I have been having a few “deep and meaningfuls” recently with some lovely friends. It is interesting how many people are searching for meaning in life and are delving deeper into spirituality. For me, God has almost always been at the centre of my life, and for the short time when I rejected Him, I came running back pretty quickly when the going got tough. I often wonder how I would cope with life without Him. On my mobile phone cover, I have had printed one of my favourite quotes from Philippians: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (4:13). It is a great reminder.
I have enormous respect for everyone’s views. I understand that some people believe in God (or at least a higher power), others believe in something, but don’t know what it is. Some people don’t know if He exists or are looking for proof of God’s existence. We are all on our own journey of discovery and for me, it is one of the most exciting journeys!
I have witnessed a lot of hardship growing up in Africa. Although I have never experienced poverty myself (unlike my father, who lived through the Second World War and was a refugee after escaping during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution), I was always in awe of the joy expressed by so many Africans, despite their situations. I remember seeing them emerge from slums around Nairobi on a Sunday morning in the most beautiful clothes, smiles on their faces and a spring in their step as they purposely walked miles to church (with their many children in tow). Their faith gave them hope and they clung to it through all the difficulties of life.
Following my move to England, I noticed how many people were unhappy. This seemed to be (and still is) very prevalent, despite the fact that we are living in a consumer society where it is possible to purchase any material possession. And yet, this “stuff” is not bringing lasting joy. I was also not immune to these feelings of inadequacy and also wondered what life was about. I found my faith gave me strength in some challenging times.
One of my intentions in starting this blog was to explore ways of finding this joy through a holistic way of life – being thoughtful in the way we live, the choices we make and the positive contributions we make to the world around us.
I am sure everyone can remember times in their lives when they have felt a real sense of joy. I have a few definite ones which come to mind, but one in particular that I was reminiscing with a friend about yesterday was when I emigrated to New Zealand in 2000.
I had lived and worked around London for two years; I was single and my close friends lived in other parts of the UK. I felt tired and overwhelmed by the idea of driving around the M25 motorway for years to come. So, on one cold winter’s day (when I had left home in the dark and arrived back in the dark – as I had done for many months), I made the decision to emigrate and start a new life. I looked at Australia and New Zealand, and at the time New Zealand was offering visas to those with my particular qualifications. I called my parents, told them I was going to emigrate and started the process the next day (Yes, I am from a family that doesn’t hang around when we make a decision).
The New Zealand immigration told me that it could take up to six months to obtain the visa (depending on wait times), but I wanted to move a bit faster.
I enrolled in a two week spiritual/prayer course and during the first week, I received the email that I had my visa and could move to New Zealand as soon as I wanted. I had really trusted that God had a plan for me and I felt this was an excellent decision. I gave notice at my job, I packed up my house and was going to a country where I knew nobody. That to me was a great adventure! What I found very interesting was – when I told colleagues, friends etc that I was doing this, a number of them said they would love to do it, but…and they reeled off many reasons why they couldn’t. Of course, many were valid, but there were some which came from fear. The fear of the unknown.
I remember a spiritual teacher once saying to me that FEAR stands for: False Evidence Appearing Real. i.e. What seems to be, actually is not. Fear can be such a show stopper. I was determined not to let fear prevent me from having one of the most amazing experiences of my life time.
I once heard someone saying that he was driving around Sydney looking for a car park. He said that he saw a sign which said, “Don’t even think about parking here.” He laughed with his wife about it, but he said it had a big impact on him. Whenever a negative thought entered his thinking, he blocked it and said, “Don’t even think about parking here.” Such a simple and yet powerful concept.
One of Mary Baker Eddy’s greatest quotes is: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.”
On my new adventure to and in New Zealand, I “stood porter at the door of thought”. I made the decision to LOVE it! I rejected fear: that emotion which can be so paralyzing; all the concerns about what I was going to do, whether I would find a good job or not, where I was going to live – and I affirmed that God had a plan for me. I knew wholeheartedly that everything would work out. If Oprah Winfrey had asked me what I “knew for sure” (as she does in her book), I would say that I was so convinced of God’s love that I knew for sure that everything was going to be OK.
Arriving at Auckland airport, I had a real sense of excitement, freedom and wonder. I had booked a place to stay for the first week, but I had no other plans. I hired a car and drove between Auckland and Wellington several times. I told nobody where I was (except for occasional calls home to my parents in Kenya) and I listened to spiritual tapes in the car (yes, it was the time of old fashioned tape decks).
Everything was so beautiful and, although I would have loved to have shared this experience with a partner, I felt complete. I felt happy. Complete with my own company and the company of God.
Of course, everything did fall into place and Wellington was where I met many beautiful friends and my wonderful husband just a year or two later – and the rest is history. I have had challenges at times over the years (as we all do in life), but I never forgot that feeling of absolute joy and freedom.
What I learnt from this lesson was that, if I trusted wholeheartedly and completely, I could enjoy the moment, live in the now and be grateful for everything I experienced.
Gratitude is very powerful.