Nearly four years ago I hit the wall. I was an absolute mess having spent most of my cognitive years trying to please those around me, and, of course, God, seeing as I am a Christian.
Exhausted, despairing, desperate I packed up what of my life I could fit into my car, or should I say my husband’s car, and went to live in our beach house in Mozambique. It sounds trite to say I had to find myself, but I suppose in retrospect that is true. I needed to find out who the real Glenda is, and what she needed to do in order to survive this business called life. At that point it was about survival, not purpose, not success, just simply how do I get through the pain and ugliness of who I am?
I knew that I was called to write. I knew I had to answer the call that had been inside of me since the early eighties to put words on paper, tell the stories that rattled around inside my head, and that was ostensibly my reason for deciding to stay in Mozambique. The peace and quiet is conducive to writing. Phone signals are unreliable, so internet access was intermittent to non-existent, I had no television, a small community of four families, with others only coming for weekends or holidays – an ideal environment.
My diaphragm was clamped in panic that day for the seven hours it took to get there. I had decided to take my cat with me. She had been on holiday with us before, and came from that part of the world. She travelled very well, although she did almost cause me to crash the car when she inadvertently stood on the electric button that opened the back window. I felt the rush of air, and saw her, head out, ears pinned back in the wind, and I am quite convinced, a huge grin on her face.
The largest portion of my baggage was devoted to my journals, bible, Christian books, family photographs and documents. There was much I had to do, apart from ‘find’ myself. How I hate that expression – it sounds so trite! I wanted to catch up on all the reading I had been putting off while I did the myriad things I needed to ensure that I had significance, that I mattered to those around me. Maybe if I could just focus hard enough, learn enough, I might find the answers that seemed to elude me: why was it that my prayers seemed to hit some invisible ceiling, why could I not be heard, and the scariest one of all, what is wrong with me?
I was concerned about my sons. My marriage to their father had ended when they were very young, their step-father reluctantly accepted his role as parent, and I was aware that they felt adrift, orphaned even. I was determined to change this, and one of the ways I had decided on was to make them photo albums, showing our family tree with pictures of their ancestors, to give them some feeling of identity and, hopefully, belonging.
It was late afternoon when I arrived at the beach house. My norm was to get everything unpacked and put away immediately, my perfectionist nature craving order. I was too emotionally drained to do so this time. I got the cooler bags unpacked, found my pyjamas and that was about that. That was my first sense of liberation, a freedom in going against the norm, and having no one but myself to answer to for the mess. I slept well, strangely.
Early the next morning I set off for a long walk on the beach, one of my best pastimes. I love the solitude of long, scantily inhabited Mozambique beaches, the perfection of sea, land and sky, the hugeness of our world and our minuteness within it. I feel the intimacy of the Lord’s presence where His majesty is so powerfully displayed. I felt light, relieved, a huge load lifted off me. It had taken all of my courage to do what I had done, and I was very uncertain of the outcome, but it felt right.
As I poured out my heart before the Lord walking along the shore that morning, I heard Him very clearly tell me the first thing I needed to do was ditch all the books, that He would teach me all I needed to know from His word. I needed to learn from Him, and not through the experiences of others. This does not mean that they are not faithful servants, or that there is anything wrong with their teachings, but I needed my own experience and understanding of the Lord and His ways. So, out went the Beveres, Lisa and John, Pietersen, Joyce Meyer, O’Maartian, Anderson, the lot – the bible became my sole Christian reading matter.
I knew that in order for my healing to begin, I would have to unpack much of what had happened to me in my life. I have trained as a lay counsellor, and know that for true healing to take place, you have to re-visit painful incidents, so I was under no illusions about the journey I was embarking on. It would be hard, it would hurt, but I knew the reward that awaited me if I could “butch up” as my sister-in-law likes to say, and face it.
Now, nearly four years later, I am ready to share my journey, the lessons I have learnt. My prayer is that someone somewhere will benefit, will find a closer link to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and thus to their own healing and their path beside still waters.
My story is not a pretty one, it certainly doesn’t fit into the usual ‘feel good’ Christina genre. There is much that has happened that I would not wish on anyone, at the same time I would not have missed one step of this walk, because of where it has brought me.
If you are willing to face what might be some hard truths in your life, please join me for the next however many Mondays it takes to share all that is on my heart.
If not, Friday Frolics will be more of a light-hearted romp, so please join me then.
Finally, I would like to thank all who have followed me the past few years for your support. I wish everyone a year of discovery, joy and peace, an awesome 2016!