Learning Paris & Loving People


Oh, August. Where to begin?!

First thing to mention: I’m writing this post sitting on my bed in my new room in Paris, France! I moved here two days ago, and — praise God — am already feeling so at home.

I’ll partly remember August 2017 as the month I began my Year Abroad. A year, abroad, in France, during which everything from my health to my survival depends on my command of the language I’ve been studying from textbooks for years… (No pressure, lol! I’m so glad that, actually, God is in control!)

But aside from that, August will also be remembered, I think, as the month I rediscovered just how much I love people! And I can see why God loves them (us) so much, too. He made us and we are His children, of course, so He loves us immensely. But the more time I spend with people, listening to them, hearing their stories, their dreams, their successes and their goals for the future, the more I love them, too. And in August I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities to do this. There’s something so precious about meeting new people, hearing another person’s story, making friends. And here in Paris, whether they’re telling it to you in French or in English, it’s exactly the same…amazing and inspiring.

I think I’ve become so aware of how much God loves people because August has been a month of people. Of meeting them, connecting with them, and celebrating with them. And it has been so surreal!

On the first day of the month, I was flying home from a holiday spent with some of the most precious people I know — my family. On that holiday I’d learnt and witnessed everything from the beauty of quality time, to the preciousness of friendship in marriage. By the fourth and fifth days of August, I was blessed to be able to meet and spend time with more precious people — this time subscribers — and to sit on advice panels on stages in front of hundreds of them at the Summer in the City YouTube Festival, while also meeting amazing YouTubers. One intimate moment I remember: a YouTuber was moved to tears as she read one of the poems in my debut collection, Lip Balm, and then her mum cried as she read it to her, too; the next thing I knew she had announced me in two of her videos and on her twitter, and 3,000 people, full of love, found my channel and subscribed. Connecting with people can bear the most surreal and incredible fruit. I am truly grateful.

Around the 17th of August I was receiving emails and messages from — you guessed it — even more precious people, this time students who’d achieved their grades and were expressing excited appreciation of the revision and study encouragement videos on my channel. One tweeted me with a screenshot of her offer from Cambridge, another emailed me all the way from Hong Kong: ‘you are an inspiration’. Today, a subscriber who found out he’d got something incredible like 9A*s and 2As in his GCSEs told me: ‘thank you so much…this is your achievement, too.’ And later on today I was interviewed by a journalist from Business Insider about Lip Balm, and our conversation became more of a friendly catch-up than a press interview! I say all this simply to give a flavour of the range of people God’s allowed me to interact with in August, and to express how grateful I am to Him for the opportunities.

And then there’s the taxi driver, the first person I met on my Year Abroad, who drove me from the train station in bustling central Paris to my new home, and put me completely at ease as he told me in Senegalese-infused French about life back home in Senegal. We talked about everything from racism to his family life, and he was so warm and friendly. Even my landlady here in Paris is more of a friend to myself and the girls I live with than a landlady, and we’ve become like a mini family!

People are so precious. And as a woman in love with Jesus, it is such an honour to have the task of becoming known for loving people, because loving people is such an honour and privilege. It’s not always easy, granted, but when people love each other, and show love to each other, that’s when the world becomes a better place.

A sentimental post, perhaps. But it’s what has really been on my heart. Love God, love people. The world becomes such a vibrant place when we take the time to invest in, spend time with, listen to, meet with, and show people love. Random acts of kindness; taking the time to listen; treating others as we’d like to be treated; putting ourselves in each other’s shoes. Having patience even when it’s hard; showing love even when it hurts or it is undeserved. That’s the call of the Christian—and for those who aren’t religious, it’s a call that everyone who is a human is invited to follow.

I really pray that more and more of us would take up the call, especially in the face of the forces of violence and division we’re seeing in current times. Thank you Lord that you love me so much that I can overflow and pour out that love to those around me!

See you in September!

Imani x

P.S. You can purchase my debut collection, Heart Shards and Lip Balm, here! And to everyone who’s been purchasing, thank you for all your support!