Hi. How are you doing?
Quick (and random) question:
If you were to die today, what do you think people would say about you?
Eehm, I guess death is a bit morbid. Let’s try that one more time…
Rephrase; If you were to host an event/an event was hosted in your honor, what do you think people would say about you? (It is just a bit unfortunate that more often than not we wait for occasions to affirm those we love. Ordinarily, it should not have to be that way. Anyway…)
Trivial yet critical question.
2 Corinthians 3:2-3 For your very lives are our “letters of recommendation,” permanently engraved on our hearts, recognized and read by everybody. You are living letters written by Christ, not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God—not carved onto stone tablets but on the tablets of tender hearts.
You know, in as much as people’s opinions of us are not the basis of our value, they sometimes can give us awareness of who we are. In any case, we do not live as islands. Even if you were to be detached from your friends and estranged from your family, you would have a neighbor, a co-worker, or a classmate. The bottom line is that there are people around us who get to experience us and God created us to function in an ecosystem like that of impacting people as they impact us and, in turn, have an eternal impact in the kingdom of God. The word of God says;
John 15:16 (AMP) You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.
Oh, by the way, we are still in the village…
When I was in the village, whenever I would meet a person for the first time or perhaps just spend time with them, I would consciously seek out what/how I could learn from them/at least what inspiration I could draw from them. To be honest, I am still like this, possibly even more now than then. It’s amazing how much you give/get from the people that surround you when you intentionally view them this way.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
I sure took my time to say my village story today. A bit bitter-sweet or somber storyline it is to relay, I should admit. I will introduce you to four women I had the privilege to meet/spend a moment with in the village before they, later on, passed away.
AUNT MAVIS (My dad’s sister)
I did mention this aunt of mine as one of the three aunts I stayed with in Chinhoyi (we can call it the city) before moving to the village. I hardly have any memories of her from that particular season except that one time she plaited my hair for school as a grade 1 student and it was very painful that I was crying in my sleep until I annoyed her into taking the scissors and chopping it all off that fateful evening. Overreacting? Maybe. Let it be known that from that moment onward, as long as it has been in my power to choose, I have never allowed anyone to plait me that hairstyle again. That pain again? Not on my watch haha! For the Shona reader, you might know this cornrow hairstyle called ‘tsono’ (I really can’t interpret it, sorry. In direct translation this means needle. It can possibly be described as cornrows that are plaited using a needle. Maybe. Give me my flowers for trying, won’t you?). Far be it from me! (I mean the hairstyle of course)
Aunt Mavis was very beautiful, she was light-skinned, with a model body and long hair. Even after I moved to the village, she used to visit sometimes and the smoke from the village-huts fire would irritate her eyes beyond measure. It often escalated to an allergy of red hurting eyes. I admired her, I thought she was elegant and polished and I wanted to grow up into becoming a fancy lady like her. To the best of my memory, she was quite the elegant type that you just aspire to be.
Unfortunately, she fell very ill at some point and was discharged from a hospital in the city and had to move to the rural home for her to be nursed there. This was a tough season for her as she got relatively incapacitated and had to depend on others for movement and everything else essentially. Among the people who helped her was me and because of her predicament, she was quite feisty, probably out of frustration. I used to sympathize with her and humbly assisted her when I was the one to do it. This must have ministered to her one day as she randomly said to me;
I remember taking care of you not so long ago, I can’t believe that you are now the one taking care of me. It’s true what they say in Shona; ‘chirere chigokurerao mangwana’ (loosely translated it means; take care of a child/another person today and tomorrow they will also take care of you).
That statement has stuck with me throughout the years. It taught me the significance of doing good to others even when there is no sign of them being able to return the favor. You never know the surprising ways they might pour back into you at some point. It is not even about them pouring back to you, do good to the people around you in as much as it is in your power to do so, life is full of surprises.
John 13:34-3534 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another.”
Ultimately, my aunt passed away due to that ailment. Again, I was in the room when it happened. (If you have read previous blog posts, you would understand why I am saying again) It must have been the two of us in that room if my memory serves me right or three with my grandma. I was a deep sleeper then so I heard nothing as they moved her out of the room and people gathered and started the loud singing typical to African funerals. What sort of sleeping is that? Sigh. Reminds me of the two women in 1 Kings 3:16-28 who had a baby issue that King Solomon wisely solved. Death always happens when you sleep senselessly like this, especially spiritually.
Anyway, I digress.
When I eventually woke up, there was such a strange atmosphere in that room that I could not explain, the type that makes your blood crawl and your hair seemingly stand. I was totally oblivious to what had just taken place so I could not understand the strangeness. I then heard singing outside and assumed there were church people who had come to pray for her. This was not an unusual occurrence, people used to come to pray for her occasionally. In fact, I remember the last time people prayed for her, they urged her to forgive the person/people she was holding a grudge against to which she seemingly was not so keen. I hope she eventually found the strength and grace to do so.
Looking back, I am certain of this, life is spiritual, whether or not you acknowledge that, or know it. I had no idea what had just happened in the room that I was sleeping in, but my whole being picked it up instantly when I woke up. This cements to me that our bodies can submit to the spiritual realm, most times we just don’t create an environment/atmosphere for that to happen with God. Worst case scenario, we subject them to the demonic by the atmospheres we allow ourselves to be in. In case you might miss the two lessons I learned from her, it is these;
- Do good to all men as long as it is in your power to do so. You will surely reap the benefits directly or indirectly and besides is it not a noble thing to just do good to all men? (& women, this is not a gender thing)
- Life is spiritual and should be treated as such. The sooner one understands this, the better one can function on this earth. You are altogether limited in life if you end in the natural realm.
2. MY GRANDMA (My mom’s mom)
Just like my paternal grandpa, my maternal grandpa also married a second wife. This case must have been slightly more complicated as my granny, who was the first wife too, eventually went back to stay alone in a village close to my dad’s. My dad and mom came from neighboring villages as such. When I moved to the village, I stayed with my dad’s side of the family and I seldom visited my mom’s side of the family primarily because my dad’s side and mom’s side had differences that needed resolving. The few moments I got to see my granny were quite cherishable.
My gran never called me by name, I was ‘my daughter’s daughter‘ to her. Through her, I got a slight window into knowing my mother. She showed me some of the things that belonged to her that used to belong to my mom, told me some of the funny stories about her, some of the passions she had, and the ways I reminded her of my mother. She used to ask me what my favorite dish was so that she could make it for me. She was also extremely clean, her floors were always shining, and everything in her kitchen was squeaky clean. She was peaceful and soft. I loved being around her. I couldn’t, however, help but notice that there was a certain sadness to her and I attributed it to the fact that she possibly spent most of her time alone. I am amazed at how I have always carried the ability to be compassionate and to see through a person and perceive their pain or discomfort.
When I was around my grandma, she used to seemingly want to find out what I liked, how I was, what I would want from her, and the like and this taught me to pay attention to the next person. I always walked out of her presence refreshed and feeling seen. I suppose, in a way, she gave me ‘princess treatment’. I later moved from the village and hardly saw her since and plenty of years later, she passed away. That pained me a lot for I associated her with gentleness and love which was so unique to her. I had so many people who loved me and cherished me to the best of their abilities but none of them had expressed it in her particular way. Irreplaceable if I can call it that.
From ‘Amadube’, as everyone affectionately called her, if I am to pick just two lessons, I learnt;
- Love that was gentle enough to refresh. The ability to possibly have your own pain but to momentarily put that aside and pour into another because they mean so much to you
- Elegance and the standard of excellence could be seen in her environment. I cannot ever remember my grandma without remembering her shining floors (in fact it is the first picture I mentally see when I think of her)
3 MOM, NIGEL’S MOM (My Mom’s Sister)
I think I must have met her possibly once or twice. She too came to the village due to ailment at the time of my meeting her and she stayed with my maternal grandma. Growing up, I used to have absolutely nothing to say. I was beyond quiet and reserved, I genuinely had no words beyond replying to whatever I was asked. I mean I am still relatively this way but slightly better so much so that there are a few people who think I am too talkative. To them perhaps that is true but overall I am still quiet and reserved, especially when we are not that close. This is just to give you the context of the scenario.
When I met my mom’s sister, her circumstance was not the most ideal but she had so much to say! I used to just sit close to her and listen to her. She told me what she used to like when she was my age, some of the mischief she got up to, she even went as far as giving me womanhood tips like how to turn red bricks to face powder haha! She was funny, nice, caring, and an intriguing character.
It turns out she was the person who saw to it that my ears were pierced as a baby. I am truly thankful for that to date! I don’t think I would have managed to gather up the courage to go get pierced myself. Earings would have missed me very easily. I am a bit of a coward when it comes to self-inflicted/medically inflicted physical pain like piercings, needles, injections the works. I salute those who can handle having a tattoo done on them hahaha!
What amazed me about my aunt is this, she brightened up the room, and the next person’s mood, she was a natural uplifter and she made you forget that she was sick. The way it was set up, you would think you are the one who had been visited by her. She also later passed on due to that ailment but I learnt this from her:
- You do not have to be in your best circumstance for you to minister to the next person. The way you talk, for example, even in your worst circumstance can be something someone remembers even when you are long gone. My aunt was in pain but she ministered to me through her ability to be that funny, that caring, that chatty, and loving despite her pain. Sometimes the people in the most pain are the most loving
- We are all eternal beings, a person doesn’t need to meet us for years for them to receive from us. One encounter is all you need to minister to the next person for life. My aunt is no longer here but when I remember her, I remember strength, grace, laughter, love, and smiles. I walked into her presence and I didn’t get a chance to pity her, she was such a vibe.
4. ASHLEY, My Little Sister (My Mom’s Sister’s Daughter)
The last hero of this blog post is probably not a woman per se, but a girl. Well, woman to me still. I met her when her mom, my mom’s youngest sister came with her to the village to visit my maternal grandma. I spent a couple of days, possibly just two, with them before they went back to the city. I felt the need to mention her because I only saw her once but she greatly impacted my life. Up to that point, I had gotten accustomed to mean little agemates who loved taunting me for my weight that I had lost hope in the goodness of humanity (Of course that is an exaggeration, or is it?). I had cousins who were not as mean, sure, but meeting a new sibling, a sibling from the city?! I was anxious. I thought she would look down on me and I was quite nervous about getting to spend some time with her.
Alas! To my surprise, she was the kindest, sweetest, most loving little human I had ever met. She acted as if she had known me all her life! You see, children seldom pretend, they either like you or just plain dislike you and in either case, they show it to you. Not Ashley! We listened to my grandma’s storytelling (or folktales if you will) together, and played, and it felt like I had a sibling, a biological sibling. In case you haven’t picked it up already, I am an only child, biologically speaking (as if it could be financially speaking hahaha). I always wished I had a sibling from my parents. I appreciated my cousins but I just wished I had a twin/brother/sister that I could connect with on that level and in that brief moment, I got to experience that.
She eventually went back to the city, and even agreed to give me her pair of lilac jeans that I still remember (which I couldn’t wear because wearing pants in the village as a female, at least in my family was an abomination!) I never forgot Ashley, I looked forward to seeing her again. I still haven’t forgotten Ashley…She came into my life at a time when other children my age were saying hurtful things to me and making me feel rejected and she came and accepted me. I cherished that pair of jeans although I couldn’t wear them. I looked at it almost every day. To me, it was a reminder of how I had met a person, younger than me, who had loved me and accepted me when I expected her to reject me and show off how her life was possibly better than mine since I was from the village and she wasn’t. Argh, it is unfortunate that I was already processing life from a lens of rejection as young as I was.
When she went to the city, that was the last time I saw her or got in contact with her, but I want to reemphasize that I never forgot her. I later, and I mean countless years later, enquired about her when I had long left the village and heard that she had passed away already. I was so shocked, to say the least, and heartbroken to know that I would never meet her again. I really looked forward to seeing her again. I cannot explain the impact she had on me growing up. Even when others were mean to me, the memory of her had kept me believing that good, kind, loving people existed and that if I had encountered one before, I would encounter another again and even if I didn’t, I had already encountered one.
This is a person younger than me. I don’t even remember how old I was then, but I was young enough to be very young if you get what I mean, jibberish as it sounds. Although the lessons here are a bit apparent, let me just list two of them;
- Kindness, genuine and loving kindness is one of the most powerful traits to possess and grow in. Kindness could make all the difference in someone’s entire life even if they never get to see you or you them again
- We have an impact at every stage of our lives, whether we are young, old, well-off, or struggling. God created us so powerfully that in every season of our lives we can touch lives and change them forever.
Phew! We are finally wrapping up this blog post. If you read to this point, I am honored that you were willing to set aside this much of your time. The whole point of this post is to let you see that life is eternal. On a grand scale, what you do here on earth will be credited to you in heaven or hell, depending on which kingdom you decide to represent best. I hope you have given your life to Christ and are working out your salvation with the seriousness and dedication it requires. If you haven’t and you have decided to, please comment on this post and I will help lead you to Christ.
Your life not only has an eternal impact that gives you rewards in heaven, but it also has an eternal impact here on earth. I have just spent a good chunk of time detailing how women I met very briefly many years ago impacted my life to date! I still keep with me the lessons I derived from interacting with them and the memories I have of them.
Do you remember the awkward question I asked at the very beginning of this blog post? It is a good place to start on reflecting on the life you are living and the impact you are having and, as a result, become even more intentional with your words and actions.
You know what, let me end it here, I have already made my point. May your life touch lives and represent Jesus well without you even having to mention Him, although mentioning Him too would be great. Mention Him all day long if you will. In closing, I will leave you with this exhortation;
Jeremiah 17:7-8 7“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.