This Is How A Woman Should Be Loved

Take the risk.

Show me your cards. Don’t keep them close to your chest because you’re afraid of what I might say or think. Tell me what’s on your mind and where you’re going with things. I want to know. I want to know your plans and your intentions. I want to know your truth. I want to know you and not the poker-faced version of you that you hide behind.

Lay them on the table. Don’t try to bluff your way through this cause you think I might hurt you. Tell me I’m the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning and the last word spoken in your nighttime prayers. Be honest about how my strength scares you a little and makes you want to be a better man. Talk about how I’m nothing like you expected and everything that you ever hoped I’d be.

Go all-in. Decide that I’m worth whatever it’ll cost you. Love me anew every morning. Even when I’m mean. Even when I’m lazy. Even if it was me who farted but I’d rather deflect by talking about how TV programming isn’t getting any better and maybe we should get Netflix. Choose me anyway. Commit to me everything that you are and everything that you will be. Have faith in the woman that I am becoming and trust me to believe in the man God made you to be.

Trust me with your weaknesses and failings and I will trust you with mine. Please. Don’t lie to me. Come to me when you feel ashamed. When I go astray, find me again. When I run and hide cause I’m afraid, count to ten and go seek. Search me out, study my mind and pursue my heart. Think of me less as a problem to solve and more like a mystery waiting to be discovered.

Let me see your pain. Uncover those wounds that still sting when touched and those that have hardened into scars. Give me your joyful memories. I want to see that you’re a man who bleeds when pricked, laughs when tickled and cries because even Jesus wept. Show me that your heart breaks for the broken and that you can carry the burdens of others. Let me catch your tears with my hands, let me in, let me hold you.

Hold me. Gently. Know your strength and use it for and not against me. Build me up with words that will fortify my soul against a world hellbent on my destruction. Tell me I’m beautiful, even when you think I’ve heard it enough. When my faith grows weak and I forget who I am, remind me. Forgive me when I repent, say sorry and mean it.

Don’t ever let your mind reduce what we could have to a multiple choice option. Don’t passively wait for me to make the first move while you hedge your bets. Show me your hand and give me the chance to show mine. Or not to. Know what you want and go for it. I’m not saying be perfect, I’m saying be powerful. I’m saying love me with a love that is secure and suffers long and suffers first.

Take the risk.

Show me your cards.

Zola Ndlovu writes to encourage people to live every day intentionally. Get more of her writing when you subscribe by clicking here.

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Dear Future Husband, From Your Future Wife

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Dear future husband,

Can I tell you my worst nightmare?

I’m lying on a bed in a room completely void of light, my arms and legs held down by invisible ties, my limbs feel paralysed, my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. The darkness that surrounds me crawls up my body and it won’t be long until it closes in on my neck and squeezes hard. I’m so afraid. I’m so afraid because this feels like death, and I’m alone, and it doesn’t matter how loudly I scream because no one will hear me…

I struggle and thrash around but finally the screams turn into short gasps for air. I feel lightheaded from the lack of oxygen. My heart beats hard against my chest, the rhythm pounds against my skull and I hear the blood rushing in my ears. Finally, my heart stops beating and the blood stops circulating around my body. My brain stops working almost immediately. My body no longer struggles, but is still and lifeless.

A day or so later someone will notice that my curtains haven’t been drawn and windows haven’t been opened and they didn’t see me out on my usual morning walk. The report will say I died of natural causes, a relative will be called to confirm my identity. My funeral policy will be called up, people will be notified and arrangements made. People I haven’t seen in years will gather to sing songs I didn’t like and a lacklustre sermon will be preached.

But it gets worse.

Strangers will stand up to give false testimony. They will speak of my great virtue and be character witnesses for someone they didn’t really know. Many a crocodile tear will be shed. And there will be a display of culturally appropriate histrionics – the wailing and the pretending to throw themselves into the grave. And when the last flower is laid everyone will leave. Life goes on. People will go home to their families, and their jobs and their social media posting. Here lies Zola Ndlovu, unloved, unknown and alone.

I don’t want to die, but it’s not so much the dying that scares me. It is dying alone. I think God created humans with a basic need to connect, to be known and yet loved, to have someone look at you, see right through you and say, “I will stay.” I think this basic need drives us to make reckless decisions. To give ourselves away to people who don’t really care about us, to give ourselves up to what feels like love but is anything but.

And it hurts.

When you give your heart to another, and they take it, stomp all over it and throw it back in your face, you feel like you will never love again. You’re reminded of your bad choices. You’re convinced that all men will fail you and none can be trusted. You’re haunted by loneliness, Little Girl Blue, never chosen and always rejected. You tell yourself that you will never love again.

Learn more about Zola’s online course, HEART DETOX!

The truth?

I will love again. I have to believe that my past wounds do not define me. I have to believe that beauty can rise out of pain and that even in heartbreak there is hope. I have to defy the lie that I am unlovable, I have to embrace vulnerability and let my heart respond again to another, to receive love. To laugh deeply, to desire passionately and to give myself unreservedly.

The world tells me there are no good men out there but I see them, I see them everywhere I go.

First, I see the father with his son, walking down the street in the rain. An umbrella in one hand, a briefcase in the other. His shirt is soaked down to the skin because you can’t cover yourself and your boy at the same time.

Next, I see the brother who works two jobs so he can pay school fees for his siblings. He defers his dreams to see those of others fulfilled.

Lastly, I see a man with his wife, he still pursues her. Two decades later they still flirt and publicly display affection, her face still captivates his heart.

I know you’re out there but I need you to understand that for all of my life I’ve been encountering counterfeit versions of you. The father who raises his voice in anger and his hand in violence. The brother who is indifferent. The husband who turns to another when his passion has cooled.

I need you to understand that women are taught to protect themselves from these men. We learn to cover up and hide ourselves and display big ‘KEEP OUT’ signs outside.

We do what anyone would do with anything of value. We keep it locked away. Not just to keep the wrong people out necessarily, but to let the right people in.

I am like a locked garden. It won’t be easy for you to come in. You’re going to have to learn to observe my beauty from a distance, to recognise and appreciate my scent. You’re going to need to be patient or you’ll grow tired and give up, which is what all those who came before you did.

I am a locked garden. It won’t be easy for me to let you in. To let you be the one who plants, waters and cultivates. To accept your words that cut, to prune me for my good and not to harm me. I’m going to have to give you the key and let you in.

And when I do… when I say I do you will discover what you thought was a little walled garden is actually a field of dreams. My heart has depths and heights you will need a lifetime to explore. And some. My mind is a land of wonders with surprises around every corner. I am a work in progress, being completed and perfected by the Master Builder Himself.

I long to know you. To hear your voice and see your face.

I know I won’t have to make you stay, you will choose to. And when I’m walking through the shadowland, you will walk with me. And when I take my last breath, I won’t be thinking about my hurts, my disappointments or my pain. I’ll be thinking about you. I’ll be thinking about the father who takes the rain and the husband whose love is unfading. I’ll be thinking about the beloved son who lays his life down so others might live.

Because that’s what love is about. Love is about sacrifice. Love is about making vows that bind us beyond feelings because feelings don’t last. Love is what lets us know that we’re not alone.

Love is here now.

So hurry up already.

I’m waiting for you.

Zola Ndlovu’s aim is to help you escape the overwhelm and live intentionally in every area of your life. Join her course HEART DETOX when you sign up here. It’s completely free:  http://eepurl.com/bP-AIP

3 Valuable Gifts That Every Woman Needs From Her Man

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Zininzi likes Simba. He is kind, handsome and is actually interested in her, which is more than she can say about her previous crush. Every Saturday at 10AM she goes to the same cafe and orders a red capuccino because she knows she’ll see Simba there. She’ll sit at the table and pretend to be doing something on her phone but actually be looking at him.

Zininzi is an accountant and has only ever imagined herself with a professional – a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer. And her attraction to Simba has been unnerving for one reason: he’s at the coffee shop every day but he’s not a customer. He’s the guy who takes her order, recreates heaven in a cup and shapes the foam so it looks like a heart. He doesn’t own the coffee shop, he’s a barista.

She feels conflicted because she likes him but is unsure about giving him a chance because, well, he makes coffee for a living! People actually go to school for that? Sure, he seems like a great guy but what about his career? Should finances be an issue? Will he resent her for earning more? Is she okay with being married to a house-husband for the rest of her life?

Along with her accounting degree, Zininzi OBVIOUSLY has a Masters in getting ahead of herself. The guy hasn’t even asked her out on a date and she’s already living in their first year of marriage. And yet her thought process is common, isn’t it?

Every woman has a MUST-HAVE list. There’s an invisible app running in the background that tells her who’s eligible and who’s not. When she asks about your degree she’s auditing your potential earning power. When she asks about your job she’s comparing your average salary with hers. When she asks these things that’s her way of admitting that she has a mortal fear of marrying a broke scrub who thinks he’s fly but is living off his wife’s paycheck.

A woman’s desire for financial security is legit. It’s not gold digging.

But every woman must remember that, ultimately, you’re in a relationship with a person, not a bank account. If it was true that money can buy happiness then rich people would have the happiest relationships in the world. Money has its place, but it isn’t enough to sustain a relationship in the long run. Think practically about finances, but don’t let that be the primary reason why you choose to say yes to someone or to reject them. What you should be asking yourself is: Is this man generous?

“Anyone can give away something expensive, but only someone who understands sacrifice can give away something valuable.” Kris Valotton

Scientific research shows that women with generous husbands have better marriages. What we mean by ‘generous’ is “giving… good things freely and abundantly”. So it’s not the guy who declares, “This round’s on me fellas!” in the club. Or the dude who offers you a monthly allowance to cover your rent, water and weave. Or even the guy who’s paying for the education of his three siblings, two nephews and his cousin twice removed.

Generosity is about the heart. A truly generous man doesn’t just give expensive stuff away, he gives away what is truly valuable, which is himself. In relationships, what’s of primary importance isn’t how much a man can contribute financially, but rather how willing he is to sacrifice himself for your good. These three gifts will be far more valuable in the long run than any material things that he can offer you:

1. The gift of words: Is he an encouraging person? 
A truly generous man will not only give you gifts of expensive jewelry but he will adorn you with his words. He calls out the best in people, always. He reminds you that you are beautiful, strong and wanted. He expresses appreciation. He doesn’t use his words to control, tear down or manipulate. He uses them to build you up.

2. The gift of grace: Is he willing to accept people’s weaknesses and work around them?
Often the difference between a strong relationship and one that’s doomed to fail is how we respond to the weaknesses of those we love. If he’s a perfectionist who can’t accept your weaknesses then you’ll be crushed under the weight of his expectations and his disappointment. A truly generous dude understands that you can’t change the fact that you always leave drawers open when you take something out, but he’s willing to be the one to come after you and close them.

3. The gift of forgiveness: Is he quick to forgive the failures of those close to him? 
If he’s the kind of guy who never got over the fact that his little brother broke his favourite Power Rangers action figure when was five, then he’s not the kind of guy who will forgive you when you mess up. Forgiveness is choosing to let go of your right to claim what someone owes you. It’s acknowledging that they wronged you and choosing not to get your pay back. Forgiveness is generosity and a truly generous man doesn’t hold grudges against those who have done him wrong.

Nothing will cost him more than giving up his ego and if he thinks you’re worth it, he will be willing to give it up many times over. Don’t get caught up in whether he can afford you and forget what’s really important – not the balance in his account but the condition of his heart.

Do you think financial security is important? Why?