I woke up to the smell of hot butter on toast. I loved visiting Granny’s house. I was a curious child with blond hair and red cheeks. “If you ask why, one more time,” Granny used to say. She taught me how to read before I went to school. One day I discovered a beautiful story about a man that gave his life for those he did not know. This act of kindness fascinated me for I never knew that kind of love. As I continued reading the Children’s Bible, my 6-year-old heart melted, and I wept. Since I was alone, I immediately knelt, closed my eyes (like my granny and granddad use to do) and prayed. “Jesus, I give you my heart.”

“It stays our secret,” he whispered. I hated his hot breath on my face as he slowly traced my skin with his fingertips. I was only 11, but understood that my step dad’s behavior was inappropriate. But the children of my culture in my neighborhood never questioned authority figures. Saying no cost me dearly, he would have terrible mood swings and made sure I knew it was my fault my family members were being treated harshly. I remember looking up at the night sky from my little town in South Africa, asking Jesus if he heard my prayers. Reading storybooks helped me escape my pain, but only on a temporary basis. The truth was that my life did not resemble that of all the happy children I read about and envied. Every night he came home, my heart sank as it usually meant that we would have our “special time” together. I told myself it was my fault, being pretty and wearing revealing clothes; shorts must have been too tempting for him. My mother refused to believe me. I had endured his abuse for five years and finally found the courage to share my secret with her. Unable to support me, she did the best she could and told him what I had said. He played the part of the innocent father figure so well. I don’t know if she feared him or financial disaster more, but nothing came of being vulnerable by telling my mother. Who could I turn to next? I wrote a letter to school principal to ask to live at the hostel. But, it was two years until the school councilor finally removed my sister and me from our home.

Our family abandoned us.

The minister of the church I frequented five days a week came to the hostel and told me to stop telling lies. I had trusted him as the representative of God, he represented who and what I loved the most; but where was Jesus now? I couldn’t take it any longer and since Jesus had forgotten about me, I decided to forget about him. The tears streamed down my red cheeks for weeks as I let go of everything that I knew. My mother said she would come for us, but she never did.

Why was God rejecting me?

Why was my own mother rejecting me? I used to ponder these questions. Maybe she had a similar story to tell but never could or perhaps, my biological father committing suicide but trying to make it look like my mother killed him caused her to dislike me. I was told that he loved me like no other, and maybe she resented that. The hardest part was that I could never talk about it and she could never remember any of it. I was lost, numb, and broken. I shut down and only let people see what I wanted them to see. Wearing a layer of protection decreased my chances of being disappointed or hurt. But I was hurting deep down inside… so much so that I found it difficult to breathe at times and make it through the day. So I made a vow to God. “Please Lord, if you take this away, I will do anything for you.” And then God and I both forgot about it… or so I thought. That’s when I met my husband. He noticed the real me beyond the mask I wore for the world. I was finally loved for my true self.

God had heard me this time and sent me an angel. He was so easy to love, and I opened up my heart completely to him for the 3 years we were married. Then he left this earth. The cancer had spread and after an 18 month battle, he lost. I was once again alone at 27. Even though I eventually remarried and had two boys, my busy life never let me forget how lonely I felt inside. My projection of looking for God in men made it impossible to be satisfied. I became deeply depressed and started working again, hoping that a job could provide the distraction. The outside God I made promises to became a distant memory. But I was to be surprised by life yet again.

At 36, frustrated with corporate power play and disillusioned with the demands of motherhood, I resigned from work with nothing to do and took a sabbatical from the real world. I needed to find out where I really belonged. During that final week of my formal employment, I received news that my step dad had shot himself and died. I didn’t know what to think of the news at first. I never had the chance to tell him how much he affected my life. I turned my back on Jesus because of what he did to me. He obviously had his own demons to battle, who eventually won.

Maybe he decided to end his life over the pain he caused my mother and me. Who knows exactly? I began to cry for the first time after so many years.Realizing that we have all made mistakes but that misfortune can lead to a reawakening helped me to forgive myself and to stop judging my past and enter the journey of living consciously with pain. A sense of clarity washed over me like a sun bath. I could let them go now… all of them.Their perfectly framed faces appeared before my eyes and as I studied each one, I no longer felt my body cringe, nor did I want to curl up in the fetal position. I simply turned the pictures over and brushed them aside.

Now, I trusted myself to provide all the love I needed to be a fulfilled human being. The loss and the rage transcended into joy about the permanent presence of what I define as God for me in my life. What was my tragedy became my gift to the world by sharing what I could not as a child. Today I thank God for growing up in Africa, in a culture that is not tolerant of giving children a voice, so I can speak up for myself and take my power back consciously. Thank God I was violated and did not know it until I was eleven so that I could transcend the shame of secrecy into a personal relationship with myself, leaving me content with the perfect moments to appreciate moments of pure joy. Thank God my first husband died so I could learn about judgment and living in the moment accepting what happened to me without expecting my partners to do it for me.

Thank God I searched all my life to find what I was looking for inside of me.

An aha moment happens in our minds, but a heart connection sets us free from the illusion that we are stuck in our circumstances when we experience ourselves as perfect in that moment and feel the compassion for ourselves that God has for us. I live moment by moment, connecting to my own desires and living in touch with my purpose. Touching lives as a kinesiology-coach, I create awareness about staying connected with your heart and mind. I finally found my way back to my first love… the One I stumbled upon at Granny’s house.

The smell of hot butter on toast filled the air again, and I could feel my childhood innocence reenter my soul. Someone once told me that the sun comes up for everyone, but we only see the beauty of the sunrise when it is alive inside of us. In those moments life is perfect because we notice it. But even when we don’t notice its magnificence, it is still unconsciously perfect. In the end I found what I was looking for, which was right here in my heart… the greatest gift ever… the LOVE that I am and always have been but could not notice until now.

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