Larger Than Life: Of Birthdays and New Chapters
I’ve been a busy girl this weekend. I turned 28 last week on Thursday and I’m enjoying my first week of 28. I’ve been throwing my age around in a “Satan, stay behind me!” kind of way. What does the devil have to do with my age you ask? Even if you didn’t ask, I’ll go ahead and explain myself.
My 25th birthday was sad. It’s the last birthday I remotely pretended to care about. A man who claimed he wanted to marry me took me out to dinner. He wasn’t the problem. I was. I felt like a charity case whenever I was with him. I hated how little he made me feel but still, I stayed. He took me out and he did nice things but he never took the time to know me. As far as he was concerned, money was the currency to my heart. He mentioned that he would take care of Bae (my daughter. I haven’t written in a while, most of you may not even know who Bae is) as though she was an asset that needed to be secured. He never took the time to know her either. He didn’t even care to find out how she was doing… ever.
It took me a while to break it off with that clown but by my 26th birthday, he was a distant fond memory. I was scared on my 26th birthday. The previous month I’d had a teenage boyfriend (flexing my cougar muscles. I think he was 20 ), I had a job and a general life plan. On the 18th of July 2017 however, I had nothing. I had quit my job, I had no plan and sex with my pretty young thang was not on the menu. I was lost. I had no relationship with God to speak of and now that I think about it, my 26th birthday ushered in the great depression of 2017. I’ve been really convicted to write about that season in my life and I will soon. Just so it can stop haunting me.
Needless to say, I hated my 26th birthday. I was surrounded by my friends, love and alcohol. I was dying inside.
My 27th birthday came and went. I pretended to ignore its existence. My workmates (who ended up being dear friends) got me a cake but honestly, if they didn’t, I wouldn’t have cared. I just wanted the day to be over with. I was a year older yet I was in debt. Tala, Branch and Timiza were my best friends. I even discovered Okolea. I hated the fact that I was earning a salary but barely staying afloat. By the time my salary checked in and I’d taken care of my bills, I had nothing. I hated my life. The guy that I would occasionally sleep with forgot it was my birthday and I genuinely didn’t care. I was reaching out to God wondering what on earth my purpose was on planet earth. Did I really exist just to pay bills and die… alone?
My 27th year on earth was a turning point. It’s been one of the longest and most beautiful years yet. At 27, I housed a complete stranger who ended up becoming such an inspiration in my life. She’s long since moved out of my house, but she left a mark. I see God’s handwork in her life every day and I don’t think she even realizes it. I met up with her last week (a day before 28) and she told me that her boyfriend had proposed. Tunashona vitenge!!! I almost started ululating…. I probably did This is a woman who came to my house with a child and no plan. Her life was beyond rock bottom. I didn’t even take her in because I’m a caring person. I took her in that night because she came in a cab with all her belongings and a little boy. It’s not like I would have asked her to sleep on the side of the road while I prayed for her from the comfort of my home.
I keep meaning to ask her if I can one day just write her story vizuri to inspire a young lady out there who’s thinking life is tough. I will. I better remember. At 27, I found Nairobi Chapel Waiyaki Way. It was at a time when I was desperate for an actual relationship with God. Not my usual on-again-off-again relationship. I wanted the real deal. I was tired of my transactional, “God, si you hook me up and I promise I won’t have sex again” or “Lord Jesus take away this hangover and I will never drink a day in my life” relationship. Now that I think about it. God was this ATM who would sort me out and in return, I had to bargain by promising to let go of my unsavoury habits. After He sorted me out, I would live a “Holy life” until the next opportunity to misbehave presented itself then I’d tell myself that I’m human. After all, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. What’s one more slip up?
I walked into that church on a lonely October morning. I was late. I’d missed praise and worship already. I walked to the very front because I know myself. If I sit behind, I’ll be looking at God’s fine fine creation and justifying my thoughts with, “The good book does say it is not right for a man to be alone.” I’m easily distracted. I needed Jesus, so I made my way to the front. Pst Luke shared that day. I genuinely don’t remember what he preached. I just remember him being so passionate about fellowship and prayer and me thinking, I’m home. I had been aimlessly roaming around searching for a place to unpack and when I sat there listening to that man of God speaking about Christ and the church with so much passion, I felt a sense relief.
I signed up for everything. I was scared. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to grow with people. I was scared that people would judge me. I was scared that my sins were too much for the church to bear. Everyone seemed to have their own little groupings and I didn’t know how to get in. I stepped out in faith telling myself that I was going to try my best. If they hated me, at least I was true to me. I’m generally a loud human being but I know it gets on people’s nerves. I remember someone telling me that men don’t like women who are “too out there”. That my demeanour attracts the wrong type of attention. I even went through a serious identity crisis where I figured that if I continued in my larger than life tangent, I would die alone. I had to learn to be ok with that. I even started drawing inspiration from people who died single and stopped watching anything that remotely had romance. Sigh. I’m still a work in progress as I learn to accept me and not listen to the “Forever alone” voices.
Nairobi Chapel has been good to me. 27 signalled the official end of ratchet-me. I clung to the Word and without even realizing it, my hush rendezvous just started making me feel guilty. I no longer felt like drinking all night and forgetting what went down last night was my idea of fun times. I joined an e-group (cell group/ Bible-study fellowship group), started going for Wednesday prayer, my on-again-off-again shag buddy told me that he couldn’t tell me things anymore because I had become too “holy”. (Sidebar, that offended me and I tried to prove that I could be a Christian and still be “cool” then found myself in bed with him… again. I don’t know how God deals with me half the time)
I learnt to start accepting my season in life at 27. I hated inviting people to my house because I looked down at my home. I have no TV, I have some cheap seats that act like sofa sets, a fridge that’s probably 5th hand I still cook using a 6.5kg K-gas. I refused to let people see what a waste my life was until God kept on challenging me to host groups of people. It was hard. It still is. But I do it. Something about obedience. I’m not trying to pull a Jonah. It gets a little easier each time I do.
At 27, I let go of my dependence on having a man to fantasize about. I realized that I kept on settling, then wondering why there are no good men around. I took the step to just be ok with being alone and not needing to have sex to validate me in any way. Sex was my biggest “I just want to feel loved” pill. At 27 I learnt to stop playing with fire. No more “I haven’t had sex in 3 months! I’m practically a virgin, so I’ll just go for drinks with my ex-FWB because the Holy Spirit will wad off all sexual desires!”
I made a friend who has become a sister at 27. She’s my next-door neighbour and literally the most determined person I know. She doesn’t half-ass anything she touches. When she decides this is the path she’s taking, she’ll see it through to the end. I met her at a time when I just needed to talk about my faith. She assumed that I was a pastor in training but really, I was broken and memorizing scripture or sharing about God’s goodness was the only way I could cling to God. I’m the type of person to start things on a whim. I’ll have the psych for it then it quickly disappears because I’ve been distracted and move on to something else. This is the longest I’ve done Bible In One Year. I’ve tried to do the challenge 5 years in a row but because I’m doing it with her, we’re halfway through the year and I’m still reading the Bible. What the actual… heaven.
I turned 28 and nothing much has changed in my life. Still single. Still trying to understand my Daddy in heaven. Still trying to understand why God thought it was a good idea to place an innocent child in the care of an eruptive spontaneous and highly emotional girl trying to be a woman. Still sitting at the front in church just so I can focus. Still wondering why the guys I like don’t like me and the ones I can’t stomach keep calling. I’m still freaked out by crowds because I feel them judging me but somehow manage to be the loudest in the room to cover up my insecurities. I’m still me. And maybe me is good enough. Maybe that’s why I’m content with 28.
I’ve told the enemy to back off because he can’t keep making me feel like I’m not good enough. I’ll quote Pst Luke “It’s not about time, it’s about timing” Time-wise, I’m doing badly. I should have been married with three kids thanks to the timelines I gave myself at 16. But timing is everything. I’m right where I need to be in this season. I have the most amazing friends. I have a friend who can call me and tell that I need to see her even when I claim to be ok (I love you, T). I have neighbours who have genuinely become family. I have a long-distance best friend who keeps me grounded and beautiful friends who I don’t have to meet frequently but when we get together, the crowd goes wild. Blessings are all around me yet I’ve always focused on what I don’t have. My parents have become such pillars in my life and yet there was a point in life when I wrote my mum a note wishing she’d die. How God didn’t strike me down, I don’t know.
I’m not expecting the moon and back from 28. No pressure for once. If I can make a few steps forward in this journey of faith and love and life… I’m good. One day the TV will come. One day that fine Boaz will show up and not think I’m “too much”. Until then I’ll keep hosting and preparing half-cooked pilau for people to sit on my uncomfortable sofa-wannabe as I make my way to the front of church wondering when God will let me get on that pulpit to share my testimonies. Here’s to 28 I love it already!
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