Kofi sat in his dimly-lit room, all alone. A half-empty bottle of cheap whisky occupied the only free space on his untidy bedside table. The state of the table was no different from that of his tiny apartment. Dirty clothes shared his bed, and he hadn’t had a decent bath in three days. With his water cut off, it could be a few days before he would get to feel its coolness on his skin.
Plastered on the wall in the corner of his room, half-covered by a hanging pair of jeans, was an old clipping from a business magazine. Kofi’s sad eyes met it in the darkness as he read aloud to himself, “Kofi Akoto, The next big thing in . . . ” He couldn’t bring himself to read on. The smiling face on the page bore no resemblance to him anymore. He envied that image. He wished that could be him again. With tears in his eyes, he drained the whisky bottle in three long gulps and stared helplessly at the gun he held in his hand . . .
Caroline unlocked her car. It was nearly midnight and there were only two cars left in the parking lot. She stopped to feel the breeze against her tear-stained face. Looking at her, nobody would know how she felt inside. She had been taught that appearance mattered; few dressed better than she did. She had been taught that excellence counted; few wrote better marketing plans than her. She had material evidence to prove her professional success, but inside, she was empty. She once had a dream and this wasn’t it. But today, she had had enough and put an end to her joyless and emotionally draining life.
Leaning against her car in the cool air, her bitter tears turned to tears of joy. She thought about the resignation letter she had dropped at work a few minutes ago. She thought about the new life she was about to walk into. She thought about all she had set out to accomplish in the past before her plans were sidetracked by what she thought was a more practicable life. Now she had taken the bold step to make her aspirations come true and felt a peace she couldn’t explain; she knew she made the right choice. As she sat in the car and drove home, she began to fill her head with all she would achieve running her own business, just like she had dreamed since she was a little girl. As the thoughts flashed through her mind, she pulled over and picked up the business card she had carried around in her wallet and dialled a number . . .
I hid under my blanket with tears streaming from my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. I was pregnant. Again. I hadn’t even begun to see clearly, it was just a few months and Drama Queen would be 1, and here I was, about to get off from maternity leave with thoughts that I might just have to jump in again. And to think that I had it all figured out: I’ll get her childcare sorted and resume the office role I was promised will be there waiting for me. But of course, Life is the best pitcher of all time and I surely wasn’t going to catch that curve it sent flying in my direction. A few weeks before then, my boss had called me up and with the most pseudo-sympathetic voice he could pull, he told me I was in consultation as my role with the company was at risk of being made redundant. Yeah, I was shocked, I was still on leave, but somehow I managed to give him an I-don’t-care response:
“Really? That’s some news! What role is that again?”
You see, I was under the impression that this particular boss had my back, and would do anything in his power to protect my interests. Now I’m laughing in Spanish.
“Tosin, your official role in the company is MWD Field Engineer, and because that hasn’t officially changed, that’s the role under review, and it is quite unfortunate that the office role you hoped to return to is no longer available.”
Of course, I’m paraphrasing, he probably sounded more politically correct, but you get the gist. After some weeks of consultation, I was happy that the decision to make my role redundant was reversed, and I looked forward to fighting my way back to the office even though I was still being threatened to remain a field engineer; there was no working that around a child . . . and now, behold, another was on the way. There was no way in Josè they were going to believe that I didn’t get pregnant intentionally as a way to avoid working offshore, and I wasn’t going to tell them I was expecting anyway. So here I was, under my blanket, crying and thinking about a way forward and coming up with none. I wanted to support my family, and to do that, I needed to work . . . getting the job I had itself was a miracle, was I going to let it go now? How would we cope?
God I look to you, I won’t be overwhelmed, give me vision to see things like you do. God I look to you, you’re where my help comes from, give me wisdom, you know just what to do. – Jen Johnson
What do you do when you don’t know what next to do?
Many have come to points in their lives where they feel the need to either curl up or burst out. The point between the devil and the deep blue sea, when every option is one too many to handle. At the crossroad, you freeze in confusion because you don’t know which turn to take. And the thing about crossroads is that you might be standing on one side and think you have only three options before you, but the truth is there are four: the place you stand is a point that can take you right back from where you came, and this just makes it all the harder. These days there are many self-help books and motivational teachings that try to gear you up to keep you going, but there’s a point in life when self-help is no help at all because you have no strength to self-help yourself.
What do you do when you don’t know what next to do?
CALL ON THE LORD!
Your world may be crumbling around you, but there is power in believing that the God who created the heavens and the earth has our lives in His hands. And crying to Him is the best solution EVERY TIME. A cry for His peace in the midst of the storm will calm you enough to see that help isn’t so far away after all. Because He always sends help. Every time.
SPEAK TO SOMEONE!
It helps when we involve those we can trust in our lives, and those entrusted to give wise counsel; the elderly and others who have trod similar paths. Friends and colleagues and mentor alike all play important roles in giving encouragement and providing new perspectives that we might have missed. And when negativity creeps in on our journey, they may be the ones to draw us out from the depths of despair and set us back on track. So in wisdom, seek wisdom from the wise.
LIVE A MOMENT AT A TIME!
As long as there is life . . .
I’m now a mother of two amazing human beings, I stay home to look after them to the best of the ability God gives me. As far as I know, I’m done being a career engineer and the peace that floods my heart is beyond explanation. It was a tough decision at the time, and I felt anxious with the decision to go back to work because it seemed the reasonable thing to do, especially in a world where living is more expensive than life itself. But prayerfully, I sort advice from someone I hold in high esteem, and she made me understand that life surely has its stages, and it’s only in being real to the stage you find yourself and living the life that works for the stage that you find true contentment (thanks Aunty B, you’re still the best aunty in the world). And I am content with the everyday drudgery which is now my life. Because it’s a stage!
Perhaps you have reached a point in your life where you need to make a complete turnaround, or you’re stuck and frozen at a crossroad, I’m here to encourage you to stay strong, there is always a way . . . don’t give up just yet.
Kofi starred at the gun till his vision blurred as his attention was drawn to his phone vibrating in the corner of his bed. With nothing more to lose, he picked it up and stayed silent waiting for the voice at the other end of the line.
“Hello. Is this Kofi Akoto?”
“My name is Caroline . . . I have a proposition for you.”