Let's face it, life is hard. Work is hard. Marriage is a even harder. And in this journey we all need help. So when I heard about mme Claudine Mofokeng, wife of one of the best actors in the country, ntate Jerry Mofokeng, I was reminded once again how important a supportive, confident woman is for the ongoing struggles of women in general. In this heart to heart interview with us she shares wisdom gained through life experiences and walking with God.
Inside Woman Online: Tell us about that moment when you realised that you needed Christ into your life?
Claudine Mofokeng: I was in nursing school, doing my first year. And within two months I befriended these two ladies who invited me to the Student Christian fellowship and to the local Church on Sunday. I realised that they had something that I didn’t have. I was already going to Church but there was something that was missing. So we formed a quartet and we sang at the hospital Christian fellowship.
One day we went to the local Church to a youth service and they asked us to render an item. While singing, I just broke down. I remember I was singing ‘search me O God and know my heart, try me and see if there be any wicked in me, cleanse me’. The words are similar to Psalm 151 by David. That was a defining moment for me. I was beginning to hear this through my heart; it was no longer a head longer. The growth went at a tangent and I never looked back.
Inside Woman Online: How has that experience and walk defined your life as a mother, wife, grandmother and dealing with people daily?
Claudine Mofokeng: The choices I make I base them on my faith in God. Usually I would say “let me go and pray about this” before committing myself to anything. The first exercise I had of that was when ntate Mofokeng proposed. That happened the very following year after I was saved. That shaped what happened in my life after because I had to ask God on how to choose a life partner. I wouldn't have chosen someone who didn’t know Christ.
We've been on this journey and everything we do we commit to the God including whether to move to another province because he has a job there. If it doesn’t gel with us we know that God is not in it. And trusting God in prayer has literally shaped my life. And I often wonder had I not accepted Christ how would have my life penned out? But given the chance I would choose the same life.
Inside Woman Online: What has God been teaching you about love for Him, love for yourself and love for others?
Claudine Mofokeng: When Solomon says the first wisdom is to fear the Lord, I have proven that. And to love God without reserve, to be open with Him, to enjoy living in Harmony with Him is to remember that He first loved me. Everything I do comes from me loving God. God has shown me that we are saved but we are not robots, we still have a will. And He expects us to walk according to the free will that He has given us,a choice of right and wrong. I love myself but not at the expense of another. I celebrate my life but not at the expense of others. And I have this philosophy that God first loved me and if I love myself its service unto Him. I don’t abuse myself and my body is an instrument for God’s use. I love myself enough to know that I should reject abuse. People believe that when they are being abused, trodden down it’s tantamount to being a Christian, to turning the other cheek. No. I recognise what God has done in my life and I choose to be a good steward of the life He has given me.
Inside Woman Online: What where some of the struggles that you had as a young woman?
Claudine Mofokeng: I got married at 23 years of age. The real first struggle I had was getting married into a family. In our time we had to go and live with the husband’s family and I had to deal with a house full of people, who didn’t see things exactly as I saw them. And I wanted to make sense of it as I was in the minority. For instance I didn't understand why others didn't have regard of other people’s feelings and the I was also confused by their outlook on life. We couldn’t even express our love to each other. I mean I was young and new to the family, and I was overwhelmed with the burdens of being a bride. All of a sudden I had a responsibility of coming back from work to cook for more than ten people where else at home it was a smaller number. I struggled to find balance between my needs, his needs and the family's needs. I spoke to my husband and we agreed that we should move our and find our own home.
I also struggled with adjusting to my husband’s emotions. We were taught that after marriage you are fully under this person and you have to get your cues from them. I didn’t even realise that he has his personality and I have mine. What really helped me was because I read a lot and we would study the books together. And over time a lot of things were demystified. And we learned to look for ways to complement each other because marriage doesn’t change a person. We learned to work around each other in a respectable way.
Inside Woman Online: What is your advice to young married women who are struggling to gel with their husbands?
Claudine Mofokeng: Today I am teaching women not to change, not to allow marriage to change them but rather to improve who they are already. What I am really saying is that you find you are married, you love doing certain things but society imposes on you what you should and shouldn’t do to make the marriage work. I do a lot of counselling and I hear men saying this woman has let herself go. And when I ask the woman what is happening they tell me they are busy with this and that. People meet in love but they don’t do those things that say "we are in love" in this marriage. And changing yourself for Him doesn’t help. You don’t have to abandon your hobbies and likes because they are part of who you are, a part of your continuation in life. Once you no longer do them, you become bitter at your partner.
Inside Woman Online: A lot of young people are getting married but their marriages don’t last. How can young women help their marriages?
Claudine Mofokeng: I am an advocate of pre-marital counselling. It’s needed to help bridge the gaps of incompatibility in certain areas, where some of the differences can never be solved. I usually say to women please do not marry your hopes. Marriage does not give you those hopes. If he is a social drinker and you don’t like somebody that drinks, don’t go there because once he is marriage he has a sense of entitlement. He will be doing things openly because he has no need to pretend.
The Bible says older women teach younger women how to be wives. Unfortunately our society is two faced. We don’t tell our young girls the truth. For example, there will be times that it will be so bad financially because sometimes life happens. He might get retrenched and you might have to deal with having one salary. Sometimes you find you don’t have supper because these things happen. And because we the older women don’t share this little bits of truth with you, when it finally happens to you, you feel like you have failed and you want out. Why? Because we didn’t prepare you for the challenges ahead and instead we use blanket statements like “marriage is hard”.
And the bias of society also affects marriage. Men and women are not treated the same. Men are not being prepared for women. Look at how we raise our boys, they never do anything. From the onset we teach little boys a sense of entitlement that they need a woman to come and complete them. Girls are taught to look after their brothers, wash for them and cook for them. And in no time the girls are far ahead when it comes to taking responsibility because that’s how they are brought up. And when they are grown up they play out these roles in marriage as they were taught. When you hit the kitchen he hits the couch. And sadly when women are overwhelmed they don't ask for help, nor communicate their needs because they want to prove a point. When a man hires a gardener nobody says “you are not man enough” but when a woman hires a helper to look after the kids, people say she is not a woman enough, she is lazy.
When you are a stay at home mom you worry that you are not bringing in money. When you are a working woman you feel guilty that you are not spending enough time with your kids. It’s our responsibility to change all these mindsets and deal with the guilt that women always carry and talk about these challenges. There is nothing wrong with needing a helper as long as you don’t outsource your responsibilities to the helper. She is there to help, nothing more, nothing less. You still need to guide them how to do things in your home.
As older women we need to teach you that it’s OK to have misunderstandings in your marriage. Don’t succumb to the lie that you don’t pray enough that is why you have all these problems. The Bible didn’t promise us a problem free life. Problems are there to make us grow. But we need people who will guide us when we hit those bumps.
Inside Woman Online: How did you know that ntate Jerry was the one?
Claudine Mofokeng: I prayed and God answered. He might speak through other people through dreams and each and every one of us has a particular way of knowing that it is God. I always say, if you are in doubt don’t do it. That which is from God is accompanied by His peace.
Inside Woman Online: We have a lot of young women who are feeling restless who feel that God is slow in accomplishing His promises in their lives. What do you say to them?
Claudine Mofokeng: We don’t only serve from the platform. Every post you are in is service to God. Remain in your post but wait for God. Don’t disengage because you will be naked and you might not make it. Don’t go into things prematurely. There is a reason for the process. God is not a good of confusion.
Inside Woman Online: Was there ever a time where you felt like your faith was sleeping and how did God help you back up?
Claudine Mofokeng: When you feel spiritually dry it's because you were paying attention to what’s happening around you, forgetting that God said do not worry but by prayer and supplication present your needs to Him (Philippians 4:6). The problem is that we get carried away by the things of this life forgetting that there is a God who knew about the problem before it manifested. Whenever we feel like that it's because we have removed our focus from God. For example, you learn that you child is going to need money at school. You panic and then you go and take a loan. And now when you have to pay for the loan you feel like God has abandoned you. But did you ask God? Because He said ask and He will do it. As I grow older, I learning that we don’t know how to pray. When you pray, use God’s Word and you will find that because it is His Word He hears you and will respond.
Inside Woman Online: Why is prayer and reading God’s Word important?
Claudine Mofokeng: I take my examples from Christ Himself. How many times does the Bible say Jesus separated Himself to spend time with Father God? We are spirit beings and it’s important to feed that. The God nature in us is a very important part of our faith. Reading the Word feeds your soul. It’s important to pray, read the Word and come together with other believers. God will not discern from heaven. He uses these three avenues to talk to us.
Inside Woman Online: The Bible says not everyone is going to get married but there is pressure for single people to be married. According to society, as women you can’t achieve every goal you have set for yourself but until you get married you have not achieved.
Claudine Mofokeng: Let’s teach our women to first seek first the Kingdom of God and and God promised that all these things (including husbands) shall be added to them. Let’s also not be too quick to say, maybe I am not given a gift of marriage because if you have noticed the devil hates marriage. Why? It’s one avenue that is legal for human beings to fight him on. When you are shacking what leg are you standing on? But if you are legally married, committed yourself to this covenant, you can tell God your problems.
God will never mislead you. If marriage is to come to you at 40 God will provide you with peace. If you marry young God will give you all the attributes that you need to be a good wife and to take care of your family. God will always provide a way.
If you rush God’s will it will be difficult for you to hear Him. God’s will is a kilometer at a time. Sometimes you are not ready to get married. Sometimes the person that God wants you to marry is still in their making. Wait for God. He will help you.
Inside Woman Online: A lot of us get our information from our peers. Why do you think it’s important to have older spiritual mentors?
Claudine Mofokeng: The older people have walked this walk, they have been there. A mentor helps to minimise the scratches in the journey. For example, if you are married and there is no supper in the home, your helper will show you that it’s not a train smash. It’s a milestone. You will bounce back.
When you have questions they will have answers. Not that their answers are typecast but they give you a principle and from that principle you will know the way to go. I respect mentorship a lot because it prevents people from being loose cannons because there is accountability.
Inside Woman Online: What have the godly women in your life taught you?
Claudine Mofokeng: They have taught me that I don’t belong to myself but to Him and because I belong to Him I am an ambassador. I can never be found wanting nor can I be irresponsible about the things I say. And they taught me that forgiveness and walking in love can never expire. God expects us to live that way. And the pillars I hold on to are prayer, studying the Word of God and being in fellowship with other believers. And never forget that you are representing God in Heaven.
Inside Woman Online: When people look around, they see a lot of things happening. How do we encourage them, how do we help them have that fellowship with God?
Claudine Mofokeng: Live your life in the way that God can use for His Glory. And I have noticed that out of all the faiths, Christians are the most judgemental. We don’t make room for others. But the Bible say don’t judge. Walk in love.
Remember Jesus was a social being, he talked to everyone. Be like Christ. Don’t be so untouchable and be your sister’s keeper. Be genuinely concerned about those who are around you.
Inside Woman Online: If you could preach one message to women what would be?
Claudine Mofokeng: Do not lose yourself otherwise you are going to be bitter and blame others for the pressures you allowed in your life. Learn to be content. Because when you do you stop looking to your left or to you right. Instead you do you as God has created you. You are satisfied despite the circumstances.
Have a desire to die empty. Share yourself with others. Pursue your God given dreams. If you want to write a book, start now. If you die tomorrow at least you would have a manuscript and people can tap into your mind.
Replicate yourself and have disciples to pass on the baton.
Inside Woman Online: When you close your eyes, what does an empowered woman look like?
Claudine Mofokeng: An empowered woman is a one who can live with their success and failures. They have no regrets.
Inside Woman Online: How do you get to a point of no regrets?
Claudine Mofokeng: Remember that what is done is done, it’s in the past. Look at the something else. Don’t camp in your success or your failures. Move on. Don’t beat yourself about things you did when you were younger. Allow God’s forgiveness in your life.
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