To all the lovely aunties and uncles:
This year’s summer holiday has been wonderful. God blessed me with this opportunity to return to Uganda to be with my family and friends over the break. It has been a privilege to spend time with my people again, to breathe the air of home, and to go to the places I grew up on. I also finally got baptized this summer, and as I reflect over my journey for the past two years from studying in the Netherlands to now studying in Bristol, I praise him for all the lessons and experiences throughout has brought me closer to him.
I leave Uganda in a week (13th September) to return to Bristol to continue into my second year of studying English Literature in the University of the West of England. Nearing the end of the holiday season and edging back into “real life”, I’ve begun contemplating about my approach to the forthcoming year. Last year, I was full of passion and drive to become the best version of myself and to do many things and be successful as that was what I thought was an appropriate response of gratitude to all the miracles and blessings God gave me to have a fresh start in Bristol. I tried out different side hustles that didn’t work out, tested different future paths, but it all led me into an uncomfortable position of stasis. People my age are running businesses online and retiring their families, while I was still struggling to balance university and cooking three meals a day. People my age are boldly testifying God, yet I still get anxious when speaking about Jesus in front of non-believers. I gave myself a lot of pressure because I felt like I wasn’t enough and didn’t do enough, and every setback felt like I was wasting this once in a lifetime opportunity to start afresh that God so graciously blessed me with. Once again, I was stuck.
Praise God again that I was able to return to Uganda for the summer holiday. It felt like God saw my new set of struggles and plucked me out of Bristol and dropped me back home to have a good three months of rest. Being removed from that environment, my tunnel vision started to crumble, and I began to view everything that happened last year from a different perspective. I wanted to do so much, to be the best student in my course, to fit self-development and professional development into every spare minute I had, to serve as much as possible and involve myself with everything the church was doing, to excelling in the sports I was involved in, and much more. Without realizing it, I was burned out. The whole year was driven by a single thought that I had to do my utmost in everything and be the best in everything to show God how grateful I am, which ultimately left me exhausted and barely managing to scrape by and pass my studies.
Throughout the whole year I never stopped once to ask God what he wanted me to do. I did everything out of my own human wisdom. I served him how I thought would be the best way to serve, and never did ask Him how HE wanted me to serve. Recently I’ve been greatly encouraged by this quote that Elisabeth Elliot once said:“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” This thought has been very sobering to reflect upon. Do I truly pray that His will be done or do I subconsciously inject my own desires and aspirations into the prayer? All the hustling and the striving that I thought would be enough to please God really just hurt me in the end, as after all, even in my best work I need Jesus to sanctify me to be pleasing to God. So, in the end I’ve reached the understanding that the best way to reflect my love for God and to serve him is not through how I personally want to serve him, but to serve him how he wants me to serve, and to truthfully pray that “Thy will be done.” Entering into the next year in Bristol, I’ll no longer blindly charge forward, but instead focus on His voice and His direction. I’ll concentrate on my current priority, which is completing and graduating from university, but in everything else I’ll wait and let Him lead me forward.
To all the uncles and aunties and all fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter, and for your prayers and support. It truly is a blessing to know that behind me are the prayers of all of you pushing me forward. Such is the beauty of Christian community, and such is the joy of following him! I ask that you may continue to remember me in your prayers, praying that God continues to guide me and that I may continue to learn more about him and deepen my relationship with him.