This is my story.
I was born on the 11th of January 1996, into an average, somewhat Christian family. My mother was saved and my father was still being weaned off Catholicism and ancestral worship.
I grew up at Free Methodist Church, the church my mom's family had been members of for generations.
At Free Methodist, I was taught to: pray; sing worship songs in Zulu and sometimes English; be a good Christian; to speak the right way; not ask too many questions; to be obedient.
I was never a rebel child, so this came easily to me. At that time, I had always thought I was fine, that everything was perfect the way it was, I was perfect the way I was, and I was made righteous by my own efforts.
For those few years, dad worked in Harding and would stay there from Monday to Friday and come home every weekend. Mom and dad had serious marriage problems then, but I never witnessed much of them, because there was never time for them to argue.
I can safely say, I lived my first seven (or so) years without a dad. He eventually found a post at a school closer to home, which enabled him to come home every day. I can’t say my life changed much, but we had an extra car in the yard to take us to school, church and so on. Mom worked 7 days a week, so I generally spent my days at home with my sister, a nanny or my dad.
I got saved on the 13th of January 2007 at a Free Methodist service after a young man preached something that moved my heart. Our church didn't cater for newly born again Christians very well. I had to fumble through darkness through my first few months and eventually gave up on my walk with Jesus and faked my relationship with Him with religious talks, referring to myself as a Jesus freak and doing everything I had been taught at Free Methodist. It worked for many years.
My sister, Vicky, had always been unhappy with the way things were handled at Free Methodist and had taken it upon herself to take care of her relationship with God. This made me curious, and question myself about the life I lived and I said that I was.
The questioning went on for many years subconsciously while I went on about my life aimlessly.
Before grade 5 I was a 'cute, fat kid', but that year I lost weight drastically and became frighteningly beautiful. Everyone around me noticed. Mom had started telling me, nearly since I was born, that I was beautiful. Only at that point did I start believing her.
With my growing maturity and 'upgraded' looks, came new attention I had never known. I apparently looked much older.
In grade 6 I reached my peak and my popularity with boys, of a range of ages grew. The attention I received from my parents grew less by the month- mom was pregnant with the first boy of our family.
Everything was not perfect but nonetheless, I was a good leader, a diligent learner and popular with high school boys.
In grade 7, I began to fill the gaps in my life (my much needed relationship with God, the discipline I should have received, a good relationship with my dad and a good church) with strange things that ranged from clothing, accessories, expensive hair, expensive cell phones and toxic relationships. I got involved with boys much older than myself and found myself giving up pieces of me for temporary happiness.
I was wiser and older but still blind to the truth. I needed Jesus to take over my life and give me another chance to start over. I needed more than midnight phone calls, and cheap outings to the movies where I would be paying a higher price for the mistakes I made than the price of a movie combo. I needed more than long hugs and shallow compliments from boys who knew only my body, but not the empty being that lived inside of it. I needed love. I needed acceptance.
My most recent relationship was my breaking point. It lasted for two years, on and off, with buckets of tears shed. I gave more and more of myself until I felt I had nothing else to give, except the one thing I treasured most. I fought with God about it, denied it and still remained blind to the truth. All I needed was God. All I needed was His truth- to know who I am, and how much I am worth.
For four years, I chose to forget what Jesus did for me. The sacrifice God gave to make my life better, to enable the existence of my relationship with Him. I forgot what was in the bible, what God promised. I forgot that I could be accepted just as I am, if only I gave Jesus permission to take my life as His own, and take the blame for my sin.
I fought with myself and God for these two years that I dated this guy and finally, after being cheated on countless times, -which in turn had also caused me to do some regrettable things- being dishonoured, lied to and after all the lies I told. I saw that all I was doing was taking a drive down the same road, only to be met by a dead end, hitting a u-turn and driving back down the same road again.
I met Jesus again, at Westville Baptist every Friday night- through this guy I was convinced I would marry.
Many talks would make sense to me, would be relevant to me. Many times God spoke to me about this great hurdle I had placed in front of myself, yet had not realised I could walk right around it.
One night, I made a commitment to reinforce the commitment I had made years ago.
I said to God,
"You know what; I'm actually quite tired of living this lie. I'm hungry for You and I'm tired of denying it- trying to satisfy this craving with other worthless things and habits. I want to put You first, and I want You to work through me. Enough is enough."
It took me months to give up people, habits and things that stopped me from getting to know God better. I had given Him my life again, but would, now and then take my life back, nearly forgetting what I had said to God. After a while of getting to know God's character, His unconditional love, His grace, what He likes and absolutely despises- all these 'bad' things became smaller in the great scheme of things.
I went to Summer Camp last year in December, and by God's amazing grace, came back over-flowing with love and wholeness. It felt as if He had taken me, a cracked pot of clay and filled all my cracks and tiny crevices with new clay or 'Heavenly Poly-Filler'.
I found that the more I actively work on getting to know Him better, the more I spend time with Him, the fuller my 'pot' feels, the more I have to give and the easier it gets to worship Him. Every time I take a 'time-out' or get to busy, I begin to feel empty again, and get tempted to look for other things to fill that empty space.
God has done so much for me. Looking at my life from the very beginning, I can say, with sincere delight, that I have had a reflex take place in my life. I'm swimming against the stream and am walking in the opposite direction to what I was a few years ago.
New Living Translation (NLT)
The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.