Seasons change

I am reminded of the story of Hanna in the bible (1 Samuel 2). She obtained a title because of her unfavorable situation. She hardly had a choice in it because the bible says the LORD closed her womb, therefore she was barren.

As we are entering into a new season may we remember that even heaven gives us different seasons for our lives. I do not know what each of you may be battling right now but today I want to remind you that God is busy ensuring that your new season shall come to fruition in due time. Summer has an allocated period, so does winter, all seasons come and go, they do not last forever.

Hanna as a barren woman was unable to expand her family as she desired but in good time, God opened her womb and allowed her to be fruitful. We simply cannot remain barren forever if we are walking with the LORD Jesus Christ. When we are in a “winter” season, it can feel long as though those cold nights are dragging. And in that winter season, we might not even have all the resources required to keep us warm and comfortable. With that said, winter still comes to everyone, regardless of our attitude/ feeling towards it. However, winter does not last forever. Just like Hanna, the time will come for each of us to be fruitful, as our seasons change.

A picture of a tree starting to produce fruit.

Can you sense which season you are in spiritually? Has God been giving you clues and scriptures? Perhaps you find yourself being drawn towards completely different things, teachings, habits, etc. (I am referring to Godly change, of course) but you are not even aware that those new desires are not by chance. Do a self-assessment, take note of unfamiliar things God may be trying to teach you. If your self-assessment does not get you anywhere, go ahead and consult with the LORD. God wants to partner with you so it would require you to pay attention and agree to the new thing, place or season He may want to take you to. Perhaps God is still training and maturing you in this season and it is not yet time to be ushered into that new place. Either way, it would be good to be mindful of heaven’s flow, especially to things that are directly linked to your purpose or mandate in life. Seasons change and that is a fact, that means even your winter season will change. God makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3: 11). When He decides to open the closed doors, you will move from a place of lack to abundance.

I pray God may continue to sing songs of deliverance over you, especially if you are still in your “winter” season. Deliverance from pain, shame, humiliation, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and anything else that makes your soul feel poor in this season. May you discover the gifts He has given, gifts that can allow you to flourish and be in health and contentment over your life. May He release you from frustration and confusion you may have right now, He is able. Nothing is impossible with our God; He is the God who changes the times and seasons in any case. I pray that the rivers of living water may flow in and through you giving a refreshing as you prepare for all God has in store for you. Seasons change, may you be blessed with the testimony of transformation, being transformed from barrenness to fruitfulness.

“The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder. So, he shall open, and no one shall shut, and he shall shut, and no one shall open”. – Isaiah 22: 22

With love,

Unathi

Why you should journal

I have found journaling to be a very useful habit that helps me unclog some of the things that I cannot express in words. I write for many reasons. At times, great ideas come randomly, and I jot these down to help make sense of what my next step in life should be. Other times, I receive random thoughts on what I believe God is saying to me. I am often very grateful to have written some of the ideas down because in a way writing them takes me a step closer to making it feel real. Other times, I laugh at myself when I read the things I have jotted down, either way, it feels like a path of self-discovery.

People journal for different reasons, I recommend journaling to express your thoughts to yourself and as a source document for progress so you can keep yourself in check. People also have different methods of doing this, for instance, they write in story format or simple bullet form. What matters is doing it in a way that is most comfortable to you. I have previously pasted pictures and quotes on my journals, sometimes those pictures help tell a better story than my words, at times it just brings context. Most times, I simply write letters to myself documenting events, feelings, and thoughts I may have. Journaling should be a personal process, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to this so I would suggest one stick to whatever their preferences are, and what works best for them. I read an article, it highlighted that journaling can help you heal injuries faster, boost your IQ, reduce stress and anxiety, improve your communication skills, spark creativity, and help you solve your problems, amongst other benefits. This clearly shows that it does more than organize your thoughts and feelings but can positively improve other areas of your life.

There is a term for the type of journaling I do, I am not certain if this term is official, but I have heard people refer to it, it is called “Journaling with Jesus”. Unlike simply journaling one’s thoughts, you allow Holy Spirit to be part of your love-letter process. This may include silent prayers of asking God to speak to you before you write anything down or asking Him what is on His heart. In the beginning, it may feel strange but with time it gets better and feels more natural.

There have been days when I have felt an urgency that God wants to talk about certain issues and feel the need to get away from my usual spots and go to different environments. On these occasions, God has never failed, I find He has special messages waiting for me in different places. Surely God would still communicate with me even if I did not leave the house or wherever I may have been at the time. However, God will sometimes use symbols such as trees, leaves, grass, cars, color, etc. to reiterate His message to me. In the end, the small getaways with God give me a much better understanding of what He is ministering, plus it makes it feel special- sort of like a date with God. So, I hardly take the prompting for granted, knowing that it helps me in building a special relationship with God. God is in the details and I would not want to miss the different ways He communicates with me.

Journaling with Jesus allows me to spontaneously flow with the thoughts and ideas that Holy Spirit may drop in my spirit, as mentioned above, other times these turn out to just be my thoughts, and that is okay because I get to filter the information and keep what matters. Journaling with Jesus is different from journaling by myself, the LORD often gives me scripture to confirm what He says, that way, I get a glimpse of what He wants me to focus on at that moment. When I jot my thoughts down, I can revisit them and start to categorize my emotions. It helps me to stay aware of the state I am in, which positively contributes to my mental health. In some odd way, I see journaling with Jesus as a form of prophesying over my life in an unspoken way, when I document the more positive and encouraging thoughts, of course. I write things down in the hope that they will be manifested, I also make space at the back of the journal for testimonies. What would the point be if I did not believe it would happen? I, therefore, write in faith that God will surprise me. There have been times when God has taken me back to journals from previous years, I get surprised at just how consistent God is when He has given me a message about my life, I find that He hardly changes His mind, instead He adds on more context as the years go by. This has helped me keep track of the things God says He will do in my life and it helps to build my faith in Him manifesting these. I wish I could journal daily, but this is not the case for me, I can go long periods without any journaling, and I have seasons where I journal almost daily. Either way, it makes the process of journaling personal and special. This process has a lot of beautiful benefits!

I would like to invite you to try this out, it helps in decluttering your thoughts and categorizing them efficiently. That way as you reread what you have written, you get a sense of what is in your heart, you will probably be able to sense the irritation, impatience, joy, or satisfaction, or whatever emotions come out strongly as you write. The most amazing outcome of this process is that it can help you hear the voice of the LORD better, and to grow in a relationship with Him.

Is journaling for everyone? Probably not, but you will never if this method is for you unless you try it. You do not have to be a “writer” to try it, all you need is a pen and a notepad!

Jeremiah 30: 2 “Thus speaks the LORD God of Israel, saying ‘write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you”.

With love,

Unathi

Transition can be messy

The word transition is defined as “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another”. Change can be exciting and scary depending on the next chapter you are moving to.

I want to talk about the point of being caught in between the move when you do not see how the next chapter will unfold but you know you must exit the previous one. It can be frustrating because you do not have the outline for the next chapter. This phase can be a messy situation filled with a lot of uncertainty or a lack of evidence; it could easily make you doubt if you have made the right decision of wanting to exit the last phase. Will you ever know whether your instincts are right by staying in the old place?

A place of transition can be messy because an hour can feel like days. As people, we want to see tangible results to know that we have progressed, but sometimes we must wait for the green light, wait in faith for the sound that says “go” despite what you may or may not see. Being able to do this builds some resilience within you, at times the temporary wait also produces one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, i.e., self-control. When you gain resilience and self-control, you can overpower a lot of unnecessary temptations in life. You gain victories because your mind and heart are already set on winning, despite it all. This phase can allow you to be stable in your thought processes and in your emotions, when you have those skill sets no one can take them away from you.

Have you ever been to a train station? This is one of the places that can teach a person patience because it does not matter how much of a hurry you may be in, you must wait for the train to arrive. When it does finally arrive, you must wait for it to stop and open its doors for all passengers. Every minute counts and it may seem to go by very slowly. Stressing about the slowness of the train will not get it to the station much quicker, we must, in that case, learn resilience and patience. One can learn to be present in their life through the transition phase. This scenario can teach us how we should view the period of transition, we must always keep in mind that it is necessary to go through it so that we are released from old patterns and are being prepared to enter the new seasons God presents to us, seasons that lead us to our places of destiny and purpose.

What I have done previously when presented with change, is that I would write down my reasons for moving from an old place. I do this so it can make sense to my mind and I can be reminded of my reasons even at a later stage. When you have finally transitioned and things are not going as you thought they should, you can refer to your list and remind yourself of how justified you were of moving to a new phase in your life, despite the new challenges you may face. What also really helps during a time of transition, is to seek God for confirmation before making any major decisions, ensure that you have sensed or heard correctly, that it is time to move or change. When you have the peace of God regarding a new chapter, move in faith knowing that God will work it out for you. This also helps you realize that you are not alone, that God will continue to guide your steps and help you move forward. Even in that place where you have not fully realized the “new thing”, God is there to help you navigate the dark and uncertain passages.

To those of you who are sensing time for change but have no idea what the next step is, I encourage you today to lean on God, lean on His word knowing that our spirits are connected to the Holy Spirit. When you sense a thing, like King David take even the little details to God because He will provide the right answers for you. Remember that the transition phase can be messy and uncomfortable because what your spirit is telling you is different from what you are seeing in the physical, but it is not in vain; you must go through it. Allow it to be as it should, you will probably gain pearls of wisdom that will help you in the new place.

“Do not despise these small beginnings for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin” -(Zechariah 4:10).

With love,

Unathi

Gone, but not forgotten

Let us talk about the death or loss of a loved one, arguably the hardest thing human beings may have to go through. This blog post is especially for those of us who still trip and fall when we realize how deeply we miss our loved ones who have long passed on.

When I lost my grandmother, who played the role of a mother to me, I was saddened and felt defeated. I somehow always thought she would be around forever, although she was old, and I think she was ready to rest in eternal peace. The one thing I remember is being very forgetful during that time- I later realized that is how I react when under crisis or life-changing situation. I went on a work trip to KwaZulu Natal, one of the provinces in South Africa on the week that she passed on. During that trip, I forgot my ring in the bathroom, and as we were about to turn back to go on and get it, I then remembered it was in my bag. Another instance on this trip was I forgot where I put my cell phone and as I was about to go look for it, I remembered it was in the car, this was one of many instances during that time. My boss at the time said to me “Your grandmother lived a full life, release her to rest in peace”. I then realized just how impacted I was by her passing. Mama (my gran) went to the hospital for a short while before she passed on. I remember the day we took her to the hospital; it was such a gloomy day for us and being in the house without her felt miserable. She was released a few days later and we got to spend the night with her but had to take her back the next morning because she still was not well. I was really happy on the day she came back, I felt hopeful that she would live on. She didn’t, we had to release her. Losing a loved one is incredibly painful, nothing much can ever prepare you for it. Three years after her passing was the hardest for me, that’s when I started to really deal with the loss, questioning God on why He took my mom away, even though I understood that she was old and her time to leave the earth had come, but it was hard. The questioning stopped, and acceptance kicked in.

A picture of my grandmother & I

“Death be not proud…”, John Donne once wrote. Death robs us of our experiences with our loved ones, we hope to have them living with us longer. We make plans in our minds of the future and how we will spend some time and create memories with them. However, there is no guarantee of how long we will live on this earth, only God can determine the length of our days. Death affects us all in different ways, some may begin to grieve sooner, but some (like me), are late reactors- it takes us a long time before we are ready to deal with life’s changes.

The year 2020 was a painful time in the history of humankind where many people lost loved ones- young and old due to a pandemic that no one of us could control. Sadly, in 2021 many people are still being affected and robbed through the death of loved ones. That phase in one’s life can feel very confusing, it can feel like your world has been stripped away from you. The strange thing is that a few days after the burial, life demands that we continue, work, and meet deadlines as if nothing much has changed. That is really hard, although it can help keep sane, perhaps. As we continue with life after a great loss, there comes a time when we must face the reality that our loved ones are resting in another world and we do not have access to them as we did before. The realization of that pain and loss is tough and is measured differently by every heart. However, when we get to that place of admitting and truly releasing our loved ones back to God, that is when we start to heal. There is absolutely no need to rush this process if one is not entirely ready for it. May the precious memories we have of them remind us of how good our God is- and that our people belong to Him, they were only meant to be with us for a period of time- as permitted by the LORD.

I’d love to know your thoughts, how did you deal with the loss of your loved one, if you have lost someone close? Please share your experiences so we can encourage each other through these difficult times, especially those going through a loss right now. If you can share and are comfortable, please leave a comment or send a brief message on the contact page about your journey and victory over death.  Perhaps we can have a follow-up blog post with various ways of exhortation to lift those who are still dealing with the pain of loss- it can be anonymous, for those who prefer it that way. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me. You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies and Your right hand will save me” – Psalm 138:7

With love,

Unathi

Blinded by addiction

One of the most crippling things in life is addiction. Addiction can range from big to small things, it is described as a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. Unfortunately, with most addictions, it does not only affect the victim but also the people in the victim’s life such as spouses, family, friends, and colleagues. It is vital to take account of our addictions, awareness is a critical step to making healthier and wise changes in our lives. In this blog post, I focus on the big addictions that disrupt people’s lives and make them unable to function properly within society.

Addiction is serious and it is important to identify a bad habit before it gets out of control. When we ignore the seriousness of its impact, we may be blinded and therefore find ourselves in cycles of addiction. Cycles of addiction can lead to serious relapses where individual struggles to have their needs met and therefore end up in old behavior patterns such excess drinking, substance abuse, manipulative behavior and rage, extreme sexual behaviors, to mention a few. At times, it may seem the old and familiar lifestyle is much better than trying to change hence addicted people may be stuck for years in those patterns- that is of course not entirely true, however, it may seem that way when consumed by addiction. The outcome of the same old habits can never bring about any good results which lead to more frustration and confusion. An individual may question the little progress that they have made and may discard it altogether when faced with these relapses. I think generally as human beings we are designed to desire progress in our lives and the absence of that can bring humiliation, anxiety, or pain. This can also make a person feel powerless and therefore they may end up giving in to the habit/ addiction completely. Sometimes when we have struggled with a situation for too long, we may give up and end up accepting it as part of our identity. The voice of the enemy is usually very loud during these times, accusing you and making you feel guilty and condemned. Too many times, this situation will build-up within an individual, particularly if one has not spoken about it or sought counseling for help. Unless one is a qualified therapist, it is difficult to know what to do with addiction. At some point or another, the individual will explode with rage or anger because the addiction has been held internalized for too long. This leads to harsh words, destructive behavior, and blaming others whilst not wanting to take responsibility for our actions. A lot of relationships get damaged along the way. A lot of us would not be able to understand people dealing with serious addictions because we have never been trained to understand the process that goes on within their minds, hearts, and behaviors. Even those who may are sympathetic and understanding can become overwhelmed as the relapses happen often. When alone after an episode or cycle of addiction, the individual may feel guilty as they see the pain their behavior has caused their loved ones. A lot of people with addictions may hold on very tightly to their addictions as it “helps” them escape the realities of their lives. This is not true; it may seem like it helps them cope but it makes things worse for themselves and their loved ones. Unfortunately, their understanding of their addictions can be very limited as they continue to live a destructive lifestyle.

These cycles can happen at any given time depending on our triggers and levels of healing. Imagine how hard it must be for the individual that is trapped in these cycles. It affects the way you see life and yourself. Your self-esteem and dreams slowly erode as you start to accept the addiction as part of who you are. When we believe we cannot change and we feel stuck, we are like dead people walking. If you feel you have no real purpose in life, then you probably will not be encouraged to do better or to even change.

God wants us healed and living our best lives, but addictions bring a lot of disruption, pain, and shame. It is difficult to see beyond this lifestyle, especially when you feel you are in it alone. This post is written to provide a bit of clarity for those who are struggling with addictions and those who may find themselves having to live with/ support addicted loved ones. Help is available for both addicted people and those struggling to support. I encourage you today to reach out for help as this may save people’s lives and families. Sometimes hard love may be required to see a change in our loved ones, if that is your resolution, do it with the guidance of qualified therapists or even better, the guidance of the Holy Spirit- our Greatest Teacher. If you need assistance to reach therapists or relevant service providers, go to the contact page and share your details, we assist with referrals.

Now the LORD spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one with attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” -Acts 18: 9

With love,

Unathi

Healing from rejection

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines the word “reject” as to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, to cast off. Some synonyms to the word rejection include abandonment, forsaking, elimination, exclusion, and turn down. I am certain you get the full picture of what this word means. I do not think I know one single person in this life who has not suffered some sort of rejection. Some people may have been rejected as children, others eliminated from important activities in their teenage years, others could have been refused or turned down by employers or lovers. We all have some story to tell about how we were unheard, silenced, or resisted.
My question to you today is how do you feel about that time when you felt most rejected? Have you allowed yourself to fully process how that made you feel? Have you forgiven, healed, and at least attempted to walk away from those painful memories? I do not mean to say that loosely as though it is a walk in the park- it certainly is not. I have lingered in bitterness and unforgiveness in many different instances and I know that with each time, it took a lot out of me to decide to walk away from such. I ask this because having been on both sides I can attest to how much freedom forgiveness brings.
I believe an unforgiving heart can trigger some mental challenges. I am not referring to studies or any research done but I am speaking from a place of experience, as I have said, being on both sides i.e., unforgiving and forgiving. When you make that decision to forgive, you are not immediately presented with the evidence of change, support, or progress. It may even feel very silly to do it because as human beings we can expect sudden reactions to our decisions, especially the hard ones. However, I have come to learn that forgiveness and letting go of situations beyond our control takes strength and courage. For a person to forgive, it takes a brave heart, so when you make that decision, know that you are a soldier and should be proud of yourself. Please do understand that doing so may require time and the same decision being made multiple times. It is a heart condition and therefore must be dealt with internally. When your heart reacts to the thought of the season of rejection, and it feels uncomfortable and painful, know that it is okay and normal to feel that way. It does, however, tell you something significant, that change needs to take place, you cannot continue living in that space for much longer as it will affect your mental and even physical health. You might not be able to control all that goes on around the world but between you and your heart, you are somewhat responsible to nurture and preserve it. When you are ready to do so, God will meet you where you are and give you the grace needed to reject the spirit of rejection.
What rejection does is, it brings shame and insecurity. It magnifies the negative voices in your mind that say you are not worthy to be treated well. It tells a story that may be half true. For instance, if you are rejected by a lover, the voice may say to you “nobody wants you”, yet when you look around your family, friends, and colleagues adore you and think you are a fantastic person. It convinces you that without the approval of this current situation, you are doomed. That is a half-truth, yes maybe that one person did not see your value (perhaps they do not see their value and therefore would not be able to recognize yours) but it does not mean that the rest of the people God has placed in your life do not love or appreciate you.
To heal from rejection, we must be comfortable in moving like tortoises. Tortoises have no sense of urgency, but they eventually get to their destination. When danger lurks, they enter their shell and are kept safe and life continues. We tend to be in such a rush with the healing processes because we do not necessarily want to go through it, but there are no short cuts. As we journey through this and we release the pain and humiliation of rejection, we will start to heal. It might be a very long way to go but let us be at peace with that.


Today, I hope you may go back to that place where you felt most rejected, revisit it but do not stay there. As you revisit, allow the gift of forgiveness and the cleansing of healing to cover you. As you think about it, say it aloud so that your brain and mind may capture your act of forgiveness which will alert your system that you are ready to move on. Say “I forgive so and so, I forgive myself, I forgive this situation”. Do it as many times as you need to. Start to practice it as a habit. Protect your mental space, even though the world out there may present you with extremely challenging situations, guard your heart, and regularly release the heavy burden of unforgiveness and rejection- your heart will thank you.


“…you shall weep no more, He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears, He will answer you” – Isaiah 30:19


With love,
Unathi

Dealing with disappointments

Disappointment is inevitable, it can happen regularly or periodically. We dream as individuals and sometimes those dreams become manifested as planned, other times less than expected or better than imagined. My question to you today is how do you deal with disappointment? How we deal with it reveals a lot in terms of our level of maturity and being realistic in life. Do you give up completely when disappointed by people or situations, do you throw tantrums? Do you give yourself time to go through the emotions and then when you are ready, do you try again? Do you blame everyone else and refuse to assess what your role could have been? Do you continue with life as if nothing happened to avoid the pain and embarrassment? Some of us have probably gone through all these different ways of dealing with disappointments in life. We must get to a position where we identify the best practices for dealing with disappointments and choose that route. It will help bring stability to our thoughts and positively impact our mental health.

The reality is that disappointment can feel horrible depending on what your expectations were, or how badly you were disappointed. If your expectation of a situation was not that high, you might not be as disappointed but if you had put a lot of hope in the outcome of your circumstances, you will certainly suffer some loss. It is justified to go through the emotions of whatever disappointments that come your way. Deal with disappointments in healthy ways by acknowledging what you are feeling and how much you may have lost out on. Once that is done, learn to pick yourself up from that place of disappointment. It is easier said than done but it is necessary if we are to progress and keep pursuing our dreams.

The little and big things combined require effective strategies that will help you cope with life’s challenges and unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes, disappointments are brought to remove the veil from our eyes. When we are consumed in a matter, we may end up getting obsessed about it, which is unhealthy. When disappointment strikes in this case, it may help us to see the truth of the matter and therefore guide us to making more informed decisions. Disappointments can come to challenge our thinking. When we rely too much on other people, we may neglect our strength, gifts, and resilience. When disappointed, we end up being forced to be main drivers in our lives, work spaces, and projects because we become taught how much of a difference we already make. Other times disappointments can come to reveal to you just how uniquely gifted you already are, when you get used to being a follower, an unpleasant circumstance can propel you into leadership positions. Disappointments can teach you humility and grace. When life hits hard, the outcome is that we either learn the lessons and continue with a renewed perspective on life or we will be bitter or pessimistic. We are given a choice and I hope we choose wisely. We do not have to immediately figure out the blessings hidden in life’s challenges but with time, if we permit, we may see the opportunities to do things differently, to respond differently, and allow our characters to be nurtured and matured. It is only in that moment of deciding that quitting is not an option that you see the other side of the story. If you do not learn to deal with disappointment, you may find yourself in pain all the time. Remember a lot of our situations can be influenced by the decisions we make regarding them.

I encourage you today, I know it can be hard but try to see life differently, knowing that God is always there for you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. May you be blessed with a new vision, to see from a point of possibility rather than lack. May your thoughts become healthier and purpose-driven. God bless you all.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” – Joshua 1:9

With love,

Unathi

Being a black South African man and its mental health effects- by Zinhle James

Being a black man in South Africa has to be one of the strangest things ever, it is a joy, and it is so refreshing when I see fellow black brothers do good and contribute to the greater good of our nation, lives, and our peace. However, being a black man in South Africa has a very dark side, it’s as if we have been institutionalized to bring each other down, to hurt each other, to hurt and kill women and children as if they are the enemies, we wake up to fight every day. As an average black man in South Africa, I feel I remain against the ropes, from a financial to a social standpoint, from family to how one might view themselves after waking up black in South Africa, let me explain so you understand in a better light:

Financial: we live in a world where, if my pockets do not do the talking for me, I am disregarded and seen as a flop because I am not seen by those who regard paid men as men.

Social: it doubles back to the financial part, if I am not Mr. Money in the bag, society does not gel well enough with you to see you as somebody, you are just another lame who’s part of the statistics.

Family: It’s in too many instances where we see men taking their own lives because they can’t find the balance between being strong enough to endure the hardships that come with being a law-abiding citizen who tries to do right in the hardest of times, where the family looks to you to put food on the table, where school fees are due, where, being head of the house is a title that brings too much stress yet, a man must do whatever it takes to be just that; regardless of it all.

Mentally, as black people in South Africa (excluding sex), we’re fighting to survive each day, we’re fighting to find a place in a world that requires more from us, we are fighting a never-ending battle.

The mental health behind it: It is wise as black men to talk about things, we need to have a brotherhood where we can open up about the issues we face, a brotherhood that’s true and honest. We spend too much time trying to mask the pain we face, wherein truth, we are hurting ourselves in the process. Not seeking help is not helping one’s self, it is adding to the damage done, it’s stopping us from being the men that our loved ones need us to be. How can you expect someone else to break down their walls and give their all when as black men, we’re not trying to unlearn all we are taught; from the fact that men don’t cry, we are human, we feel pain when we’re hurt, we feel heartache when we get our hearts broken yet we bottle it up and pretend that all is okay. We put on a mask and pretend that we’re fine but those things turn us into toxic people within society. We’re quick to react in a bad way, even if we don’t react immediately to whatever it is that might trigger the anger, at some point, we snap and that’s where the damage is then caused.

My advice: If we try and let go, if we try and unchain our hearts and minds from the bondage, we can work towards being better men for our women, our children, and our families, alongside being better men in the world.

Zinhle James is a creative, writer, producer, lyricist and a black man working on his mental health.

Mind your mind!

The quality of one’s mental health can be facilitated by the little things we do. We often want to see the big actions to believe we are moving or progressing in life, but the process which is usually dressed up in small, mundane, and consistent steps is important. When you learn to be consistent, certain actions start to feel more natural and become less of a burden, this applies to any new skill that one learns. This skill is vital for one to improve their thinking, processing, and reasoning in life. Learn to empower yourself with healthy thoughts, self-parenting, and positive affirmations. A study conducted by a psychologist at Queen’s University in Canada suggested that on average, a human being has 6 200 thoughts per day. How many of those thoughts are good and positive? It is important to acknowledge our thoughts and to become more self-aware. All sorts of thoughts will continue to come, but we must learn to filter and release the negative ones.

If we can sharpen our cognitive skills, we will surely win some battles pertaining to mental health.

A friend of mine, Zandi suggested I prepare a quiz to help people assess themselves mentally. I thought it was a brilliant idea. To those of us who are still having challenges with our mental wellness, this blog post is especially for you. If you believe you are mentally healthy, please do take note of this as well, you may gain some wisdom that will help you become an even better version of yourself. Being mentally healthy provides us with skills to cope with life’s situations and difficulties. It does not mean we are equipped with potions that make our problems disappear, but it certainly empowers us with the necessary tools to tackle challenges and even thrive despite any negative encounters.

Without taking too much of your time, I found a perfect quiz for you compiled by Sapien Labs. They are a non-profit organization founded in 2016 with a mission to understand and enable the human mind. This mental health quiz allows you to take an honest journey with yourself so that you are informed about who you currently are and how you possibly present yourself to the world. Please use the link below to complete the quiz.

Mental Health Quotient

Your mental wellbeing matters, mind your mind!

“The LORD bless you and keep you, the LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the LORD lift up His countenance before you and give you peace” -Numbers 6: 24-26

With love,

Unathi

Self-parenting

The walk of a Christian is very interesting, it has its highs and lows. The important thing is that we do it with God, in partnership- not only focusing on doing things for Him but directing our energies towards doing things with Him, with His constant guidance on which way to turn.

In my walk with God, I have realized just how much of a Father He is. God provides for us in ways we can never understand. God has His plan for our lives, if we can move away from our inflexible ways of how things should be done, we can see how much work He is always up to. We can learn to imitate His ways and apply them in our lives.

In today’s post, I want to share on a concept that I got recently introduced to. Therapists and coaches speak a lot about it. It is called ‘self-parenting’. I will summarize my findings and interpretation of this concept. As you go through this post, remember that God is the ultimate parent who created the concept of parenting and allows earthly parents who are willing, to tap into the grace of parenthood and to excel in it. God is called the Father of the fatherless (Psalm 68: 5), Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:26), and Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6). He is the perfect example of what a father should look like.

Psychology Today released an article on self-parenting 101, describing the simplest way to look at what this concept means and how you can apply it in your life

“Consciously, actively, begin a practice of self-care. Decide to be that good parent who is automatically on your side, without you having to defend yourself or prove why you deserve their support. Be that friend who assumes that the way you experienced it was the way it happened, who takes your goodness to be a given. Be that big brother who when you get bullied on the playground leads by asking the question, ‘What did that bully do to make you feel this way?’ Be all of these– for you!”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201212/self-parenting-101-0 -accessed 29 January 2021

In short, self-parenting is the conversation between two voices, your current self and your mature self that will help you treat yourself better and become more responsible in your actions.

Looking at some of God’s characteristic traits, we see that He loves us dearly, even before we were in a relationship with Him. God takes care of us and provides for our needs. God heals our wounded souls; He directs our paths and corrects us when we have missed the mark. God is patient, He listens to our distresses and encourages us when we feel hopeless. God gives us wisdom when we have no idea which path to take, He forgives us and forgets our transgressions. God helps us grow into the best versions of ourselves and wants us to be accountable for the way we live our lives.

To me, this sounds like good parenting skills. The concept of self-parenting encourages individuals to apply the above-mentioned set of skills to themselves. It says love yourself dearly and take good care of yourself because as you learn to love yourself you will give the same love to others- we can only give to others what we have. This concept says where God has given you financial freedom, provide and build according to your needs and godly heart’s desires, be a blessing by showing up as an adult- an adult knows how to take care of themselves. It also teaches that it is good to encourage yourself, stir up the gifts on the inside of you, and remind yourself of your worth when situations bring you down. When you find yourself going back to old ways of being harsh towards yourself, allow the “mature” side of you to correct you and remind you of the deliverance you have been given from negative mindsets. When you find yourself messing up, which we all do at some point, be mature enough to recognize your shortcomings and forgive yourself. Once that is done, be accountable enough to start practising smarter ways of living life. Know when to defend yourself when others enforce abusive tendencies towards you, advocate for your healing and allow yourself to improve and get better. Spoil yourself when you can and do activities that will cheer you up and remind you of your worth, the little things go a long way. Stop the habit of shaming, rejecting or talking down to yourself, when you make an error, acknowledge it without referring to yourself as “stupid”.

Our Heavenly Father has given us an outline when it comes to parenting, let us imitate His examples and start practising “self-parenting”, teaching our minds of our worth and giving ourselves a chance to be our best. When you find yourself forgetting how you should be treated, take your bible, and read. Ask Holy Spirit to minister new ways of how you can learn from God to take care of yourself, and of course, once you are taken care of, you may find it easier to take care of others too. Fill your internal cup and allow God to make you whole, it prevents you from going around aimlessly trying to force or manipulate others to fill you up. This results in healthier relationships both with yourself and others. Be a great self-parent!

You must understand that this concept is not advocating for isolation or selfishness, neither does it diminish the importance of relationships or fellowships but it is designed to help individuals look at the mirror and be accountable for who they are before they even start to engage externally. It is meant to remind us of the responsibility of self, which we often neglect.

I am focusing on issues that are related to self-love a lot lately because a lack of this may result in negative circumstances, for instance, being harsh towards oneself has been known to be one of the contributors to depression. In all the negativity we channel towards ourselves, we forget that self is God’s creation that must be nourished and taken care of, sometimes by other people but all the time by our selves.

I wish you more grace, healing, and love as you continue to journey towards self-discovery!

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”- Galatians 3:26

With love,

Unathi