Fatherless child, fatherless woman

father

In the UK today there are approximately two million single mothers, that’s at least two million children growing up without a father figure in their home; I was one of those children.

Not so long ago I would’ve been called a ‘bastard’ child because my mother was not married and to throw a spanner in the works she was also,a teenager when I was born. I didn’t think it was strange that my mom and I lived with my grandparents and uncle, it was all I knew; this was my family. During those formative years I can count the number of times that I saw my father; the only men I really knew were my uncle and grandfather. I just need to say that these men are my heroes and the first examples of men that I saw; I honour them for their love, guidance and example.

It was in my teenage years that I started to become aware of the impact that my absent father had on me. Yes, my uncle and grandfather were around often, but it wasn’t the same. When I heard my friends talk about their dads and the things they did as a family, I started to realise that my family wasn’t that ‘normal’ after all. I can’t say that I missed him, because it’s hard to miss someone that was never in your life to begin with; what I missed was the idea of having a dad in my home. The idea of having a dad who would sit me on his knee and tell me how special and beautiful I was, who would take me to the park and pick me up from school. It was these experiences that my friends had and I saw on TV, that I never had the opportunity to experience. My mom was and still is my greatest example of a woman that is willing to sacrifice for others. She has the most generous, loving and hospitable heart. Only a strong woman can do that without resentment or bitterness, I honour her more than any other. However, she is not my father, she is my mother and that is what she is supposed to be.

I became a Christian when I was 14 years old even though I was at church every Sunday with my grandmother. It was at this time that I began to understand that I wasn’t a fatherless child and that God was a very real and present father that loved me unconditionally. However, although I was beginning to understand this, it was hard for me to experience and accept what it meant in reality. Let’s keep it real, I couldn’t see him with my physical eyes and He couldn’t exactly walk me down the aisle when I got married; it just wasn’t real enough for me.

I have always wanted to know what it would be like to have the protection of a father, to be able to say: “I’m going to get my Dad and he’ll beat up your dad” but I never could. I think that most little girls would say they want or wanted their dad to protect and look out for them. As I grew older the need for someone to protect and care for me slowly became unnecessary. My attitude was I have lived this long without a constant male figure in my life I don’t need one now, even though this was what I craved. For me personally the rejection I felt from my father’s absence influenced how I related to men in relationships; I would become very needy and any hint of rejection would literally devastate me, I just didn’t know how to relate to men in a positive and healthy way. I believed that it was my responsibility to make them happy and please them so that they would not leave.

It is only because of the grace and love of God that I can say that I am stronger, not needy and more secure in the love that my father God has for me. There are times when I still long for the hug from a father or simply a male friend. Men and fathers I ask and encourage you to protect and cover the women you know; if you are a Christian understand that we need our male friends to be examples of godly men that know how to honour, respect and protect us without a hidden agenda. I have learnt to accept the love of my heavenly father and ultimately realise that he can meet all my needs. I have started the process of forgiving my natural father and do not blame him for the decisions I’ve made in my life (I am not a victim).

My hope is that you too will know the unconditional, unwavering and lavishing love of father God because the truth is HE really does love YOU. I have been on a long journey to understand with my mind and embrace with my heart the truth that I was never a fatherless child and I am not fatherless woman.

That’s why He is my Lord 🙂 xx

32, Christian and Single

32, Christian and Single

Yep, this is me, this isn’t the core of who I am, but it’s a huge part that describes my current reality. Do I like this reality? Sometimes, but for the most part no, to be totally honest for the most part I hate my current status (except the Christian part of course).  However, it is my reality and one that I am learning to manage. Let’s get something clear from the get go, yes, I want to be married and no, I haven’t been intentionally looking… ‘Well how do you expect to find a husband then?’  I don’t expect to find anything. The Bible says ‘He that finds a wife finds a good thing and receives favour from the Lord’…I am the prize; it is not my responsibility to search.  This doesn’t mean that I’m just chilling at home twiddling my thumbs, or that I’m not aware of who’s around me; I am very aware of my surroundings, I just refuse to act thirsty – that is not attractive.  I truly believe that if a man is interested in you he will do whatever it takes to make his intentions CLEAR and pursue. I might look 10 years younger than I am (Black don’t crack), but I am too old for games and at this point in my life I know exactly who I want to find me and no I will not be sharing that info in this blog 🙂

I hope that my journey helps you to make some positive decisions, take your focus off yourself and realise that as great as marriage is, it’s not the be all and end all of you.  I will not be giving any tips on what YOU should do, I will not patronise you or your capability to find out what works for you, but I will say be honest with yourself. I am not speaking on behalf of all Christian, single women; I can only share what has worked and is working for me.  I really don’t think you need another 10 step process on how to cope with being single; I am not an expert on this subject I am only an expert on my singleness.

At the age of 32 I didn’t think that I would be where I am now, my ten year plan didn’t look like this, by now I should be married with two children, a house in the Caribbean and my own business. One year I was certain that God told me I would meet my husband that particular year. Now I’m not one of those Christians who throw around the ‘God said…’ cliché flippantly…but I was so sure.  It never happened and I began to question whether I heard God at all. Maybe I wanted it so badly that I imagined it? Or maybe God changed his mind? All of these questions and more played through my mind and I started to believe that I was the problem, what was wrong with me? There was/is nothing wrong with me or you! I’ve learnt that singleness is not a curse unless you let it be.

I used to pray: “Lord if it’s not your desire for me to be married, fine, then please take away the desire so I can focus on serving you wholeheartedly’. What a great, spiritual prayer right? Although sincere it was bogus! This was my attempt to find an escape route from the pain; I just didn’t want to be lonely or single anymore. Now, I know the Bible scriptures that talk about ‘two is better than one’ and ‘it is not good for man to be alone’; I am 32, Christian and single not 32, illiterate and single; I would guess that many Christian, single women know these scriptures and agree, that’s why we want to be married!  I am not looking for a boyfriend, I am ‘actively waiting’ on God for my husband by living and loving life while learning and deepening my relationship with God and myself.

This is how I manage myself now, although this is not an exhaustive list:

I am ruthlessly honest with God about how I feel;

I protect my time and I’m intentional about what I do with it and where I go, I do things that I love often;

I focus on my passions: Missions and women, and anything else that fuels those passions;

I spend time with both my single and married friends as often as possible (or as often as married friends allow);

I pray for my husband;

I dress for where I’m going; I am preparing myself now for where I want to be, asking myself questions like: what have I got to offer to a marriage?

I’m not saying that because I do these things I never feel lonely or that the desire to be married suddenly disappears, I’m saying that we have to be intentional with our lives as we wait.

To all my single ladies and guys enjoy, embrace and be content with where you are. Being single is not a death sentence it can be an awesome adventure if you WANT it to be. Change your mind, change your life!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I am NOT beautiful: part 2

Beautiful women

I have become more aware of the triggers that heighten those feelings of not feeling beautiful and I have had to actively say and do things to counterbalance those feelings when they arise. I understand that comparison is a killer to the human soul.  I have learnt the importance of self talk and what I say about myself and what I allow others to say to me.  I find it very interesting that when you speak highly of yourself how uncomfortable people feel.  Because I have spent so many years not thinking highly of myself, I now not only think so but say so too; I have had to change my confession. Why? Because I don’t want to get my validation from anyone else or wait or rely on someone else to tell me truths that I should already know about myself.  As David did in 1 Samuel 30:6 when he ‘Encouraged himself in the Lord’. I need to be able to know and call out the greatness and strength within me when I’m feeling discouraged or not beautiful, before I seek that from anyone else. What is surprising and what I’ve noticed is that you don’t always get a positive or encouraging response from people when you do this. The reason for this, I think, is because we don’t feel like that about ourselves. Before we jump straight to the negative we need to stop, think and examine what is being said and who is saying it and consider how we can continue to help and call out those truths that people are recognising and calling out of themselves.  I make no apologies for speaking about myself how God speaks about me.

I heard a saying once that goes something like ‘beauty doesn’t need to declare it’s beautiful, it just is’. I love this statement because I use to and sometimes still catch myself feeling the need to perform or make myself be seen. Now when and if I ever feel this happening I sit down and take a seat, I don’t mean literally but it can be that too. It’s that feeling of wanting to show up, not show up in the context of being vulnerable but to show up and show off. In those moments I remind myself ‘you are beautiful you don’t need to declare it’ or ‘you are good enough you don’t need to prove it’.

I do not want to marry a man as good looking and funny as Will Smith (I love that guy lol) but is selfish, has no character, and doesn’t realise that the content and intention of my heart is more important than how I look first thing in the morning. As much as I take value in my appearance and health, my priority is first to ensure that I represent Jesus well and love others as I love myself.

Understand there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself and making yourself look presentable, I am all for that, I am talking about making that the basis and primary focus that we first judge people and make decisions on i.e. she’ll make a good wife or he’ll make a good husband, without making getting to know them the first priority.

In closing, ladies you ARE beautiful!  In my opinion there is a difference between being pretty and beautiful. I would rather be beautiful because it not only talks about the external but truly speaks of the essence of a person.  Your beauty is not determined by the length or texture of your hair, the shape or size of your nose (or any other body part for that matter), or whether you wear Armani or Primark clothes. This is not an excuse to dress drab unless you want to of course; this is an encouragement and rite of passage to be your own kind of beautiful. Just because you do not fit into society’s norm of ‘beauty’ that does not make you any less beautiful. This blog is a message to ALL women to value, love accept who you are and know that you are worthy of love and belonging.

My confession is no longer I am NOT beautiful. My confession is ‘Body and soul, I am marvellously made’ (Psalm 139:14 – MSG). After all HE created me and he’s my Lord 🙂 xx

I am NOT beautiful

Beautiful women

Part 1

This post is going to be honest, real and possibly a little controversial.  My intention is to share my experience from my perspective. I am not arrogant enough to speak on behalf of the whole black, female cohort; this is my story.  I imagine that some people will disagree and that’s fine, my aim isn’t to get everyone to agree with me, this is simply me showing up, being vulnerable and being willing to be seen at the risk of people disagreeing and even viewing me differently. However, fear is no longer an emotion that I will choose to entertain; the fear of not been liked, fear of not getting any likes on Facebook *rolling my eyes* or fear of worrying about what people might think. My goal is simply to get us all to think about our own thoughts, ideologies and even prejudices around the topic of beauty.

The sunset, the ocean, flowers and a nice view are all visually beautiful to look at. If you ask people what ‘beauty’ looks like in the context of people you will probably get a standard response based on the external. The same premise we apply to beauty in nature we also apply to people, this premise being if it’s beautiful to look at it must be good. Well, Lucifer was beautiful to look at and most of us know how that story ends. Anyway, in my experience this has not proven to be true; just because something is beautiful to look at does not mean it is necessarily good.

Growing up I struggled with wanting to be what I deemed was ‘beautiful’ whether that be like my friends or the people that I admired on TV.  I often felt that I did not fit into the ideal of what beautiful was and I wanted to so badly.  I would change everything about myself to be anything but who I was because I didn’t think I was beautiful. As far as I was concerned what everyone else perceived and said was beautiful, was the total opposite of me.  Let me explain what this idea of beauty is that I’m referring to: The White European version of beauty. Yes, I said it, don’t shoot me.

This was my norm; this is what I saw on TV the majority of the time. White, size 0 women with long flowing hair (I’m being very extreme here to make my point, Black women with long weave also fit into this category). I do not blame the media entirely; yes, they have a role to play, but until we decide to change we can’t expect anything around us to. As Mahatma Ghandi said; ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. So, because this was all that I saw as being deemed as beautiful, I was devastated because I did not fit into that mould. I was, and still am, a 5’1 (give or take a few inches), dark skinned Black girl with natural 4b/4c hair texture. I didn’t think I was particularly pretty despite getting quite a lot of attention from boys.

As a society we focus so much on the external and very little on the character or heart of people. Beauty is subjective, so for one group of people to determine what beauty is and then force it on the entire female population is quite obnoxious. Who are you or I to say what is beautiful based on something that is as superficial as whether a woman has small nose, or whether a guy has a six pack like David Beckham?

Men, please understand the weight of what you say to your female friends and family. Taking responsibility for yourself is exactly that; YOUR responsibility. Granted you are not responsible for how we as women receive what you say.  However, you can help us by being consistent and neutral in your observations and comments about women. You cannot say in one breath that you find all women beautiful when you only publicly acknowledge the beauty of women that are stereo-typically thin, wear make-up and wear the latest designer clothes. I am not talking about personal preferences either, we all have those.

Ladies, we can help each other too. I’m just going to say this; women can sometimes be mean, both to ourselves and to other women. Growing up I was so mean to myself and the expectation I put on myself to fit into the ideal of beauty I would also put on others. Here I was wanting to be beautiful and I was judging other girls using the same measuring stick that I couldn’t live up to myself. Just because we have nice things, the latest designer clothes or we fit into society’s idea of beauty that I described earlier, it doesn’t mean we are any better or any more beautiful than the woman who has scars on her face after being in a fire or the homeless woman on the street, or the woman in Africa who’s hands are calloused because she’s been working in the hot sun. These women are just as beautiful even though they don’t fit into the typical idea of ‘White European’ beauty. The sooner we all understand that beauty comes in different colours, shapes and sizes and is so much more than the external that we place so much value in, the better.

Click here for part 2