Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where Rainbows Meet

The care project was our second week in Cape Town. After just a couple of afternoons wrangling just a few kids on the Building Project site, I think we were all genuinely worried about how we were going to cope with this week.

It was Monday morning when we arrived. There was a new batch of kids - mostly under 5, the older ones having been successfully placed in schools - and this was the kids' second week at the creche. So we were greeted with a room full of crumpled faces as wails filled the air while children cried for their mums.

Well I think some of them were crying for their mums, some of them were just crying because everyone else was and they didn't want to feel left out. Though the sound was overwhelming, it definitely pulled on my heart strings. The children were all sitting around tables and being given crayons and paper to draw on and settle in. Without much instruction we were all told to go and join a table and interact with the kids.

I was actually surprised at how quickly I felt comfortable working with the kids, though I'm not a kindy or primary school teacher and haven't even worked with this many small children. I thought I would be hopeless because I did work experience in a Kindy for a few days once, and didn't really enjoy that at all.

But a few little crying children were breaking my heart at how distressed they looked, so I went over and held one girl on my lap who was wailing loudly. And sat beside another little boy who was sitting quietly, but bewildered with a few tears leaking out of his eyes.

After picking up so many crying children, I've got the sway, bounce and pat move down.

During that morning I noticed all the different little personalities of the kids - like some who went crazy drawing giant scribbles on their paper or colouring furiously, to those who draw tiny delicate lines like they were trying to write words. Then there were those who drew on everyone's paper but their own. Or those who didn't draw on paper at all, but were happier rolling their crayon across the table and laughing when it fell on the floor.

And though I'm no expert, I think there were a lot of little things that would not be normal for kids with regular safe and happy lives. Over the day, and over the week, many of the children who had been crying on the first day settled in and were seen smiling and playing later on. But there were a few who remained crying all week, and couldn't handle being put down or left alone. Even sadder though, were the ones who were unresponsive. No tears, but no smile either. No reaction to tickles, to music even when everyone else was dancing. Some were always tired - falling asleep in their chairs even first thing in the morning.

I am glad they had this place to come to, and I hope that by the end of their time here they will have had enough positive interactions to give them a bit more hope and security, no matter what their lives are like at home.

The two guys running the place were inspirational - young, probably my age or younger - but with so much energy and patience for the kids. And they don't have any formal training, but are doing their best to care for and teach these kids so that they will have a better chance of being successful when they get to school age.

The week - or actually only four days because we flew out on the Friday - did wear us out, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The kids were adorable and we all had a few we wanted to bring home with us. I have to admit that I looked for someone else to take over when the kids were calling for help from the toilet, or had wet their pants. And if we had been there longer I think we would have felt like we made more of a difference, because we may have been able to work out some programs or teaching activities to run with the kids. But as it was we were just kid wranglers while we were there, really. Many of the kids spoke only Afrikaans or Xhosa and little, if any, English so it was hard to communicate with them sometimes. Except in the language of kid, of course : laughter, energy and noise.

But I know from my own life that one person can make such a difference, so if any one of those kids look back and even just have a vague memory of that time in their life when these people played with them and seemed to care about them (not just us, but any of the volunteers going through) then I'll be happy.

This project seemed very successful, which I think caught the girls by surprise. In volunteering I think many people think that all the places you go are going to be completely poverty stricken and be desperate for any help you can give. But this place was run like a business - they also had a Business Project running out of the office to support local business - and they were obviously well networked to receive donations and help to feed all the children and get teaching materials.

For some people the success of the project might be offputting, when their perceptions of what volunteering was going to be like are not met, because they might feel like "Was I really needed here? They seem to be doing fine."

But I hope people don't get complacent about places that look successful and think they no longer need help - I think it is a testament to the strong leadership and passion of the people running the place. And if people stop helping because they think projects like this are fine now, they won't keep being successful for very long.

My only worry is that for kids whose lives are so unstable at home, having volunteers come and go all the time might be unsettling for them. But I hope the benefit to them will outweigh any negatives. They are definitely better off - getting some education and getting fed well - than if the project wasn't there at all.

All children are precious, and I feel all emotional again thinking about them all and looking at their beautiful faces in the pictures. And I am grateful for their innocence. To remind us what joy is. And that it protects them, so that it is not too late to give them hope and a chance at a brighter future different to what their parents have. I hope they get this at Where Rainbows Meet.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10

Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. Genesis 9:16 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Building Project, Cape Town, South Africa

I'm not sure where it comes from - perhaps Aussie Cricketers it has been suggested - but Australians don't seem to have the best reputation in South Africa. More than once when we answered the question "Where are you from?" with "Australia" we were met with a flat and doubtful "Oh."

And being a group of six females, and Australian, I think everyone was worried we were going to a difficult bunch. Fortunately, by the feedback we got, they were impressed with us and so you can thank us for what we've done to improve the image of women and Australians everywhere!

The building project is in a township called Village Heights and is part of a plan to build a community centre to feed and care for children and adults in the area. We were working on sandbag structures, which consist of filling fabric sacks with sand and sealing them sort of like folding over a pillow case. When filled the sandbags are about the equivalent of three bricks side by side. These are stacked up inside a simple timber frame and then plastered over to form strong, insulating and fire retardant walls. Everything, apart from the frame and the roof, and some timber cladding, uses sand. The bags, the cement, the plaster. And sand is a cheap option considering there was literally tonnes and tonnes of it just lying outside the back door. Much of what is now land in Cape Town used to be sea bed, so there is sand everywhere.

From the back of the project. The wooden building on the left is a library - the cement building on the right is the beginning of the community centre which we helped to plaster. Closer to the fence in front of the cement building, we started lay the foundation for the first plumbed toilet in the whole township.

When we arrived at the project, we were all a bit worried about how we were going to go. We thought we might be met with a group of people, probably males, who all knew what they were doing and were going to look down on a group of females getting in the way. But as it turned out, we actually really enjoyed the whole process and did more work than they seemed to expect of us. Filling sand bags could become tedious, but plastering and cementing were fun. Practise icing cakes and you can get good at plastering and screeding.

Filling sandbags

Plastering a wall

Cleaning up

The volunteers already on site were welcoming, and I didn't feel like they thought we were in the way - although with six of us, anywhere we go gets crowded and so we probably took away some of their work.

There probably wasn't quite enough work to go round with amount of people now on the project, as well as the fact that the project manager was very caring and concerned, always asking us if we needed a break and telling us not to work too hard. To us, though, the weather was pleasant, not hot. And with six of us to carry the load we hardly felt we'd broken a sweat before they were telling us to take a break.

Some days there wasn't much more to do by the middle of the day, as we had to wait for more materials or wait for cement to dry. So sometimes we went home early, or stayed around and played with the children that were running around. There were five children in the family whose home we were building out the back of, as they ran the community centre. And neighbouring children would often be dropping around. The boys spent their time running, jumping on our newly filled sandbags, or fighting with eachother in play but with enough force I was suprised they didn't break eachother. The girls spent their time plaiting our hair. And they all spent time 'helping' us fill and carry sand bags, or taking our cameras to take and look at photos of themselves.

They were all very cute, but far more tiring than any of the building work (which had us a bit worried for the following week at the care - when it is ALL children.)

The family living there welcomed us, and when we left they gave us a heartfelt letter thanking us for what we had ahcieved, even though we'd only been there a short time. They gave the letter to me to read out loud to everyone, but I had to pass it on to someone else when I started crying halfway through.

We wished we could have stayed longer there, and I really hope the rest of the building goes successfully. It was great to see someone who actually lives in the community so dedicated to helping those around them and I was glad that we could be a part of supporting them.

We were taken for a bit of a walk around the township - only safe to do when we were with Bernie and Edward - the people that lived there. It is dirty, with rubbish and dogs everywhere, but people have created homes and gardens out of what we would think of as scrap. I think we probably didn't get a complete view of what it's really like. We were only there during the day, and with a family who were helping others. So we didn't see what it was like to really live there - with no plumbed toilets, no running water except a central tap. We didn't see the families affected by drugs, and the children left to fend for themselves on the street all day. (Not many photos of the township itself as it's a bit dangerous to carry your camera around, plus you don't want to make the people living there feel like they're in a zoo.)

The children we saw were happy - as least as far as we could see. But I think we maybe got a false sense of security from what we saw. Children are resilient, particularly when they are young. 

As well as helping with the building, I think another benefit of the project is that it brings volunteers from all over the world and draws the attention of the local people. When they starting asking "Who are all those white people at your house?" and Bernie gets to tell them about what they are doing and why they are here, people who have lived all their lives in a township and often never even been to the beach though it is ten minutes away, start to hear about a bigger world out there and find out that the world out there has people in it who care about them. That, I hope, will give some of them hope of a broader future, at least for their children and the future generations, if not for them.

Wild Views

At 8.30 Sunday morning we were picked up by Waahid, Son of Archi, our taxi driver from Saturday, to go on a day trip to Cape Point, stopping at a few other places along the way. It was great to drive along the coast and see some pretty parts of the areas around Cape Town.

We first stopped a place called Hout  ('Howt') Bay, and walked on the beach and a wharf, with some interesting boats of all shapes and sizes, and some crazy looking kelp. Were definitely in the richer areas, with a majority of white people around, some getting ready for a morning sail.
We then drove up higher, in an arc around Hout Bay to a place called Chapman's Peak. This was opposite the beach we had just been on and was a beautiful view back over the bay. Setting up a stall there was a man with animals constructed of beaded wire - giraffes and elephants, a lion, starfish, and little South African flag and turtle keyrings. They were so cute and so we all bought a souvenir. We didn't really take advantage of the opportunity to haggle, but all things considered they weren't expensive anyway. The guy seemed nice and we were happy to pay. He said they were hand made by him, though we saw very similar things at different stalls later on in the day, so wondered for a moment if we fell victim to a tourist trap. But they are handmade and all a bit different, and just seem like a popular thing to make so we like them anyway.
From Chapman's Peak we kept driving on to Cape Point. You pay to get into the park and then drive up to a little complex with a restaraunt, souvenir shop (to waste another hour or so!) and a little train up to a light house.

We bought pizza from the shop and by a sign warning us that Baboons are attracted by food, we sat and ate our food. No ferocious Baboons appeared, but a little striped mouse tried to steal my pizza and birds that swooped in to grab any leftovers. We did see Baboons on the road to Cape Point however, being chased down the road away from people.

After another mandatory stop in the gift shop, we began our walk down to the Cape of Good Hope, the most South-Westerly point of Africa. I say down, which it was along a boardwalk for most of the way, with amazing views, but it wasn't completely plain sailing. Our driver was meeting us at the bottom so that we didn't have to walk back up again, but then we came to a fork in the path and had to make our best guestimate as to which direction was the right one. Then the path started to go up again, and climbing up generally isn't the best way to get to the bottom. We may have almost turned back if it wasn't for some helpful hikers who informed us we could go up and over, and there was a path down on the other side.


I was glad that we didn't climb Table Mountain if just for avoiding the amount of complaining that would have happened, as was happening on this short walk. But really I think they all actually enjoyed it, and the views were worth it.

One the way out of the park we saw Ostriches on the side of the road, and then headed to Boulder's Beach to see the Penguins, and then another stop at a gift shop. Somehow we've managed to make purchases at every souvenir or gift shop we've stopped at since we've been here.

We were exhausted by the end of the day, but happy to have seen the views  of Cape Point  and the unexpected encounters with the wildlife along the way.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tables and Mountains

As soon as there is a good day, go to Table Mountain. The cable car that runs to the top shuts down when it gets windy, and most of us weren't keen on walking up so Saturday morning came and it was sunny, good visibility and zero wind so we seized our opportunity.

Actually, I should use the word 'seized' as that gives the impression of - 'right lets go' and we're out the door. It went more like this
"What are we doing today?"
"I dunno."
"We should do something."
"What's the weather like?"
"Dunno. Haven't been outside"
"I think its sunny."
10 minutes later.
"So what are we doing?"
"Maybe we should go to Table Mountain if its good weather."
20 minutes later.
"Is Table Mountain open?"
"Dunno, I'll check" *Checks Website* "Looks the perfect day to go."
"Should we go then?"
"Is everyone even awake yet?"

By the time we got out of the house that day it was about 12 noon.

But it was a perfect day for table mountain, and the views were amazing. It was a fairly hot day but not unbearable. I for one have no regrets at all in taking the cable car both up and down the mountain instead of walking. It's not lazy, it's an efficient use of our time - meant we could spend quite a while up there walking around on the top getting views from every angle, raiding the souvenir shops and getting our first South African sunburn.

Our friendly driver, Archi, who took us there and picked us up again took us through the city so he could point out things to us, and we found out he does day trips to Cape Point, so we booked in Sunday's activities.

When we got home, more volunteers appeared to stay with our host families. It got a bit overwhelming after a while, for everyone involved I think! It seemed like the Mary Poppins bag of houses, with new people just constantly appearing from every nook and cranny.

It as a hostel feel, like ones in England or Europe, when you walk into a room there could be any number of languages and accents going at once. We still dominate the Australian tally, but we're sharing the house with Africans, Dutch, Irish, Americans and Germans. I don't think I missed anyone in there. Oh, one of the Germans is half Spanish, so I guess that counts as another one.

We got home from Table Mountain, rested for a while, and then sat down at the table talking to the other volunteers. The procession of food started, beginning with afternoon tea/dessert and continuing right through tea(dinner) and we stayed sitting at the table so long some people even ate second tea an hour or two later.

Then we rolled off to bed and slept off the mountains of food, but with good memories from Table mountain. There's a theme to this day....tables and mountains.

Arriving in Cape Town

So beginning a run down of the first three days in Cape Town from my sun addled, jetlagged memory. Already got my first minor sunburn - even with applying sunscreen, I missed just the right spots to get singlet strap lines on each shoulder.

Anyway, our first day found us arriving at early in the morning (though it felt like it should be night time) and being taken to our host family accommodation. Our driver who picked us up from the airport gave a lot of good advice and information, of which I remember none. Other than him saying, don't keep your camera out all the time looking like a tourist. And he always gets someone to sit in the front of the van, so we look less touristy, which had me wondering if I should be worried about people coming up to the car. And consequently I was too nervous to take pictures for the half the day.

We safely reached our accommodation, and right away we met many people, our host mother and other volunteers staying here too, and right away we forgot who everyone was.

But we got our rooms, and as the privileged "teacher" I have a room to myself, while the girls are sharing in and group of three and a pair.

Our host mother is extremely welcoming and has hosted volunteers almost non-stop for years, and as the owner of a catering business, is very generous with food!

We are sure she is from Hansel and Gretel and fattening us up. Her husband is Ghandi - not just kind of resembles him, but in a picture you would, and we did, actually mistake him for Ghandi.

We all had very welcome showers, and our second and third breakfasts for the day. (One on the plane, one when we arrived at the host family's house, and a third we other volunteers got out of bed so that they didnt have to eat alone!)

I think we all would have liked to sleep at this stage, but we were picked up a little later by a guy from Projects Abroad - picked up on foot that is, to be taken on a tour of the public transport, a few shopping areas, and the Projects Abroad office.

But this is not your standard public transport - the first leg consisted of piling into a minibus taxi which holds fifteen passengers at a time and has a loosely set route but few set pick up zones. It just drives and honks at people, and a guy leans out the window and asks if people want a ride. These people then in turn indicate how many of them they are - say by holding up three fingers. Then we either stop wherever we happen to be at the time on the side of the road and they pile in. Or if there's no room we keep on driving. All the while with music pumping. Adherence to the road rules seems to be of secondary concern, but everyone knows this and watches out for the minibus taxis, as they won't be watching out for you.

This was an iteresting experience for the minibus itself, and for the streets and view of Cape Town it took us through - parts you would probably never see as a regular tourist unless you perhaps made a wrong turn somewhere. The set up of the streets reminded of me of the type of houses on the street that Billy Elliot lived on in the movie. Except relpace the brick houses with ramshackle tin and iron. Replace the footpaths with dirt. The white British people with black South Africans. And add a bit more rubbish.

Then was the train leg of our trip. Not dissimilar to trains anywhere, but a little more graffittied than trains at home. All of this was run through and paid for by our Projects Abroad guide, but at a pace that didn't have time to sink in to our sleep deprived brains. We've yet to attempt that journey on our own.

We met the staff at Projects Abroad office, who were friendly and welcoming, and again went through information that wasn't retained, but gave us an orientation pack, and basically we know we just have to be ready for pick up at 8.30 Monday morning to be taken to the building site where we begin our project.

Lunch was also provided for us, and we were dropped back home by the same train and minibus route, although the mini bus taxi was much more sedate this time.

Though we'd already eaten three breakfasts and a big lunch, we had another generous amount of food for tea. We had considered the idea of going to the soccer at the big stadium that was built here in Cape Town for the World Cup. But weren't sure where to get tickets, and decided that two days without proper sleep was long enough and went to bed fairly early instead.

It was an insightful start to our time here, and though some of the girls felt a bit nervous initially at their first impressions, have come to realise that it is not a place to be afraid of, but a place that can be appreciated for it's diversity and contrast. It is easy to quickly fall in love with South Africa.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Even the Dogs Have Street Smarts

The main word that comes to mind for Cape Town is 'Contrast'. From the mountains dominating the sky line, to the houses and people in the streets.

Lining the highway from the airport, townships stretch for kilometres, mish-mashes of corrugated iron put together to form rough housing. It's free for them to live there . So much of the new housing that has been built right next door to the township stands empty, because those they would have to pay to live in.

On the roads side by side with regular new cars you would see in any city, drives a ute with five people piled into the tray. Walking down the street of our host family, several old rattly cars drive by, rusted and with patches and replaced panels in different colours. Then just seconds later, a shiny BMW convertible passes us.

From the outside it looks like any other city, but on the outskirts, in the back streets, and even just across the road we see the evidence of very different ways of life.  Weaving through some backstreets crammed into a minibus taxi with our Projects Abroad guide, the six of us, and then whoever else waived down the taxi, I suppressed tears watching the way people were living in some parts - rough corrugated housing, rubbish dumped on the side of the road, right next to a sign that says "No Dumping", and this is not even in the townships. But I wasn't moved by feelings of pity, but just at watching children playing on the side of the road, women gossiping over their back fences. They weren't pitiful. They were living their lives they way they know them. And I was saddened by the fact that nobody knows about them. I don't think most people outside of South Africa, or even outside of the Western Cape, know what Cape Town is like beyond the tourist destinations. I definitely didn't.

There are definitely problems of generations of unemployment and the history of these areas, and all the issues that go with that. And while we come here intending to help, I think the biggest thing we'll leave with is inspiration and with a new appreciation and perspective on humanity.

Driving along the street on our way to be dropped at our host family, one of many stay dogs crossed the busy road in front of us. Rather than blindly crossing and dodging cars, he waited before crossing. Then he stopped in the middle and waited for the traffic coming the other way before continuing his journey safely  to the other side.  They know what they're doing.

Minibus Taxi

Come Fly With Me

International air travel is one of those things I love and loathe at the same time.

First of all the loathes:
I can't sleep properly on planes.  The food is touch and go, but you eat it anyway to pass the time. There is constant droning noise. Your seats are cramped and there are only so many new positions you can move into to get comfortable.

If you're on the aisle you can get out to go to the toilet easier, but you get climbed over by others and are in danger of having your elbows and knees knocked by food carts and other people if your limbs happen to stray out of the safety zone while you are sleeping (or trying to sleep.)

If you're in the window seat you get to lean against the wall, and can see out the window. But you are often trapped, or have to upset others every time you want to get out.

Wherever you sit, a few tips:
  • Bring travel sickness tablets - as one of the girls on our trip will testify, 7 hours seems a lifetime when you are ill the whole way.
  • Use a squishy neck pillow...
 The squishy neck pillow may not deflate to fit in luggage easily, but it has no plastic seams to scratch your neck and moulds into various shapes.

  • ....eye mask....
 Eye masks are a must as the plane schedule of light and dark may not fit your need for sleep. For example, it seems even if you board the plane at 1.30 in the morning they will still serve you a meal, and this means switching on the lights to eat lunch in the middle of the night...

  • ....And ear plugs. Some people don't like sticking squishy foam plugs in their ears, but I find it helps so much to just distance yourself from the noise. Because there is always noise. Wooshing toilets flushing. Babies crying (I feel sorry for the parents who can't just take the baby for a walk outside and so together we all just have to feel desperately trapped.) The constant droning hum of the engines, or air, or airconditioning, or whatever it is. While grasping for a tiny bit of elusive sleep, ear plugs can help just fade the noise into the back ground.

But I did say I also love air travel. It's perhaps strange kind of love, as some of the things to loathe also make it exciting and interesting and an adventure.

It's a strange kind of limbo you enter once you board the airplane, and spend often more than a whole day travelling through a kind of timeless, artificial space. When the pilot said "We'll be arriving at 7pm in the morning" that pretty much sums up how we feel about time.

The airport never closes, and is always bright and shiny. Things like pretty toilets, rate-our-toilet touch screens, photo booth walls and robotic leg massagers give you a funny kind of joy. And don't get me started on driverless skytrains and free charging booths for mobile phones! And it's a place where lying on the floor in the middle of a room in front of strangers is totally acceptable.

 And where dancing your 'national' dance with a funny little old Singaporean man (who may or may not have worked for the airport...and I lean toward the latter) playing the radio in his pocket while waiting in line to board at your gate is.....well, that's just as weird as it would be anywhere else.

But that's the beauty of international air travel. You are detached and floating in a different world, while bonded by sleep depravity, delirium, bad food and a common destination with hundreds of others who you'll never speak to and probably never see again.

What's not to love? :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

South Africa Here We Come

I'll be posting a few blogs about our Volunteer Trip to South Africa when I get the chance....very little to say now, other than it is still another 24 hours at least before I get to sleep in a bed....

At least Singapore Airport is entertaining!

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shepherds and Wisemen

(A belated Christmas inspired post.)

Jesus was a gift to the world, from God.

Often we have trouble accepting that gift, because we feel undeserving, or we're not in the right place yet, or don't know enough about what it's all about.

But the thing with that is, God didn't put any qualifiers on the gift. He didn't say, "once you've worked out all the answers, and know the right lingo, and have your life sorted out, then you can come to me."

He meets us where we are and uses what we know to lead us to Him.

Take the shepherds who were watching their sheep when an angel came to tell them about Jesus.  (Luke 2:8-20) They were out doing their thing, when God sent messengers to meet them where they were. Before that, they didn't have to find out on their own where they were meant to be. They weren't even looking for it - God came to them and told them about Jesus.

He met them where they were at, and led them to where they needed to be.

The Wisemen weren't even nearby - but they were looking. (Matthew 2:1-12). They were searching for something they'd heard about but they were looking in the wrong places. But God used what they knew to lead them in the right direction - he used a star, which they knew (possibly being astrologers), to lead them to Jesus.

He used what they knew, and led them to the truth.

So whatever you feel like you do or don't know, whether you feel like  you're nearby but not sure where to look, or if you feel like you're searching but in all the wrong places - trust that God will meet you where you're at and use what you know to lead you to Him.

And if you are concerned about others who don't seem to be in the right place or seem far away from finding God - preoccuppied with their lives or into things that seem to be taking them in the wrong directions - trust that He is in control. The shepherds weren't even looking - but God sent them a message in a big way. The Magi were looking in the wrong places - but God led them to the right place.

God meets us where we're at, and uses what we know. But the second part of that?  He then uses that to LEAD us. That requires us to move. So when God meets you where you're at, no matter where that is - respond! Get up and move. Let him lead you.

 He'll meet you where you are, but then he wants you to get where you're supposed to be - and that's closer to Jesus.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Inhibitions - Lose them or Use them?

I suspect many people would expect to find a blog on inhibitions being about how to let go of them.

I'm actually talking about the opposite.

To inhibit means to suppress or limit something.

It is often thought of negatively as in:
"The chains around his ankles inhibited his movement and kept him locked in his cell."

We see inhibitions as a kind of prison, keeping the real us inside.

We see losing our inhibitions as a good thing - letting loose, getting a bit out of control, 'letting our hair down' - we feel like sometimes trying to be in control of our lives all the time gets draining, and letting go for a while is a relief. That's why alcohol is so popular. It strips away our inhibitions, and for that time we get the sensation of being free from any kind of pressure.

There's a Black Eyed Peas song that puts perfectly the feeling that a lot of us have towards losing our inhibitions. (Lets Get it Started)

But what if you consider it another way.

  • "The bandage inhibited the flow of blood from the wound saving his life."

  • "The life saving medicine inhibited the growth of the cancer."
  • "The thick walls inhibited the effect of the bullets so all of the children inside stayed safe."

Maybe we should be thinking of inhibitions as being protective. They are there to remind us what is safe/unsafe or sensible/embarrassing.

Whether alcohol induced or not - perhaps just sugar induced or peer pressure induced - we can all think of times when we've done or said something that has come back to haunt us. It could be through embarrassing photos or stories or ways we've offended people or damaged our reputation.

This is where the excuses come in:

- "I was drunk". As to that excuse, lets not forget who chose to drink the alcohol. That's you. And did the alcohol cause your body to take off your clothes and run through the yard naked? Did the alcohol choose to hook up with a random guy? No, the alcohol stripped away your protective inhibitions and let you feel like those choices didn't matter. But it all comes back to you, and your choice to do those things.

- "I don't care what people think of me."

Not caring what others think is good sometimes when it means sticking to what you know is right even if others are against you. Or when it means not being afraid to be yourself.

But not caring what others think to the extreme is damaging. The reason we care what others think of us sometimes is because often if we know most people would think what we're doing is wrong or stupid it alerts to the fact that we may be making a bad choice.

If you are completely uninhibited it's like turning of the smoke alarms and burglar alarms in your house. You might not know there's a problem until your house is already up in flames and robbed of everything valuable. (Ie your self respect, values, integrity, dignity, reputation, virginity, money, depth of relationships...)

People say " if you don't run your own life someone (or something) else will".

What is even more true is -  If you don't give God control of your heart, your heart will control you.

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." Jeremiah 17:9

We want to loose our inhibitions and go with whatever we feel like in the moment because it feels like a relief and its a moment of feeling good without having to worry about anything else. Being in control of everything in our lives is tiring.

But life is not meant to be something you struggle through just to escape it on Friday and Saturday nights. We are living under the lie that life is a burden and something we have to be in control of.

The truth is, God is in control. Of everything. That doesn't mean he's controlling you like a puppet - it means "Relax, he's got it covered."
Things going wrong? Relax, he's holding all the pieces. He's holding you.

We give up control to so many things - alcohol, drugs, other people - but for some reason we resist giving up control to God. God - our creator, our father, or saviour and protector.

Trust that God is good. God wants good things for you. God loves you. Truly loves you.

When we can really believe this, then life stops being a burden and a struggle, and starts being exciting and energising. I don't even just mean when everything is going right. Whatever is happening, when we truly believe God is in control we can walk through any storm with confidence and assurance. We can see hardships as challenges and opportunities. We can see the good things as amazing blessings.

Inhibitions are just another gift from God, protecting us and reminding us that there are boundaries. But when we let God set the boundaries, we actually find real freedom.