[eltdf_dropcaps type=”normal” color=”” background_color=””]I[/eltdf_dropcaps] grew up on a tea plantation in southern Malawi. I loved the fresh air and freedom, but from about age six, I was being sexually molested by the guards at our house and then later, a cook. I don’t know why I was afraid to tell my parents, but it left me twisted inside in many ways. I felt as though I wasn’t good enough for the people around me. I started withdrawing within. I remember hearing one of my mother’s friends say of me “this one is not as friendly as her sister”. I spent many nights crying, my swollen eyes were becoming a regular, normal sight.
In school, I did well academically, but I always felt I was different. I started dating guys while in secondary school, and it became like a crutch to me. I was getting some sort of acceptance from these childish relationships. I belonged. The relationships always ended, and I always moved on to the next person.
I went to study engineering at University. I wanted to do great things, and at the time, being an engineer seemed great enough. I wanted to be someone that made people smile and approve of. My father spoke with much satisfaction and contentment of such people. How I wished he spoke such of me. Perhaps he would though, if I became an engineer. Yet a part of me was giving up, the load I carried was too heavy to drag 5 years through university. It was too long a journey. I was not going to make it.
Adding on to that, a boyfriend I had been dating for 4 years, since secondary school, died in a car accident. That was, I suppose the straw that broke the camel’s back; more specifically the end of my attempting to salvage my life. The darkest cave I have ever been in, and I went back to the usual smile by day, cry by night routine. I still wanted deep down inside, more than anything, to be liked and approved of and accepted.
A relative at the university got concerned by my permanently puffy eyes. She visited my room and told me about God. She then later took me to a SCOM (Students Christian organization of Malawi) meeting, where I got to hear more about God, and pray with people. [eltdf_blockquote text=”I “received” Christ and got “saved”. I had always known about God. My father said he didn’t believe in God, but my mum dragged us to church on many Sundays, so I was very aware of the existence of a creator. I had just never thought of calling out to Him throughout my years of emptiness and feeling like dirt.” title_tag=”h2″ width=””] I only went to church to avoid provoking my mother, but I counted the minutes until service ended. To me church was just dead boring routines and actions I had to endure on the Sundays that we did go to church.
In University, this SCOM, was much more vibrant and alive. You were encouraged to participate. I sang on stage; and prayed with and for people. It was a welcoming environment. It was in a way, what I was yearning for. I was still depressed, but perhaps with all the activities it offered, I had less time to wallow in my woes.
I still decided to quit the engineering course. I attended class but had stopped taking notes, stopped studying; bracing myself for the dropout. I was afraid of what my father would say. How would he handle me dropping out of university? Well, when it did happen, he suggested we talk to a professor friend of his who worked at the university; he wanted to ask him to help me back in. I refused. I was done with that chapter.
Two years later I went to the UK on a working holiday. I tried to extend my stay when my visa expired but my application was denied. I took advice from a friend to stay on illegally. I had joined a vibrant church from the time I arrived there and became very active in the church. The people around really helped me with my depression. I was healed. I was freed from many of my fears. God was truly at work in my life. I was still resisting yielding everything though.
All the while I heard a nagging voice in my heart pointing out to me how judgmental I was of other people. Other sinners. By the time I realized I had actually done all the things I was judging others for, I had lived illegally for almost a year in the UK. I was aware of every day I stayed there breaking the law of the land. Yet I didn’t want to come back home. I was stuck. I was not supposed to be in this country. But back home I felt my parents despised me.
I got disturbed by certain things in the church in the UK that seemed to go against the word of God in the bible. When I brought it up to the pastor, he got very angry. I got scared and stopped going to church. This was the place I had found healing and a new family and God. I let it all go, and I remember packing even my bible away saying “God if that’s what You are really like, I want nothing to do with You”. I went a month without praying. Then a nightmare had me cry out “Jesus!” and I knew then I couldn’t live without Him.
I had had enough of the guilt of living and working illegally, so one day I walked into a police station and asked to see an immigration officer. I told them I was there illegally. I asked if there was a chance they could just make me legal, I had a few debts that I needed to work and pay for. The immigration officer asked if I was in any danger at home. I said no. He then said I will have to send you back home. You will have to apply to return from your home country.
It was a long flight back home. I had disappointed many people instead of getting approval and acceptance. My family, friends in the UK, my pastor, God. I wrote in my bible, the only thing I chose to take( or I felt worthy enough to take) back to my home country with me( as the immigration people had offered to have someone bring my belongings, but I just felt unworthy of taking anything); I wrote ” truly oh Lord you are displeased with wrong doing. Thank You for Your tender mercies oh Lord“. The date on it is 28/02/08. I think that was the first time I truly realized I had wronged God. All along I saw myself as a victim of sexual abuse. Then a victim of hatred from people I couldn’t fit in with because I felt too dirty; people who misunderstood me. A victim needing a savior. I thought that’s what I was saved from when I “felt” saved. But now in this shameful flight back home I saw how I had done everything I judged other people for: the staying illegally in a country, the using dating relationships as a drug to avoid facing my life, looking for someone to accept and approve of me. All reactions of a victim perhaps, but very much the actions of a sinner against God. On that flight I saw that for the first time in my life. Six years of thinking I was saved; saved from being a victim; I was actually being saved from being sinner, Romans3 verse23 applied to me too! I always thought my case was different. I realized, without Christ I am full of sin using my being a victim as my eternal excuse, yet all the while sinning against God. For whatever reason I sin, however justifiable it is in my eyes, the truth remains, God is not pleased with wrongdoing, Psalm 5 verse 4, no matter what face or excuse the wrongdoing wears. The wages of sin is death, Romans 6 verse 23, and on my own, my attempts to heal and sort out my life had ended up achieving the exact opposite. O top of it all, ended up sinning against God. I was indeed in need of a savior. But this time it was not salvation from an abusive past, a dirty soul. I needed salvation from a sinful heart and sinful hands.
All these years I had heard and read and even shared with others that Christ died for our sins, yet I had never really seen my sin. I had occasional faults and disobedience, yes, but I was in my mind justified because of what had happened to me.
Lord You hung on the cross for sinners. Save me from my sin. Have mercy on me.
I arrived home with my head hung low but my life was just beginning in a real new walk with God. I have seen God’s mercy, His grace, His attention to the details in my life. I have seen God untangle many twisted areas in my heart. And it is so real, I don’t have to pretend to fit in, or hide anymore. But most importantly I have seen God lead my life. He really took me out of the miry clay of a mess I had made and set my feet upon a rock. And He has put in me a desire to obey His word and seek to please Him, which is a fight in itself, but Christ who has already won the victory, is right here with me.
Now I am not perfect, but I am very aware that my life is in His hands. He leads, cares for me, corrects, protects and provides for me. I am eternally His. He is working on me. I can be sure He will keep me, and I have much hope in His saving and keeping my children. John 3 verse 16: for God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. God’s free love and grace: that’s more than all the approval and acceptance I will ever need.