Thirty-three-year-old Righteous Chawane grew up in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, South Africa and knew as a child that she was destined to serve. The first of five children born to Dr. Ray and Pastor Precious Chawane, the desire to serve didn’t fall far from the tree.
“I am a kindhearted person who is passionate about people,” Righteous told The Weight She Carries. “I think this started when I was still young. I wanted to study to be a social worker, but I didn’t know why. I did my research when I was in Grade 11 or 12, and I realized that social workers don’t get paid much. I opted for another course that would pay me [better] and take me where I wanted to be quicker than waiting that long.”
While Righteous took a different route academically, she noticed that when she started working, people were drawn to her, and her colleagues often came to her to talk about issues they were facing.
“I didn’t know that was my calling,” she said. “People would come to me for advice when I was still a girl – 24 or 25. They would just come to me to speak. I just thought it was something that I liked doing – listening to people, praying for them.”
What she couldn’t have known then was that a painful experience in her life would later become a means for her to reach even more people.
With both parents called to full-time ministry, Righteous’ and her siblings spent a lot of time in church, singing and participating in Sunday School Class, which created a love for God deep within her.
“[My parents] gave us the greatest gift which is to know God. My grandmother played a huge role of looking after me while my parents were erecting churches,” she said. “Life was not easy at all, but my parents worked very hard to create a better future for me and my siblings.”
As each year came and went, the pressure to get married from people around her and at church mounted.
“The beautiful thing about my family and my parents is that they are very modern in a way. I grew up in a very beautiful environment…I never felt the pressure from them,” she said. “At home, my dad and my mum were not pastors, they were parents. But the pressure from other people to marry was there.”
“I remember at 27 when I felt so much pressure, my parents called me and advised me [saying] that I needed to stop caring about what people think or say. This was my life and I would end up making mistakes if I tried to please them. But when you’re a human being, you feel like, ‘I need to prove people wrong. I need to make my parents happy and proud.’”
There was a man in the picture. In fact, he had been in her life for a long time and her best friend for five years. They talked daily and he eventually expressed a romantic interest in her.
“I once heard people saying, marry a man who loves you more than vice versa. The fact that my hubby pursued me since [I was] 14 and the way he treated me during our courtship convinced me that it was a right thing and he was the one,” she said. “I also prayed about it, but my mind was already clouded by the love, gifts and attention he was giving me.”
“I had the most beautiful relationship in the first months of our courtship. My husband looked after me, provided for me and became the man that I pictured in my dreams. He agreed to wait for sex until we get married. When we got engaged, things changed. I choose to ignore the red flags, thinking it was the devil.”
Following a year of courtship, the two were married in a lavish wedding on April 28, 2017. It was an extravagant affair.
The newlyweds set off for their honeymoon but Righteous quickly learned something was very wrong. Her husband, it seemed, had no desire to be intimate with her despite waiting until marriage for sex. Instead, he became irritated by just about everything she did. Suddenly, she was too talkative, he told her.
“I looked at that as being the devil trying to distract me. Therefore, I hoped and I prayed and believed people who said that the first year is rough. I believed that it would pass and it was just a phase. I kept believing that the man I fell in love with would come back to his senses and we would be happy. I took it as a challenge for me being a prayerful woman; I need to pray about it.”
Perhaps things would improve after the honeymoon, Righteous thought. They didn’t.
“When you’re married to somebody and they don’t look at you, they don’t speak to you, they don’t pick your calls, they shout at you…it’s like you just met somebody new whom you didn’t know. You look at this person and you wonder what has really happened,” she said.
His behaviour didn’t make any sense to Righteous and he became like an enemy to her. On occasion he would answer her calls and have a laundry list of complaints about her.
“He would answer the phone and tell me that I don’t have a vision, I don’t know what I want in life, he won’t be able to teach me what he should because I don’t know what I want. It was really rough and complicated,” she said. “I was in a hot fire that I could not explain. Those were the toughest days of my life.”
Righteous realized that she was in over her head and she needed to change her perspective in order to fight this battle.
“He hated almost everything about me. The fact that we became strangers frustrated me to the core. I overcame through prayers. I educated myself to do things differently,” she said. “Instead of praying for him to change, I started to pray for God to change me and make me understand him. Only God could change him, not my nagging or our fights.”
Despite doing everything within her power to save her marriage, her husband left her on September 11, 2017 – after just five months of marriage. Righteous was heartbroken.
“It felt unreal. I never thought of ending my marriage since I believed we would win whatever we were facing. When he opted to leave, it was one of the deepest pains to ever experience. But since it was his decision to leave, I had to accept it for my sanity.”
Righteous felt the shame of a failed marriage and worried about what people would say. She had desperately wanted to keep fighting for her marriage, but that was no longer possible.
“I was worried about my parents’ reputation; I was worried about how the situation would affect them. After he left, I had to pick myself back up and be positive,” she said. “The devil would bring suicidal thoughts, but I went back to God. I had to decide that regardless of what was happening, carrying on is what I had to do.”
While the rejection was utterly painful, Righteous relied on her faith to pull through. She also made the bold decision to open up about her story in 2018, on what would have been her 1 year wedding anniversary.
“That was when I realized that I’m called for this because when I posted about my marriage failure, most people came out and told me that they were going through the same thing,” she said.
People were drawn to the fact that she kept smiling despite her pain. That was the beginning of a ministry. She founded an organization called “The Fix with Righteous” with the motto: my past does not define me but my future does. She uses her platform to reach out to others who are broken and need to be fixed by God.
“That’s when I discovered my purpose. I’m actually called to serve people,” she said.
Today, Righteous focuses on supporting those in need of encouragement and continues to reach people through her YouTube channel (The Fix With Righteous). She is determined to continue to seek God’s will for her life and is applying some of the valuable lessons she learned from her marriage:
- “Never rush into anything unless God has clearly confirmed it and wait on God’s perfect timing.”
- “People always have something to say. Love yourself enough to let go of anything that doesn’t serve you.”
- “When the partner tells you once they don’t want you anymore, believe them. It’s better to walk out alive than in a coffin.”
To connect with Righteous, find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube at @thefixwithRighteous.
Do you have a story to share? Has your worst pain launched you into into your purpose? We’d love to share your story! Email us at email@example.com.
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.