TCT :: What is your flavour, chocolate or vanilla?

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This is the chocolate milkshake I had this week - yum!

This is the chocolate milkshake I had this week – yum!

It is Trench Coat Thursday and I am writing about a topic that is fraught with controversy, you may identify with a lot of what I am going to say, or you may disagree completely. This is me being honest and real about this issue. Whether you agree with me or not, please let your voice be heard! The point of these posts is not for me to just state my opinion but for us to engage in a conversation. I am really forward to hearing what you think!

This Tuesday was my birthday and my mom, sister and I went for a celebratory lunch. As we walked in a young white guy looked our way and smiled. Let me clear something up, it was not that weirdly condescending smile that you get when you walk past some people and it was not that leery look that you get from dodgy men, it was not brief either. Actually, it was more like a Ryan Gosling-esque “Hey girl…” kind of smile. We were charmed because he is really cute and athletic looking, we were surprised because, well, because he is white.

Who was your first crush?

My family says that mine was Daniel and I was 5 years old. I used to come home from pre-school every day and talked about him all the time. And then there was Ross who was cute and sweet and sporty. I will never forget Mark who was American and best friends with a guy who liked my friend. We were in Grade 5 and their school had come to ours for a rugby tour. We sat and chatted for ages about who-knows-what and by the end of the night I was faint with love. I have a list of crushes as long as my arm: rugby players, hockey players, swimmers, head boys, captains and a pastor’s kid. Looking at my list brings up some questions because, well, because all my crushes are white.

While I was still wondering if we would see that cute guy in the restaurant again the waiter came. My sister wanted me to order a vanilla milkshake but I preferred chocolate. So that is what I ordered.

Preference or Prejudice?

Do people have a physical type? If yes, is it something that people are born with, does it develop over time or is it a choice? I have two male friends that say that they will not/ cannot marry any woman other than a white woman.  Let’s call them Tristan and Sandi. Tristan is white and Sandi is black. My initial reaction to this was “No man, that’s racist!”, but is it really? Some would argue that it is just a preference. Like how some women are attracted to tall men and not short men. And how some men find that they are attracted to women with short hair and not long. Some people like chocolate flavoured milkshakes, others prefer vanilla.

But can we reduce our physical attraction to mere preference?

A few years ago, I was at a mall with a guy relative of mine who was disgusted at the sight of an interracial couple. We will call him Dali. We had a chat about it and he was vehement about how a black man should be with a black woman and he did not understand why any black man or woman would want to cross over to the lighter side – whether that meant white, light brown, green, blue or red. What do you think he was expressing there, preference or prejudice?

Which of these makes less or more sense to you, and why?:

A. white man only attracted to white women (Tristan).

B. black man only attracted to white women (Sandi).

C. black man only attracted to black women (Dali).

A complex issue::

These questions are framed as black/ white issues but they are not really that simple. Firstly, black and white are not the only colours out there – you can add in whatever colour (‘race’) you choose and the questions would still apply. Secondly, for most of us, a person’s skin colour denotes something more than the amount of melanin in it. In our minds a person’s skin colour tells us something about where they come from, their culture, their level of income and education, their class or lack thereof. And everything is rated within these categories – low to high.

I would argue that a lot of what we call ‘preferences’ are borne out of either an inferiority complex or a superiority complex, depending on what rating you put on a certain skin colour. Of course, this does not apply to everyone but it does apply to many of us! My mom thinks that my childhood crushes were mostly the fruit of who I was exposed to from a young age. Outside of home, most of my interactions were with white people, my friendships were with white children and I existed within the white cultural context. It was not anomalous that I liked white boys.

But what of the fact that I liked white boys only, even after having been exposed to a whole spectrum of colours of men later on in life? Many black women will tell you that they dread the thought of marrying a black man and they have made up their mind to marry a white one or not to marry at all. Why a white man? Well, because he is better! A white man will be faithful, true and will take care of you. A black man will cheat, lie and will probably drink his salary away for the rest of your married lives. White culture is easy, liberal and gives wives a place other than in the kitchen. Black culture is strict, traditional and makes a wife subservient (not submissive) to her husband.

Let us revisit my friends Tristan, Sandi and Dali.

If you had a discussion with Tristan, he might first respond by saying that he did not think the questions were important or relevant: You cannot help who you love! If you pressed and challenged him on that, he might admit that this was not really about love, but physical attraction because a woman’s looks are the first thing that a man is drawn to. He might also defend his choice by saying that this was not primarily about race but about culture – we are all naturally drawn to people who are like us and there was nothing wrong with that. Tristan is either blind to his own prejudice or being dishonest. Some honest white men have told me that they have been attracted to women of other colours but consider a relationship with them taboo (what will my family think?!) or something of an exotic adventure rather than something serious. They also admit they think that black culture is primitive and white culture is civilised and the two just do not mix.

Sandi will probably have some good reasons why he is only attracted to white women. Allow me to draw from an actual conversation I have had. Sandi thinks that black women are dramatic, demanding and difficult to please and his sisters have put him off black women for life. Of course, he has black women friends, none of whom he would seriously consider. He has always been told that he will marry a white woman and that is what God has called him to. He played the God-card which is really difficult to argue with! But here is the thing: firstly, Sandi is making his decision out of a place of past pain or hurt. Secondly, he makes generalisations about black women and white women and his generalisations are not true!

Dali already stated his stance clearly: black people should be with black people. In many ways he is much like Tristan, except that he is willing to admit that his are not just preferences but prejudices. He justifies his prejudice with arguments like: Black people were put in Africa, White people in Europe, and Chinese in China so this means that like must be with like! Getting through to Dali will be a struggle but you might win him over by pointing out the fact that his arguments are much like the eugenics theories that people use to justify apartheid, other forms of segregation and genocide. Prejudice is harmful and unjustifiable.

What do you think?

I have so much more to say but will stop there! Now it is your turn, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.

Shula 

the challenge and cost of reconciliation

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“You give him one more chance, just like the time before, but he already knows you’ll give a thousand more.” Alicia Keys, Lesson Learned

For about three years I was offended with a friend of mine who had betrayed me. I carried that knife in my back for such a long time that the wound got infected and began to poison my other relationships. I could feel my heart hardening as time passed. So I decided to forgive.

But we were never ever ever getting back together.

You see, I was willing to let go of what had happened but I wasn’t interested in restoring the friendship. I had some really legitimate reasons for keeping her out of my life, we used to be really close but now our lives would be separate and that was okay.

What about reconciliation?

I know you have some really good reasons why you will not reconcile with __________. I do not doubt that you can justify your decision. But I have some thoughts that will challenge you.

I want to share the stories of three men with you. Each of them lived thousands of years apart from each other, each of them embodied reconciliation.

from prisoner to prime minister.

How did a man born into a wealthy family end up a convicted rapist? You might call Joseph’s life a series of unfortunate events but that would be an understatement.

Firstly, Jo’s brothers took sibling rivalry to another level. Moved by jealousy because Joseph was their father’s favourite (and a little bit of a show off), his brothers sold him into slavery. Read the Bible from Genesis 37 to get the full story.

Joseph went through hell, including being falsely accused of rape by someone’s wife after he refused to sleep with her.  Because of his gift of interpretation of dreams, Joseph was released from prison and became a top Egyptian government official.

But that’s not all. Years later, Jo’s brothers stand before him needing his help. There is a famine in their country and they have come to beg for food aid from Egypt, from this Egyptian official who they do not realise is their brother.

From terrorist to Tata (of a nation).

By now we have all heard the story of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who, together with others, spoke out against the system of racial segregation called apartheid in South Africa. Arrested and tried for treason, he was released from prison after 27 years in jail.

He spoke out on behalf of justice, a voice for the voiceless, and in return he was deprived of not just his physical freedom but his relationships and he never lived a ‘normal’ life. His marriage was sacrificed and he missed out on fathering his children.

As President of a democratic South Africa, he had more power than he could have ever dreamed. Justice and history were on his side and his enemies, those who had passed an unjust sentence on him and millions of black people, were at his mercy.

What would you do?

No one would have blamed Joseph for sending his brothers away in anger, he owed them nothing and they did not deserve his kindness. But what Joseph did was extraordinary. He revealed his identity to them and agreed to give them the food they asked for. Later, Joseph went even further and said:

“Don’t be afraid, am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

Mandela is known in South Africa as the “father of the nation” and one of the greatest inheritances he has left for the nation is one of reconciliation. From the first day that he took office until his passing, Mandela lived and breathed reconciliation, going further than forgiving his enemies, he made agreements with them and worked with them.

Reconciliation comes at a great cost but achieves a greater purpose.

Both Joseph and Mandela reconciled with their enemies at great personal cost. Remember, they were never compensated for their lost years.

Reconciliation is always given as a free gift at a great cost to the giver. And the lives of these two men point to one other man, the greatest Man to ever walk the earth, who at the cost of His life reconciled us to God:

“God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ, not counting men’s sins against them…” 2 Corinthians 5:19

Are you challenged?

Thanks for reading.
shula

The Art of Saying What You Need to Say :: to the friend who takes and never gives

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“Take, take, take but you never ever give.”

Bruno Mars

If you are reading this then you have a friend who takes and never gives. This is the friend who will call you at 3AM to be picked up when they know you have an interview first thing the next morning. Or the one that, even though you are always there for them, disappears into thin air when you need them the most. You love this friend to bits but you have reached your breaking point in the friendship and want out or want things to change. Here is what you need to say:

“Friend, I love you and you know that you can ask me for anything. But when you do, please respect my boundaries and my decisions about whether I will or will not do something.”

Here is what you are communicating:

I love you means that you value the person and the relationship. This is your way of affirming the fact that they have a place in your heart and you see them in your future. Start off with this.

You know that you can ask me for anything is something that you need to say because your friend needs to know that you are the kind of person they ask for anything – you are approachable and open and safe.

But you have boundaries and these need to respected. All relationships need terms of engagement. Every relationship needs boundaries. Your friend needs to know that, although they are always free to ask, there are things that you cannot or will not do for them, simply because you choose not to. And that is okay. Remember, you are not your friend’s saviour and it is okay for you to allow them to live with the consequences or the choices that they make, you do not always have to swoop in and be the hero. Remember, it is okay for you to want your own space, it is acceptable for you to say “No” without feeling like you will be rejected.

I hope this gives you the motivation to have a little chat with your friend that takes but never gives.

Any thoughts?

shula

in defence of women who kick butt:: how I got myself into a street fight yesterday

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“Shoot me down but I won’t fall, I am titanium.”

Sia

Tuesday 19 November was International Men’s Day. Happy belated every IMD everyone! Tuesday 19 November was also the day that I started an argument with two young men on the street. Let us call the them Mr Hapless and Mr Clueless. As I was walking along I overheard an exchange Hapless and Clueless were having with a woman who was walking past them. It went something like this:

Hapless: Hey girl, how are you?

Woman: Fine.

Clueless: Hm, you look so good.

Woman: [shuffles past quickly with head down]

[Hapless and Clueless stop, turn around and watch woman as she walks.]

Hapless: Hm, you have a nice butt, very nice. Hm…

Clueless: Yes, hm. I can see myself –

Hapless: But the face is not nice!

[Raucous laughter. End scene.]

And then something in me snapped and I thought: “That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!” So in the most commanding voice I could muster I asked them: “Excuse me, Mr Hapless and Mr Clueless, do you realise that what you are doing is harassment?” And so ensued the argument. Mr Hapless shot questions at me asking what business I had interfering in their conversation, how dare I speak to them about harassment, who was I. Mr Clueless echoed his friends sentiments and coloured them with a few expletives thrown out of his foaming mouth. I mean that literally, his mouth was literally foaming. I used my big girl voice and said something about how I was not fully a lawyer with a few more years to go and would report them.  And so we walked along, talking over each other, my courage fueled by adrenalin and a temporary break in my sanity. At some point Mr Clueless said to me: “You are ugly. If you were looking pretty we would have spoken to you like we spoke to her, so shut up.” To which I replied:

“Oh my goodness, your brains are tiny. Seriously? Do you really think I care if you think I’m ugly? So what? You’re embarrassing. Stop harassing women on the street!”

That exchange lasted all of three minutes and afterwards they went their way and I went mine. But it was three minutes that really had an effect on me. For a number of reasons. Firstly, I kept asking myself if confronting those guys in that way was right and I went to my usual What Would Jesus Do? question. I felt bad for getting angry and getting into a shouting match. I also felt shaken because of the way they attacked me back. On the other hand I felt a weird sense of triumph on the inside, you know, that feeling of satisfaction that justice has been done? So instead of letting it go I gave it a think and have decided to share my thoughts with you, here they are.

Women put up with a lot of nonsense, particularly from men, and instead of confronting it we just let it be. This is a fact and I do not need sociological research to prove it (although I think that it would sure this to be overwhelmingly true). How many women have you heard of whose husbands/ boyfriends were cheating on them/ beating them/  even stealing from them and in response all the woman has is an excuse for him. Yes, of course we know that women do all these things too but the majority of these things are done by men (and incidentally, the majority of crimes too). We also know that the reason why women put up with things in relationships is complicated. The point is though, a lot of women think it is okay, normal and even justifiable for a man to do as he pleases because he is a man. 

Interestingly enough, it is the men in my life who have shown me just how ridiculous this idea is! I have a man friend of mine (whom I will call The General) who sets such high standards for other men and has helped me raise my own standards. He is strong, disciplined, outspoken, principled, knows how to say sorry, treats women like they have brains, is not intimidated by strength in women and is not afraid to call out a man who is being a dog when he sees it. In our relationships, in the workplace, on the street, we need to become women who are not afraid to say no to the nonsense that is dished out to us.

Can I get an amen?

Having said the above it is clear that women are a big part of why some men behave like dogs. Many of us women are enablers. When men behave badly, we condone it or just keep silent, usually because we are too scared to rock the boat or are fearful of the consequences. There is one tiny detail that I forgot to mention about my street fight: there was a huge iron fence between me and Messrs. Hapless and Clueless. The chances are, had that fence not been there, I was was probably going to pass by quickly with my head down like I had done a thousand times before. Why have I never confronted men who behave badly? My top reason is that I do not want to get beaten up or sworn at! And then under that is that I have always thought that it was none of my business or that things like that are not worth starting a big fight about.

But something changed in me yesterday: I became a butt-kicking woman.

Because the way that men speak to and treat women in our society (even in ‘random’ encounters) is our business and is important. Before you all run off and start street fights like myself, understand this: being a butt-kicking woman is an attitude of the heart. It is about knowing our worth and understanding that you ought to be treated with respect and dignity, every day. It is about not being afraid to asset your strength, resisting the urge to dumb yourself down or keep silent about injustice when you should be speaking up.

Mom, you can breathe now, I will not be starting any more street fights any time soon.

Thanks for reading.

shula.

I met a guy in the waiting room… and I almost said yes

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Original image author: pixelperfectdigital.com#sthash.N5LsD7Tv.dpuf

Original image author: pixelperfectdigital.com

“No I don’t want your number, no I don’t wanna give you mine, no I don’t wanna meet you nowhere, no I don’t want none of your time.”

TLC, “No Scrubs”

This morning I met a man in the GP’s waiting room. He approached me stealthily and slid into the seat next to the seat next to me, on the left (the seat next to me had my handbag on it. I put it there when I saw him approaching). He was a nice man and we had a nice conversation during which he somehow managed to extract information like what I was studying, where I am from, when I am leaving town and why I was there. He even got my name. The guy was smooth and really persistent. And quite charming too, as he waxed lyrical about his PhD and his trips to Johannesburg. He was insisting on my number and I kept saying no.

But I almost said yes.

Maybe because I felt like I had no choice, possibly because I wondered what it might be like to say yes. But I stuck to my guns so he left and I waited to see the doctor. While I waited I had time to think about scenarios in which I would willingly give a guy my number and what that guy would have to be like. I have had at least three other similar encounters this year. Two of them happened on the same night at a border post just before I crossed into Zimbabwe and the third when I was stopped on the street by a guy who said he was really anxious to get to know me because he had seen me around campus and I  was”Looking good.” Let me be clear, these guys were not construction workers hollering from the back of a truck or old married men – they were decent-looking, educated and single young men. Yeah, I’m on a roll! And I have really perfected my speech when I need to let a man down gently and be nice about it. It goes something like:

“You know, it was really great to meet you and I enjoyed our chat but I just generally do not give my number out to anyone except people that I know really well. But if I see you again, we can definitely have a conversation. Thank you so much. *smiles tightly*”

It has worked so far and the usual response is something like, “Okay, that is fine. Thank you.” The guys know that at that point they do not have a chance.

It is kind of ironic that that random encounter happened in a waiting room. It reminds me of how being single young adult feels like serving time in a waiting room. Read my series “Waiting for God-oh to bring you a boy-oh?”

Part I ~ Part II ~ Part III

I sometimes worry that I will never meet a man that I can actually say yes to. I worry that my ‘standards’, suspiciousness and expectations will stand between me and giving a guy a chance. Or that the kind of guy that I would want to be with would not have the courage or boldness to step up and face the risk of me saying no. If you feel like I have been feeling, I have two thoughts to share with you:

Rest in God. Do not be anxious. Give your desires to God, be honest about your fears and choose to trust Him with your love life.

Relax. Be open. Do not be an ice queen who freezes men out of her life. Make lots of good, decent guy friends.

That is all I have to say. I know you have something to add. Comment below or hit me up on Facebook/ Twitter!

Thanks for reading.

shula.

The Art of Saying What You Need To Say:: how to handle a bad breakup and make up

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If breaking up is hard to do, making up is harder. This is the case even when the decision was mutual and the parting ‘amicable’. The end of a relationship always hurts! Breaking up with someone is all the more painful when you have unresolved issues with them, it is messy and complicated – it is bad.

Sometimes when a relationship ends you know it is a good thing even though it hurts. Other times, something in your heart tells you that you really need to resolve the issues between you, that you are not over. And if you can think of a relationship in your life where this is the case then this post is for you.

These points apply to any kind of relationship, including friendship, because the principles can be applied generally. My aim is to give you the motivation and the words you need to speak to that person that you still love and want back in your life. I believe in the restoration of relationships and, while I do think that there are some circumstances where a relationship should be left for dead, our first choice should be to bring them back to life.

There are one of two strategies you can apply: the indirect approach or the direct approach.

The indirect approach is a slow and steady approach. What this means in practice depends on how badly damaged the relationship is. If you no longer speak to the person but you still have mutual friends, this would mean finding ways of being in their space without necessarily having one-on-one interaction with them. This is good mainly because it will help them get used to the idea of you being around. As silly as it may sound, things such as a ‘Like’ on a Facebook status or  a photo helps! You will need a lot of patience to follow this approach and a commitment to persevering when the person rejects or ignores you. The second approach is a more direct approach. It will involve you simply approaching the person and arranging a time when you both can meet without a build up to that moment.

Remember this: choose the approach that you think will work best with the person that you are dealing with and balance it with the approach that you are good at- this is the key to effective communication. It is not just about you and it is not just about them, it is about the both of you. Whichever approach you choose to take, you will eventually have to have a conversation with the person. You will have to say what you need to say, here’s how:

1 Be clear about why you are having this conversation.

Most of us come into conversations like these with big expectations. And those expectations are usually on the other person (not ourselves!). The first question that you have to ask yourself is what your objectives are in having this conversation. You have to ask yourself why it is important to you. What are you expecting? Once you have your expectations clear in your head, shift some of the weight of those expectations away from the other person. Decide that you are going to take responsibility for your part in achieving the outcome that you desire. Secondly, decide that your future happiness will not depend on whether the other person plays their part, as long as you have played yours.

Say something like:

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, I really appreciate it. I have been thinking about our friendship and would really like to talk about some things that I think were left unresolved between us. Can we do that?”

2 Be quick to listen and slow to speak.

This is not your chance to vent about everything that you hated about your relationship and why you are right and they need to see that. Find an objective third party to do that with or do that in your personal journal! This is your chance to have a dialogue with the person. ‘Di’ means two – you and the person. Do not hog the space. The best way to navigate this kind of conversation is by asking questions, giving them the chance to answer and then responding to that answer. Asking questions is your chance to  bring up what took place before and it gives that person a chance to give you their take on the issue. This is not an interrogation so be gentle and gracious. Also, avoid asking questions that are accusatory. An example would be: “So when did you decide that you were going to steal my boyfriend from under my nose?”

Listen carefully to what the person has to say and think about your response to each of those. It is unlikely that you will take their view of the situation because you are two different people. That is okay. Your answer needs to be: in response to what they have just said; honest; and balanced. Keep your response focused on this conversation, try not to bring up past conversations you have had or what so-so told you they said. This shows that you are listening. Be honest and resist the urge to hold certain things back because you want to please the other person. Balance your response by expressing the fact that you understand their point of view, and then explain how you viewed the situation at the time and why.

Say something like:

“We used to be so close. What do you think went wrong with our relationship?”

“After we came back from [          ] I felt like there was a wall between us. Did you feel it too? If you did, what do you think caused that?”

3 Be forgiving.

Forgiving the other person means letting go of the idea that they owe you something for the wrong they did against you. In the case of a betrayal for example, you have every reason to want the other person to pay you back for the wrong they did – whether they acknowledge their wrong in the matter or not. They will probably admit some things that prove that they were wrong and that you were justified. When that happens, do not say: “Well, can I just say that I told you so? I knew you were wrong all the time!” Extend grace and choose to overlook your right to rub it in their face. I believe that forgiveness is a choice but it is also a process so do not expect to instantly feel unoffended or unhurt. The starting point is for you to express your decision to forgive.

Say something like:

“I love you and I want to give our relationship a fresh start.”

“I know that you are sorry and I no longer want to hold it against you.”

4 Be repentant.

Forgiveness and repentance go together. In the course of the conversation you will also discover that you did and said some things that you should be sorry for. Do not just dismiss these as minor compared to what the other person did – hold up the mirror and share in the blame. Acknowledge  that what you said or did was destructive and/or hurtful and make a deliberate commitment to turn away from it, starting now. There will be times when you fall but get up and stick to your commitment. Also, choose your words carefully and stay away from saying counterproductive things like, “I apologize but I cannot say that I am sorry.” and do not use avoidance strategies like saying, “I did not know that you felt that way about it. Sorry that you do.”

Say something like:

It was wrong of me to tell Lesley what you told me in confidence. I am sorry for betraying your trust like that.”

“I am sorry for the way the words that I said when I was angry, I know that they hurt you. I am sorry for hurting you.”

5 Be brave.

Your relationships are important. Do not let fear keep you from reaching out and saying what you need to say to heal a broken relationship. Do not give up before you try!

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading.

shula.

Tonight, I want to talk about feelings, do you?

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I do not like to talk about feelings and have two very good reasons for why. Feelings are inconsistent. I like things to be relatively predictable and well structured – feelings are not that! Feelings are subjective, they’re not concrete, there is no real ultimate truth in them. Two people can be in the same situation and come out feeling very differently.

Truth be told, I am scared to talk about feelings. Talking to another person about one’s feelings necessarily means opening one’s heart and mind to another and letting them in. It makes one vulnerable and leaves room for rejection.

But that’s me. What about you?

Do you like sharing what your true feelings are? Can you admit it when you are angry or sad or so happy you could fly to the moon and back? Do you get terrified at the question: “How do you feel?”

Describing people as “emotional” assumes that there are people who are not emotional. I think that is misleading. We are all emotional but some people express their emotions more easily, whereas others cannot or will not. Human beings are emotional beings, we just express things differently.

Tonight, as much as I dread doing it, I want to talk about feelings. I have made up a scale. Imagine a horizontal line running across a page. The extreme left hand side of the line is labelled “Stuffers” and the extreme right says “Exploders”. I want to propose that when it comes to the way we process or express our feelings, each of us falls closer to one end of the spectrum than the other.

Here are my thoughts on what each of these means, try and locate yourself and your friends on the scale, this will be fun:

The Exploders (Fire)

The name says it all. Exploders love talking about feelings. Their faces say it all. They are the oversharers on Facebook and Twitter. They leave no one in any doubt about what makes them angry and when they are sad they walk around with a massive cloud hanging over their heads. Cumulonimbus. Exploders are easily provoked and difficult to reason with in a disagreement. Arguments with them always escalate at an alarming rate and often end with them in a pile of tears or stomping off and slamming the door in your face. A particularly dangerous exploder might even resort to slapping, biting and flinging crockery around the room. I think you get the picture.

Exploder plusses.
You always know where you stand with exploders – they make sure of it! They have no difficulty in letting you know what their true feelings are and will communicate them to you. Exploders tend to find vulnerability with people easy and this makes them easier to connect to on a personal level. An exploder will generously pour out their affection on people they love and will be extravagant in the way that they express it. Exploders do not struggle to access their emotions and are often described as ‘passionate’.

If you are close to the exploder side of the scale then there are a few things you need to watch out for. Firstly, expressing your feelings easily is not the same as expressing them healthily. This is particularly important when it comes to expressing anger. Like a bomb going off, when exploders get angry there is always collateral damage, be aware of this. Consider the effect of your expression on other people, don’t be selfish and fight fair! Secondly, don’t make your feelings king. Realise that your feelings are not a perfect representation of reality – just because you feel rejected does not mean that you actually are rejected. Also, your feelings are not a perfect moral compass, something that ‘feels right’ can be very wrong! Remember, fire brings warmth and light but if let loose and uncontrolled, it can destroy everything in its path.

The Stuffers (Ice)

If you are a stuffer people will probably describe you as quiet / shy / stuck in your own world. This is not always the case though, there are some loud and outgoing stuffers out there! Unlike exploders who will always express their feelings outwardly, stuffers will usually internalize them. Stuffers appear cool under pressure and sometimes even seem cold. The reality is that stuffers have a backlog of unprocessed or unexpressed feelings stuffed down on the inside. It is not that they do not feel anything, it’s just that they for some reason, they would rather keep what they feel to themselves.

Stuffer plusses.
Many stuffers really care about other people and their selflessness is sometimes one of the reasons why they stuff their feelings down. They think about other people’s feelings before their own. They are good listeners and will think before they speak. Stuffers are also often very stable and consistent in relationship, they are not as temperamental or moody as their exploder counterparts.

If you are closer to the stuffer side of the scale then the first thing you have to realise is that you cannot stuff down your feelings forever, you will eventually explode. And it will not look pretty. Eventually, the anger, grief and offense you have been stuffing will have to be released. Your positive emotions need to be expressed along with your negative ones! Stuffers need to learn that emotions are not evil and that there is a healthy way of expressing them. Secondly, stuffers need to understand the importance of emotional vulnerability in a relationship. The ability to know what you are feeling and to express it to people will make you seem more human and less like a block of cold, hard ice.

Are you more of an exploder or a stuffer? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Thanks for reading.
shula.

RelationTips:: Breaking a bad habit (when that habit is a person)

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At the end of every year my high school friends and I have a reunion. We go out to a restaurant, catch up on what the latest is for each of us and what our plans for the next year are. Invariably I have found that each of us will make some kind of resolution:

“This year I’m going to get serious with God. I’ve had my fun, I must grow up now.”

“Guys, this drink I’m having is the last bit of alcohol that’s going to pass through my mouth.”

We each share what the year has taught us and how the only way is forward from here. We nod and “Hmm!” in affirmation, glasses raised, hearts full of hope. The end of the year rolls around once again, some have stories of victory and new adventures, others return dragging past struggles behind them.

Breaking bad habits is easier said than done. And relational bad habits are that much harder to stop. Many of us know what it is like to be stuck in a relationship that we know is not ‘good’ for us but we cannot seem to let go of that person. The reasons why are complicated. Maybe that person is really attached to you and you are afraid that the end of the relationship will cut them too deeply. Or maybe you have become so attached to this person that you cannot imagine your life without them. You would rather be unhappy and attached than alone. You have tried breaking this habit before but they have such a powerful hold over you!

I believe that it absolutely possible to break that bad habit (when that habit is a person) but it takes intentionality. This post is for people who know they have a Bad Habit (BH) to break and just need some practical tips on how to do it. Here are my thoughts:

1. Grab a blank page of paper and a pen.
If you have watched Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” you will remember that scene where the wives are told to write down what they love about their husbands on one side of the paper and what they hate on the other. Applying that here: write down all the good things about your BH on one side of your paper. When you are done, turn the paper over and write down all the negative things. For both be as honest as possible, do not hold back. Remember this paper is for your eyes only, do not feel guilty about being mean.

This is something great for evaluating your relationship in a way that is visual. Which side bears more weight – the good or the nasty? What effect is that having on your heart?

2. Ask for an independent opinion.
Often it is hard to see the full picture of a relationship without a third or fourth perspective. Approach a trustworthy (!!!) person in your life and ask them to give you their opinion on your relationship. Remember, this is an opinion and will probably not be the definitive truth about your relationship. Also, do not go to people who will tell you what you want to hear (“yes men”) or people who have a conflict of interest and cannot be objective.

Decide that you will be open to what they think, listen and ask questions. It will probably hurt to hear what they have to say but decide that you will not be defensive. Also share what has been going on. This stage is a great way of bringing forward what has been going on behind the scenes of the relationship and getting an independent perspective. This process will also help you confirm what you have been feeling about the relationship, you are then able to stop second- guessing yourself.

3. Set up your boundaries and guard them fiercely.
If you are going to break this BH successfully you are going to need to set down some predetermined ground rules. Keep them simple and relevant. Here is some real talk: if you know that one of the reasons why you cannot move on from this person is because you keep ending up in bed together then avoid those situations where you end up alone with that person. Do not let them come by your house and do not go to theirs. Do not go out and get drunk together. These are physical boundaries. Emotional boundaries are important too. Do not reread text messages they have sent to you or keep going back to their Facebook profile “just to see”. Do not spend hours talking to them on the phone and avoid trying to keep up with what is happening in their life.

If you have found it hard to let go of your BH, that is usually a sign of a boundary issues. The boundary setting process may be what you need to begin to establish an identity separate from theirs.

To be effective this will need some perseverance and grit. And maybe some brutality towards yourself. The other person will probably be hurt but ultimately, remember that you are preventing long term harm to both of your hearts. When you feel tempted to cross boundaries, remember 1. and 2.

4. Set up your support.
If you are going to break this BH for good, you are going to need some reliable relational support. This is particularly important when you first set up your boundaries and the temptation to go back is strongest. These are the people who will cry with you and grieve with you. It is important that you healthily deal with the emotions associated with losing the relationship. Find encouraging people who love you and decide that you will be vulnerable and honest with them about where you are. Breaking this BH is worth the risk. For some, the process of setting up support may involve making some new friends, particularly if you and your BH share many mutual friends.

Be patient with yourself. Often a toxic relationship can leave one feeling insecure and fragile which can be a barrier to getting out there again. There may even be some fear attached to the thought of living without your BH. Resist the voice that tells you that you are isolated. You are on a journey of freedom.

You will need to anticipate when you might be at your lowest. Anniversaries, birthdays and holidays are times that you might need to have people around you. Once you start breaking out of this destructive relational cycle you might even find new relational avenues opening.

Having said the above, beware of the rebound effect. Do not break one unhealthy emotional attachment only to run to another- this happens often! At some stage you may need to learn to be alone and not surrounded by people all the time. Being able to spend time with yourself is healthy!

5. Bonus: Pray.
At every stage, my view is that this is essential. This will deepen your relationship with God and get you through the hard days. Prayer is a conversation. Be honest about your concerns to God and let Him speak back to you, either in your heart or through the Bible. Pray together with people you have chosen as your support team – this will bond you together and give you the spiritual strength you need to stay on track.

It is worth saying that some bad relationships can still be restored to health. But that will depend on various things including the willingness of all parties to do help make that happen. Also, none of what I have expressed here is intended to apply to a marriage relationship.

Any other thoughts on relational BH’s?
Did you find this helpful?
Any other suggestions?

Thanks for reading.
shula

Gayness, God and Everything In Between :: His story and a candid cafe conversation

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*This is the last of the stories I am going to share on my series about homosexuality. If you would like to know where I stand with this currently, please see the Questions and Answers post which is a good summary of my position.

The first part of this post is the story that my friend *Tertius agreed to share. The second part of it is a follow up conversation I had with him. I have changed a few things to preserve his anonymity but the facts remain substantially the same.

To be honest, I don’t know when exactly I knew I was gay, I think that’s like the same sort of question as “when did you know you were right-handed?”. You start writing, and well, you get comfortable with using one hand or the other. I mean you can use the other hand, but its just not quite as ‘right’ as using your ‘natural’ hand for writing. Growing up I dated many girls, kissed many girls, but it definitely didn’t mean anything to me. I did the things that I was expected to do because well, that’s what boys did. But as you get older, and you gain a more thorough understanding of the world around you; you realize there are “others” in the world: those men that don’t like women. They like other men.

You also immediately pick up on the societal wrongness of this fact; I suppose this is because as a child you a born completely innocent: free from discrimination.

So when you learn that there are men who like other men; because of socialization, you are more easily able to pick up that its socially perceived to be “wrong”. But from your own understanding, free from discrimination and prejudices (not properly institutionalized in you yet), you don’t quite grasp why. But then again, as a child, when something is “wrong”, you don’t interrogate it because it generally leads to a smack or someone shouting at you.

So when you discover the existence of gays, you sense its wrong from the world around you and through institutionalization/socialization you eventually figure out why – but you dare not challenge it. In not challenging it, you go with it. In my encounters with girls not meaning anything and on the other hand, a strange attraction to other boys, coupled with my understanding that the “others” exist, I started to wonder if I maybe was a part of them! For a lot of people, this is an extremely hard realization ~ when you start to think your not “normal” and all the stigma that’s associated with it. That’s why for a lot of people, they can go through denial for many years. For others, well, they come to terms with it.

I don’t ever think I “came to terms with it” per se. I mean, I figured I was gay a very long time ago, I didn’t think about it – similarly to the fact that I don’t think about how I like chocolate ice-cream and you like strawberry. I tried to hide it from other people because they seemed to be the ones which had a problem with it. In hiding it, I continued to try assimilate with the rest of society; so I dated more girls, kissed more girls… and still nothing.

When your older than 16 and you know whats going on, and kissing girls doesn’t mean anything, you kind of figure that you are gay and obviously so do other people, and they keep you at arms length.

I think its really rough for the gays growing up (or at least it was for me) because no one speaks about it. So gays have no one they can talk to about this extremely weird and absolutely awkward experience: its hard for you to fathom and understand this question, but: imagine not being normal?

Normal in the sense that they ‘rest’ of the world behaves one way & you’re the only person that you know who does not. Think of it as being the only green person in the world and then imagine there’s a stigma associated with it. You feel so alone, because who do you speak to; you can’t admit you have the gayness, and yet no one else seems to have this gay-thing! You can’t possibly understand this gay thing, and what makes it worse is, because the non-gays don’t know anything about gayness,

They have all these strange preconceived ideas: like gay boys just want to jump every other male. Not true! Just like a non-gay doesn’t jump anything with a skirt, we don’t want to sex everything with a penis. But of course no one understands this.

I kind of always knew I was gay: but did not come out until I was at University. Even that I didn’t do until half way through first year: a friend of mine who I suspected was gay, almost figured I was gay, and eventually we told each other and well came to the grand idea that we should “come out together”. Which was great. I mean at least we had each other for support. But as we soon found out, nothing much changed. I mean, its not like a heavy weight was lifted off our shoulders; but I would associate that to the fact that our University is a safe space, a lot more ‘safe’ than some parts of the rest of the world.

I suppose in coming out, my friend and I had to figure out what “being out” meant. Does this mean that we must/can be ‘all gay in your face’ because we are out now and we don’t care what other people think? Slowly I figured out that it doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all. It just means that other people can know, and that you’ve come to terms with it.

The funny thing is, I haven’t told my mum or some of my friends outside the University town. My friends who do know that I’m gay often ask why. It is out of a sort of weird respect: I don’t think she’d be comfortable with it. And that’s fine, I accept that. In telling her, what would I be hoping to accomplish, versus what it would achieve? I mean I’m sure it would ruin our relationship (to a certain extent). So why tell her? I mean, I’m happy with her not knowing, and she’s happy not knowing (comparing her now to if she knew), why ruin it? It is twisted, I know.

In terms of my belief in God: well, let me categorically state: Being gay is not a choice! I didn’t wake up one day and think its cool to be gay. I don’t think anyone would. I assure you we’re not “liking things”! Having said this, I would conclude that God doesn’t discriminate against gays. Why would He? The almighty Lord of all the Universe hates gays? Really?! No, sorry, I can’t fathom such.

My experience with Christians is that I’m yet to be faced with someone who is vehemently publicly anti-gay. It might be because I’m gay that we haven’t bumped into each other. But generally, the people I’m associated with don’t have a problem with it. Those that do have a problem don’t judge and keep that aspect ‘hush-hush’ – we don’t engage. How it affects them, I don’t know. It doesn’t affect me – because I’m not the sort of person to impose my ideologies on to other people: I believe X, you believe Y; You like Coca-Cola, I like Creme-Soda, good for us!

This is my own personal experience of being gay. How other people have experienced it and perceived it will completely different; and by no accounts should I be interpreted as speaking on “behalf” of all gays.

Our cafe conversation:

Shula: Do you think our University is generally accepting of or against homosexuality?

Tertius: The way I look at our university has changed. When I arrived in first year I hadn’t come out yet. At that time I felt like it was a very cool place, you could just be yourself, everybody’s friends with one another, it’s great! Then I started to realise that everyone’s just wearing this nice mask and it’s all fake, superficial, everyone’s “chilled” with everything all the time as long as it doesn’t affect me. If you want to be gay over there, good for you! But if you hit on me I’ll kill you.

Shula: Assuming that you grew up being taught that homosexuality was unacceptable or inappropriate, what brought you to the place of going against what you had been taught?

Tertius: I don’t know. I thought about it earlier today. I can’t say what was the defining moment … This is a very awkward story, but I went on holiday with my cousins and we stayed at a place that was managed by a gay man. That was probably my closest encounter with another homosexual, knowing that I am probably on the same team as him.

And he became an idol because he’s out and he’s gay and he’s old and those that are around him treat him like a human and the world hasn’t come crumbling down. And I became more and more attracted to him. And we eventually hooked up. It was a completely nerve-wracking experience, of course, “What does it mean?” blah blah. But I knew that it felt right. I had had relationships with girls and felt nothing.

But there was something there. Then everyone found out and I was like, “Ok, let’s put that back into the box.”

I came to this University because it had a reputation for being quite liberal and ‘the gays’ are allowed. That was an exciting experience because you see a wide variety… different people associate different things to it. Halfway through my first year I knew different cliques and they all experienced it differently. Eventually, I took the leap of faith and I suppose that was the most traumatic thing because I was just like, What does it mean to me?”  

Shula: Do you feel like being gay is an inseparable part of your identity? Have you thought about that?

Tertius: Personally, I don’t associate myself with any institution. I don’t see myself as South African, white/black, or gay. I don’t necessarily like it when someone says, “Oh, here’s Tertius, he’s gay!” Why must that be the opening line? I think I’m a mixture of many things and it is part of who I am.

I don’t necessarily like the stereotypes that come with it either. I don’t agree with everyone going, “Baby girl, oh baby girl!”, because I’m still a male, I just happen to like other males. I haven’t had a sex change.

Shula: Do you feel like at all ‘activistic’ about homosexuality because you’re gay? I know you don’t define yourself by your gayness but you are a passionate person with convictions, you are a leader. Is this area divorced from that side of you?

Tertius: I can’t say that I necessarily have a passion for gay rights. I would fight for gay rights as much as I would fight for anyone else’s. I don’t put that at the forefront of what I do just because I am gay. Also, how it’s done does not always sit well with me. This [conversation] I feel is a much more effective means of conveying homosexuality not, for example, gay Pride Week where we all fabulously march down the street. We’re now shoving things down people’s throat and antagonising them. I don’t see heterosexuals having a ‘Straight Week’.

Shula: Okay, so what do you think about the stereotypical ‘gay’ lifestyle? The idea that all gay people are artists / fashion designers/ interior decorators and that there is evidence to back up that stereotype?

Tertius: I think it is very misunderstood by non-homosexuals and homosexuals. In it being misunderstood I think it is a kind of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’.

It is hard to say which came first- the chicken or the egg. I think that gay people are ‘othered’ as being gay so a gay person needs to establish for themselves what that means. It’s not something that you can go and speak to someone else about. Who would you speak to? And so, one needs to pick up on the little hints that they get along the way. One watches Fashion TV and sees: “It’s fabulous DAHLING!” and some people associate it with that and therefore follow that because that’s what they like to see as being gay and that’s what they become. I don’t want to be fabulous nor be a fashion designer or cut hair, you know?

Shula: You describe yourself as an agnostic. What does that mean to you?

Tertius: For me, it means that I don’t necessarily associate with any type of religion. I separate religion from God. Religion is a humanistic political thing. There is a super-being, a God and I dissociate myself from religion.

Shula: My view is that ‘religion’ on the one hand is a set of beliefs, practices and traditions. Then there’s ‘religion’ which entails our understanding of God. Christianity is an example and we believe in things like the supremacy of the Bible, Jesus as God and not just a man. And religion is what we have made of that, the way we choose to live our lives based on what we believe.

What I believe is that there is a God who created everyone. And He is supreme and He is above everyone else, He created everyone for a purpose. It’s kind of like how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook. He conceived it in his mind and formed it for a purpose. He put in its DNA, how everything is going to work and he put in the formulas.

I think with the issue of sexuality, my view is that, if God created people, sex, reproduction, sexual attraction and desire then the way we understand all of sexuality (not just homosexuality) must be from the point of view of the person who created it. I can explain a painting to you from what I see, but only the Painter can explain to me fully [even truthfully].

Tertius: That’s the thing with art. The way that you explain this picture, the way I explain this picture, and the way that the creator explains this picture could be completely different and I think that that also applies to what we’re speaking about.

Shula: I agree. But the creator is the one who would know the truth right? I know you talked about how each of us have different beliefs and that’s okay. But have you ever thought whether homosexuality is right? Do you ever wonder?

Tertius: I love that question… I’m going to get shot, particularly if people like *Kris ever hear me. My theory on homosexuality is that it is a mental disorder-

Shula: And you’re not joking?

Tertius: I’m not joking. I believe that humans are not necessarily put one way or the other. I think that who you are right now is predominantly by social construct. The clothes you wear, how you wear them, the way you behave – everything that you are. [The world] enforces a system upon each one of us that makes us who we are and everyone around you enforces it because that is the way that everyone is…

Applying that to homosexuality, my idea is that there is a psychological dysfunction somewhere and I think that it has something to do with the relationship between a person’s parents in early childhood… which leads the child to go off the road which the system is supposed to be reaffirming. I’ve engaged with many other gays and everyone seems to have a parental issue and it’s got something to do with the father. It really has something to do with the father. I’ve had it personally and when I start to see it in other people, I recognise it a lot better. There are a couple of people that I know that have daddy issues.

Shula: So you say that you have experienced it personally. What is it about the daddy relationship?

Tertius: I don’t know. I think that there’s a conflict between the two parents and there’s a negative relationship between the father and the son at a particular stage. Between the three parties there is some breakdown.

Shula: Do you think it is possible for someone to make a choice with regards to this? Is it something that one feels compelled to act on? Is it possible to choose?

Tertius: I think that people are not necessarily born homosexual or gay. I think that as a new-born baby, you don’t have any of these things: you’re not homosexual, you’re not racist. Having said that, I do not think that it is a choice, I think it is how you as an individual have developed. Because I find that people don’t choose to be racist either, they just are. And it’s not their fault, it really isn’t, it’s just how they’ve been brought up. I don’t think anyone chooses who they are attracted to. I don’t think that I could choose to be straight. I have tried for many years to be straight, I can fake it but it doesn’t work.

Shula: Thank you Tertius, I appreciate that honest answer.

One of the things that I believe is that we can have a relationship with God. God is not far away. I believe that human beings were created to be in a relationship with God, we understand ourselves by asking God: “Who am I?” I found that I understood who I was when I went to God and decided that I wasn’t going to come with my own ideas about who I am, I am actually going to allow God to show me who I am. I believe that God is loving and He’s not cruel or malevolent. I believe that it is possible for a person to change. I don’t define myself by the struggles I have had in the arena of sexuality and I don’t feel that I have to act on every desire. An extreme example would be, just because I really really feel like killing someone, that doesn’t mean I should go ahead and do it.

Tertius: So, like, we want to steal but we don’t do it.

Shula: Exactly. That has been my personal experience, I have changed, I have seen people change. Do you think that a person can change? Is it possible? Should we be asking that question, is it important? I’m not talking about forced change but a person deciding for themselves.

Tertius: Possibly… Perhaps not. If one were to change it would probably be on the basis of resolving the crux. Remember I talked about the relational breakdown? Whatever that deep underlying thing is… or several things that have led you to feel or believe a particular way, those things would have to be resolved. Maybe then one would be more at liberty with doing that. But I don’t think it’s a case of “One day I’m to wake and I’m going to do this.” because the underlying subconscious thing is still there… I think you can be rehabilitated to a certain degree but that doesn’t mean that the urges have stopped they are just now have been institutionalized such that you don’t act them on them.

                                                                                                                             [Pause]

This conversation is not over, it only just started! Many of you have been reading the posts that make up this series but have not had the chance to share your views on the issue. Please take some time to respond below, your voice is an important part of this conversation. Also, feel free to share this with your friends and start talking about things that matter!

What is your personal position on homosexuality?

What do you think God thinks about homosexuality and homosexuals?

Moving forward, what are some things that you are still grappling with with regards to this topic?

Thanks for reading.

shula.

 

Did God Make a Mistake? Same Sex Attraction and Gender Identity, Gcobisa’s Story

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*This is a continuation of my series of blog posts about homosexuality and the issues surrounding it. Use the tag “Homosexuality” to lead you to my other posts on the subject.

*Warning: This post contains references to sexual abuse and sex. Here is another story from a friend who graciously agreed to share her story with us. Again, I have some questions at the end of this post that you can engage with. Please feel free to ask some direct questions, the author has kindly agreed to answer any questions you might have!

When I was about six/seven years old I was molested by two boys while we were playing hide and seek, and ever since I was awakened to the sexual side of me, only thing is, my sexual awakening was not for boys, but girls.

Somehow I knew what I felt was wrong but it was so intense. I grew up as a tomboy, dressed in baggy clothes etc. I always felt out of place because of what I knew inside, I was in the closet for a very long time because I was scared of what people would say about me, I was obviously different.

Sometimes I’d wonder if God had not made a mistake, that maybe I was a boy stuck in a girls body.

I even used to think that when I grow up I would leave South Africa and go to America and have a sex change.

My first girl to girl sexual encounter was when I was nine years old, she was about the same age and had come to sleep over at my house. sleeping in the same bed, that night she told me stories of how she had witnessed some girls having sex with each other and asked if we could try it out. I was scared yet at the same time excited because this is what I had been wanting to try out for the past two years of my life. It felt good, so we did this until we were about 14/15, she had a boyfriend and then suddenly told me she couldn’t do this anymore.

I won’t lie, I was crushed, not because I loved her, but because I didn’t know anyone else who would meet me in that area of need.

I was half in half out of the closet because I hated feeling the way I felt for girls, but something in me told me that’s who I was as much as I tried to deny it on the inside.

So I ended getting into relationships with boys because I was too scared to come out completely. Sad thing is, when I was having sex with them, I often imagined I was with a girl or just switch off emotionally.

In November/December 2007 I met a girl and I fell for her hard, I told myself right there and then that she’s gonna be my reason for coming out. I was going to stick with her, I wanted to marry her. But before I could gather enough strength and courage to come out, the Lord got a hold of me, something strange stared happening in my life. I felt like I was dying and inside me was a voice telling me to go to church. So I asked her if we could take a break in our relationship because I needed to figure out what was happening with me, well let’s just say she put the up after break. After about two months of struggling with this inner voice, I obeyed and went to church and my life has not been the same since.

The first thing I said to God was, “God if you are real, if you are the God you say you are then I don’t want to feel this way, I want these feelings to go away. I want to be the person you created me to be.”

No I didn’t stop liking girls immediately, but I did feel like a truck load of weight had been taken off my chest. I’ve been saved/born again five years now and I’m happy to say I no longer find myself sexually attracted to women. I know the woman I am and am getting to know the woman I am. It was not easy, I had hiccups along the way, but I kept pressing on through prayer, fasting and reading the word of God and choosing to believe in what He has said in His Word and the finished work of Christ on the cross. Though I am not yet perfect in my ways and My identity is still being uncovered in Christ and will continue until He returns again, I have been set free from the chains of homosexuality and sexual immorality.

One thing I must say though is how I was disturbed by the ignorance of the church towards the issue of homosexuality. It’s either they are being bashed or ignored.

I would see homosexuals walk in and out of church week after week and no one seemed to be bothered and if they were, they were gossiping about them rather than sharing with them what the love of God has done for them through the cross in Christ Jesus.

I know it’s often said that we are a fatherless generation, but come to think of it, we are orphans, because even though our mothers are there physically and financially, most of them are not there emotionally and do not have time to teach us how to be women. This is also in the church, we need the older women to avail themselves, pray and mentor us and teach us how to be, not just godly women, but women.

Questions:

Has this story helped you to understand same sex attraction and gender identity? Explain.

Do you think it is possible for a person to change?

What role do you think the church can play in addressing issues of sexual abuse?

Do you think that women not knowing “how to be women” is an issue in the church?

Thanks for reading.

shula