Womanhood: Part I

This was a blog entry I wrote back in May, but was in a rush and couldn’t post it until now. The only difference is that now I am 25. I have become womaner.

“You know, then I feel that pressure, like, I need to learn how to become a wife. I need to prepare.” -Me

“But you know, it always bothers me when people say that, because what about just becoming a woman?” -Dear Friend

What does it mean to “become a wife” before you’ve ever even been a girlfriend? Or maybe you’ve been a girlfriend, but it was so far from anything even close to a grown up relationship that you couldn’t tell the difference between what went down and Elementary School love notes. A state of giddy being the only mutual factor.

People will have their own opinions of what becoming a wife entails, from a plethora of worldviews…mine being more subject to the Biblical. That being said, what about becoming a woman? How do we go about doing that? I still feel like a child at times, and I suppose I aspire to be a “Proverbs 31 Woman,” but goodness gracious, she’s already hitched. And half of what she does is for her man and children. I have neither of those.

Because of the lack of practical guidance in this world, I have created a list that will involve what I think it means to become a woman.

  1. Love others tirelessly. When you’re worn out physically, mentally, emotionally, you better dig to find whatever is left to give away.
  2. Get fought up when it is necessary. Namely when someone you love is getting hurt, it’s okay to get in someone’s face to defend a loved one’s honor.
  3. Brush it off 75% of the time. Don’t let your pride get in the way, for “defending your honor” is not as valiant as it sounds. It’s not the same as backing up a friend, and this isn’t the Civil War.
  4. Know how to cook, clean, and do the laundry. Notice I didn’t say “and do these things all the time.” How often you feel like doing them is up to you, but the know-how is what’s key. I would say the same thing for men, but that’s not my audience.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh at yourself as much as possible. If you’re like me and often look strangely subdued because your eyebrows are almost always furrowed (the thinking brow), break it up some. And laugh with and at other people too, it’s good for your heart.
  6. Challenge yourself in everything. Physically, mentally, socially, spiritually. Oftentimes we create our own limits, so push past them. Listen, I’m no life coach, but refusing to stay stagnant is good life advice for anyone, woman or man.
  7. Formulate your dreams and aspirations, and move toward them. It’s alright to have a plan, and if something disrupts them, that is just fine as well. But having a blueprint is NEVER a bad idea. God is the architect, so He’ll change what He sees fit.
  8. Respect your parents, your elders, your everyone. Realize that you would be nowhere without them, and treat them as such. I would also say, call them by “ma’am” and “sir,” but that’s projecting my Southern upbringing onto everyone.
  9. Keep a tight rein on that agile tongue. Whether you’re being pessimistic or straight up catty, cut out those trans fats. It weighs you and others down…and does no one any favors. It can also suck the spirit right out of you. You want to speak words that breathe life. I still need practice on this, especially when I’m driving. Oftentimes I’ll say something like: “Yeah, I’m totally judging you right now, I’m pretty sure you are of minimal intelligence and thoroughly stupid.” Yes, that person cut me off and was being stupid, but it’s still not right.
  10. Get closer to your Creator. Talk to Him, consult with Him, love Him, know Him, surrender to Him. No one could ever know you better. Water and sun this relationship. It’s the one that matters most.

Remember that a 24 year old is telling you all of these things. I still think what I’ve said is sound, but goodness, I’ve got some growing to do. This is a woman trying to become a woman telling you how to become a woman. So, yeah…

Be on the lookout for “Womanhood: Part II”…I don’t know what it’s going to be about yet, so there’s that.

Where’s Your Home?

“And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 23. 

It’s about to be that time. I’ve already ceremonially graduated, but still have a second internship and final elective class to wrap up. And then what? I’m trying to figure that out, trying to let God take the reigns, trying to…trying. In the next month I’d love to have a job lined up, something to lean on in the midst of my quarterlife crisis. A term I kid about but really, it’s feeling like that right now. 

Timing.

I’m unsure of it. I’m sure of the fact that this chapter of my life, the “getting your Master’s” chapter, is coming to a close at the end of July, beginning of August. I’m sure that I will be in a friend’s wedding come September 13th. Other than that? 3 months from now, nothing else is very certain. 

Speaking of weddings, until this past year nothing of the sort was on my brain, but now I’m thinking “Hey, Lord, is something about to start or isn’t it? The clock is ticking if it’s going to happen here with whom, because I’m about to leave this town” (another thing that I don’t know for sure).

You see, I’m 24 and have never dated. Which is great, and good, after all, I am the one who prayed earnestly for the first man I date to be the one I marry. I’ve seen way too much heartbreak to wish for anything else. And now a desire for a relationship has filled me that I don’t quite understand. It’s annoying. So there’s that…another piece of the puzzle that I am yet to see jigsaw into place.

Can you feel that? Can you feel it?

Worry.

Usually I just do. I’m a doer. But there’s things now that I can do, and others that are completely out of my control. Whoa. I don’t like that state of being. But worrying when you’ve got the best God out there and the most loving best friend, father, King, fill in the blank…is so ridiculously in vain.

Which is why stumbling upon Psalm 23 this morning worked its magic. No, I do not know where I’m going to be or what I’m going to do or when or how or what my relationship status will be in 3 months. I DON’T KNOW. 

There are places that look like, feel like, taste like, smell like home…but those are just the senses.

What about your heart? My heart is at home always in the presence of my God. It’s that constant, that which doesn’t transition. And in all this uncomfortable unknown, non-affirming silence, I choose to find my peace, my rest, in that unchanging fact.

So, you? Find some lush green pastures and lie down already. It feels so right.

My First Love.

That you will always be

And I have decided

If there is any obsession I should allow

It is my sweet love for you.

Understand, that in this struggle

This waiting that seems endless…

That hurts…

That has produced–

Many tears shrouded by the night sky

Amidst a deep love presently unquenchable…

Understand that I look to You.

My first love.

And my voice carries itself up to You

Among the clouds

And You remember me

In my prayers

“Don’t let him forget me”

You remind me that I am yours first.

That you love me tenderly

And I whisper to you…

Let me give more of myself to You

 

 

Is Being Heard “Our right” ?

I think I’ve been ridiculously spoiled by my recent years of education. A counselor-in-training who has become accustomed to conversations with colleagues that begin with an earnest “How are you doing?” and end with the questionee comfortably spilling their current state, be they sad or overwhelmed or upset, et cetera. It is an insulated bubble of intelligent women (a few men sprinkled here and there) for whom being transparent, open, and vulnerable is oftentimes seen as a strength within the realm of self-analyzation and personal wellness.

That has been my world for the past two and a half years. Constant talk of emotions, feelings, and searching for the depth behind them, and although it can be quite taxing from time to time, it is its own form of therapy.

Then the holidays arrive, and you’re with family. Family that you only see about 2-4 times a year, if that. You’re the only girl among 3 brothers, and truly are the most sensitive one. You are also a strange concoction of people-pleaser combined with stubborn, which is at times confounding and subsequently exhausting. And there is always so much testosterone in the room. You’ve lived with it, it’s a part of who you are…but that essential need that you have to partake in open dialogue with regard to recent disputes?

Not so fundamental to them.

So, while you’re about to burst if you can’t talk it out, be heard, or at least understood or empathized with (no “you’re right” necessary)…they’re just fine avoiding what they perceive to be an odd and slightly more mature edition of a temper tantrum. And there you are, in a bit of a bind because you HAVE to be acknowledged, you just HAVE to be supported in some fashion, or else you will implode.

Because it is an injustice, so you think, completely unfair and inhumane to not be considered. “But, bu-bu-bu-but…my feewings…” you inwardly blubber. “IT IS MY RIGHT!!” you holler at no one in particular, probably your lipstick-inscribed mirror. Those inspirational quotes are not getting you much of anywhere in this moment.

You want a human ear, and believe that it is deserved on the sole basis that you are a human being and need it for mental and emotional well being.

But is it really your right? Is that really my right? In a world where we currently have about five billion different modes through which we can share our opinions or attain feedback…is it our right to be heard? Or is it a luxury indigenous to those of us who have way too much time on our hands?

Oh, mama…

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My radiant mother striking a pose at the Palo Duro Park in West Texas. Just look at her.

She’s a wonder, my mother is. A beautifully bold Kenyan woman who has worked hard from day one and never stops. She’s got so much soul and story, and her laughter echoes out for miles. As I’ve grown up, I see more and more of myself in her. She refuses my expressed sentiment with statements like:

“Neema, you are about 90% your dad and 10% me.”

My father and I do indeed have a strong bond. I’m his only girl, and he’s this tender, sweet soul that I’ve always felt the need to protect. He’s also a bit of a dreamer and I relate to that. This coming from the girl who in 4th grade told her parents that her new room needed to be painted with a bright blue sky and clouds. But even in all of our similarities…

My spunk and sass come from my mother. Just listen to the following scene from this past summer:

So, early this morning, I’m talking to my mama … and she says something along the lines of: “You know, Neema, you really need to get more organized. I was searching through your purse to try and find the house keys earlier”…(insert my “You searched through my what now?” face here) “and it was terrible, that’s really not good.”

To which I reply indignantly : “Mama, now you know better than to search through another woman’s purse! I don’t think you should have done that!” as I begin to laugh, because she has that classic mischievous Murimi smirk on her face.

And I continue my grumbling as she calmly repeats (with a dark Oak headboard behind her, and the glow of her bedside lamp giving her a beautiful yet fear inducing Oz-like luminosity) : “But I did…but I just did…but I did.” While I’m like: “But mama—” “But I did.” “You know you—” “I already did.” And right before the scene ends: Bubbling laughter.

This is my life.

I get my child-likeness from her. My strong sense of loyalty from her. My charming “brattiness” and boldness from her.

The cheery light in my eyes is from her.

She’s a mahogany-framed gleam that exudes warmth and joy.

She feels like home to many.

Oh, mama…you know you and daddy call one another “dear” and “darling”…

But you are THE darling.

New Orleans Masks…

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St. Charles & Napoleon: God’s light shining through the clouds. A new hope through the dark and dreary. 

 

You just want to dance. At least for me, dancing is something that’s in my bones. A part of me. Much like running, I may not be fast…but I feel free when I’m doing it. It’s in my skin and I can’t shake it. So, after the Magazine Blues Fest was over on Saturday night, I chirped up: “LET’S GO DANCIIIIING!! Anyone up for Bourbon?!” My friends were a bit hesitant, but decided to comply as a result of my persuasive smile. 

For me, Bourbon is strictly a place to dance. Not a place to drink, as I don’t drink nor do I need any outside catalysts to let loose. So, we went with that intention and came upon a place that was playing some serious Michael Jackson. It was fun. No really, it was.

But something about this street and the places therein was more heartbreaking than ever before. This certainly wasn’t my first time to go out dancing on Bourbon, but I had changed a lot since the last time I’d been there. In other words, God had done a lot… had brought me to a new level. I was more spiritually sensitive.

And what I could see was a whole lot of empty smiles and merriment that were a mask for pain, for sadness, for an internal sickness. People come down to New Orleans and put on literal masks for Mardi Gras, but every day in this city…there are heavy masks that you can see so plainly. Go down any street, and you can see it…feel it. There’s a heaviness that you can smell.

It leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

But the pungent nature of it also brings tears to your eyes.

My darling Jesus Christ, what have you done to me? Your grace, part of my name, Neema… or “Grace” in Swahili. Your grace, given to me…and the life there. Not deserved, but also…not in vain. 

You light a match, let alone a candle in the darkest of caves?

ILLUMINATION. Clarity.

The time has come to wipe off the stale face paint. Only God can do that, but he uses His people to wet the cloth and go forth on the ground. 

Look. See. He is about to set this city free.