The year’s first meeting of Godllywood Self Help explored what thoughts and beliefs influence behaviour and decision making, asking women: which voices have you been listening to?
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The purpose of Godllywood Self Help is to encourage women to look at different areas of their lives and identify aspects which could be improved or changed to enable them to live as fulfilled and successful women of God. Each meeting motivates women to strive for, and achieve excellence in all they undertake, mentoring them to be exemplary role models in society.
Opening the meeting which was held in Johannesburg and live streamed to all provinces and neighbouring African countries, speaker Mrs Marcia Pires introduced the topic by saying that in order to change our behaviour, attitude and circumstances, we need to change our mind first, and make a decision to be willing to learn and grow.
One of the Universal Church’s first topics for the year is devoting 91 days looking at Psalm 91 which is typically seen as a psalm of protection, but on closer study one learns that in order to benefit from the promises contained in this psalm, it is essential to dwell in the secret place of the most high. Mrs Pires asked: “Are you dwelling in this spiritual place in all areas of your life or have you left the safety of God’s protection? You may not be aware that you have, but you cannot benefit from the promises if you do not remain in this secret place. As with any organisation, there are rules for belonging, and if we fail to abide by the spiritual requirements, we are no longer under His protection.”
Typically there are many influences on our daily lives – many voices which we may choose to accept or not. In order to fit in and feel that we belong in society, there is a temptation to succumb to peer pressure and fit in with the crowd. We may compromise our values just to please our families. We may prioritise our image, our reputation, our career or our relationship and justify this behaviour when deep down we know it is not right for us. Many women blame others for their circumstances or their behaviour saying: it would be different had I had that opportunity… if my boss was not so demanding… if my mother had given me a better start in life…when in reality, we are failing to accept responsibility for our choices.
In every situation there is a decision to be made: am I going to do what I know to be true and right for me, or am I going to follow the crowd and do what everyone deems acceptable?
Godllywood Self Help women were encouraged to ask themselves these questions: Do I believe I have to have a boyfriend to be complete? Is having a child before marriage essential to prove that I am a woman? Will having a child fulfil my needs? Do I need to follow the voices of society to be acceptable? Then they considered whether they really believed these statements, or whether they were the opinions of others which they had accepted. Mrs Pires said: “The more we listen to the voices and opinions of others, the less we are true to ourselves. Failure to follow your own inner voice, often leads to a life of compromise and misery.”
Mrs Pires said: Although there are many different voices which we hear and can choose to accept, they come from only two sources: either they are what God teaches us, or they are not.
Society uses voices around us to influence us and we may embrace those ideas without checking it against God’s word. Generalisations are dangerous and the more we hear sweeping criticism, the more likely we are to think that is our opinion, when in reality, we have not stopped to check it against what we know to be true. If you have been told you are shy, you may believe that of yourself instead of exploring whether you really are shy, or have you been compared with someone else and labelled shy? Your mother may have advised you not to trust a man but rather to be independent and develop your career. This negative perception of men is a common generalisation but the truth is that not every man is unfaithful or untrustworthy. You probably know that, but have you accepted society’s opinion and believe it to be your own?
Giving an example from her own life, Mrs Pires said she was the daughter of a single mother with no father figure who lived with her grandparents. From the age of two she believed she must be independent, must not be a burden to others, should not ask for help, could not share her problems and had to make a life for herself. She looked like a brave young person but she did not trust anyone. The voices of the world dominated her life and influenced her thoughts and as a result she made some poor choices. She never stopped to question these ideas and to consider what was ruling and guiding her life. Although she was a member of the church, she thought God was not resolving her problems, but actually she had not asked for help because she felt she could not trust anyone, not even God. Only when she began to question where the voices had come from, did she realise she had not asked what God’s will for her life was. She was not living according to God’s rules and was not dwelling in the safety of His protection.
She cautioned: Outside voices strain your faith. The more you fill your ears with the things of the world, the less you hear God. You fall into the pattern of behaving in a way that you are not comfortable with, often as a result of peer pressure. We go along with the crowd, failing to ask: Do I really like this? Is it right for me? Be careful not to live your life based on the opinions of others. Too often we make decisions or act based on the voices around us. Our opinions are shaped by family, friends and society, but not by the word of God. We want the promises of Psalm 91 to be fulfilled in our lives, but we are not listening to the voice that can protect us. To be protected, we need to listen to His voice and follow His guidance.
In closing, Mrs Pires said: “Every day we are challenged with decisions. Whose voice is guiding you? If we glorify God in our decisions, we will remain in His shelter and His blessings will follow. Be true to yourself. Decisions based on the word of God will not fail. Return to the shelter and remain there. Before you make any decision, ask: Whose voice am I hearing?”
The next meeting of Godllywood Self Help will be in April. Everyone is welcome to attend.
For further information, please contact the church’s public relations department on 011 224 3400 or az.gro.gkcu@rp