On the night of the 21st of July 2012, after Friday Night Church at Urban Life Midrand, me and my girlfriend, Yolandi, were feeling a bit peckish. I decided that we should visit a KFC that I do not usually attend quite close to my house. Apparently they are open 24 hours a day (I am yet to confirm this fact, but it still happened to be open by half past ten…) so we decided to purchase a meal consisting of mostly fat and oil from their fine establishment to satisfy our hunger (albeit delicious and filling). But after ordering our meal consisting of mostly chicken, we were informed that Kentucky Fried Chicken had to prepare some more of their main ingredient: Chicken. How Ironic! But satisfied that a fast food chain like KFC was going to take another 15 minutes to prepare the chicken (yes the irony still isn’t lost on me), we scooted off to the nearest open parking spot and waited it out.
While we were standing outside the car, having some special bonding time, I observed from my peripheral vision a blessed fellow in his full workers outfit smiling at us. I smiled back and let it be. But God had different plans for us that night.
Not very long after, he gathered up the courage to approach us, and I, having grown up in South Africa, was slightly cautious of any stranger approaching me. But as it happens, he was only looking for the one item that most good natured smokers do not have: something to light his cigarette with. After lighting his cigarette, we got into a conversation that would just affirm my faith in the choices that I have made up to this point in my life, and the choices that I still plan on making in my life.
This man, who introduced himself as Norman, started talking to us about how hard life is, and how unfair life can be, and that we, in South Africa, need stable long term solutions instead of quick fixes. Norman did not at any point come over as a very learned man, but he did speak with a certain authority and wisdom that only comes from experience over many years, and I felt that he had gained this knowledge from years of personal struggle and sacrifice.
He continued on about how people like me and Yolandi are needed to think of long term permanent solutions to problems that South Africans face everyday instead of short term solutions that don’t end up changing anything, and that we must all be under God in order for this to happen. I was astonished by the wisdom and depth of insight that this man had, even though he, as I suspect, might not have had the best educational background.
But then he went into a very deep aspect that would just re-affirm my decisions that I had taken and the decisions that I would like to make in future. He told me how he had married a woman, had children with her, loved her and the children and took care of them. But one day things changed for them, and she demanded a divorce. He, as a man of God, talked to her and his pastor, and said that he had taken a vow in front of her and God that “till death do us part”. Her mind was made up and the divorce went through, although I believe if he could have stopped it he would have.
He told us that when love is perfect and that you make a vow, then that vow is forever. Just that small part of the wisdom he imparted on us hit me like a ton of bricks. I had spent years off of the path of righteousness, and over the course of the past two years, spent a lot of time soul searching and finding out who I was and who I wanted and needed to be in order to move on with my life. Finally during December of 2011 I managed to make my way back to God and live a much more honorable life.
After a quick prayer for Norman, he went on his way, we finally obtained our Chicken from a fast food chicken outlet and went on our merry way to consume said poultry. But still, Norman’s message stuck with me, and it made me reflect on how I have spent the past 2 years growing into the person I wanted to be. Especially the last few months where I have walked in God’s light can’t be overlooked in terms of personal growth. All of it was needed in order for me to become the man I am today, and even though I am by no means perfect, I am striving to be a better person every day.
I honestly believe that without God’s help I would not be able to have the amazing relationship that I have with my significant other, and that if I had not been through my past experiences to shape me and form me, that I would not be someone that Yolandi would deserve. Sometimes I still feel ashamed of my past, but it does not define me anymore. It is only lessons learned the hard way, and I have no intention of repeating them ever again.
So today I vow (remember, a vow is forever) that I will continue to walk in God’s amazing grace, that I will continue to try and become someone that is better than he is at that stage of his life, and that I will always be the best I can possibly be for my significant other.
Thank you for the insight Norman!