Reflections on my first year in Ingwavuma
It has been a long time since I posted on this little blog. Sometimes, I go through dry spells when it comes to writing but at last, this concoction of thoughts will have to do for my first blog post this year…
It has been over a year now since I moved to the other side of the country to live in unknown place among unknown people. I marvel at how far I have come and how many emotions and phases I have experienced in the last 14 months or so. Last year was a hard year in more ways than I can share with you. It was a year of God testing my trust and my faith – and He still is. It was a year of stripping away things I hid behind and of challenging me on what I was depending on to get to God. I experienced frustration, disappointment, disillusionment, loneliness, joy, peace, love and a whole kaleidoscope of emotions. It was a growing year that I do not want to repeat but that I do not regret in the slightest.
I may still be uncertain of why God brought me to Ingwavuma. I don’t know if me being here has made any difference to anyone else. But – in potential danger of sounding cliché – I know that being here has changed me. There is a process God is taking me through here – this stripping away of things I have clung to and let define me. He is exposing lies I believe, how much my faith needs to grow and insecurities in my relationship with Him. And this one word constantly comes to mind: intimacy. He is calling me to deeper intimacy with Him. Last year definitely looked different to what I had in mind. I thought I came here to help people. And then I realise that God is humbling me and my “save-the-world” mentality by allowing me to lead a simple, small life of continual faithfulness in the everyday. Life is not made of mountaintops but daily steps through valleys and along roads without a clear destination. I am realising that God is more interested in developing my character and in who I am than what I do. He wants me, not my works. And this is something I have always struggled with. I am the kind of person who thinks I have to earn love: I have to do something for you in order for you to like me. I still have not learned that God’s love for me does not change depending on my behaviour or what I do for Him. He simply loves me the way I am. God had to bring me to the very place I thought I would serve Him the most to teach me that He doesn’t want my service but me.
I have grown and learnt a lot more in the last year than I can express in words. Despite all the ups and downs, I am grateful that God brought me to this unlikely place. I recently went back to Stellenbosch and realised that I had finally moved on. God knew exactly what He was doing when He asked me to leave. In order to grow, sometimes you have to be uprooted and planted somewhere outside of your comfort zone. And here I am, in my second year in Ingwavuma. It already looks so different to what it was a year ago. When I first made the decision to stay, I was unhappy about it. I could not understand why God would put me through another year here. But since then, God has blessed me with friends and adventures and the feeling that this is home for now. I know that I am where I need to be even though I am not sure why. I am used to my surroundings, live in a lovely new house and have let go of my past life so I can live in the present. I am not sure how long my season here will last. Yet throughout it all, even when I am unable to see or believe it, God has and will continue to be good and faithful.