we see ourselves the way God sees us in order to avoid feeling insecure about our failure to measure up.

•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.

You can expect good things. You can anticipate the best. You can accept great blessings. You can plan for things to turn around for your benefit. You can do that confidently. There’s no catch.

•Psalm 139:13-16
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Do you know that full well?

This has been your official reminder. :)

I Have A Dream…

 

I know…

I have a bit of explaining to do…

I’ve been AWOL since the end of June and now all of a sudden I want to resurface in September like nothing happened…

Well, technically, that last part is inaccurate because I’m not planning on downplaying the reasons why I couldn’t locate/allocate/formulate the time to write on my blog… I’m actually planning on writing all about it, so we’re all clear.

Long story short? My schedule changed… Dramatically.

I went from a full-time student who studies at home all day to a full-time receptionist/stationery lady/data capturer / filing clerk and petty cash manager at an engineering consultancy by day, a full time BA Communication Science student by night, odd-job contractor for my mother on weekends and praying about a certain somebody who let slip while we were stuck on the side of the road after the car’s engine failed that he’s praying about me to start praying about a ring, a white dress with a train, an altar, some vows, three kids, a dog and a white picket fence in the near future.

Let’s just say these past three months blew in a fresh wind of opportunities, breakthroughs, strides towards my maturation as an adult, new friends, new feelings, promises, plans, but also, a whole lot of learning curves, miss-steps, confrontations, reality-checks, and struggles into my life…

At best, it’s overwhelming… It sometimes feels as though I might have bitten off more than I can chew…

Ever feel like that?

Like everything you’ve ever prayed for is suddenly hurtling at you at a million miles per second, when what you really expected (or really hoped for) was for God to drag His Godly feet at a Godly pace with all the answers and all the changes they brought… Because you were comfortable where you were.

Safe.

At home.

With Mom and Dad.

No Worries.

Every bill paid and all my favorite shows recorded on the PVR.

And what did I do?

I closed my eyes and took the plunge.

The first month at my new job was difficult.

I wasn’t used to working. I wasn’t used to being ordered around and my actions evaluated. I wasn’t used to accounting for everything, reporting everything, then going onto filing it and repeating the whole process. I wasn’t used to the phone ringing off the hook all day and every time I answered it, there was a new person on the phone that I had to be pleasant towards no matter how I felt at the time. I wasn’t used to how little sleep I was getting and how early I was getting up in the mornings. How easy assignments at school had suddenly started to hurt my brain every time I tried to complete them. How my feet hurt at the end of the day and how I’ve recently become a champions-league coffee-drinker because the caffeine keeps me going when I usually would’ve sat down, crossed my arms and said “That’s It! I’m done!”

And I realized I was in the rat-race. The same rat-race I had always warned myself against being a part of when I had all the time in the world to give myself good advice.

The more I got into the whole receptionist thing, the more miserable I was on the drive home and the sleepier I was when it was time for me to be up the next morning. This was all until I was asked by the I.T guy at the office to edit some copy for a website he was working on. I admit I might’ve grumbled under my breath that I’m always being asked to do work that isn’t even on my job description on my way to his office, but as soon as I was on that chair, and the spelling mistakes were jumping at me like bugs on a spotless windscreen, the grammatical errors were yelling at me at the top of their voices for me to put them out of their misery, and I looked at him and said “This thing needs to be re-written” which was another way of saying, “Have no fear oh innocent civilian, this looks like a job for Super Lindi!”

Just like that, I was writing again. That’s when I remembered I had a blog. That it was how I ministered to the people around me. That I had dreams that sprawled out beyond the confines of that front desk for acres upon acres. That I planned on having my own office on the top floor of a company that I had planted and grown. Plans of traveling the world. Plans of being at the cutting edge of social change and being a solution to the problems that young Africans much like myself are struggling with. Plans of being blessed to be a blessing.

But I just hadn’t entertained those plans in a while because it looked like too much effort to get there… Like it would take too long… Like people would never take me seriously because people already think I’m over-ambitious before I’ve even started… Like I don’t have the means or the connections to pull it off… Like I lacked the talents, intelligence, the star-quality to get there… So I parked them and dealt with real life instead.

Richard Bolles calls the “not allowing yourself to dream” part the “Safekeeping Self.” This is where we make every excuse we can think of to not take action or to dream big. “What if my spouse doesn’t like what I do,” “It’s childish to just sit around and dream about impractical things,” or “I don’t have the time for such.”

Although this concept is nothing new, how many of us would you guess still insert the “Yes, buts…” into our thoughts and we excuse ourselves from dreaming big.

I mean, it’s all good and well when we’re told to dream by pastors and Oprah… But why bother if you’re okay where you are?

Well, here’s my take:

•There are not many feelings that could be considered better than knowing that you’ve found the true meaning and purpose of your life. Perhaps you don’t know what your true calling in life is yet, but I can guarantee you that you won’t get to that point if you can’t even imagine it.

•When you dream big, you open yourself up to opportunities and stand a better chance of recognizing them and being ready to take them up when they present themselves in their various forms in your life.

• You may even end up achieving more than you ever thought you could before you started dreaming. For example, you might be at a crossroads where you’re considering whether or not to get a job in a certain field or start a business in that same field. The job is a safe bet with a likely limited salary. The business is the “big dream” that can provide fulfillment and not just the salary potential. You’ll be personally fulfilled and you’ll achieve more for your hard work.

•Big dreams are the reasons why the world changes for the better. It’s the reason why there have been so many great inventions, and cures for diseases, etc. Big dreams give you the opportunity to truly leave your mark on the world and to leave a legacy for future generations.

•Life is way too short to just sit back and wait for something to happen to you… And sometimes I think it’s way too long for that too. After all, you don’t get to restart your life over again once you reach the finish. So you might as well dream big since you won’t get another chance to do it. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Big things can and do happen to people who have the courage to pursue them.

•The good thing about dreaming big is that it allows you to fall short and still gain a lot. Confucius once said “If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK. But you’ve got to shoot for something. A lot of people don’t even shoot.” Dreaming big pushes you to heights you might not have reached otherwise.

•Sometimes you need to ask big in order to really get anything accomplished. Matthew 7:7 says: ” “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock
and the door will be opened to you.” God didn’t put terms and conditions in small print after that… He didn’t say ask only for what you think is okay to ask for… Or ask only for what you’ve seen Him do before. He didn’t want us to put limits on what He can do… What He can give us. What we can discover in this life when we take the time to explore the possibilities. Or what doors can be opened if we just take the time to knock.

So ultimately, what I want to know is: are you still dreaming, or are you just lying there with your eyes closed?