I'm back in the States, but I left a piece of my heart in South Africa. A young woman reading her poem during Sunday worship before we boarded the plane back home captured it. It spoke about my struggle to find my true self, yet she had never met me. Afterwards, I searched the crowd for her face. I needed to ask her, “How could you know me without us having ever met?” We discovered that a woman’s desire to find her true self is not bound by borders or cultures. It is a universal longing that only our God can fill.
Here is the poem that has captured my heart, “Stranger”, as well as the story of this incredible young woman, Lindiwe Zulu.
Blessings that you may find your true self, too.
A thousand miles in the shoes of a stranger
In search of self in strange new places
Without this mask, you’ll find I’m faceless
Saved, ‘cause I was told He’d change this
Lost my question in a sea of answers…
There’s a me I’m looking for, and I’m wondering if you’ve met her
Think I hear her laughing when I paint her face in mirrors
And I think I hear her asking why I’m always trying to trick her
Trick her into thinking someone out there’s going to fix her
When I haven’t even tried for one day to let her be her
And sometimes I think it’s maybe ‘cause it cuts me deep when she hurts
Or maybe ‘cause the ones I feel, I feel they wouldn’t feel her
And I’ve lived so long believing that I’d never have to free her
But when You called, I knew that only she would have to answer
Answer for the many lies and trespasses against her
For the life she never lived and the love I never gave her
But on the day You saved her, the tears flowed because you made her
Made her like You’ve never made a precious thing before her
With Your own hands, You formed her
And with the blood that flowed, redeemed her
In that moment, it took all the faith I had to claim I am her
In the words of a misplaced letter, I’ll never be able to send her.
About Lindiwe Zulu
I was born and raised in Gauteng, which is the Sotho word for “the place of gold” and for the most part, this is a place where people from all over Southern Africa pour themselves into a melting pot of different cultures and lifestyles to make their dreams come true.
This is where I live with my mother, a schoolteacher, and my father who is currently working on his MBA and my younger brother who is still in high school.
As someone who read a lot of books while I was growing up, I developed a passion for creative writing as a way of self-expression from my early teens, but it was mostly confined to school essays.
When I was fifteen, I had a friend who was a rapper and I was totally in awe of how he used clever rhymes, rhythm and metaphoric speech to do exactly what I did… Speak to the world with my pen and paper. However, neither of us had ever imagined that I could do exactly that.
He needed a backup vocalist to sing the hooks for his music, and I just jumped right in, just so I could spend time in the company of other creative people and their art, but soon I was writing some of the choruses, and finally some of my own rap verses.
I didn’t last in the rap group for too long though, because I began to feel that writing for people who just wanted to sell some records meant that we weren’t headed in the same direction. I was told that my writing was too “conscious”… too “spiritual”. Seeing that as my time to move on, I began writing only for myself.
That didn’t last for long though, as my poems began to be slowly sought after by people who knew me, who would even ask me to recite at church events such as the 60th Anniversary of St Monnica’s Anglican Church last Sunday.
Writing poetry for different church events and services increased my interest in ministry and how I could use my gift to inspire and to touch people’s lives with God’s abundant grace that is flowing in my own life.
In 2009, I started attending the University of South Africa and started working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science, in line with how I wanted to communicate to the world through different media.
At the moment I also write plays and short stories as well, because I don’t want to just be classified as a poet, but as someone who gives thanks and praise in any which way that I am able.
The poem entitled “Stranger” is about the inner battle between who we truly are and who the world says we should be. It is the perpetual war within us between who God has created us to be and what we settle for as an identity that we have adopted from our past and our circumstances. I believe that each and every one of us who has spent some time deeply questioning the authenticity of their identity will definitely be able to relate to this piece.