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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Not like you!

We sat in a group chit-chatting about life in general. It was a lovely evening, a wonderful sense of camaraderie in the air. We were a group of women in alignment of purpose, easing off the strain of a busy academic day and getting to know each other a little better in the process.  This was girl’s time out, and it really didn't matter that the ‘girls’ cut across almost three different generations…. We were all girls and in that time we had each other’s backs. My exact kind of space!

Inadvertently, at some point the issues and vicissitudes of life become topical, different experiences were being shared, opinions began to be heard and an avalanche of well-meaning advice began to flow. One of the ladies sat quietly enough though clearly listening intently, the occasional quiet smile playing across her lips. And of course, you can be sure she had my attention particularly as she’s by no means a quiet person. Curious me, I really needed to hear her thoughts on the subject matter. I won’t go into the entire conversation, but suffice to say that she shared an experience with me and then remarked that she had actually written an article to capture her thoughts around this experience. I asked if she would share and she readily emailed it to me. I was completely blown away as I read. I said to her that she needed to write more often, and then asked if she would mind my featuring her write-up on this forum. Bless her, she was happy to oblige, so today, I share this platform with my Guest Blogger who at this time shall be called ‘Sandra’… about as far away from her real name as I can get, lol. Here goes:

Yesterday was Mothering Sunday. 
The women turned out gaily dressed to celebrate the good fortune of being a wife and a mother. But …….the definition of a woman is ‘A mature adult female’…. not all are wives and for sure not all are mothers. 

I am not like you!
I may not be a wife, indeed I may not be a mother but I’m no less a woman, fiercely and passionately loved by the One who made me. I celebrate my life and His faithfulness to me. 

The message was about a mature woman. She talked about a woman's application of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I was properly impressed as I perhaps I should be.

I am not like you!
I barely get it. I believe in God the Father; I believe in Jesus Christ; I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe He redeemed me unto Himself and He is my God, and I am a child dearly beloved. He is working His love into my heart, guiding me by His Wisdom along the road that I am travelling. I am not like you. But I am a child of faith.  I am confident in my daughtership!

She spoke of her reverence for her husband - her head. She would even kneel for him when he gets back from work and his food and care is her preoccupation. I was well impressed - isn't that as it should be?
But I am not like you.
Our life circumstances are different. I am the one who gets in after he does. I am the one who can barely stand on my feet because I have logged a 13-hour day. I am a helpmate that walks alongside to make a living.  I am grateful for the life I have. I am not like you! Do not offer me the pill that works for you.

Her household only eats home-cooked meals, which she sweats over the cooker to make.  In one sweep, 3 pots of Ogbono, egusi and the third one I cannot remember.
I am not like you.  
My family is fed good wholesome food. Sometimes I make it, sometimes it comes   from the freezer, and sometimes it is bought. They are fed and it is healthy food. I can live with that. My daughter cannot cook egusi or Ogbono even if her life depended on it. But she is confident in the kitchen and turns out the meanest liver & ham that you can imagine. Her sauces make you come back for more. Her chicken & steak can make you bite through your tongue. At 17, she had the run of the kitchen and had been the housekeeper for 2 years. Combine this with straight A grades and honor roll performance. I am not like you, but my life and my meals works for me.

She talked about her exercise regime and being the example of fitness and goodness in her fifties. I was well impressed as I should be.

I am not like you.
I am overweight and do not exercise as much as I would like to. But I am wonderfully and beautifully made. I will eat right and find a routine that will work for me. I love my body as I am and will love me when I firm my butt and my mid riff.

I may be well impressed by your life and your life story….. but it is not my life, not my life story.

Talk to me about who He is and what He is doing and promised to do in my life. Talk to me about God, His Christ and Spirit working in me, for me and through me.

I am not like you.

I am ME……. Much loved, pardoned by grace, loved in mercy!


Sis, I know we all process things very differently, but this speaks to me very deeply from many perspectives.

First of all, it is so important that we know and understand ourselves, the way God has created us to be, the way the unique sets of experiences, circumstances and challenges of life have evolved us to be. Even while we are on a constant quest to become better versions of self, the first step in this journey is - understanding who we are and the things that frame us. That way, we are not working too hard to fit into the mold that other people have or expect us to conform to. Understanding ourselves leads us to self-acceptance, to an ability to be able to look our strengths and weaknesses directly in the face and not be impressed or confounded/intimidated by them. Knowing ourselves is about knowing the God we serve and understanding that He sees, knows, and loves us simply because we are His wonderful creation.

It is important that we understand that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula for any area of life and so we need to stop bench-marking ourselves against others who we think have it going on, and allow ourselves depressurize emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Out top concern should be how we appear in the eyes of God and the only way to truly do this is to ensure we are constantly seeking His face and a closer walk with Him. God’s ways are not man’s ways, and this is not a cliché. It is His Word! Our God is too big to be stereotyped into any particular cast and neither does He expect us to play out any man-engineered stereotypes. He is a God of principles, yes… but we can never ascribe to ourselves any mastery of just how He chooses to play out His principles in our lives, much less in the lives of the next man or woman.

I say all the time that advice is not meant to be taken. Each time I say this, I am met with a questioning stare and I have to explain that the essence of seeking or receiving advice is to help you look inwards, adequately frame the totality of the situation you are facing, and then make your own decision which may or may not then take the direction of any advice received. Ultimately, our play in life should always be a function of us communing with the Holy Spirit and allowing Him be our guide. What this means is that I cannot try to push my views of how you should handle any situation on you, because quite simply…I am not you; I don’t have your circumstances; I am not dealing with the same sets of people you are dealing with; I don’t have the same assignment you have; and the directive I might have received from God even if I had an exact situation as yours, is very likely to be very different from mine…. Because His purpose for your life is different from mine, and the things He might be trying to birth through you in that situation might be very different from the things HE is trying to birth through me.

Sandra’s post also then reminded me that we must not be too quick to form opinions, to assume we know, to judge. We all have our struggles, and if I don’t struggle with what you struggle with, I don’t have the right to color the lenses through which I look at your life by the things I assume I see and know. And you cant give up on me because it seems my issues are bigger or more visible than yours. Oh, but that we would all be required to open our closets at the same time..... who would dare point the first finger? Enough said!

I’m not like you, sis…. And I’m so glad I’m not. How boring an ‘i-robot’ type world would be! Our God is too grand for that, and in the scheme of things His picture is too large, too beautiful and too detailed for us to ever imagine more than a tiny piece of it at a time. You and I are not here just for the period of our lives my friend. No, we are here because our life adds up to a much greater part of the picture than we can imagine. Our every experience is shaping generations that will flow from us, or be touched by us in ways which we will never know. The impact I am created to have is greatly different from the impact you were created to have, generationally so! The challenges I will have to struggle with and grow because of, will build muscles in me that are necessary for something in time that you will never be part of, and vice versa.

If we can agree this, then it’s absolutely wonderful that I am not like you, sis… remarkably brilliant that you are not like me. So how about we cut each other some slack? How about you and I concentrate on that one thing that assuredly we have in common? As Sandra said, “I am me……. Much loved, pardoned by grace, loved in mercy!” and this is who you are too. Let’s be sure we are extending the same love, pardon, grace and mercy all around okay. Our key assignment is to be the Christ that the next person will experience here on earth. If we would be keep this as our constant focus, we will be well-guided and guarded in our thinking, our utterances, and our actions towards others. We will be love, and we will be truly loved. We will live the Gospel and we will ‘BE’ the Gospel. We will be less under pressure ourselves, and we will help others live a life that is less pressured, more fulfilling, and bringing greater glory to God.

I don’t want to fit into the mold that works for you, sis. Neither do I imagine you want me to dictate the mold I think should work for you. Fearfully, wonderfully made is your unique identity, even as it is mine. I don’t want to be your judge and jury, and I don’t want you to be mine. I want to hold your hand on this journey called life, because I know that together we can be more and do more for God. I know that if we allow each other be, and simply commit to supporting each other through our strengths and struggles, we will both come out stronger and more fulfilled for it. Sis, how about you and I recommit today to helping each other and the next person we meet walk in the quiet assurance that they have the freedom to be the person God has uniquely designed them to be. Sound like a plan? Works for me!

As always, the Lord is our Helper sis. He surely is! And as my sista-sista Bidemi always says, ‘We will make it, nevertheless!’

Be blessed sis…… for you surely are!





2 comments:

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About Me

Entrepreneur, Mentor, Wife, Mother, Sister, Friend. A firm believer in God. Walking in faith everyday that by His grace, I will achieve harmony in all areas of my life, and make measurable impact in the lives of other women of the world

WORD FOR THE WEEK

LUKE 1:

34“-How can this be, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God

JEREMIAH 2:

5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth. 7 But the Lord said to me, Say not, I am only a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8 Be not afraid of them [their faces], for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 See, I have this day appointed you to the oversight of the nations and of the kingdoms to root out and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.

1st CORINTHIANS 1:

25 [This is] because the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men. 26 For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. 27 [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. 28 And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,

Colossians 1:

28 Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God), that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ (the Anointed One).

29 For this I labor [[z]unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.