In today’s litigious society I begin today’s entry by proclaiming that the views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer. The purpose of these few words hereafter penned is to express some thoughts and ruminations I have had over the past few days.
Here in Barbados, we as a country still hold the Easter week sacred. There is still some solemnity and an air of reverence permeating the cultural atmosphere during this time. The school children still go to service on Ash Wednesday and many adults proudly bear the sign of the cross emblazoned in burnt carbon on their foreheads.
Most days I sit in traffic from home to anywhere else I have to go but there was an obvious dearth in the number of vehicles on our roads on Good Friday. And we all know the cultural practices to which our little island holds fast: not going to the beach during Easter especially on Good Friday; giving up some vice or other sacrificial offering for the season of Lent; choosing to eat fish instead of other delicacies; attending enough services to qualify for canonisation. My heart goes out to the organists and priests of the Anglican Church, who, in some cases, would have attended nearly ten services by the end of Holy Week.
I ‘grew up’ in church. As a matter of fact, my entire life revolved around church. I was one of those children that once the church door was flung open, my bottom was attached to one of the pews. Did I regret it at the time? No, because for me it was a norm. Do I regret it now? No, because I firmly believe that those years spent in church have fashioned my values, my ethics and shaped my character into what it has become.
I had no choice as a child or even as a teen whether I wanted to go to church or not. Never once has either my mother or father asked me IF I wanted to go to church. I am chuckling as I write because I find it unbelievable that there are many children in our country who are given that option. We do not ask our children whether they want to go to school or if they want to go town on Saturday so why should church be an option?
Religion and politics are two topics about which I have tried my best to write without causing upheaval. However, although one cannot claim to be a Christian and not express one’s beliefs, there is still the consideration of the rights of the readers who might not hold fast to the same beliefs.
Consequently, do I delicately balance on the fence of propriety and avoid stepping on toes and hurting feelings, or do I boldly declare that I believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Do I try not to offend those persons who do not believe in God and stay in my little corner and whisper my beliefs or do I share my faith with others? I hasten to add that for me sharing my faith is not shoving my belief system down the throat of another accompanied by frank refusal to hear his or her take on the matter. If someone did that to me I would be repulsed by whatever the individual was trying to sell me.
I believe, from the bottom of my heart, that the biggest witness we can share with anyone is the way we live. There is no perfect human being. From the moment we present ourselves as being holy, sanctimonious, pious and better than the average human being, we have set ourselves up for a fall from which chances of recovery are almost imperceptible.
I have made so many mistakes in my life. Many of them I cannot recall but I know that I have made many. As long as there is breath in me chances are I will make a mistake. I have made mistakes in parenting, in the way I relate to my spouse, in the way I have spoken to others or the thoughts I have had about people at one time or another. I have made mistakes in my faith by doubting God and His love towards me on innumerable occasions. However, I have chosen to forget those failures and press on to the mark of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus.
This is the way we must choose to live our lives. We must not let the past hold us back from achieving our full potential whether the goal be academic, professional, social or religious. We need to develop an unshakeable resilience that may momentarily bend, but never break. There is so much in life to which we, as individuals, unwittingly but incorrectly apportion blame. Surrounding us is a repository of examples of persons who have come back from dire life circumstances to shine again, and each of us should aspire to join that ‘cloud of witnesses’.
Our lives are the consequences of the choices we make, and the actions we take. It is important that we recognise that by not making a choice or deciding not to act, we, in effect, have chosen and acted. Whilst I choose to believe in God and His ability to intervene in the circumstances of my life, the path my life takes is still dependent upon my involvement in my life. Therefore, I cannot sit through my years and do nothing to positively impact my life, and by extension the lives of those with whom I come into contact.
The world needs people who are not afraid to change things for the better, but be warned that anything worth having is worth the hard work involved. Choose a cause and get involved in making the world around you the place you want to leave for your children and grandchildren.
(Rénee Boyce is a medical doctor, a wife, a mother and a Christian, who is committed to Barbados’ development. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org)