In August 2009, I had just finished my National Service, NYSC (National Youth Service Corp) as we call it in Nigeria, and was contemplating on what next to do with myself. Also at that point, I had just yielded to the Lord and let go of a particular relationship He, for whatever reason, didn’t fancy me in. It was tough, very tough to let go, but I had to, because I knew that all I wanted for my life was to be at the centre of God’s will, and if anything I was doing wasn’t part of that plan, no matter how good it looked, I had no business doing it. During that journey of yielding, I began compiling lessons I learned daily; lessons from things I saw happening around me, or things I had heard, or things I was experiencing.
Today I came across the compilation of those lessons and began to read through each one of them. The contents completely blew my mind and the varied depths of them. So I thought it’ll be nice to do a little series on those lessons, sharing them in batches of fives till I exhaust the entire list. I’ll throw in some commentary for each lesson below it.
These lessons cover various aspects of life and living, and some might have absolutely no meaning at all, but I hope that within them would be a pearl of great price for you to keep in your treasure chest of knowledge.
Lesson 1: I’m just a big baby!
This was a very hard truth for me to admit. I have always wanted to grow up quickly and had finally come to the point in my life when the winds of freedom blew through my hair, and I had every right to set out and let loose, but I couldn’t. I felt stuck – like my feet were tied to an anvil and I couldn’t move. I felt stuck because I didn’t know what next, where next, who next . . . how next! I would wake up in the morning with tears in my eyes; all the plans I made months before had fallen away like a stack of cards. I wasn’t as big as I thought I was. I wasn’t in charge like I felt before. So I dropped all my grown-up-ness and fell into the hands of the One who was able to catch and comfort me . . . into the arms of my Father, after all, I am His child. After I dropped all my fancy bigness, I felt at peace. I knew that He had never left me. I knew it was okay to be small and let Him be big for me . . . I knew it was okay to be a baby again. Try it.
Lesson 2: I will not forever be under the umbrella of my father’s name and dynasty. I have to establish mine.
There’s something special about continuing in the profession of your father. It makes you feel like the world is at your fingertips. There are mistakes you might never make because he probably won’t stand and watch you make them. There are doors that might never be shut before you because he walked through them and left them open behind him. There are experiences that would seem familiar because you listened to him tell his stories. It’s a special feeling. I had that feeling at a point and it was exhilarating. But the time came when I realised that no matter how long I wanted to stay hiding in the shadow of my father, one day the sun would set and his shadow will disappear. There are doors I would have to open on my own. There are things I would have to experience first hand. There are uncharted waters I must tread . . . stories that would be mine to tell. Have you ever felt this way?
Lesson 3: Those who love you unconditionally will remain committed to you and your success…the rest forget your face once you leave the room.
I do not recall the circumstances surrounding this lesson, but even now, it does mean a lot to me. “Out of sight; out of mind”, one of the other ways we can summarise the lesson above. It’s amazing the number of people we meet in our daily lives and the relationships we build. But it’s wisdom to know those who will be committed to us and those who only regard us as pieces of furniture. I remember when I tried to get a job and got connected to a few ‘friends of my father’. I would sit with them at meetings and they would tell me how much my father meant to them and how they would do everything to see that I am given an opportunity to thrive in the same industry. Only to realise months down the line that the moment I walked out of those meetings, I became just another random person who sat before them, whose name they wouldn’t recall without the aid of a teleprompter. So we ask ourselves how many people we make promises to without any intentions of keeping them . . . how many hearts we break when we choose not to love unconditionally.
Lesson 4: In the right senses of favour, the door should only be opened for you, it’s in your place to step in and prove yourself worthy to take the stand.
Have you ever come across someone who occupies a certain office and you wonder how on earth they got there? Then you find out that they were brought into the position because they’re the son or daughter of so-so and so, and even though they possess no skill to execute the job, they were the ‘favoured’ candidate, or so the story goes. It’s one thing to gain favour to be interviewed for a position to see if you are ‘capable’ of handling it, but it’s a completely different thing to be ‘favoured’ and given a position you have no capacity whatsoever to handle. It brings to question the whole idea of ‘favour’ in the first place. Many of us hope to attain certain heights without having to put any effort to grow into the capacity. We desire that somehow we will be ‘blessed’ and given a promotion when our attitude towards the job is one of someone deserving a demotion. You might think you’re praying for favour, but that’s just wishful thinking. Favour will only open the door, but when you get there, you must prove that you’re able to take your rightful place. How many of our institutions must be run aground before we stop favouring the wrong people?
Lesson 5: You know we don’t actually possess anything, we’re stewards of what we’ve got. So you gotta be willing to share, or let go if required.
Think about this carefully: How many people have died and left the earth with anything they ‘possessed’? The money stays in the bank account. The houses stay on the ground. The cars remain where they are parked. The stocks and bonds remain zeros and ones in the endless stream of unseen binary codes of the stock market. So what do we really possess? It’s time we got our heads out of the holes we have buried them and accept that nothing really lasts forever. Show some love by giving and sharing, let go of that thing you have held on to so tightly. Give of your time, give of your resources, give of yourself: it’s only then that you really start living.
Watch out for the continuation of the series. I’m looking forward to sharing more from Lessons from a Big Baby!