Gugu / 6 Mar, 2019

Sometimes we can be so whiny. Ok, I can be so whiny, and I will admit to and own this. I am pretty sure that I get on the nerves of my closest and dearest with the level of venting and whining I do. I am of course grateful for the opportunity to even whine; it means I am loved and surrounded by friendship and sisterhood. It isn’t something I have always done though, opening up and sharing about the true state of my inner life. As a Capricorn and someone that’s deeply private and protective of self, I was always OK with dealing with things internally and keeping a lot of it to myself, believing I had the capacity to self-therapise and offer self the best kind of wisdom known to man. Permission to laugh at me right now…🤷🏽‍♀️

So now that I am in my 30s and more open about self and sharing what’s going on with me, perhaps I am running away with the whole “be open and transparent with your circle” thing, LOL. I am often still VERY self-conscious about sharing what I do share with my closest people. Yes, I feel naked and judged; the latter because I fear I come off as super whiny and weak. Like, in my mind, the fact that I have to vent so much makes me weak. And because I have such an intense inner life, it is for this reason that people closest to me had and have always encouraged me to open up and share. In order to gain better/proper perspective. I have the ability to conjure up the stupidest, most mind-boggling “conspiracy theories” about myself and my life and to believe them fully as being valid and true, much to the dismay of those around me. I have mentioned before that my self-talk has often been very negative and indicative of someone with low self-regard. But because loved ones and friends can see what we don’t, and think differently to us, thankfully, they come in and are able to easily and quickly debunk my bogus convictions. So in as much as I often am tempted to withdraw, I am deeply appreciative of the external/objective perspective. For someone that’s lived a pretty much wholly internal existence, hearing other people present logical, evidence-based arguments and ‘alternate’ explanations and conclusions about situations in your life is a breath of fresh air.

And so already there’s something that I can be grateful for: safe spaces, love and friendship. I appreciate truth and loyalty, and the people I have allowed to be my confidantes are so honest and genuinely committed to my wellbeing that they’ll go out of their way to truly listen, internalise and mull over my issues before returning with advice or opinions. I am grateful for people who don’t try to change my personality, but instead offer wisdom that either works to my strengths or offers opportunity for growth where I perhaps fall short. Quite simply, I am grateful for people that genuinely love me. You don’t know what a lonely existence it can be outside of bonds of relationship until you have absolutely no one to turn to at a time when you just need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen; a caring heart.

A friend was encouraging me recently and she reminded me to practice gratitude. I told her that that was a noble sentiment and practice but that it wasn’t going to make me feel better or change, materially, the conditions of my life at this present time, the latter being first place in gold. I really need for the material conditions of my life to be much more different than what they are right now, you feel me? THAT is what I need, mmkaaay. But anyhoo, that’s me whining again. I decided to speak on gratitude because whether I car to admit it or not, I DO HAVE a lot to be grateful for. Also, I think there is much to be learned about/around the subject matter of gratitude and hopefully we can teach each other. I know this post won’t change the material conditions of my life, but it may, just may, light a spark in my heart that starts the road to rebuilding my faith and hope and joy. Who knows? But also, it may help others who read it to reflect on the things in their lives that still work, offer solace or hope or just make life comfortable, sweet or good, despite loss or grief. You can still have a good life but be heartsore. And you reflecting on the goodness of your life doesn’t negate your pain or struggles; it just offers reprieve from focusing solely on what’s not good in/about your life and allows you better perspective of exactly where you are in life, comparatively speaking.

Yes…you are always in a better position than someone else. And that’s not meant to make you feel better – it’s meant to jolt you out of that melange of self-pity and clouded subjective reasoning and into reality. Because when you’re in the throes of self-pity, you imagine that you have the worst set of circumstances of anyone living or that has ever lived. Yes, that’s how that works. And you work yourself up into believing that you are cursed, forgotten, unloved, the wretched of the earth basically, when that could be furthest from the truth. And while we’re still here, can we spare a thought for that person who literally is living that “worst” set of circumstances/existence? I always wonder how they fared or are faring. Sigh. Anyhoo…

Life is unfair, generally speaking. Life is hard and tough for many. And what has often struck me when I want to whine and complain, but choose instead to deploy a wider/more objective perspective on things, is how seemingly favoured I am. This past weekend, a young budding actor was killed in Pretoria, for a cellphone. He was 25. A week prior, a young man, Thoriso Themane, was brutally and fatally attacked by a group of teenage boys. Apparently, just because he didn’t greet them. He was also 25. There are numerous, numerous incidents I can recount of people whose lives have been painfully ended or affected by the bizarreness or unfairness of life, generally. We have victims of rape, various forms of sexual assault, domestic abuse, the unemployed, the poor and hungry, the sick, the homeless and those with no communal, friendship or familial bonds. I can’t say that my set of circumstances is this bad. And I am not saying that the seriousness of certain needs/tribulations outweighs others. The fact that the majority of someone’s need is based around level one pyramid needs doesn’t mean their burden or sorrow is more serious than another’s whose issues are located elsewhere on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But as human beings, we appreciate that we first want to live comfortably, physically and materially, and so it matters that we have jobs, food, safety, health and shelter. And so that is how we position our lives when thinking about being favoured and blessed.

Lulu was writing abut the difficulty of remaining optimistic in dire situations. Listen, I honestly can’t imagine being able to trudge through, day in and day out, the hardship that is Zimbabwe. And my sympathy and heart truly go out to people who generally live in such difficult situations, and respectfully, I wouldn’t ask for that as my lot. Nope. Given the choice, I would keep my little problems, because I do not think I am built that way. And so, I guess this is the thing – we all probably get exactly what we can withstand AND you do have it better than someone else. When Lulu tells me of yet another ZESA power outage, I am always like “Lordt. It couldn’t be me hey”. And so for the mess you find yourself in, give thanks. It could be worse. But it is also exactly your size. You can handle it and you will get through it. And here’s another thing, generally, there is no life without mess. In a fallen world, we will always be confronted with challenges and be expected to do a lot of overcoming. And when the going gets tough, we often lie to ourselves by comparing ourselves and our lives to those of people WE THINK have no problems and wishing for their lives. Hapana zvakadaro – there is nothing like that. Everyone has issues/problems. We just don’t know of them and they’re different ones to what we’re experiencing.

For instance, thinking of people who die young, I often wonder why it is that way, especially when they’ve barely made an impact or had enough time to carve out a legacy of their own. It just all seems so unfair, and even to their remaining loved ones. It’s a lot to deal with. And untimely death particularly is scary, because when you’re in the midst of your own storm/issues, you often wish to die, but you don’t. And then other people die and you’re like “😨”. And I am not saying being alive is a grand prize. No, life is hard and one would no sooner be dead than alive. But being alive is all we know and so we cling onto it like it’s the grand prize. Really, passing on is the grand prize, especially if you are a person of (Christian) faith. The after-life promises to be bigger, better, grander and all around perfect really. But they (and God) say, even this life is a blessing and a gift to be thankful for. And so, we try to find reason to be thankful for being alive and all that is good in our unique existences. So why would I be grateful to still be alive? I think for me, I would thank God for another day because it’s an opportunity to write my story and create my legacy, one that’ll let it be known that I was here. Everything else is secondary. If He saw it fit to give me life, my biggest pursuit is to figure out why and hopefully to have that opportunity to do and accomplish all that He has in store for me to, even when the going gets reallllly tough (like now – sigh) and without any of my days being tragically cut short.

I think that part of cultivating maturity is being able to remain grateful even when things aren’t going well. I have a lot to be grateful for – things I never even asked for. And in being grateful to God, I try to be genuine about it. And so as I told my friend, I don’t want to practice gratitude to impress God or because I am in the doldrums. Side-note: LOL – funny that that’s exactly how that works. That is how we are supposed to do it. Anyhoo, my point was that I want to do it as and when it is something that strikes me, to do it genuinely so, and hopefully through that manner of doing things, that attitude can become an inherent part of me. I haven’t figured my life out and I don’t know exactly why He saw fit to give me breath and sustain me up to this point, but as I go along, I am able to see the ways in which the lines have fallen in good places for me and I want, eventually, to be of such grace, maturity and faith that I can remain sincerely grateful even when my heart is broken and life is hard or challenging. Even when I don’t understand. I am not saying I want to be one of those perennial eternal optimists or “look on the bright side/happy chappy/there’s always a silver lining” people. No. I don’t like that kind of vibe. Let’s just keep it real when shit is hitting the fan and call a spade a spade. I am saying that even in the midst of a baptism of fire, may I always be fully alive to the fact that I am still blessed and highly favoured, for whatever reasons.

Also, as Christians, we are commanded to practice gratitude; to give thanks in all things, as it is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus. I suppose then that it is in Christ that we gain the ability to always remain grateful and gracious, and not necessarily of our own power. In that case then, I need just a little more Jesus, LOL. As followers of Christ, we all daily need just a little more Him to help us along the way of rising up to the standard and expectations that God the Father has for/of us. Funny enough, at the beginning of the year, I had set myself the goal of keeping/creating a Gratitude List for 2019. I would note one thing daily I was grateful for. I did it for all of one week and then life happened and that put paid to that endeavour. I have to pick it up again, if only as a way of holding myself accountable and finishing what I start. It’s hard even writing about gratitude because I don’t quite understand it myself. It’s complex. Of course we are grateful when things are going good and we struggle to remain so when thing turn pear-shaped. All that I can gather is perhaps we are meant to always appreciate every single good thing and also that that kind of attitude goes a long way towards keeping us rooted in/focused on what truly matters (perhaps it is the little things) and cultivating in us a consistently keener sense of gratitude. Because it is God’s will that we embody that kind of gratitude, generally, throughout our lifespan. And He knows why; I don’t.

Trust me when I say it is going to be hard for me to sincerely practice gratitude in this season of my life but I am going to try. Even at the tiniest thought or inclination of it, my ‘flesh’ resists that kind of posture. But I figure gratitude is one of those things that you get better at the more you just do it. And also, no one likes a constant whiner. It gets to be too much and draining on those that must be subjected to it. Quite frankly, in as much as I indulge in whining, at a certain point, I rather say nothing if I am really failing to say or find something good or ‘positive’. So apart from building character, being able to view life in a balanced way makes you more pleasant to be around; you encourage people to build the same kind of resilience and outlook on life, and that’s always good I guess – if you are able to have a positive impact on the people around you.

So, in closing, I would like to practice this gratitude thing. I’ll have you know that I wracked my brain for hours and finally resumed writing this particular paragraph on the next day, hahaha. That’s how rough it is trying to find just three things I am grateful for. Well yesterday, I wrote one of them down in my Notes app on my phone and I have two outstanding things. I want(ed) to find things I genuinely and strongly feel grateful or thankful for at this very moment. Up top, I have already expressed gratitude for my support system, people who love me well. I also expressed gratitude for still being alive for the purposes of discovering and accomplishing my purpose, even when I often wish my life would end because, unhappiness, challenges or just plain human frailty. That’s three things already, LOL. Yay me!!! One last thing? OK. Let me see…it’s kinda lame (actually not) but I’m grateful for my mother.

I would like to hear your thoughts around gratitude. Please share by dropping a comment below.

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  1. Yay you!! Three reasons for gratefulness…! Great stuff… laughing so hard about gratitude for your mum being a lame one… how’s that?

    Loved this piece though … impressed how you guys are learning things way earlier than our generation did… i only learned that gratitude can actually be ‘an attitude’ when i heard one of Chuck Swindoll’s sermons on the subject, something like 16 years ago – was pretty old already… imagine.

    1. Hahaha Ncane! Well I guess moms are standard and par for the course as far as gratitude goes, so it feels kinda redundant – but I figured it’s worth expressing nonetheless 🤣

      Well, maybe we are learning these critical life lessons at almost the same age. Twenty odd years ago, you were just a few years older than I am now. I actually still haven’t quite wrapped my head around 36😨😨😨. LOL.

      But I would love to hear some of the ways in which gratitude has worked for you. I could really use some wisdom in that regard! I will also search for the sermon you refer to. Hopefully there’s audio of it floating around on the internet.

  2. Hahaha, well said Dee… but i love that you did that because it the very thing you address in the post, isnt it? Gratitude expressed (attitude), even when it should be ‘naturally expected’.

    Yes, am sure you can find Charles Swindoll’s sermon on youtube… i can check it out too and let you know.

    1. I did look for the Charles Swindoll sermon and found one. Not sure if it’s the same one you were referring to. He links the concept of gratitude to the American Thanksgiving holiday? That’s the one I listened to…

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