Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. – Mark 8:35 (NIV).
I have spent the most recent years of my journey as a Christian trying to figure out what losing my life for the cause of Christ looks like. I have always viewed that verse as a call to martyrdom. So in theory and from a distance, I have imagined myself being willing to be martyred for the sake of the Gospel.
But since moving to Cape Town, I see that “losing my life” is something else. Something which has an immediate bearing on my happiness.
A few weeks ago I wrote to my friends in Johannesburg about my frustrations of essentially starting life over again in Cape Town.
I was upset about Tupperware. Three years ago, when I just started working I bought Tupperware. It was a significant purchase for me. I remember standing in the store ruminating over the pros and cons of the purchase and the impact it would have on my budget. I bought the Tupperware and I was incredibly proud of it too. I used it to store baked goods and package salads at braais.
I had to leave the Tupperware behind in the “big move” to Cape Town. So naturally, I was upset the day I realised I needed Tupperware, but did not have any in my new home. I didn’t want to buy new Tupperware, because I knew I had perfectly good Tupperware stored away in Johannesburg. I still haven’t bought new Tupperware and I am trying to figure out a way to bring the Tupperware down to Cape Town.
The Tupperware situation eventually brought up other issues of the move.
We came to the realisation that sometimes routine is not a bad thing.
This includes having to find a new petrol station with attendants I can trust, or becoming familiar with the malls and where the best parking spots are. These are small things, which can make a big difference in terms of convenience.
During a phone call with one of my friends, we came to the realisation that sometimes routine is not a bad thing. Having adventures are fun, and there are amazing things to explore out there. But there is also value in being familiar with the quickest routes to work, or knowing where the bread is in a store. This is information that can save you time and effort.
I had despised being too familiar with everything about Johannesburg, but now I find myself being frustrated with the unfamiliarity of Cape Town.
Another one of my friends visited me and I told her I missed Sandton traffic. I miss sitting bumper- to-bumper on West street. Her response was that I do not miss Sandton, I just miss being in control.
I have spent the past few days figuring out what that means and more specifically what I am trying to control.
I did not anticipate that moving to a new city would expose my difficulty in accepting change. In theory change sounds great. But when you’re in the middle of it, you see that even the smallest details have to change and that’s not easy to accept.
One example is that I have to get clothes appropriate for the weather in Cape Town. I’m not a scarf person, but the wind in the city means I need to stock up on those. I am having to learn to let go of certain things, such as my sense of style – which could be considered an extension of one’s identity, to adjust to my new environment.
One of the things I am confronted with every day is the homeless people in the city. I have told my friends that I never want to get use to seeing homeless people. I have been trying to figure out how I could respond to the needs of people. One of my friends suggested packing extra sandwiches and handing those out to people.
Something God reminded me of was the story of disciples Peter and John at gate Beautiful. They came across a crippled man outside the temple. They did not have “silver or gold” to give the man, but could pray and speak healing over him by the power of Christ, that’s what they did and the man was healed.
I reasoned that I could do the same. But twice, I turned down the opportunity to pray for beggars who had approached me. That is clearly a pride issue I have, something I thought I had dealt with. I had to move to the other side of the country to see that I still struggle with pride.
The condition of my heart is being seen under a different lens. The lens is my new environment and it is exposing things that need to change.
In the meantime, I have friends reminding me that I made the move to fulfill God’s purpose for my life. I still believe that there is a reason I had to move. I believe God will be faithful in revealing that in His good time. And this past week I have seen that losing pieces of myself, however small they may be, is what Mark 8:35 is about.
I am not being martyred for proclaiming my faith. But I am learning to die to my sense of comfort, the way I use to live and my pride.