2013 was arguably the hardest year of my life. I went through some really horrible stuff and almost gave up on life many a time. God seemed so far away. There were not many people I felt I could talk to and they’d understand. One of the people in my life that I loved very much(who I shall call person X for the purpose of this post) dragged me through the mud, over and over. And I kept making excuses for them. I reasoned that they didn’t know what they were doing; that they valued me too much to intentionally hurt me. How wrong I was!
Fast forward to 2014; X is still in my life. X is acting much nicer than they did last year. I don’t know if it’s for fear that I will throw them out of my life or if they’ve honestly genuinely changed. However, I decided at the start of this year that enough is enough. I am not going to be taken advantage of by people anymore. My father said a few times when I was growing up that my kindness and big heart would land me into problems one day; that I should try and love people in moderation otherwise I would be very broken if/when they ever disappointed me. Well, I honestly don’t know how people love their friends or family with reservation. I’ve failed at that. But I think it’s a skill that I may have to learn. I easily get attached to people, love them with all I have and then when they error(because they are very HUMAN), I crush and burn! It’s something I am working on this year. I’ve been meditating on relationships(particularly friendships and family ties) that are hurting me and making me doubt who I am as a person. I’ve come to the realization that there are ties that I will have to sever in the near future so that I can have a healthy spiritual, emotional and all round well-balanced life. There are obviously also those that I need to put in extra effort to maintain and groom because they build and uplift me.
When I was leaving home a few months ago, my sister told me that this time away should help me discover who I am as a person; to let go of the past and try to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried to do that. I’ve discovered that I am stronger than I thought I was. I’ve met some really nice people who have inspired me. However,it hasn’t always been a bed of roses either. A few times, I’ve felt out of place; like I didn’t belong. And my first instinct would be to get onto Facebook and just pour my heart out to my brother Jordan(who because of an 8-hour time difference was almost always never online!)Then, I would collect myself, go to my room or the bathroom and give myself a pep-talk about how I need to suck it up and adjust to the situation. And I always feel better.(Don’t judge me. And no, I am not psycho!) Fortunately, these times have been few and I’ve learned to quickly dismiss those thoughts from my mind and focus on the task at hand.
I’ve struggled with my weight these past few years. In high school I was very fit and petite. Sometimes I think it’s because I was actively involved in Sports. I played volleyball for the school team and I trained almost everyday. I think that kept the weight away. And then life happened. I left high school and came into the real world with fried food, processed food and all the junk that you can think of. Prior to January of this year, I hardly ever exercised. And I still ate regular heaps of fries and processed food(when you’re in school, it’s more convenient to get fast food than to cook yourself a healthy meal). As part of my new year resolutions, I resolved to eat healthy and exercise regularly so I can shed off atleast ten kilograms by the end of this year. I am not entirely happy with where I am three months down the road but I am happy to say that I am trying. Many times I get lazy and fail, but for me the happiness comes from the fact that atleast once a week I am making deliberate effort to exercise for one hour and to also reduce on my consumption of junk food. It’s so hard to let go of the things that hurt us such as junk food. I imagine how hard it must be for alcohol and heroin addicts to let go of the drugs that have held them captive for such a long time. If letting go of FOOD is this hard, it must be really hard to kick out a drug addiction! I am trying to resist the urge to eat copious amounts of food; and also to sieve out what I put into my body.
In other news, I scored small victories this week. I’ve taken tea for a whole week without sugar(Yep, miracles still happen!) I’ve also stayed away from coffee all week( I am hi-fiving myself for this one). I’ve learned very basic HTML coding(OMG! I’m becoming a tech genius 🙂 ) This week, I will set my sights on learning CSS and Java Script. I’ve made new friends and found new family thousands of miles away from my biological family(we celebrated Uncle Bob’s 87th birthday last weekend in Hebron). I’ve also experienced huge generosity from some wonderful people with really big hearts(thank you Barbara Cotner, Penny Loeffler, Claudia Speakman, Colleen Weiser!) I also went bowling for the first time in my life. It’s so much harder than what you see in the movies 🙂 Did I also mention that I saw a two headed calf, a mastodon and an actual mummy at the Ohio Historical Society? 🙂 Priceless!
There are still things that I am trying to get used to in this land. Each township has a huge store. I see Kroger stores everywhere. They are almost as many as the traffic lights in Columbus. (I am imagining what it would be like if all the Kampala suburbs had a huge Shoprite store in their midst!) Maybe it’s a good thing that we have only three Shoprite stores in Kampala. That way, we still get to go to Nakawa, Nakasero, Kalerwe or Kibuye markets to go buy our fresh food and vegetables. As much as frozen or pre-cooked food is convenient, I think I still prefer going to Nakawa market with my mum on Saturday mornings to buy fresh vegetables and haggling over cabbage prices with the vendor. Or going to Hajji(our trusted butcher) at Fresh cuts in Bugolobi to get fresh meat. It’s also nice to go to the fish market opposite Sports View in Kireka to get fresh tilapia(sometimes some are still alive, writhing, flapping their tails and gasping for air on the fish vendor’s stall). However, here most of the food is already packed and frozen. I have heard though that there are markets where you can get fresh commodities.
Today is Ash Wednesday. I feel it upon my heart to forgive those that have hurt me, to let go of people such as person X and to move into the future that God has set out for me without keeping one foot in the past. I am also purposing to excel in school, to not lose who I am as a person in spite of the curve-balls that life may throw at me. Most importantly, I want to grow in my faith. To get back the first love that I had for God.
I think it’s been harder being a Christian here for me. I have been on my knees constantly asking God to let me keep my conscience above all else; to let me not lose sight of right and wrong; to help me stand firm in my faith and to let me not compromise on my values and faith. I’ve encountered different world view points and I think it’s challenged me to read my Bible more so as to have informed conscious decisions based on scripture and to not be ashamed of my faith. Also, I have seen the love people here have for the needy and how their faith compels them to go out and physically help those in need; either by giving or going on missions. I want to be more of an action oriented Christian like they are. I am also grateful that this week we started the Daniel Plan at work. It’s refreshing to know that I have people to be accountable to in regards to weight loss and healthy living.
As I start my 40 day journey today(that I know will completely change my life- it’s not Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey in Eat, Pray, Love but it’s definitely a spiritual journey of discovering who I am), I want to leave you with this scripture that has kept me going this year;
Psalms 71:20-21, “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.”