I am a firm believer that our deepest heartache is often what leads to our purpose. Righteous Chawane’s story, which we published in May 2020, is an example of just that. Her marriage ended after just five months and the shame, rejection and embarrassment she felt took her to a dark place. People were cruel.
Righteous’ parents are well-known pastors and I remember wondering what it must have felt like for her to see her marriage and so soon after her extravagant wedding. But in many ways, I could relate to her story. Like Righteous, my marriage failed, and I, too, come from a pastoral family. So when she expressed concern for her parents, I knew exactly what she meant.
“I was worried about my parents’ reputation; I was worried about how the situation would affect them.”Righteous Chawane
I spent a lot of time worrying about what the demise of my marriage meant for my parents, particularly my father. How would people view them? At the time, I was far away from home so maybe it wouldn’t matter much, I figured. The news could remain contained to an extent. Well, all that went out the window when I moved back into my parents’ home with my children and no husband in sight. If you are from an African background, you know how these things go. We are an inquisitive people. I laugh about it now, but at the time, I felt ashamed and worried what people were saying about me and my family.
But as I reflect on Righteous’ story and even my own, there are some key things that come to mind:
1. People will always have something to say…ALWAYS
No matter what you do, you will never satisfy everyone. Sometimes the loudest voices come from people whose opinions shouldn’t carry much weight because they are not invested in our wellbeing.
“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.”Righteous Chawane
So basically, people had plenty to say because Righteous was unmarried at 27, and then when her marriage didn’t work out, they had more to say. I wish I had decided sooner to not put so much weight on the opinions of others. It would’ve saved me a lot of stress. What I like about Righteous is that she eventually chose to focus on the people who were drawn to her, and it turned into ministry. It’s so important for us to zero in on the people who we are called to serve. Everything else is a distraction.
2. Taking back your power
Righteous decided to share her story on what would have been her one-year wedding anniversary. That couldn’t have been easy, but she chose to take control of the day and not let it take control of her. When your hopes are dashed, you will feel hurt and disappointed. But we always have a choice on what to do with our emotions, and I love that Righteous chose to empower herself and others on what could have been a devastating day. We may not control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond.
3. There is always a silver lining
Your pain can serve you if you allow it to. Today, Righteous has a growing ministry that she never imagined for herself. Her YouTube channel (The Fix With Righteous) has thousands of subscribers, and she has an upcoming conference this September. There is purpose behind what we think are our biggest failures. We just have to be willing to shift our focus.
I’m curious to know what lessons you pick up from Righteous’ story. Read it below and let us know your thoughts!
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.