BROKEN AND RESTORED FOR A PURPOSE
This was not an interview. This was a healing ministration of God disguised as an interview. We sat with Jacky in her home and talked. There were tears and prayers and there was thanksgiving and comforting.
Tell us about yourself, who you are… your journey of faith with God.
My name is Jacqueline Wairimu Gachihi. I am a woman of God, who has finally found her purpose, through a lot of pain. I’m a mom of two beautiful girls, who I was told I couldn’t have because I had endometriosis and I said, well, “God’s report at the end of the day is what I live by.” I’m a mom of many, because of Toto Care Box Africa Trust, I’m also a Doula, a childbirth educator and a breast feeding consultant, all recent changes in what I have done.
I have come to understand that my purpose in life is transformation, but I guess I couldn’t be used at all until I went through my own personal transformation. When I think about my journey of how I was searching for meaning, fulfillment, God; for a long time I searched in people, things and places. The external journey reached a point where it became an internal journey and I think that for me that’s where the transformation has really come from.
Childhood, School, Meeting the Lord
I was brought up in the Catholic faith and I went to a convent school, so I’ve always been around God and His principles and word. My family was and still is very deeply rooted in the things of God. I remember wanting to be a nun at a very early age; but God had a journey for me that was beyond what I thought. Very early on I got my sense of security from my parents. However, they separated when I was about 12 or 13 (their marriage was later restored, after 19 years). I think for me that started a journey of a lot of uncertainty and fear of rejection and abandonment. Maybe in our community in Afrika, we don’t really put things on the table and just discuss them – it just was what it was – so I learnt how to live this new life. I went to high school, continued on as a normal young girl, got into relationships, had my heart broken for the first time, thought the world was over and then quickly realized it wasn’t. After high school, I did my A-Level equivalent in a co-ed platform. That was my first experience with boys, it really destabilized me; I only have one sibling, a sister and we are very close. I then went to University in the UK, that’s where I was doing Pharmacy. That was a very exciting and also a very scary time, I hadn’t really lived away from home, except for a brief stint in high school.
One of the things that I will forever be grateful for about the UK is that, that is where I gave my life to Christ, in my second year. I literally threw myself into the things of God and reading the word; I had a hunger and a thirst and a passion for the word. I was a member of this church in the UK where I was the only black girl in the choir, at one point I was running Bible Study Fellowship. But things weren’t to go as smoothly as I thought. Around that time, the Kenyan shilling to the Pound plummeted, and for reasons beyond my control, I couldn’t complete my course. I dropped out and transferred my credits to a University in Uganda, having first tried a University in Kenya, which denied my request. Those were very difficult times for me because that was the beginning of the taste of a disparity between the reality and what I want.
Praise God! Amen. Everything is Excellent.
I think for me the hardest thing was letting go of my dream and who I thought I would be. There I thought I was going to become this Pharmacist that was approved of in the UK, as if somehow it kind of makes you better than the Pharmacist that’s trained here. When it didn’t happen for me I just felt really lost and betrayed by God, because I had this notion that once you serve God and once you give your life to Christ, everything is supposed to work out, you’re not supposed to have any persecution or pain. God forbid. You know, everybody says, “Praise God!”“Amen.” “Everything is excellent.”So I wasn’t so sure where I was supposed to take what I was feeling.
I could have stayed on and become an undocumented immigrant and I had the opportunity. There was a council flat found for me and a job and I could just stay there and start life afresh. Something in my heart said, you know you came with a purpose, to be of help to people at home and so it didn’t resonate with me to just disappear. I said, “Okay, Lord. I don’t understand why and I don’t understand why now and why me, but I’m going to trust you and I’m going to go home.” I stayed on for one year, I worked and I saved up enough money to pay for my University in Uganda, but I didn’t realize just how broken my heart was. I looked at my friends around me, everybody finished and they stayed on and they got jobs there and just this whole rosy picture of life and I really wanted that, but it wasn’t for me at that time.
University, Marriage, Motherhood
Many people were not for the idea of me coming home, ‘What are you coming home for? There’s nothing to come home to. You’ve had the opportunity, not many people get to go, why are you coming back?’ I said, ‘because I trust that God has more for me even though I couldn’t see it then.’
I was supposed to go into my third year of a four year course, but by the time I got there third year had become second year. The disappointments were just piling up. The idea is when you’ve come back from a country like the UK, either you’ve failed or you’ve failed. It was difficult for me to find my way and to just pick myself up and start again. But I did and I thank God for the grace to be able to do that; but I still had unfinished business with God. Come to fourth year and I’m ready and waiting to just graduate and then I discover that they’re not going to let me, because even though they said they would take my credits, they went back on their word. I had to sit in class with first year students; I graduated another year later. I was very angry. Little did I know that God was using those little times of disappointment and such gutted expectations, but what He didn’t tell me was that, “Oh, my daughter, this is just the beginning.”
I finished with school and came home. I didn’t get my transcript from my university for two years, which meant I couldn’t do my exams and start working as a Pharmacist. I didn’t understand this fighting to get stuff, having to push through things. There’s always been a delay. Finally, I got it and I got my registration and I started working, I did my internship, I did the exams and I got married in 2004. I had met my husband-to-be in the UK and he said that he always knew that he would marry me. I was just focused on trying to get my life together; but he was patient and he waited for me to finish everything. I had always said I would never get married after what happened with my parents; but we had an amazing marriage.
How did you change your mind about getting married?
I think in my heart I really wanted to be loved. I just wanted to find someone who would love me and who would protect me. I think I was hardening my heart because I didn’t want to be hurt, to risk loving and it wouldn’t work out. But the underlying fear was the fear of being alone. At that point I didn’t know that I had a lot of trust issues. I can see it clearly for what it is now; it translated in my relationship with God, it translated in my relationship with my husband, my relationship with everyone around me. But the underlying fear there, was the fear of being alone.
There was so much to look forward to as a young wife as a young bride as a career woman but immediately after, endometriosis knocked on my door. I had made a vow with God that I saw what happened in my growing up and I’m going to do everything in my ability to make mine work. I thought that it was a conversation I was having with God, I think I took an ultimatum to God. I said, “I’m going to do everything in my power to make my marriage work.” And I tried. The endometriosis didn’t help. First of all we didn’t know what this was. I had always had very painful menses I just never knew what that was. Everybody said it’s normal, it’s part of growing up, it will get better when you have children. That’s a myth. I had to go on treatment that made me go on menopause but it made me very emotionally loaded.
I just shut down, I didn’t have anyone I could talk to, who could understand me, I didn’t talk about what I was feeling. I’m a firstborn and so there’s this expectation that ‘you’re supposed to be strong, look how far you’ve come, lead the way’ and so I just sucked it up. In the process of all that I had surgeries, I had treatment that was injected in my navel every month for six months and I was just like a pressure cooker that was bubbling, I needed to vent. Being told I couldn’t have children was heartbreaking because for me family was always a very close thing to my heart. I wanted to be a woman who raised a godly family that would praise God and just bless God. I was upset at God, I wondered, ‘what have I done to deserve this? Why am I going through one thing after the other? Is it me or is it You or is it both of us?’ And so I did the one thing I knew to do. I kept myself extremely busy, I took a second job and I just worked myself until I was bone tired every time I came home and I just closed my heart, I stopped feeling.
With hindsight, I think it must have been difficult for my husband. He was working crazy shifts, coming home late at night, by the time he comes home, I’m asleep, by the time it’s time for him to wake up, I’m awake and gone. We drifted, but before we drifted, we had babies.
Neema (meaning Grace) came three months after I stopped treatment. They wanted to put me on fertility treatments and to do In Vivo treatment, where you do the fertilization outside and I just said,‘If it has to get there, it’s never that serious, I don’t have to have kids. If that’s what God has said, then it’s okay.’ I truly just surrendered. I went and learnt a new language, Kalenjin, from the culture where I was married. I think that must have taken away my focus from everything because before, every month when my period would come, I would be so heartbroken; but after a while I forgot about it, I’d be so busy trying to get the words right and three months later, I discovered that I was pregnant. This was two and a half years after we got married.
My pregnancy was normal, until 24 weeks when I started having contractions and I ended up having a premature baby at 30 weeks. She was really tiny and I had to leave her in the hospital. I can’t explain to you how that feels. I kept looking back and I’d be like “Lord, you’re still not done with me? This thing of broken hope, I don’t get it, but now I’m a mommy, so I don’t have too much time to dwell here, so let’s just get on with it.” I had to learn very quickly how to deal with a newborn, premature baby. At that time there wasn’t much in terms of support, both from the hospital and also within the community; people just didn’t know how. That’s one of the reasons why I do what I do today. For four months, I did not leave the house I just poured myself into this baby and was taking care of her. And after a long while her weight picked up, she surpassed her milestones and she was good.
And then when she was maybe nine months or just about a year old, endometriosis came back with a vengeance. I remember going to seek a second opinion and the doctor looked at me and said, ‘what you have is an aggressive form of endometriosis and it’s back. Just thank God for the child that you have because with this kind, I highly doubt that you’re going to have another baby.’ I went back for surgery and they found that I was bleeding in my pelvis. I was discharged on the same medication as the one I had been put on the first time, and I remember looking at it and thinking, ‘My name is not Wairimu if I’m going to be on that stuff. I can’t do this anymore,’ and I just said no. That was in November 2007. January 2008, I conceived. My doctor was like, ‘can I call some women so that you can talk to them and tell them what it is that you do?’
Sifa (meaning Praise) came in 2008 October and I went to full term with her, she was a healthy baby. I had a difficult time with my pregnancy though. With Neema I was put on bed rest from 24 weeks, all the way until I had the baby. With Sifa I had very painful hemorrhoids, but they couldn’t do anything about them, because I was expecting. I was on bed rest from August until she came in October. So there’s always a period of rest and then the baby. A week after Sifa was born I was separated from her because I had to go back to theater to have these hemorrhoids removed. And I couldn’t sit for six to eight weeks after that. I don’t have words I can use to express the kind of pain that I had. There’d be times that I would be so delirious with pain that I would find myself speaking out and I was talking to God in Kikuyu and saying, “I can’t die, I have a baby to take care of. Just help me get through this pain. I don’t know how but I can’t give up.”
I had gone through surgery so I had a tickly cough, and I couldn’t cough because I had stitches here (points to her abdomen) I had stitches this way (points to her rear). Again I kept asking God, “Why? I just want to be a mom like everyone else; does it have to be this hard? What did I do? Tell me; show me so that I stop doing it.” I had to go through a very shameful time. I’m a post natal mom, I’m still bleeding and I have to be cleaned from the front and I have to be cleaned from the back and I have stitches, and I had to be cleaned by whoever was available. I was now 34 going on 35. I kept thinking, let me just get through this and then I’ll be okay.
God consistently broke me in places and ways that I couldn’t understand then. By that time I could feel that there were issues in my marriage, but he was very supportive during that time. He cared for me like a sick child. It must have taken a lot for him to care in that way.
I worked for the government as a Pharmacist and then I worked for a faith based organization as a program manager and in 2011, I just felt God calling me. I was going to be a Pastor. I went to my husband and he said ‘Yeah, sure I give you my blessing, you can leave work and go and do this leadership course in a church.’ So I went and three weeks into the course, the Spirit is like, “Will you trust me to show you where I am?” And I’m like, “What do you mean where You are? I’m in church, isn’t that supposed to be where You are?” I left after three weeks. I couldn’t even be introduced to the church. The Spirit of God was like, “You need to leave and you need to leave now.” And so, I was put in a situation where I had to obey, in an environment where no one agreed with me.
There was a period in my marriage, where my husband would spend a lot of time away from the house, away from me. I was carrying a lot of anger from before and after a while I realized that we were just not connecting. We both shut down and we ended up separating in 2011. I think all that anger and bitterness and resentment had to find a way out. I ended up in an extra-marital affair and I knew the minute it happened, that it shouldn’t have happened. And I prayed I said, “God, what do I do?” He said, “Tell your husband.” And I did. Regardless of what else was happening and like any other adulterous woman, I was asked to leave. And I left. I left my children as well, because ‘what kind of a mother would I be to them?’ Or so I was told. ‘What example would I give them as a woman?’ I went back to my parents’ home and I didn’t know where to start, I just knew that I only could think of one day at a time.
2012 – 2015 was a walk of utter pain. Have you ever felt lost? Like God has given you His word and suddenly you’re not hearing His voice, His word, nothing? I went to different places and had to leave, I was completely alone. I couldn’t see my kids for eight months, I was so broken. I was looking for God again, I tried everywhere. I went to find Him in the Hebrew community and later chanting with some Buddhists. Both times, just when I thought I had found Him, He’s like “Leave!” I’m like, “Lord again?” I just got to a place where I lost my faith. I was like what kind of God is this? Maybe I’m the one that has a problem. Maybe I dared to believe in a God that doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s just words in the Bible, I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. “Where are You now?”
So I stopped, I said, ‘don’t call me a Christian. That Jesus of yours, don’t talk to me about Jesus,’ I would shut people down. ‘Don’t. Don’t finish that sentence.’ I walked the barren land, no word, nothing. I didn’t read the Bible for maybe six years or more. I’d fling the Bible away. Then because God is Who He is, scripture just started coming out from inside me like what? I haven’t read the Bible, I haven’t been to no church, what is this coming forth? That blew me away because I was like where is it even coming from?
He broke me. He broke everything. My identity, sense of self, understanding of who He was, or is, my security… my sense of purpose. I did not understand it at that time. When I left work to start the journey to be a pastor, there’s a lady who gave me a book called The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson, it’s an amazing book I have read over and over again, that I really resonated with. Like the man in the book, I wrestled with God. I wrestled with my understanding of who He was, my purpose, who I am, why me, why not me. It’s only this year He has shown me why. He had to break me because He wants to use me. 1997 is when I gave my life to God, 2017 is when I said, “I give up, I surrender, Lord. Everything.” That’s 20 years. After my separation in 2015, I went through a divorce. I had thought we would be able to reconcile, it wasn’t possible; I was told it was too complicated. I didn’t understand what that meant until much later. I realized that I was busy trying to hold onto something that was already dead. I blamed myself for so many things, but I’ve had to get to the point of understanding I’m not in control and that even the day it happened, all that is factored into my journey.
I had this self righteousness and pride, trying to define myself as either good or bad, and deciding what God should do with my life. God broke me in that way because I was also very judgmental. Let me tell you it is one thing to judge someone, it is another to fall in the same sin and it is humbling on another level. The same way that God is working to forgive and to restore in my life, He is doing it in someone else’s life. I kept asking why me Lord? I started to ask, why not me? Why should someone else have to go through that? I am not better than anyone else. Is it a wonder that God took me through that painful time of having hemorrhoids and having to have them removed and having to be cleaned by everyone? I think it was a preparation for my walk in adultery and having to repent of it.
When did you get to the point where you now realized that everything around you has been a kind of a veil of pride? How was it broken and how were you restored back to your purpose?
I was seeking external validation and it had to come in the form of relationships and the determination that I would be successful with whoever was in my life. I did date after the divorce, but then I realized that I was attracting the same kind of person. I had to sit with myself and ask myself, what is going on here? God is so amazing, He’s so patient with us, He waits until we get to the end of ourselves. The way I had said to God that for me, my marriage would work, my home and my family would be THE family. I didn’t realize that the motive behind the dream was really wrong. I was coming from a place of self righteousness and self glorification.
I was addicted to relationships because my underlying fear was a fear of being alone, it didn’t matter who was in that space, there just needed to be someone there. I don’t know what it’s like to come off heroin because I’ve never used it, but I can tell you that I feel like I went through a similar process of withdrawal. I had to face myself and I had to allow God to shine the light in the deepest crevices, those dark places where I had closed my heart and had just said that it’s okay, when it’s not okay. He had to take me back to that little girl that felt abandoned and rejected and to everything about how I related even with my father, because he was absent for a while. I brought that into every relationship, including God as my Father. I just kept trying to do things to make God love me and not leave me like I had been left several times over.
How did you come to trust?
I believe coming to Mombasa was a great step of faith. I was coming to bring my parents and I didn’t know that I was going to move as well. When I came to this home something just clicked. “I’m moving here? Oh, okay Lord, I wasn’t quite ready, I didn’t know I was coming to Mombasa.” I have been through periods where the instruction was move, or go, or stop, or stay… so I moved. I didn’t know what I would do, but He knew and I think that was the first step of learning to trust Him again. But before you can trust, you’ve got to heal, and I think from 2017, that’s really what God has been doing, just healing my heart and all that pain.
Breaking is not a breaking to kill you it’s a breaking to rebuild you. I got married because the inner child in me needed someone to protect me and love me and care for me and fight for me and that is the truth. No woman should ever go into marriage because of that, it will not last. You should go into it because you love the person and because God has said, this is the person. I think what I have learnt is there’s a calling of God on my life, I wasn’t supposed to get married. I think that has been a desire of God but the obstacles that have come my way whether they were from myself, or whether the enemy put them there were so that I would be distracted from my purpose. I live on purpose now with understanding.
I find myself being asked by women who are in similar situations and want to leave their husbands and walk away. They expect me to endorse it and I can’t because I can only walk my journey. But I ask them questions: Have you prayed about this? Are you sure about this? Have you thought about your children? Ultimately we’re all accountable for the choices that we make. But nothing is wasted with God and that gives me hope. So I don’t know what my final picture will look like, I stopped trying to figure it out, I’m just happy to keep walking, day by day to stand in the place of His presence knowing that He’s the Master Creator.
When I stopped fighting to be apologized to by everyone who I felt owed me an apology, it did happen. Just not by them. Someone in a place I was studying took my hands, and said to God that he stood in the place of a man and he apologized for what a man has done to His daughter. This total stranger did what I have yearned to hear from a man.
Now I’m a Doula, which is a woman who stays with a pregnant woman all through her pregnancy and her labor, until she has her baby. The word comes from a Greek word meaning, handmaiden. I now know I am the handmaiden of the Lord, I don’t have plans of my own, they’re His plans. Family was very deep to the core of who I am and He’s giving it back to me, just like in the book The Dream Giver. After asking for the man’s dream, The Dream Giver gave it back to him but it was a lot bigger than he thought. You see, when I was praying for my family, I was praying for my husband and my children; what a selfish prayer. Now when I look at it I think God is giving it back to me as part of a much bigger family of God.
Any final words?
Patience: The things of God don’t come overnight. You need to learn how to be patient.
Courage: I didn’t have my own courage, all I had to do was ask God and He says do not be dismayed, do not fear I am with you, have courage but courage and confidence can only come when you know the person that you’re putting your confidence in.
Humility: This is something that we hear about and it sounds nice, it sounds like something that we want to have but it’s a process of acquiescing your own desires and asking God to grant you His desires for you. I have been humbled and I’m still a work in progress I believe.
Hope: I want to encourage women that have walked a path that is similar to mine, don’t give up, however bleak it sounds, however dark it looks however scary and it is scary because you’re dealing with deep dark issues. Now I understand when He says you’re not wrestling against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, those days will come but have hope. Jesus came He overcame the world and it’s possible there’s hope and may it be that for such a time as this that I have shared my own story.
Editor’s Note: Jacky is one of the Trustees at Toto Care Box Africa Trust. The Trust works to provide maternal care packages to moms and their newborns to cater for the first 28 days of life. We plan to share more about them in later issues of Msingi Afrika Magazine.
Toto Care Box Team:
From Left Chris Columbus Wanjiru, Angela Kavila Kwinga (Trustee), Lucy Wambui Kaigutha (Founder & Trustee), Elizabeth Kirumba, and Jacqueline Wairimu Gachihi. Absent Catherine Wanjiku Gachihi -Mueke (Trustee) and Helen Wanja Kariuki (Trustee).