Prioritize selfcare, wellness and mental health

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Societal norms are behaviors that certain groups or society accept as appropriate.When you follow them you are then regarded as a noble member of the society or any certain group that has those expectations from you. Living according to these norms is about fitting in and being part of the society without constantly being judged and criticized. In essence these norms are intended to bring order in a society.

I personally have learnt to walk my own path and not according to what the world expects from me. Societal norms are about following rules and laws that make you to be regarded as a normal person. I have realized that sometimes I am not normal and I can’t behave normally and it is okay because I wasn’t meant to be like everyone, behave or live like them.

So I have come to a point of acknowledging my weirdness which to me is normal but to someone else it isn’t. I have learnt to embrace it so that I may embrace others who are different and living outside my own norms. Question is how did I get here? I tried living according to people’s expectations and hoping I will be accepted and loved if I do and act as expected.

The truth is not everyone will be pleased, there will be a portion of people who are not pleased by me. For instance : at church they have their own expectations as to how one can live their lives, they don’t expect you to date, party or drink but instead attend prayer meetings , be there for every service and also serve in church. So if you do act or behave outside those norms you are regarded as spiritually lacking and probably need prayers.

While I am regarded as spiritually strong and well fitting by the other group, I then fail other groups which expect me to date, party and drink like other young people my age. So these groups then regard me as boring, that I think “I’m holier than thou” and I am just not normal and not living my best life.

There are so many groups with so many expectations and the question is are we ever going to please everyone else? can we live according to sociatal norms? It is a fact that we can’t please everyone, not at all. I realised that I also have a life to live, I have my own believes and my personal encounter with God it is not the same as other people’s encounters.

When I got born again there were a lot of things I learnt to leave behind me, a lot of things which I thought were normal to do, I learnt to stop associating myself with them because of what the Bible says regarding those things. The Bible says lying, gossiping, envying, sexual immorality, hating, being angry for too long etc is a sin . Man! I thought these things are normal, I thought they define being human but through the Bible I learnt that it isn’t a right way of living.

The most important thing I did for myself is to learn the Bible on my own without relying on someone else to impose their believes on me. People interpret the Bible their own ways and so I cannot rely on people to know who God is. It doesn’t mean I don’t learn from them, I do I just don’t rely on them to know God’s word, I simply rely on God Himself to teach me.

So I am at a point where it’s either you accept me for who I am or you just don’t. It is still okay because we are all humans and were not meant to be the same. Hence why grew up differently, born into different families. Even though we may come from the same household we will not face the same struggles and challenges, so we will grow to be different somehow.

So while we are talking about embracing individuality and following your own path and living according to whom you are called to be, one would ask. Should we then cut off the societal norms? What kind of world would we live in if we didn’t have rules or laws that bring order and governs our way of living ? It is a good question really but I don’t have a good answer for it.

I look at how these laws have broken so many men and women. How men are expected to have money to be accepted and respected in society, how gays and lesbians are killed and still suffer all because they are not regarded as normal, how women live in abusive relationships all in the name of being regarded as Imbokodo, how children suffer in silence all in the name of respecting elders, how husband can’t help their wives to do house chores all in the name of being respectable man of the house, there is just so much to mention.

One of the reasons why people feel the need to kill themselves is because they realize that they can’t please everyone. They are scared to be rejected, to be scorned upon or be labelled and called names. These things cause a lot of pressure mentally and physically. People have expectations which you can’t meet anymore. Sometimes these norms make us to be socially ignorant.

Societal norms are unwritten rules, yet we know them because they are a part of why we live a certain way. It is also a pattern to which we are programmed into following whether consciously aware or not. For instance when I was young my grandmother used to say to me and my cousins “what kind of a wife or a mother will you be one day if you don’t know how to clean, cook or wash your clothes”? So from a young age I was taught the expectations of being a wife and a mother and therefore I grew up following that path and pattern.

So now at the age of 28 I meet a lot of my former high mates who would ask me, when are you getting married? How many kids do you have? The fact that I am not yet there makes me feel like I am a failure because I’m not living up to what people expect from me. It isn’t every girl’s dream to be married and to become a mom. Some of us wants to be business women/men, Authors, mentors or more.

When I do get married one day, I would be happy but marriage and having children isn’t my goal, my goal is greater than this. So I wish one day when I meet my former high school mates they would ask me better questions, questions that would agitate me to become a better person in life. Questions that would really make me work hard at building my dreams.

Jesus Christ broke societal norms on many ways: He ate with sinners, touched lepers, he talked and had women to disciple. He instead of stoning a prostitute caught in act of adultery helped her. He also talked to gentiles among others . Jesus Christ lived and acted in a different way, far from what people expected a Messiah would live. They did not accept Him because He was not “normal”. He did not fit in anyone’s box but that on its own did not change who He is.

I have a friend whom I met in 2015 when we were both in a Harambee program that helps young people to find jobs, at that time we were not permanent or let alone having a job. She is on a wheelchair and I noticed something about her, each time during lunch she would sit alone and not accociate herself with any group until one time someone asked her ; ” why do you always isolate yourself from others” and she said “I am not used to be around normals”

She regarded us as normals because we were not on wheel chairs. She didn’t associate herself with us because maybe she thought she cannot meet our expectations. Now that she is my friend I know the kind of struggles she faces. Some people assume that she can’t take herself to the toilet, bath or dress herself. She feels undermined by others and it is a daily struggle for her.

You see why I say societal norms make us socially ignorant? When a person doesn’t meet our expectations we don’t know how to treat them or we just don’t regard them as a normal human beings who are capable of living just like us. So instead we put them in a box, we label them and even stone them because they aren’t normal. Are we meant to be the same? No! We are unique and different but just because you are a different human being doesn’t mean that I can’t accept or understand you, I can and will.

How we treat others it is a true reflection of how we treat ourselves

I have realized that we as people have high expectations and standards of other people: friends, colleagues, family etc. Sometimes it is hard to accept people’s faults and mistakes they do even though we ourselves make mistakes all the time. To such a point that when they fall short of our expectations, we detest them. We are only human beings and are meant to make mistakes, to fail and to learn from them. However, I find it hard to understand why sometimes we are not understanding of others. Why we are quick to judge them and even label them? If I know I make mistakes, then why can’t I accept the same fact about the next person?


The bible says in Matthew 22:39, And the second is equally important: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. The scripture itself teaches us that the same love we have for ourselves we should give to others. I believe it is even hard to love your neighbor because, our neighbors come in different forms and shapes. The neighbors could be beggars from the street, thieves, gossipers, liars, murderous, rich or poor, prostitutes, whites, blacks, Indians, gays, lesbians, men or women, the list is endless.

What you can notice from the list is that though we may be different and unique in our own ways one thing remains the same in all of us, and that is we are all humans. We all are capable of loving, we all do go through pain, happiness, sadness, mourning etc. and all these common features make us the same person. So, the bible here teaches me to self-reflect before I can interact with others. How would I want to be treated by others? Do I treat the people same way I expect them to treat me?

I have learnt that I am very gentle when dealing with my own mistakes, failures and faults. I would tell myself yes, I have made a mistake, but I didn’t know better, so now I know, and I can do better. I can then pick myself up as gentle as I can. I also realized this about myself, I can be very judgmental towards people, especially when I meet them for the first time. Moreover, I take time to forgive, for it can be a bit daunting, the list is long and endless.

When I joined UBF(University Bible Fellowship) ministry, there was a guy I met at church. He has big eyes that are very intimidating, and that made me scared to approach him.He didn’t wear formal clothes at church, he would wear sneakers, jeans and t-shirts. My judgment towards him was that he dresses inappropriate for church and doesn’t look friendly at all. You see, my standard for a church place is that women and men must wear formal clothes when going to church. Which I must admit it is such a poor judgment on my side.

When we judge people based on physical appearance God is seeking the heart.One day he approached me and had a conversation with me. I laughed so much and enjoyed a conversation with him. There is a saying: do not judge the book by its cover: it is very true, we miss so much that we should learn from people when we judge them without understanding them. Today we are best of friends and we have so much in common.

I have accepted this truth about myself, that I am not perfect, I have flaws and mistakes and yet I strive for greatness every day. In addition, there are things I stopped doing which I used to do and was able to correct my wrongs and move on. So, I am more matured, and am better than yesterday with my imperfections. The only way we can change ourselves in a positive way is by acknowledging, accepting, facing and changing these very flaws we have.

Most of us are not able to love our neighbors because there are certain truths about ourselves, we have not accepted. We have been incapable of accepting who and what God has created us to be. If you cannot accept yourself then it will be hard to accept the next person. Self-reflection teaches you more about compassion, empathy, forgiveness and many other important things we give ourselves which we must also give to others. We lose understanding for other people the minute when we forget that we are just the same as them. In the eyes of God no one sins better than the other, we are all the same.

I remember one incident while I was in primary school. There was a girl by the name of Thuso whom I was in the same class with. One day she was irritating me by persistently poking me with her pen and I kept on asking her to stop and she didn’t but continued to laugh instead. I couldn’t take it anymore and I snapped at her and shouted that she is ugly and very dark. Everyone in the class-room became quiet and my teacher then said to me: ” when you look at yourself now do you see anything different between you and her? I said no ma’am. And she asked, “then why did you say that to her?”

The honest truth is that she asked me such a relevant question that I didn’t have an answer for at that time. I could have blamed it on my anger, but it wasn’t my anger that led me to say the hurtful things but rather the fact that I used to have a problem with being dark in complexion. I couldn’t accept other kids with the same features as me because I would compare myself, though I am dark at least I am lighter in comparison to them and look better. I said hurtful things to her because I subconsciously said the same to myself also. My thoughts about her were not positive because I wasn’t positive about me. We blame anger, and many other things for hurting people but not knowing that the things we say have been resonating in us for too long that they eventually harm us and others.

Matthew 22:37, Jesus replied: ” love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” God is the source of love, and without Him we are incapable of loving ourselves and let alone the next person. Love isn’t a feeling but rather an action. No one can say I feel the love of God, but we can all say we see His love because it is evident through actions. John 3:16 for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have ever lasting life. So, we can learn that He didn’t just speak the word, but He also acted. So, if we don’t have the love of God in us, we lack the love for ourselves and others. This is the foundation in accepting oneself and others irrespective of the flaws and shortcomings.

we Cannot rely on feelings to have an encounter with God, for instance if you don’t feel good you cant pray but when you feel good you can pray. If we rely on feelings, we will miss God or having a relationship with Him. We don’t have to feel Him in order to know that He is there but we have to have faith in Him. It is the same with people, when I am angry at you I will distance myself from you or do things that will later harm our relationship.

Anger is a feeling and if you can be able to put your anger aside and decide how to react to a person in a manner that shows love, you would over come the anger feel towards that person. So when I feel good I say and do react in a good way, if I don’t feel good my reaction towards you wont be pleasant. So what I am saying is that, feelings cannot guide us on how to love, but knowing what love is will guide your feelings. In essence what I am saying is that when we have love we become self-aware and we are able to correct our wrongs.

Your weaknesses are not a hindrance.


I have learnt the most important lesson in life that weaknesses are not there to demean or strip us naked and leave us clueless on how we can pursue our dreams. Having a weakness has taught me to rely more on God, and it has also made me realize that my abilities are in God. The scripture Philippians 4: 13 says” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

What then are weaknesses? Weaknesses are disadvantages or faults that prevent you from achieving something. We have allowed the system to tell us what we can do or cant do. The system can kill our dreams and purposes we have been called for if we allow it to. What do I mean? I mean that so many people who have dreams do not pursue them simply because they have weaknesses such as, lack of education, poor family background, unemployment etc. These things we see as disadvantages can become a hindrance towards achieving a goal.

I am not saying this to discourage education and also note that this is just my personal opinion. Why do I say that the system can also be a hindrance towards achieving a goal? It is because we have measured our abilities to succeed by certificates we receive from education institutions. Those who are disadvantaged to even get education believe that it is the end of their dreams. Why? Because we are told that education will open doors for us, so without it we have no key to open the door to success. Therefore what good is one without education? Those who are called for greatness cant aspire for greatness despite their callings and gifts bestowed upon them by God because they have measured their abilities against weaknesses they have.

I believe that you are able to succeed in life despite your circumstances; poverty, education, unemployment the list goes on. The secrete is that you need to align yourself with what you believe, and identify yourself with it. For instance if you believe in God, then who is God and who are you in God? The scriptures will tell you and if you believe it then make choices that will direct you towards becoming that person.

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend about how weaknesses can be an obstacle in one’s life. He told me that normally when they need help to fix plumbing issues they always call a guy that hires people who are skilled in plumbing. So he said one of the hired guys came to his home and he asked him a question: ” Why are you working for someone else when you are so good at this job, don’t you think you can make more money on your own? The guy responded and said: I am not well educated and I have no means to open my own company due to the fact that I don’t know anyone around Soweto.

I must say that I am very impressed by the guy who opened a business and started hiring plumbers even though he has no skill about plumbing. Who said that we need to know how to do the job first before we can have our own businesses running? You can definitely be a business owner even without knowing how to do the job , but hire those who can. Someone once said the answer to how we can start building our dreams and goals is by starting now. If you have a goal and know where you want to be, every step you take has an effect towards where you want to be in future. So the business owner had a plan and executed it and made money while the plumber saw obstacles and waited for someone to hire him.

We can argue that lack of education ,poverty ,unemployment etc. are a huge disadvantage to one’s life, but the truth is they do not stop you from achieving your dreams. If you don’t have a goal in life you will always find yourself building someone’s dreams than your own. Some of the people who had a privilege to get education aspire to see themselves working in big companies, and earning a good salary and I am guilty as charged. So it shows that you can be given all the tools you need to empower yourself and equip yourself but if you don’t have a goal in life you will still build someone else dream and forsake your own purpose in life. I blame it to lack of ambitions, lack of self confidence, and lack of faith. Most of us are comfortable and are scared of challenges, and sadly that choice lead us to being miserable. It is easy to work for someone else and get paid than to start your own thing.

The bible says in Hebrew 11: 1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. I personally feel that this scripture gives a direction towards the things we hope to see happening in our lives. What is faith? Faith is a believe or trust towards something. If faith is the substance of what we hope for, then that means faith is the core existence of why we even hope.

How does faith develop in us? The bible says faith comes by hearing the word of God . So the foundation of our faith is the word. Hope is expectation or desire to see something happening, in other words our expectations must be aligned with God’s word. The scripture continues to say Faith is the evidence of things that are unseen. The word evidence means ” perceptible”, meaning that it is clearly seen or you are sure of it. In simple words I would say, when you have faith in the word then you are sure of what to expect in your life. You are also able to see what must be in your life and what shouldn’t be.

I remember when I was part of a home-cell at campus and I was part of the group of students that had so much zeal and desires to help the needy. We were all students at that time and had no income financially to assist and had no idea where and how we can assist. We decided that we must really pray to God to help us fulfill the goal. At the end of the semester we all went home for holidays and were with our families. On Sunday as I was preparing to go to church I was listening to a radio station Thetha fm.

As I listened to the radio station I heard a woman being interviewed and she was talking about how her orphanage got burned and she was asking for help that anyone could contribute in anyway they could for the orphanage. Right there I knew that was God pointing us to the answer we were all seeking. I took down her numbers and decided to call her and find out more about her orphanage. After I had gathered all her info I went back to University of Johannesburg with so much excitement that God has answered our prayers.

We decided to ask for donations from our families and friends and God did not disappoint. While we were in process of asking for donations, the landlord where we held the home-cell heard about the group and reached out to us and told us she would like to offer 50 beds which can be given to the orphanage. The most important lesson I learnt from that day was that God has already purposed us and prepared us to fulfill His will, the only thing we must do is to align ourselves with His will.

Moses was a mere human being with so much passion to save His people from the Egyptians. The bible says in Exodus 2:11, In the course of time Moses grew up. Then he went to see his own people and watched them suffering under forced labor. He saw a Hebrew, one of his own people, being beaten by an Egyptian. Verse 12 says: he looked all around and when he didn’t see anyone, he beat the Egyptian to death and hid the body in the sand.

What we learn from Moses’s actions is that he shared love and compassion towards his people. He hated to see his people suffering and refused to enjoy the privilege of being raised by Pharaoh’s family but instead he chose to suffer with the Israelites. What you can note here is that, his desires to save his people were aligned with the will of God for the Israelites.

God wanted to save His people out of the land of Egypt into promised land. So it very important as a child of God to know His will and let your goal be aligned with His will so that God himself will fulfill His will through you. God wanted to use someone who had passion and love for His people to lead them to a promised land and Moses’s heart was already intentwined with God’s heart. Many of us though we have hopes and dreams, they have nothing to do with God. How can God use you through your dreams and aspirations in life?, are they aligned with your purpose and callings?

My first encounter with the Lord.

When I was a child I remember being at church and seeing the imagine of a man nailed on the cross and they called him Jesus. I was seeing a man so helplessly hanging on the cross, what I didn’t understand was, why were people kneeling down to his image? In most traditional churches I’ve been to as a child, had his imagine or a sculpture of a man hanging on the cross, some had something they called holy water,some lit candles to symbolize his light, some had an oil which they called anointing, women wore dresses or skirts and must cover their head and also men had to dress a certain way.

This was a way Christ was introduced to me, a religion I practice without understanding, I followed these practices because those who came before me were already doing so. When I was a child and I was in grade R, our teacher began to teach us about God. She told us about Jesus Christ and how He was born and the life He lived as He grew up. His story was really fascinating, I really wanted to be like Him and I saw Him as a role model.

The most important thing that my teacher mentioned to us was that we needed to pray to God and ask for anything and He will provide. She continued to tell us also that God is the one who protects us at night, on the roads or everywhere we go. This very story we learned taught me how to believe in this unseen God as a child. The fact that He can hear my prayers, see everything I do and even help me at my time of need, brought so much hope. Right there she taught me about faith, I don’t have to see in order for me to believe that He exist.

I went to church every Sunday and it was our weekly routine to do so. In the process I have changed churches so many times, I even lost count. Part of the reason that church was so vital at home is because my grandmother believes it is important when you have passed on to have a church to burry you, in our black culture funerals are important to us. Church plays an important role in our spiritual journey however it isn’t every church that can bring you to a place of growth. The good thing to note is that church isn’t a family thing, some people are stuck in one place because their parents and family members are already part of that church. A church according to the Bible is not a building but rather the gathering of saints and as noted in the word we should not forsake the gathering, Hebrew 10:24-25.

In the year 2009 I enrolled at University Of Johannesburg and I made new friends and we started exploring the campus and learning more about the culture of varsity and what it offers. So we decided to visit a church at the campus, I think the reason we went there was because we wanted to have a church which we can commit ourselves to. The church service was great until they called people who cant pray in tongues to come in front of the whole congregation to receive prayers. I personally didn’t want to go for prayers because I’m not even sure why we needed to know how to pray like that but I still went. The process was such a torture as the woman who was praying for me she didn’t give up until she could hear me say something that sounds like tongues and I really had to fake it so that I can sit down.

So I began to attend SCO(Student, Christian Organization) services every Sunday and Wednesday, I didn’t have a problem with the organization because it was a lot of fun, it was exciting and a lot of young people would fill up the place on Sundays. The only problem I had with the organization was that on Sunday most of the students who used to attend would dress so good and some wore expensive clothes or they seemed expensive and that would make me feel like I don’t belong. Don’t get me wrong, that had nothing to do with SCO it had everything to do with my insecurities as a person.

On my second year that issue I had began to be a problem to a point that I stopped attending their Sunday services. I come from a poor family, my mom couldn’t afford to buy me clothes as constant as I wished she could. I probably had enough clothes but because I judged myself based on how others dressed and so on I began to see myself as unfortunate and very lacking.

One Sunday I had a dream whereby I saw myself heading to the church with so much excitement and as I got closer to the venue I couldn’t walk myself to the place, I tried jumping towards the direction of the church and instead I jumped towards an opposite direction, I became so frustrated and started to lose hope as the service was now coming to an end while I am busy trying to get there. As I was crying in the middle of the road trying to understanding why I cant get there, I realized that my whole body is wrapped with clothes, my hands and legs are tied up by my clothes and hence couldn’t get to the service and then that is when I woke up.

As I sat on my bed I knew exactly what the dream meant, it meant that my spirit yearns so much for God and to experience Him but the reason that I was restless and couldn’t find peace in my life was because I allowed my clothes to become a hindrance towards receiving God in my life. I woke up immediately and grabbed whatever I could wear and went to church. Little did I know that the attitude I gained that Sunday morning was a stepping stone towards receiving my salvation.

The second vision I had which was terrifying was when I saw myself in a dark room, the room was so dark that I couldn’t see anything but only heard terrifying sounds of creatures that wanted to destroy or kill me. As I was afraid I looked towards my right hand side and saw a candle burning on the table and it brought some light but it wasn’t sufficient enough for me to see what was standing behind me. As I tried to walk towards the light, I saw someone standing above the candle who brought so much light in the room and I tried to walk towards him but I couldn’t move as I was held by the creatures that I couldn’t even see. This dream haunted me so much because I didn’t understand the message behind I was saved then it made sense.

As I have mentioned that we used to attend so many churches, and in one of the churches I attended they taught us that we need to always light a candle which will symbolize God’s light upon our lives. So my grandmother used to always light the candle before she prayed, and I also learned to do the same. So what the dream was teaching me was that God is the true light (John 8:12 when Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” , and we don’t need to symbolize Him to know that He is truly present in our lives but we need to just have faith that He is there. Which is so true because as people we want to see first in order to believe, but God is teaching us true faith is believing without seeing. You not going to see God shining His light literally upon your life but you must believe it to be so.

I was invited to a home cell by a student who had passion to preach the word and tell students about Jesus. He used to knock at my room to invite me and every time he came I would promise that I will attend but I never made an effort to go as I though, it will another boring and probably a torturous service to attend. One day I decided let me just go and hear what they are all about. He was preaching about how Jesus forgives all sinners, I was touched by the message and right at that moment I wanted to give my life to Jesus. He quoted John 3:16 ” for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”, it is good to know that God did all that because of love. Another scripture he touched on was 1 John 1:19 “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. He called an altar call for people to come in front to receive Jesus and I never went but instead I knew that I needed to confess with my own mouth that I accept Jesus in my life. I went straight to my room and for the first time in my life I prayed a heartfelt prayer to God and that is how I uncounted Jesus in my life and my life was never the same again.