“Letters to my younger self ” was birthed from Titus 2:3-5 where “Paul instructs the older women to teach the younger women.” In this world of social media where we have so much information floating around and people are constantly on their mobile phones or their social networks we decided to step out and reach out to our spiritual mothers. We believe as older woman they are much wiser than us and have had their fair share of battles and victories that they can use to light the way for us as younger women. Our goal for this category is to reach out to the “mature women” around us whom we know to be women seeking after God’s own heart and women we believe to be spiritual mothers. Our vision is that they share lessons God has taught them along the way. Lessons that will help to strengthen and edify the younger women who will read this advice. We really hope this encourages you. This week we caught up with Mrs Elona Hlatshwayo.
Hie Mrs Hlatshwayo, Can you tell us little about yourself?
I am a Christian mum of two & have been married for nearly eleven years. I’ve been self employed for six years as a Life, Career and Business Coach.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would say, don’t be afraid; all the obstacles you’re facing will eventually make you a stronger person. God will help you overcome. Society will expect you to fit in; don’t be tempted, God planted uniqueness in you don’t dim it, develop it; it’s not a flaw, it is a gift. Keep pushing towards your dreams, a no is never a final point. You will make a lot of friends along the way, pay attention to the lessons that come with those experiences. Keep the good ones 😉
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were young?
I wish I had known that there’s no wasted experience, all things happen for a reason, and there’s lessons to extract or to impart wherever we find ourselves. Some of the most frustrating moments have left lasting lessons in me.
What are the most important lessons that you’ve learnt in life that you would like to share?
I’ve learnt that everyone is going through something, forgive those that hurt you & treat them with compassion. This is how I deal with difficult people and when it ceases to be about how people treat you, but more about how you wish they would experience Christ through you; it is an amazing experience. Everyone deserves our kindness.
What would you say are the major values or principles that you live by?
I believe that everyone has a special gift, and we all need to find out what it is. We are at our best when we are living by God’s design, serving Him in our work and in our homes. I believe in living authentically and not pretending to be who you aren’t.
What would you say you know now about living a happy and successful life that you didn’t know when you were twenty?
There is so much joy in the simple things in life, happiness is not a mystical or complicated thing. One day you realise the small joys actually make up the sum of a happy life 🙂 So many people are caught up in getting to the next best level that they miss opportunities to rejoice in the present moment.
If a young person came to you asking what’s the most important thing for living a good life, what would you say?
I would say gratitude, being aware of and appreciative of the blessings in your life. Don’t get so caught up in chasing your ultimate goal, that you don’t recognise how Blessed you already are. A person that is restless and cannot find contentment and gratitude leads a life such as that described in Ecclesiastes Chapter 1:14-18.
What can young women do to avoid having regrets later in life?
Be intentional about deciding what values you live by and align your decisions to these values. When your values are not compromised you will be more at peace and live life by God’s design. Never kick your values off your decision panel when making decisions; let them be your compass. Don’t ignore your sixth sense, the more I do this, the less regrets I have. When I feel uneasy about getting involved in something, I take a few steps back, pray about it and then make a decision.
What are some ways the Lord has given you triumph in the midst of life’s challenges? And how would you encourage somebody else going through a challenging time in their life?
I was once involved in a car accident which left me unable to walk for nearly a year. Suddenly my long term ‘worries’ were meaningless, I learnt to take life – one day at a time. I had to learn many things from scratch, many which I took for granted; like sitting upright and taking the first steps. In that whole time I never doubted God’s promise to restore me, each and every X-ray I went for was better than the last. That experience always reminds me to appreciate and understand that we can wake up as a family drive out to school/work and there’s no guarantee of that life will be the same in the evening. This keeps me grounded and appreciative of God’s leading and protection over my life. It is a literal testimony that I am able to live an active life, go for a jog, and wear high heeled shoes and those are my daily reminders of God’s grace.
What is your desire for the young women of our generation?
Although it may sound like a cliche, it is important that a young woman doesn’t lose her self worth, not just that but her God-worth just because she’s not yet married or in a steady relationship or you feel you’re yet where you’d like to be. Don’t stop living life or serving God just because this hasn’t happened yet. When God placed such a high value on us, it is not up to us to decide, we are no longer worth much!
Can you share some key lessons that God has taught you or that God is teaching you in this season of your life?
I think the greatest lesson of my young adult years has been patience; in different stages of my life God has given me real circumstances that have helped me to stop questioning or doubting His timing. Also as a Christian we have the advantage of knowing that God is with us and protects us in various ways from peril, this gives me encouragement and spurs me on when I feel discouraged.
As a married woman what advice would you give to young women who are in a relationship that is headed toward marriage?
Don’t be in a rush to get married, its a life long commitment and not a race of which girl gets there first. It’s okay if your friends get married before you; God has always had an individual story for you.
What’s the secret to a happy marriage?
Well I’m not an expert but I believe that God is our ‘secret sauce’. He has brought us together from different backgrounds & cultures and our common ground is Him. Our happiest and saddest moments we have always had that common ground. I think if that were to change, then our foundation would be in big trouble 🙂
What is your advice to young women who greatly desire marriage, but find themselves in a season of waiting?
I would say trust in God’s leading in the season of waiting, I too have had seasons of waiting in my life, but now looking back the 2 year delays here and there are not so significant in retrospect. I also reflect on Sarah her wait for a baby was also coupled with the despair, ridicule that single young women today can be exposed to. People keep asking when will you get married etc, don’t let other people’s questions make you rush through life. Let God lead. Don’t take matters into your own hands, God is the author of your script.
What advice would you give to young women who are in a time of waiting on the Lord to lead them in their next step?
I work a lot with people who are struggling to get the careers started or to move to the next level. I’ve found that a lot of people are filed with self doubt. It is even more disheartening when it is a Christian young person who is filled with doubt about whether or not they are good enough to apply for certain jobs. If they’ll even be considered. We need to always remember that God has said that we will be the head and not the tail, He goes before us if we involve Him in our career choices. God has given us our talents and we are His ambassadors in our work places. Commit your career to the Lord and work with integrity, do not devalue yourself by negative self talk because the Lord places you where you are for greater purpose. Have you ever noticed how short those waiting seasons seem in retrospect? When I was at home recuperating from the accident and unable to walk, I had just been offered my first job after varsity! Every part of me was impatient, but I honestly cannot say that I am 18 months ‘behind’. Trust God’s leading, His timing and lean on Him in those detours of life.
]Do you have any books or sermons that you recommend young women to read or listen to?
Letters to Young Lovers – EG White, has some very contemporary situations that can definitely be applied today. I loved a book called ‘The friends we keep’ – Sarah Davis, about five years ago this was something I needed to read, and I have come across many young women who experience disappointments from sisters in faith. I also read “When women Long for Rest” – Cindi McMenamin, a real good book for those seeking a life of balance and not overwhelm.
Do you have a blog, and where can people find you online?