In 1974, when I was in Matric, I met a tall, dark and handsome man. The girls at the church went crazy about him. Besides being handsome, he drove a red Ford Capri!
At that time I didn’t need to wear glasses. If i did, i doubt he would have noticed me. His name is Pieter Smith and he was a property developer.
I had intended to study Journalism at Potchefstroom University, but my mother didn’t want me to be so far from home. Thus I ended up studying BA Social Work at the University of Stellenbosch. I was never really enthusiastic about the course and never finished it. Three years after I met Pieter, we got married and two beautiful children, Pieter and Arlene, were born. On our wedding day, we moved into a brand new home and it became a regular visiting place for the young people in our congregation. Life treated us well.
Today I understand that people with an inferiority complex easily hide behind a mask of pride and that is what happened to me. The ugly duckling started taking pride in her lovely home and without realizing it, became full of pride. Trips overseas, new shiny cars, only the best furniture, but no time for those around her.
One day this clay pot got another disgusting looking crack. I was diagnosed with cancer in my womb. When my youngest was two and a half, I went for a hysterectomy. I was operated on a Tuesday and the Friday was Easter. Later I heard that they prayed for me at the Easter Conference. The Lord heard their prayers and I survived.
In the foreword of this book, my friend, Barbara van Dyk, writes about the day that I told her I had cancer. Back then, Barbara was pregnant and was due to deliver her baby. Without even considering my friends condition, i broke the news to her that i had been diagnosed with cancer. It was only two days before she was going to give birth. Thinking back on this, i realized in a time of personal crisis, you tend to think only about yourself and you don’t necessarily consider others. Today, i would think twice before sharing news like that with someone whom is also in a challenging situation.
The trauma was too much for Arlene. She started wearing diapers again. She overheard a telephonic conversation where my mother told someone that I’m not sure I’ll make it. Four years later, Arlene still followed me like a shadow everywhere I went and whenever she had the choice, she chose to stay with me. Until this day Arlene and I have an extraordinary bond. My husband, Pieter, bought her a doll – which she named Pietie – to hold on to when I wasn’t around.
Two days after being discharged from hospital, I had to return because of a bladder infection. To me, it felt as if the world had come to an end.
I had a lot of time to talk to the Lord. I had thought too highly of myself, and i realized, life does not revolve around me only.
Three days after my operation, a man of small posture came to visit me in hospital. When I saw who it was, I started crying. It was Uncle Toerien. I remember him too well. He was an elder in the AFM Church in Parow. Every Sunday he stood at the church entrance, welcoming everyone. Many times we arrived at the church with two energetic toddlers only when the organ started playing. We were always aiming to get to the ‘parents with toddlers’ section in the church before the pastor walked up to the pulpit. Time and time again, uncle Toerien made it impossible for us to settle in time. I got so irritated with the man at the door that I slipped in by a side entrance to avoid him.
This dignified man didn’t think too highly of himself to come visit me in hospital. It humbled me. Five years later, I was one of many people who went to pay our last respects at his funeral. The building was too small to accommodate all the people. Uncle Toerien was small in stature, without status and perhaps also the ‘odd one out’, but the Lord used him to further His kingdom. That day I heard how he dedicated his life to visiting others in hospital. The Lord started altering the perception i had of myself.
God wants to give us the best life can offer; it doesn’t matter what we look like, who we are or where we come from. Esther was an orphan who was raised by her uncle Mordecai and she had no apparent destiny until she one day became the queen of Persia.
Why are we sometimes so hesitant to receive God’s favour in our lives the way Esther did? Satan will do his utmost best to convince us that we are worth very little especially when the Lord wants to use us in His kingdom.
Please do not allow your past to keep you from making a difference in the lives of others for the sake of God’s kingdom.