I’d be right to say 2017 was a WILDERNESS. I heard people claiming that it was their year. “This is my year” is defined differently according to one’s experience and I know I’ll be right to say that it was my year too. I don’t say this because of whatever good experience I had, breakthrough, victory or achievement I had but because through it all, I saw God.
I was excited about the new year 2017 and of course it was my final year at the university. Who wouldn’t be excited after waiting for almost 4 years to hold a degree? I was left with 5 months before the final exam which would determine if I graduate or not. My coursework was not promising at all and obviously I lost hope. The thought of repeating brought me to my knees and I’ll cry endlessly. I knew that even if I wanted to repeat only one module, I wouldn’t because I’d not be able to pay for that.
God being a loving Father and ever present help, He calmed my fears and brought people who encouraged me to do my best even in that last minute I was left with. My church was blessed with this lady from Uganda who came to pastor a church. I happened to interact with her and we somehow built a relationship. I shared my fears with her and what she said was, “Hey Thandi, you are such a princess and I don’t think God brought you this far to shame you. Go and nail that exam. I assure you, you gonna graduate”. That was enough and I ran with it.
My lecturer’s words echoed in my mind everytime I convinced myself that I will graduate. What she said was out of concern, not to discourage me because she noticed that my performance deteriorated. She was worried. I wanted to prove that I can do better and I can do that because God’s by my side. It was May and we sat for exam. I remember when I was supposed to write this course I struggled with the whole semester. I had to prepare for it but I was stranded not knowing what exactly the strategy I should use to understand. I tried to read, join discussion groups, memorize but none of these worked for me. Then I told God, “Father I tried and nothing works for me. So, do what only you can do”. I went in the exam room and my mind was blank. I didn’t even think of questions that might possibly appear. I looked at the question paper and said, “God, this is yours”
I know that I wrote, I answered questions but I have no idea what I was writing on that sheet. After that, I went straight to my room. I didn’t want to discuss the paper and then start feeling discouraged because of the answers people would say they provided. When the exams were completed, it was a relieve. So there was moving from the university to town where I was gonna begin with the internship. I think I was ready for the change.
All went well for me. I made new friends, volunteered to help kids at the orphanage with their school work, joined prison ministry and joined youth band at church. I loved my life and besides going to work during the week, I had other things to keep me busy on weekends. I didn’t feel burdened. I enjoyed. Sometimes I had to walk for 6 hours to and from the orphanage. Transport didn’t stop me from doing what I loved.
Towards the end of August, I had this terrible dream. I was taught that dreams are important. I have this wonderful sister that God gave me. She’s the youth leader at church. So in my dream I’d visited her. Then these strange guys came in and attacked us. I told her about the dream. Few days after the dream, I was attacked at my house by two guys. They wanted to rape me but I fought and one of them stabbed me and then they left with my laptop and a pair of shoes.
I was terrified and stuck in the house alone. It was in the evening so I couldn’t go to the hospital. Then I had to sleep on a bleeding wound. The following day, my colleagues came and took me to the clinic. I didn’t have strength to walk, talk, laugh or do anything. I was scared. After seeing the doctor, I had to go back to that house again and be alone with the silence which reminded me of what happened. I couldn’t close my eyes, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t erase the look on those perpetrators face. I remembered everything, my voice crying out for help, their scent, the gigantic hands that wanted to strangle me to death.
I was scared to be in that house but had to sleep. In as much as I thanked God for my life, I still thought they might come back and finish what they started. My Ugandan pastor had gone back home. So I told her about this and she prayed with me. She thought praying wasn’t enough, so she organised my temporary shelter where I can feel safe. And on agreement, I went to stay with my youth leader. God used her mightily and with her, I felt the touch of heaven. I remember that night I arrived, I was restless. Tossing back and forth, screaming out of the blue, sobbing none stop but she tolerated that.
She organized counseling sessions, did all she could to make me feel that I wasn’t alone. I recovered physically and emotionally and went back to my house. Few days later, my laptop and shoes were brought back with the “I’m sorry” note. I didn’t know how to feel but I was thankful to God. Towards the end of September, there was another crisis to deal with. I became terribly sick and was admitted at the hospital. I didn’t know how I was gonna pay the bill. It was a private hospital and such hospitals are expensive. I had to lay on the hospital bed and deal with the sickness and worry about finances. Miraculously, God used the church to take care of all the charges and that was a relieve.
I was kept there for 3 days. Then the lady whom God brought in my life came to pick me. She’s such a queen, the queen of my heart because of the role she played till today. She’s one the women I’d keep forever. I know that even if she scolds me, she does that out of love. I fell in love with her heart. She’s kind, compassionate and strict.
We went together to the house where she stayed and introduced me to her other “kids”. They were all excited to see me. After the intro, the girls went to sleep and I was left with my new mama. I was still weak and I was very hungry because I didn’t eat lunch at the hospital…hospital food. So she prepared me food(supper). I ate though I didn’t have appetite for I had to take meds.
I finished and the moment I tried to swallow the meds, I threw up and I was so embarrassed. But because I was sick and weak that I couldn’t do anything, she(mama) cleaned after me. My whole body was in pain and she gently helped me to bed. I felt bad but there was nothing I could do. I felt better each day. She wrapped me with love and care. There were aftermaths(passing out which led me to the hospital again, eating disorder and womb discomfort) but because she was there to make sure I felt better, we fought together. The focus wasn’t just on physical recovery, but emotional and spiritual.
I recovered. So, I had to go back to my own place. My life was back on track again. After some weeks, I felt terribly ill again and was admitted at the hospital where I was diagnosed with ruptured appendix. Unfortunately, I had to go for surgery. That was a horrific pain and I lost like 10 kilos in few days after the surgery. All in all, God brought people who stood by me.
I was hopeless at some point but my “mama” was always there for me. She had some stuff to take care of but that didn’t hinder her from checking up on me everyday. God was there, “mama” was there, people who love me were there and I recovered. After battling with the sickness, then another thing was thrown at me just when I thought all was over. That’s how 2018 welcomed me. Someone says, “hell has thrown kitchen sink at me but am still standing”. Contrary to this saying, I couldn’t stand. I fell apart, I was left with pieces to pick. I had no strength to do that and gave up on life. I was broken and shattered. I became an emotional wreck.
I wanted to live my life. So after recovering from surgery scar, i decided that I’ll love my life. It was a new year and I lied to myself that everything was new. I told myself that I need to move on and live again. I thought I’ve won. I felt on top of the world, in control of my life. Puzzles were fitting perfectly. I stood on top of things and lived again. I shoved everything that wounded my heart under the carpet and thought all was well. The biggest mistake ever. Dealing with pain, cleaning the wound, pressing it to let the pus out, it becomes easy for it to heal. I didn’t give myself a chance to heal and that’s where the enemy took advantage and attacked me using my vulnerable side.
I acted like a wounded animal which attacks any that comes near it. I attacked everyone, I lost friends, I withdrew from people, some distanced themselves from this dangerous beast I was becoming. I looked for things that can help me forget the whole scandal in my life but none of what i did, really helped me. Instead, my life became more complex and worse. I lived as if nothing happened as if I had it all under control but deep inside I was falling apart.
It was terrible that I didn’t realize the attack of the depression. I withdrew from people and God too. I spend less time with God and each day, I drifted away from Him. I knew He was there but I felt a bit better when I didn’t think about God which shoved me deep into depression. My “mama” would say, “Thandi my princess, there will never be a day when the devil will roll a red carpet for you to walk”. This time I was battling with depression, I understood what she meant by that. I felt defeated and opted for suicide. My life was at stake and I could see it hanging by the cliff.
I survived suicide. My youth leader sent me a text asking about the whole thing of suicide. I felt like she was judging me. I thought that she definitely didn’t understand what I was going through…but who said she needed to understand. I knew that she said whatever she uttered out of love but I found it unfair. After the conversation we had, I thought, “No, I can’t just give up to the devil who has been defeated by my God. He was crucified so that I have victory so why should I give him the glory he doesn’t deserve? I stopped acting strong and a master of it all. I was empty inside and needed to be filled. None of the things I tried filled the void in me.
I knew i needed to do one thing. One thing that has been working for me all these years. I needed to step down and let God on the throne of my heart, acknowledging that I have failed by myself and giving Him full control of my life. The decision was not that easy but I trusted Him. I knew He’s the only one who can heal my heart and make me whole again. It is a process but God is very patient.
I decided to spend time in prayer and reading the word. The more I did that, the more I got the clear picture of who God really is other than what I told myself based on the crisis I was dealing with. I stood for my life and fought on my knees. I studied the word, I journaled, I poured out my heart to God. Together with God, we won. Not that it’s over because the devil is always looking for someone to devour but I got control and know that I have power over my life, the power to overcome, be it sickness, death of a loved one, depression, suicidal thoughts, sexual assault, miscarriage, rejection, judgment from those I love or anything that the world would throw at me. I will fight a good fight in prayer.
I’ve been focused on dealing with crisis after another and neglected the important things in my life. When life showed me the worst side, I was in the middle of fundraising for my book to be published. I lost focus and put a halt on everything concerning it. I’m back on my feet and gonna work on publishing it. As we are heading towards the end of the year, I have something I can point to say at least I was able to complete in the midst of storms. I know God is in it and will open a door. My Master is faithful, My Father is loving and He’s got my back. I know we plan for a new year hoping that things will work out very well and when they don’t, we claim that it wasn’t our year. Whether life decided to stone me or was kind to me, each year remains my year with whatever it has to offer. I’m still standing and am stronger than before because Christ is the one who strengthens me.