Owning the Power of My Name 

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I can do hard things because I practice giving myself and others radical grace.

By Lindiwe Mpofu | @bylimbo

The meaning of my first name Lindiwe translates to “the one we have waited for.” My grandmother named me after my mother endured seemingly endless hours of a complicated labor that threatened to take both our lives. 

Each time I reach a major milestone, my mother retells the story of how the nurses and doctors in that maternity ward pleaded with God to let me and my mother live. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard the account of how my grandmother believed that as the prayers ascended, the angels descended to deliver me into the midwife’s hands. I was quite literally the daughter they had waited (and prayed) for. 

For as far as I can remember, I have carried my name as a responsibility to ‘show up’ for others. Throughout my childhood this sense moulded my understanding of community and eventually shaped an unquenchable desire for true justice and peace. It usually meant I mediated fights in school playgrounds or that I would walk away from resolved disputes with a childlike sense of accomplishment, a cheeky pride in knowing that I had lived up to my name. 

As a young adult it became more and more apparent that showing up for others would often mean carrying multiple heavy burdens. The concept of carrying heavy things was not unfamiliar to me. I had, after all, grown up seeing women gracefully walking under the scorching African sun carrying a child on their backs, another on their hips, some groceries in one hand and the rest on their heads. 

“We do hard things.”

That is the mantra I often recite to myself when the burdens feel too heavy to carry. It’s the same mantra I whisper when the hairdresser pulls my braids too tight or when menstrual cramps and fibroid pain visit me each month. The “we” in this mantra always soothes me. There is an indescribable comfort that comes with knowing that there is nothing that I will go through that another woman has not already endured in some shape or form. 

When I was a young professional in Cape Town, South Africa, this mantra motivated me to stay the course when I challenged the status quo in church spaces that were overseen by ministers who had inherited apartheid theologies. I would often recite these words into my tear-soaked pillow after having difficult conversations with people in powerful positions. Contending for true belonging in Christian communities that were not designed for people who looked like me is exhausting. However difficult, doing hard things in order to show up for others gives me purpose; it furnishes my life with meaning. 

Over the past few months this sense of purpose has evaded me. As a new immigrant to Canada I have experienced a paralyzing medley of detachment, loneliness, uncertainty about the future and guilt about not being present to the challenges back home. I now found myself in the unfamiliar position of waiting for people to show up for me as I navigate the difficulties of finding my place in this foreign community. 

It is in this season that I notice how my first name is in conversation with my middle name, Nyasha, which means grace. I’m learning to give myself the grace to be vulnerable and emotionally needy. I am even learning to extend grace to people who ignorantly ask me whether my family back in Africa have mobile phones. I am learning to receive grace from my global community who make it their business to make sure my needs are met during this transition. 

My name is Lindiwe Nyasha Mpofu.
I am one my family waited for.
I show up—for my community, for those who are excluded, and for myself.
I can do hard things.
I can do hard things because I practice showing myself and others radical grace. 

 

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About Lindiwe:

LindiweLindiwe is a writer whose voice was shaped under the African sun and now find itself navigating life in the prairies. She is passionate about strong cups of tea and seeking out stories that shine a light on the inherent dignity of all humans. Like a true millennial, she shares most of her writing on Instagram @bylimbo.

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