Monday, 18 March 2013

Four years and some lessons learnt

Four years ago I took the plunge and made a decision that would change my life forever. There were many reasons behind my decision but mostly I was {still am} young, in love, and ready to start the next chapter of my life.
On March 15, 2009 I landed and took my first steps on South African soil. I’d never been outside of the U.S. and I’d never been on an airplane before!
I was praying a boy I hadn’t seen in 7 months whom I’d only ever been face to face with three times would be waiting on the other side of customs.
I remember standing in line to get my visa. My palms were shaking so badly the woman behind me felt the need to hug me. We were from different lands, spoke different languages, but a simple gesture tied us in my memory forever.
Time seemed to drag past while the people were moving in fast forward. Everything was a blur. I couldn’t focus.
I was so nervous hey wouldn’t give me my visa that I wouldn’t stop talking long enough to answer the customs officers questions. I’m sure she thought I was on crack. Nevertheless, she let me through!
And so began the rest of my life….
In light of 4 years having past I thought I’d share with you four things I’ve learnt….

1)   I am not defined by where I’m from
When I first moved to South Africa I quickly became known as “The American” “Miss America” or just “America.” Initially this did not bother me. It was a joke among friends. When we moved from the sunny coast of Durban to the inlands of Groblersdal {and from a town of 20,000+ to 5,500} it got a little extreme. I’ve been living in Groblersdal for three years now and I’m still known as “The American.” For many, whether you believe it or not, I’m the only American they’ve ever met. My accent is still strong and my English a little too fluent for this very VERY Afrikaans community.
With the name came other….factors. Everything I do, especially if it is different from the way a South African would do it, is because ‘you’re American.’ I’ve found myself defending my actions while denying that it has anything at all to do with where I am from.
People seem to have troubles separating who I am with what I am. This became difficult in my mind to. It got to a point where everything for me centered around where I was from. I wasn’t Shana anymore.
I’ve spent a lot of time since then separating the two….I am still Shana and I am who I am. Yes, where I come from has affected my upbringing and some factors of my personality, but it does NOT define me as a person.
I love my country but I am MORE than just an American.
2)   Assumptions are the mother of all frackups
This goes wit h number one in a lot of ways. People made a lot of assumptions about me before they met me based on some things Hubby Dearest had said and based on me being American. Once I came to South Africa, everything I did was then shifted in their minds to meet these assumptions. Actions and words would be twisted to make them fit into the box they’d created for me. Once you create a box or a stereotype for someone, anything that doesn’t fit into this box becomes an issue.
This has been the center of a lot of heartbreak for me. I refuse to judge people or fit them into boxes because of this. I never make assumptions about the type of person someone will be until I’ve had the opportunity to meet them for myself.
The assumptions people made about me have hurt myself and my family.
3)   Just because I’ve slipped doesn’t mean I’m not a Christian
The first two lead to the third. Before I came to South Africa I was planning to come here for missionary work. When I met Hubby Dearest, plans changed and I came here permanently. I lost my way a little bit when I got here though. I was thrown into a world I hadn’t expected. In truth, I hadn’t known what to expect and therefore lost my way a bit. I began to do what everyone else was doing in order to ‘fit in.’ This set up a bad beginning for Hubby and I and also led a lot of people to think I had been ‘fake.’ This is not the case.
I felt separated from the LORD for a long period because of choices I had made. I felt like my relationship which I’d spent so long nurturing with the SPIRIT had become a void in my life. I felt as if GOD had forsaken this nation and myself.
What I learnt was it was my mistakes. I let myself slip. When I pulled myself from my spiritual network I had at home, I learnt I wasn’t sure where to go on my own. I was without guidance.
Now, I’m back in a church I can call home with people I can call family and my relationship with the SPIRIT is being rebuilt.
Just because I had a dark time, it does not mean I’m not a Christian. Simply because I have sinned does not mean I am a fake.
We all make mistakes. GOD is love and forgiveness and I am blessed because of that.
4)   Everyone deserves second chances
All of this leads me to my last lesson learnt. I’ve been burnt a few times in my life and it put a chip on my shoulder. I became the type to forgive but not forget.
I would forgive you for hurting me but I wouldn’t allow you back into my life.
I’ve hurt people over the years. When I moved here, I cut all relationships with my Dad back home because it hurt that he wasn’t supportive. I regret this decision greatly and have spent the remainder of my years here making genuine effort to include him in my life. It is more difficult than I’d ever imagined.
I hurt him badly when I cut him out, but he forgave me. He let me back in.
Everyone deserves a second chance. If they hurt you twice that is their fault…if they hurt you three times it’s yours.

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  1. Replies
    1. Thanks!! Hope you stick around and enjoy a little or a lot!!!

  2. Great lessons learned. I know you had to be nervous moving to an entirely different country! I am glad that you enjoying life over there. Stopping in from SITS!

    1. Thanks!! Yea, I don't think there is a word to describe how nervous I was but it was the best decision I've ever made second only to giving my life to God!!

  3. Visiting from SITS. Wonderful lessons! Moving to a new country had to be so nerve wracking!

    1. It was! But it gave me the opportunity to be stronger than I ever imagined I could be and develop a new aspect in my relationship with God!

  4. Hang in there sweetie! Learning from our mistakes is what makes us stronger. One thing I have learned since going back to church is that none of us are perfect and our relationship with God will get us through even the rough patches. Your dad will always love you unconditionally, as parents we don't always agree with the things our kids do, all we can do is love them. I loved reading your story about how you met your honey! :) Sending you love from home! :)
    I nominated you for the Liebster:

    1. Thanks!! I sure miss everyone but more understanding grows as time passes! thanks for the nomination!!

  5. Aww, it sounds like it was a tough transition, but now you've found your footing. I'm so glad you were able to find a church, somewhere that you were reminded of YOU again.




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