Saturday morning while enjoying a cup of tea on the couch in my loungeroom, I was looking at my white elephant … thinking about his upward gaze. Which somehow then took me back to a time in Zambia…
I was going into town on public transport by myself. I had done it many times before. I knew to carry my backpack on my front as a theft prevention tactic. But when walking through the streets, I never knew quite what to do when ‘suspect’ people coming towards me would stare me down. Should I stare them back? What if that provokes them? Maybe I should avert my eyes elsewhere?
A Zambian friend gave me the following points …
1) Always walk with your head up, bold and confident, like you know where you’re going…even if you don’t!
2) Never stop to read a map on the street, or carry it as you are walking, because that’s a sure sign you don’t know where you’re going, and makes you a possible target.
3) If you’re feeling lost or unsure, go somewhere safe and private to work out where you need to go. Then continue on your way.
4) Remember thieves are out there looking for an opportunity. And as a white woman traveling alone, you are a sure target!
5) So NEVER look away from the stare, but hold it. Because in looking away, they see and feel your fear, and if they are ‘suspect’ then you’ve just given them a taste of victory, and a reason to go through with their plan.
It’s interesting how this advice against possible theft on the streets of Zambia can be applied to preventing theft in our everyday lives, on the journey that is life.
1) Just like my white elephant, keep looking up … to God! Know the plan and the direction of your purpose, and walk in it boldly and with confidence. If you don’t know it, then ‘fake it till you make it’. You will discover it!
2) Never try to workout your journey on the street amongst the crowds. People can be unhelpful for a variety of reasons … we are all working out our own journey (because we all have stuff), while some may have ‘suspect’ motives.
3) Find that safe and private place, with God, a trusted friend, someone who ‘knows more’, to find your direction again, and then continue your journey boldly and confidently, with your head held high.
4) We all know people: who have died before their time through ill health or misadventure, who have not seen their dreams come to pass, who have been overcome by their circumstances and never recovered to live a full life . The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. Which means that mankind as a whole, is a target for theft of the life purpose we were made for on this journey of life.
5) When confronted by a stare, don’t let your eyes avert from it … because that’s when what you fear, can take you unaware. Looking away from a situation, doesn’t make it go away. Denial doesn’t fix it either. It’s still there staring you down, moving closer to you, seeing and feeling your fear, tasting it’s victory.
BUT INSTEAD Face your fear!
Keep your eyes open to what is confronting you and DON’T give in to possible ‘suspect’ motives. You’ll disarm them and they’ll either avert their stare, and / or walk on past you. But either way, if there was a ‘suspect’ motive, you will have thwarted it.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela.
“You don’t need to be fearless, you just need to be faithful.” Christine Caine.
So be faithful to yourself, the plan for your life, and the direction you need to take, in order to see the purpose for your life come to pass.
The drum: ‘Out of Africa’ Johannesburg. The print: The Women’s Market Kampala. The elephant: Ikea Melbourne.