On a very clear sunny Saturday morning October 1, about 70 of us made our way to the Beautiful Series event in Sandton where our host Hannah Viviers had thoughtfully organised a line-up of speakers to minister to our souls, remind us of our destinies and how much the Father loves each one of His children.
The organised guest speakers spoke on the different aspects of being beautiful. The theme of the event was, Reclaiming our Beauty; Power and Purpose. As we listened to speaker after speaker we were made aware of the fact that there are many things that happen in one’s life’s journey that peel away the layers of self-belief. Things that put a cover on that little girl’s sparkling eyes when she says and truly believes that she could be anything that she dreams of…”I want to be a doctor when I grow up.” “I am going to be scientist.” “I want to be a nurse.” “I WANT TO BE A STAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” “I HAVE BIG DREAMS!!!!!!!!”
This thing called life has a way of peeling away that beautiful layer in your heart that believes that “I CAN”. It has a way of taking you to such low levels where you NEVER thought you would ever go — to levels of shame that if your younger self could see into your future she would say, “What is the point of going there because it is very dark”.
It was clear skies that Saturday morning but some of the things that the speakers had gone through were anything but clear. They were dark, sordid pasts that none of us listeners would have wanted to go through and yet if we were to go through that room I am sure we would have found similar stories of pasts that were best forgotten.
A polygamous family
The first speaker was the CEO of the SABC Foundation, Iris Cupido who told us about her past where she was raised in a polygamous family:
“She didn’t marry my father thinking that he would have five other wives. She married him thinking that she was marrying for love. She lived with that shame until she could not take it anymore and in the middle of the night she piled us in. She worked at an old age home and she worked as a domestic for a white lady and her son.”
At age 13 Iris was raped when criminals broke into her home. She said that experience “created a huge shift”… a dark past, one that she would rather forget.
Emotional and physical abuse
We heard of a story from, Ashika Ramparsad whose first husband made her feel as if she was less than — not good enough.
“Slowly and very subtly he changed who and what I was. When he met me I was this vibrant, energetic and happy woman — always positive, always loving. But slowly he changed me into his perception of what a perfect woman should be like and that is one who does not have a voice, no opinion, soft spoken, totally covered up. He told me on a constant basis that I am stupid. Things that I had to say at that time nobody wanted to hear so I should just keep quiet. When somebody tells you constantly that you are stupid, that what you just said didn’t make any sense you believe him especially coming from a man who is supposed to love you.”
He betrayed her in the most hurtful way when he cheated on her with one of her friends. On finding this out she stayed with him wanting to work things out in her marriage and to give it another chance but it was soon obvious that there was no future for the two of them as her husband was unrepentant. They had a divorce. Ashika soon fell for a sweet talker who charmed his way into her heart but as time went on also revealed his true colours. He abused her in the most horrific way:
“We were together for 14 months. I do not understand how I did not see a monster under all that charm. He left his work and he came over. That night I prayed to die. He beat me. The first slap I got I landed on that bed. He tore off every bit of clothing I had so he could beat me on my body but his beating was so controlled. He didn’t hit me on my face. There was no fisting. It was just open slaps. I remember falling on the bed one time and he picks up a mirror that is taller that I am and throwing it at me. I CAN SEE THIS MIRROR COMING AT ME. All I remember was curling up hiding my face and the mirror hitting the back of my head. At that time I didn’t even know that my head was cut open and I was bleeding. I was numb from the pain and the shock. It’s not over — he still grabs me and he takes me to the gas stove and all the while he is doing what he is doing he is shouting the most violent disgusting things at me. He put the stove on and smelling the gas. I am begging him to please stop and not to do this. I see the purple light of the gas and I feel my face getting closer and closer to the flame and I thought to myself okay “he is going to burn me right now. He is telling me that he will burn me and scar me so that nobody will ever want me. I will always belong to him. Now I don’t know what went through his mind. He switched that off takes the bottle of brown sherry that was lying on the side and he takes it by the neck of the bottle. I say ok he is going to break this over my head. Either way I am going to die and to this day I will never know what went through his mind He poured that brown sherry all over me. According to my doctor that was the best thing he could have done because it sealed the wound on my head which I didn’t even know I had. I hit the wall so many times in that room I lost count. He calmly walks away as if he had just paid me a social visit and goes to work and before he goes he says, “You know I beat you because I love you?” How can somebody love you and they beat you half to death?”
Ashika experienced a dark past with no clear sunny skies where at times (many times) she wished to die. She wished that her abuser would just kill her because her pain was unbearable.
Effects of labelling people
Tertia Butler, one of the speakers, told of her poor upbringing and how she was crippled by people’s labels of her.
“I remember looking around for loose change so we could buy bread to make sandwiches for lunch. I remember many times we would have supper and my mom would not be eating. I remember many times asking her why was she not eating and she would say I have eaten I am not hungry or I am full. She tried to hide it but we knew.
“I was the monkey who followed her all the way home and my sister was a bookworm who followed her from the library. My sister did better academically than I did. I was labelled a slow learner, dumb, dyslexic. My mom was also labelled a dyslexic so she would often say ‘You are dumb like me, so its ok its fine’. I WAS BULLIED a lot at school and I didn’t really have friends.
“I still have a lot to learn. Something doesn’t work out so I find something else to do. I just get up, dust myself off and try again. It is a learning curve. You are destined to be better. Yes you can be the person you wish you could be why not stop believing the labels that people have placed on your life. Stop saying I am dumb, dyslexic, I can’t do it. I can do it. I am beautiful. Even if you don’t mean it, say it. You need to change the conversation in your head. Your mind is the most powerful weapon you have and it is time you started using it to your advantage. Don’t give residence to your own doubts and negative thoughts. It is time to take back your life. No one else can do it for you, only you.”
God’s heart for us
We all have those parts in our lives that when we go back to them we feel anything but beautiful. It is those parts in our lives, in our past where seeds are planted where we don’t have the confidence to reach for the destiny that God has for us — seeds of self-doubt, seeds of SELF-HATE. We constantly listen to the enemy who tells us that we are not good enough and God does not love us because if He did how can He allow such horrible things to happen to us. God has such an amazing life planned for us. Duduzile Ndlovu penned it so beautifully in her poem when she shared the Father’s heart to us:
“Lift up your eyes; Lift up the eyes in your heart; Tell me what you see; Do you see the beauty that I see; The treasure I hid inside of you; Do you see the passion ; I planted for seasons to come; Seasons such as today.”
What the Beautiful Series event did for us was to shine a spotlight on those areas where we believed lies. Hannah’s husband closed the event by enlightening us about deep held beliefs in our hearts: The lies that you repeat to yourself time and time again. What are those seeds that are so rooted in your heart that they have made you into the woman that you are today?
Open the door to that room that you are too scared to enter because you would rather leave the past in the past; because it is too painful to talk about; because you feel shame. Open that room and let THE LIGHT come in. Let the SON come in. Your day can be clear again. Your day can be sunny again. ABBA wants to shine His light into your life; into your heart and make you joyful again and make you to DREAM AGAIN. It is possible to come alive again … to RECLAIM YOUR BEAUTY, POWER AND PURPOSE!!!!
Hannah’s vision for the Beautiful Series is that women will share Tertia’s sentiments:
“I see the world in a different world than I have seen it before. No longer do I live in fear. Fear of what people may think of me finally, like a butterfly spreading its wings for the first time, with each flap of the wings I am finally at peace. Here I am proving that peace and the chains can be broken.”