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South Africa
Living in new boundaries
The veiled truth is that no one prepares you for this time of isolation. You are equally unprepared to observe people as they are during your challenging times. Most don’t like you; they tolerate you. They ask you questions about your life, not because they care, but because they want to see how deep the hole you are in is.

It’s 2024, you are broke, living on a meal a day and fast reaching the point of true poverty. All the things and most people you thought you could rely on to help you in bleak times are disappearing or not helping at all. You feel isolated, abandoned, and forgotten. You can’t seem to get a job. Job applications are met with rejections or silence. It used to be easier, but now it’s impenetrable. You discover yourself seeking the meaning of all this. You are angry and sad, and the universe seems to be against you.

Another test of faith...

The veiled truth here is that no one prepares you for this time of isolation. You are equally unprepared to observe people as they are during your challenging times. Most don’t like you; they tolerate you. They ask you questions about your life, not because they care, but because they want to see how deep the hole you are in is. This period in your life hurts the most because you depart from what you believed was love for these people. You lose the boundaries of the safety nets you created around you. You begin losing sight of the person you think you are. It’s a time for transition. And it takes all your grit to pull yourself out of it. You will require the grit to let go and seek God for help. Only by embracing your vulnerability will you get out of the nightmare that is happening at this time.
Makhosazana Mayihlome

This story was me for the lengthiest time. Initially, I thought it was just a glitch and that there was something I was doing wrong. I redid my resume so many times. I updated my LinkedIn profile. Heck, I edited my job profiles on days I was in great moods so that the optimistic spirit would somehow pour into my wording. During the first weeks of being jobless, I would wake up early and shower as if I were going to work. “It was the habit and principle,” I would say to myself. But deep inside, I was all over the place with panic even as I recited daily stoic sayings. [I love me some Epictetus!]

They say God will slow down your pace to capture your attention and reveal the right path. And man, did he reset my speed! Awakening to the fact that I could lose it all was the hardest. There was a constant lump in my throat. I later realised it was the grief of letting my old self die. Time was passing by. And my soul felt crushed by the reality I had to accept. The vultures were circling, and I was the carrion. I saw all the piling bills and felt like God had abandoned me to the wolves.

I was numb with so much fear. Time and again, I had to remind myself to breathe and loosen my shoulders. Mornings were filled with dread and little hope. An intense part of me wanted to die. I was miserable. I could no longer see the forest for the trees. And I was becoming bitter and angry at myself. “I should have stayed in the toxic company,” I would think: “At least the bills would be paid.” “I would be able to buy food I lack when I need to”, “I would be able to support my family however I felt.” The operative word over here is “I”. I wanted to be in control again. Be the master of my destiny as I perceived it. The reality was that I was not. Not in the common way of understanding, anyway.

Another Aha! moment..

Then, an epiphany struck me one day as I listened to  a song by Hillsong United called ‘Oceans’. The chorus says: 

“[Holy] Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Saviour".

I enjoy that song every time it plays. I hum it in my sleep sometimes… And guess what? The epiphany was I was living that song. I asked for it and received it. Never have I felt deep annoyance and gratefulness at the same time. Not even the time I had found the graphic design pencils I had lost in a taxi at Bree Street, Johannesburg could match this. The verse from the song was my prayer to the test of faith. Be careful what you wish for. Or sing out loud as words become things.

My trust in God before this time was semi - if unbaked, to say the least. But it was faith, nonetheless. I had faith in a new day. I had faith that I could overcome challenges that God determined I was apt for. But, if I may be candid, I did not possess the faith to live in the challenges I was facing. My trust in God and even my ancestors (I will get to this part later.) was conditional to my capabilities. God had control. I had control. God and I co-controlled! Ha! He performed his part. I did mine. His part was to ensure he kept the wicked people and bad times away from me. My part was I stayed observing His Commandments, read the bible, and prayed to him. 

I had to discover the folly of all this the hard way as most of us are apt to do. Don’t worry if you are experiencing it at the moment, it is a journey. But I hope through this story, you will discover something new and decide otherwise sooner.

The song represents a challenge to that thinking of co-piloting with God, specifically. It asks God, the creator, to be in control of it all and have faith that it will all be OK, and we will be worthier for it because God is of abundance, not lack.

My knowledge, faith, and trust were challenged. God works with complete surrender, and I had not surrendered to his version of the plan. His existence in me could not be manipulated. It was and is a Gracious favour to me. In his presence, I am nothing and am everything. I was reminded that I was because of those who came before me (my ancestors); they were because of him. We are part of the more cosmic universe. God is the universe, and my ancestors before me existed because he willed it so. I had to let go of the need to control and trust in Him for the paths I needed to be on. He had seen and existed in them long before my ancestors or me. 

Indeed, it is deep and shallow at the same time. 

At my most desperate time, I had sold my car to pay for my tuition fees for a course I was towards the end of finishing. I was selling my furniture too. There was one night when I sought my lecturer for help. I had expected her to provide me with contacts for jobs or some form of logic to “unscrew” myself from the mess I was in. 

We chatted for over an hour. And guess what her advice was. I needed to realign myself to the path God set for me. I was back to that chorus once more. I had to surrender. Indeed, at that moment of our conversation, I was lost at her advice. But introspection made me realise I had to surrender. She was right. All the good in my life had come unexpectedly due to complete surrender. Nothing had changed. I had changed. God did not change. I had changed. I had made myself too busy for him. This period was meant to deliver me back to the time God was ahead of me, and I was surrendered to his will. 

See, it’s not to say he had abandoned me. God is always there. We interfere and try to do his work for him because we don’t trust him with the job. But if He has lived before time and will live after time as we know it, why do we think he won’t do the job of shepherding us right? Surrender. He will not steer you astray. It is not part of his plan. 

I have had to surrender and be led by the spirit. It’s not painless, in case you are wondering. But each day, I know and believe God is there with me in waters without borders.

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