Recently on the StartLiving blog:
“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” - Nelson R. Mandela
After the announcement of Nelson Mandela’s death only hours ago, it leaves me sitting and pondering the implications of his life. More specifically though, it leaves me measuring the effects of one man’s life on my life.
There are very few people, a hand-full, who have made as much of an impact on the world as Madiba made, cutting across generational divides, squaring up against prejudice, holding freedom as a realistic ideal and always putting the individual first. We see the charismatic leader, the statesman and the orator that most people relate to, we see the great policy decisions and the broad smile, but what happened in that cell, on that island? What happened during those 27 years of captivity?
In short – freedom was born. Freedom can only be birthed out of sacrifice. We see this in the area of warfare, we saw it with Jesus and we saw it played out before us in the life of Nelson Mandela. There is always a price for freedom, but few are prepared to pay it. For those who are prepared to face the consequences of the oppressor, there is the very real possibility of turning idealistic sentiment into hope, and hope is all a nation needs to survive. Hope is all the individual needs to get through whatever it is they are dealing with – hope that it will all work out in the end.
“At all costs, character must show itself to be free and above its circumstances … Character is the reaction from circumstances. It is the inner movement which encounters and withstands the shock of change and outward things” - Henry Scott Holland, Creed and Character, 1887
Mandela had hope, this hope was birthed out of his commitment to freedom and to end injustice. He had a hope that all people could be treated equally, that no-one would be discriminated against, according to their skin color, and that society would be better off for it. This hope rested on a strength of character that was fortified during all those years behind bars.It was that inner movement of the change that came from captivity being forced upon him, that positive inner movement, that meant that this hope of freedom could be sustained even after it was gained.
If Mandela was not a man of character we would not be celebrating his life. If he was not prepared to extend grace towards his oppressors and foster reconciliation, but rather encourage petty hatred and anger, his effect on my life would be very different, if at all. Legends are always people of character, they make decisions for the greater good, often at the expense of themselves. They see beyond the present and make the future a reality. Legends leave a legacy, one which is easy to pick up and carry on with, one which we can all be proud of and one that sees every man as God made him to be.
Madiba taught me the importance of having a cause worth dying for and living for that. He taught me what it looks like to forgive. He showed me what brave men do. He modeled grace. He was Jesus to millions. He showed me I can be too.
(This post was only published a few days after writing)
Please read http://www.stevehackman.net/why-mandela-matters/. After posting the above, I read Steve’s thoughts and they amplify what I am trying to convey!
Written by: Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Having read this book before in Afrikaans, I finally picked up an English copy and read it on a two-hour domestic flight. It’s only 120-odd pages long, but leaves you with weeks worth of thinking.
A bit of background on the work is that it was first written and published in French, apparently the best language to read it in. It has become the highest selling French book ever penned and also the most translated. It was written during the Second World War by an a French aristocrat, Saint-Exupéry, who was also a reserve French air force pilot. (Source Wikipedia)
The book is in essence a children’s book. However, the poetic, metaphoric and philosophical imagery used, makes it a piece of literature that can’t be taken lightly. It taps into some of life’s deepest questions from the peculiar point of view of a little prince, who is the lord of his own planet.
The little prince goes on a journey, where he meets a series of individuals on different planets. Each of these individuals represent certain kinds of people we come across in the world everyday. The first is king with no subjects, therefore without any subjects, is not king at all. Another person he comes across is a conceited man, who has an exceptionally high opinion of himself. The little prince also runs into a drunkard, who is drinking to forget he is drunk, a businessman who counts and claims to own the stars, and a lamp-lighter who lights and extinguishes a lamp every minute. The final person he meets is a geographer who keeps pouring over maps,but never ends up exploring. Sound familiar?
“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty. No one could die for you.” – Little Prince
In each of these encounters I was challenged with the question of WHY? Why am I doing what I am doing, what is my greatest motivator and when boiled down, what is most valuable to me?
The little prince also had a ‘rose’. He cared for, looked after and loved his rose, but the rose was extremely selfish in return, never returning his affection (yes a talking rose). The rose represents the relationships we have on earth and to quote the Fox again:
“It is the time you have lost for your rose that makes your rose so important.“
A sobering reminder of why we sow into people’s lives and what that most precious gift is we can give them, our time and thus our love.
“People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…”
“They don’t find it,” I answered.
“And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…”
“Of course,” I answered.
And the little prince added, “But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”
If there are ten books you must read before you die, this has to be one of them. It’s a timeless classic that speaks straight to the heart and will meet you wherever you are at. You may need to read it more than once, you may need to write down some of the quotes and it may take a while to get to grips with the concept, but it’s worth it.
StartLiving Rating: 9.5/10
"The difference between failure and success is usually always boiled down to how you handle disappointment."
This post is a spin-off of the above quote. It was a tweet I tweeted a few weeks back and on further pondering I decided it was an idea worth developing. Disappointments, we all have them, they may look different to each one of us, but the fact remains that when situations turn out differently than how we were expecting them to, it has an effect on us. The cynic would immediately point out that if we had no expectation we would have no disappointment, this may well be true. However, we were all built with an inherent hope. One which wants to believe the best in people and the best in ourselves, a hope that doesn’t disappoint. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, if you will.
"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." - Romans 5:5
The issue here then is not avoiding disappointment (although this would be ideal), it is how to handle it, what to do with it and where to put it, when it comes. It’s not the hard times that end up defining us, it’s our attitude towards them. When stepping out in faith regularly and extending love and grace towards people, some of those very folks will end up letting us down, it’s inevitable. We can’t allow it to define us.
We have already touched on the first step in dominating disappointment and that’s realizing the inevitability of the beast. The next would be to understand it’s nature, it’s only TEMPORARY. Well, it should be anyway. In theory we can entertain it’s poison for as long as we want, but the venom only remains active if you are keeping it alive. The Apostle Paul never made light of his hardships and disappointments, however he did make sure we understand that they never lasted, they came and went!
MOTIVE is everything. We will never rise higher than our dominant motive. If your heart is never set on reconciliation you will never get over the past. If you are not driven by love, but rather by selfish gain, your gain will never include anyone more than you. It’s a small, lonely world when we are motivated by fear, greed, bitterness and guilt. A wrong motive only fuels disappointment and can turn it into something so much more than what it really is, that’s when you get hurt and hurt people, hurt people.
"But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more." - Ps 71:14
Dealing with disappointment is thus more of a process than a destination. Allowing God to strengthen your character, your resolve and your reliance on Him, through this time, can mean that you emerge from the season or situation much better off than before it ever happened. But, that is up to you, whether you allow God to heal the pain, whether you allow Him to show you His goodness and faithfulness and whether you let Him lead you through the valley of the shadow of death and out the other side. He didn’t lead you into it, but He will lead you out! We have a Hope, in Jesus we always have a hope. Don’t allow the enemy to steal this hope, it was born in you when Christ was born in you. It’s as real to you as He is, because He is our Hope.