I wrote an article about letting go a while back but something kept niggling at my heartstrings; something that I didn’t talk about then but probably should have. So, here goes…

Women are all about investments. They invest their time, their energy, their love… in general, they give a lot of themselves. The problem is, sometimes they don’t know when to stop hoping. Yes, that’s right. Sometimes you need to learn that hoping, dreaming, wishing, investing, is not good for you. Let me explain:

I had an aunty that didn’t know when to stop. She was in love with a married man. He kept her on the side for years and even had two children with her. I don’t judge her as she was a victim of her emotions. Yes, she made mistakes but she really loved him. She put all of her hopes in the fact that he would one day leave his wife for her. He never did. In fact she gave him two children…but he never left. He had his cake and he was eating it…

One day it was found out that he was abusing their daughter. Her daughter. She didn’t believe her own child… and still, she hoped. The case went to court, the daughter gave evidence and he was found guilty. Yet, she hoped. He went to prison. The daughter ended up in care. Yet she wrote to him, cried over him, waited for him, lost her relationship with her daughter for him…and she hoped. Today he is out and she is still his ‘bit on the side’. Where was the promise of a true commitment? The wedding bells? The faithfulness? Nowhere to be seen. But still she hopes in his love…until today.

Sometimes it is hard to let go because it is hope that gives us the strength to carry on. It is the faith that one day we will live the life that we have fantasised about for so long. It’s what wakes you up in the morning when you really hate that job. It is raising your children to the best of your ability although the newspapers scream about gang violence and murder. It is trusting in the means to an end, whilst your dream of being whoever or whatever, is closely plastered to your heart... But what if hope is hurting you? Surely, you must let it go.

I don’t write this lightly. It is so painful. It requires a strength that forces you to go against you and everything that you have ever believed to be true. But only when you let go of certain hopes will you be able to give birth to new ones. Healthy ones. Ones that will make you happy. I had to give up hope in the love of my life (so- called). Looking back he treated me badly; put me down; it was his way or the highway and in the end he was unfaithful… but still I hoped. I lived in cuckoo land where I could forgive him and we would get married and… NO. That was it. I didn’t really think past that thought. You could almost see the fairies right? I was so stupid. My hope in him, in love and in a future was bright but the reality wasn’t.

It was only when reality slapped me in the face - a slap so hard that I wept from the depths of my soul - that I realised what I was hoping for was no good for me. I was hoping for Mr Wrong. Hoping for a life of pain, misery and divorce. My hope was invalid. A fraud. It was selling me out. My hope would destroy me. I had to let it go.

Letting go of that hope was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do. I was determined that I would marry this guy and thought like this for 3 years. I didn’t know anything else. I had visited our wedding venue, thought out the entire ceremony and even had my wedding dress packed under the bed. How could I ever hope for something new and let go of all of my plans? I cried and cried and then cried some more. I told him it was over. For real this time. And decided to block his emails and change my number. I did these things on impulse and didn’t give them much thought but when I sat down and pulled out all of my suitcases from under my bed I knew then that this really was the end. They had been under my bed in anticipation for my new life and home: rows of neatly folded dresses and stacks of perfectly heeled shoes – ready for the not so perfect life that I was heading to.

So ladies, it’s time to sit down and analyse what you have been hoping for. Have your hopes been a living hell? Look at your dreams; your desires; your ambitions. Ask yourself if they are truly healthy and if they will really make you happy, or if you are simply deluding yourself. Maybe like my aunt you’re holding out for that guy to leave his wife but for years you’ve been playing second fiddle. Perhaps it’s an ex that left you for someone else but you are 100% certain that he will come back. Or maybe you want to be the next Whitney Houston, but you just don’t have the talent. I don’t know. I can’t say which of your hopes are good for you and which are not. That’s up to you to decide. So, don’t delay. Don’t be afraid to analyse what you are hoping for and to face the serious questions. Don’t sell yourself short because God has high hopes for you!

I don’t mean to sound horrible or cold or blasĂ© about the whole thing because I know firsthand how hoping is sometimes the only thing that we have. Sometimes life deals us a harsh hand and letting go of things that are bad for us is really difficult because deep down we hope that it will all work out. However, the wound that gushes with blood today will be closed up tomorrow. It may take time. You may need friends to comfort you like salve or time alone as your protection and sometimes the scabs of healing are so uncomfortable and unsightly… but in the end you heal. You recover. And you hope again. And if you add faith into the equation (God’s instruction for materialising your hopes), you can be sure that you are on the right path to achieving your dreams.

I had no strength to dream after my biggest dream came crashing down and promised myself that I would never marry. I never looked at another man. I wasn’t interested because I feared the feeling of crushed hopes again. But one day, after years of indifference, a beautiful guy stood next to me on the train and as I looked over at him, that strange flicker of a feeling that I had once recognised was there again. Hope: welcome back.

The End.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11”

Finding it hard to hope in anything? Or just need to talk? Call this 24 hour helpline for free, confidential, no obligation advice that will put that much needed spring back into your step. Tel: 020 7686 6000 or send me an email.

My Story...

The Breakdown

I was born and raised in London (UK) but at 12 years old we moved to the Caribbean so that we could have a better life there. It was my mother’s dream and my stepfather was in love with the picturesque, sunny island that is called St.Lucia. Life was good. We had massive houses, land, cars and went to the best schools but at the heart of my family was a feeling of resentment that was tearing us apart. My grandparents accused my mother and stepfather of stealing the house we lived in from them! It wasn’t true but we soon learned that even un-truths spread like wild fire. This was the downside of living on such a tiny island.

The dream was over. My grandmother had been my mother’s rock and to spread such a vicious lie tore my family into shreds; taking my mother and stepfather’s marriage with it. My mother became sick and depressed and all the stress meant that she couldn’t remember a thing she had learnt in law school. I would come home after school to my mother lying on the floor. She had overdosed or tried to commit suicide in one way or another. She had come out of the wreckage of her first husband’s demise (my real father) with a house of her own, savings and a law degree with honours and thought she would live the Caribbean dream...yet she felt she couldn’t go on.

To make matter’s worse, I was convinced that someone was doing witchcraft against us. My mum suffered with terrible migraines and I was sure it was due to envy. At night, I could hear frightening noises on the roof like a chariot of horses and always felt a strange presence and funny smells in my room. My mother would burn incense to drive away evil and I sought counsel from my St Lucian friends on how to break the spells on us. They told me that I should put salt or sand in a pot by my door and no evil would be able to enter without counting every grain. I did it. They told me to put garlic and salt in the four quarters of our land and at every window – I did it. But it didn’t work.

The Breakthrough

One night I woke up to someone strangling me. I was gagging but no one was there – but I could feel I was choking. I tried to pull the hands off but I could feel nothing. In panic I started reciting the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ and it worked! It was gone. My mother confided in my aunt and she gave my mother a prayer to put at the door – and this worked also! A man who was rumoured to dabble in evil always used to come and visit my stepfather but from the moment that prayer was put at the door he would make his excuses – he couldn’t come in!

After years of tears, arguments, rifts and fights my mother started becoming sick – her knees would seize up in the middle of the night, she lost all feeling on one side of her head and she developed a problem with her oesophagus that doctors said would kill her. My sister Sherene sent her a pillowcase from London and told her to sleep with it every night. We had so many problems that we didn’t question such a random gift. However, from the first night she used it, my mother slept all through the night, without attacks or insomnia.

In the meantime, I became rebellious. I locked myself in my room, crying, listening to music all day and depressed. I couldn’t get along with my stepfather anymore. Everything he did annoyed me and I took the opportunity to speak my mind. I was so rude. The last thing I remember is being on the floor, covering my head as he kicked and punched me. He was so angry with me. I hated him after that and hated my mother for staying with him. I started to think of ways that I could kill him…

I started to miss my real father (who had committed suicide when I was a baby). My family was so broken by now. My sisters were depressed – one was always ill and strange things would happen to her like movements in her room and the ceiling falling on her whilst she slept. And the other would stay out all night with friends, drinking, smoking, joining gangs and cutting herself.

In a bid to make my mum happy again, my stepfather sent her to London on holiday to see my sisters (who had stayed to finish their education). She came back a different person. She was happy; she had found something there that was worth selling up and going back for. My eldest sister had been attending the UCKG and praying for my family every Thursday. She told my mum that the Pastor had anointed the pillowcase for 7 weeks. She invited my mum to the UCKG and the first Pastor she met told her all of her problems just by looking at her!

When she returned to the Caribbean she sat my stepfather and I down and told us that she wanted to move back to London. She had found help.

We left everything and moved back to London because my mother wanted to go back to the place where she had found such peace. We started attending the church but couldn’t get past my grandparents’ lies and I couldn’t get past the huge grudge against my stepfather. After counselling and guidance from the Pastors and learning that God was actually alive and willing to help me if I used my faith, God pieced my family back together. One by one, they all started coming to the church and shed all the problems that plagued them. My relationship with my stepfather was restored once I learnt how to forgive.

Today my family have genuine peace. They are a blessing from God and every single one of us have had our own special experience with Him. Before this point, I imagined God as an old man sitting on a throne in heaven watching the world go by. How wrong I was! He is willing to help anyone who will act their faith in Him. Now, every time we laugh and joke and spend time in each other’s company, we remember where God has taken us from...

Trust Issues? Me?

My Parachute Jump!

My father committed suicide when I was just a few months old; my stepfather didn’t live up to his promises; and my fiancĂ© cheated on me. In fact, every man that has ever played a pivotal part in my life disappointed me in one way or another. As a result, I became thick skinned and independent… so, trusting God was never easy. The let downs made me stronger – so strong that I became self sufficient: dependent on my own labour and decisiveness to get me through. I didn’t want anything for free and I didn’t want a hero; my ‘DIY policy’ was the only way to avoid disappointment.

When I got to know God and His promise of being the Father I had never had and the husband that would love me unconditionally, it sounded great. The dream was beautiful but the harsh reality was that I wasn’t sure if I bought into it. I soon realised that although I wanted all of those things, I couldn’t get to the point of actually trusting Him to do them for me. My own father had killed himself when I was too young to remember and my stepfather wasn’t much better. I gained solace in my first love and transferred all of my neediness to him - only to receive it thrown back in my face. If I ever made a mistake or didn’t like something he did, he wouldn’t speak to me for days, sometimes weeks… so how could I trust that what this Man was saying was true?

Somewhere along the way, like a thief in the night, I had lost my belief in men. I had lost the belief that they would stick around when the going got tough or that they would carry out their promises or even that they would accept me back if I did wrong. Like a step child, I pushed God’s buttons to see if He would bail out like all the rest. I wanted to trust that He would reward me like He said but I would make sure that I worked for it – I didn’t want a freebie that could be snatched away. In my heart I wanted to let go and jump (!) into His hands but something was holding me back... I didn’t really trust Him at all. I questioned. I second guessed. I tried to earn the promises on my own merit. I tried to be ‘good’. I complained. I sulked. I cried to get pity. But I never trusted Him. I never trusted that He would be as wonderful as He promised or as faithful as I had hoped.

Well here I am today, still learning to trust God and taking it a day at a time. I tried it out and got somewhere and the fact that God ‘passed my tests’ amazed me and encouraged me to try it some more. One step at a time. When I pushed Him away, He stayed by my side and whispered words of encouragement. When I made a mistake and expected the backlash, He assured me that I could start over. When I have felt lonely, afraid, worried or anxious, He always provided me with a Word that made it all better again. His timing was always perfect; His patience outstanding and His care totally undeserved. He was in it for the long run… And when I tested what He said and put it into practice it worked! He was true to His Word!

One of the biggest lessons that I have learnt from Him was that surrounding myself with a bulletproof, tamper proof, barbed wire fence to protect myself wasn’t the way. I couldn’t be who I wanted to be singlehandedly and every day the unresolved issues that I carried were like worms, eating away at all that was good. My ‘DIY policy’ proved fallible because in the end I would even let myself down. Now what? Was I going to run away from me?

I had to face the issues and deal with the traumas of my past; (you know, the things that we hope God will make better but don’t want to come to terms with). I told Him things I would never share with anyone and He kept my secrets. He knew some of my biggest desires (some that I have never spoken about) and surprised me by fulfilling them! He gave without receiving anything in return and when I was horrible He still gave me a shoulder to cry on. It was time to give back…

The Oxford definition of trust is: Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. Since that realisation in my life, I have learnt to trust in God. Day by day I make a conscience decision to rely on Him for what I need and to depend on Him when I don’t get what I think I need. I have learnt to believe that He will do what He says He will, no matter how long it takes. He hasn’t failed me yet! But most importantly, I have learnt to sit in His hands and let Him guide me through this journey called life. Now I’m working on the next phase: lying down and falling asleep!