Life is like two sides of a coin; Head or Tail, the choice is yours

Life is as beautiful as it is ugly, as sweet as it is bitter; however, what you see is what it is.

Life has so many definitions; chiefly, it is what you say it is.

In life, there is so much good, as there is evil but we are as good or evil as we decide.

Life is a blessing that can be perverted as a curse, it is up to us to keep it as a blessing

Through the ups and downs; it’s all life

Through the highs and lows; it’s still life

We must therefore choose the life that we desire and be constantly reminded that it has a flip side;

So when I am down, I remind myself that I can get up and when I am up, I take caution so I don’t fall.

When I am sad, I find comfort in the thought that I can be joyful and when joyful, I am grateful for the joy that has dimmed out sadness.

When I am in love, I am thankful for the fulfillment and when broken-hearted, I find hope in the assurance that love is real no matter the situation

When I have abundance, I am wise to spend and when I have little, I am assured of abundance.

When I am blessed, I am vigilant; so that my blessings is not perverted into a curse

Yes, I am wise because I do not see life as a side of the coin; I see it as both sides.

So, I know the one that has the sting, also has the honey. I am constantly out to get the honey.

I also know that the one that constantly holds back, can also stretch out. I focus on getting out the best

I know that the rose plant that has the roses, also bears thorns, so I aim for the roses

I, again, refuse to be foolish and pervert the blessings of God; God commanded me to love and my love will not be perverted to lust after those I should love

Neither will I equate myself to my elders when God raises me up; I will remain humble as I climb up the ladder and respect those that have been there ahead of me

I will not be blinded by foolishness and become so proud that I fail to give honour where and to whom it is due

Nor will I despise those that are still behind, for I was once in obscurity and know what it felt like to be left in oblivion.

Rather, I consciously choose the ‘upside’ of life, daily watching and praying that I do not mindlessly pervert my blessings for curses…because life, as I have come to know it, is a two-sided coin.

Choose the ‘upside’ of life…

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

 

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To be disappointed by men is, most times, a great blessing

God had to teach me to stop relying on people; who they know and what they can do for me. This has been one of my most painful yet rewarding life lessons. As I went through this process of tutelage, I felt like a child being weaned off her mother’s breast and presence. You know how comfortable we sometimes get in the assurances of people and forget that the best of men is still man at his very best?

I now value my disappointments so dearly as they have given me stamina to face life. I recall my service year; I redeployed to Lagos and was banking on a number of family and friends to help secure a reputable firm to serve. It never crossed my mind that I could be disappointed by everyone at the same time and I was in shock when they all did. Although I prayed to God, I nevertheless had my hopes invested in these people not God.

Following  my heart-breaking disappointments, my fiance (as he then was) advised me to step out in faith with my curriculum vitae. This time, I had all my eggs in one basket, that is God’s basket, and I was dazed at the outcome. I ended up with four offer letters from four reputable firms. This was a big miracle, coming from a point where people had told me the opportunities were all eroded to having a handful. I will forever cherish this experience. It taught me that life can take a total turn around when we move our focus from men to God. It can be impossible with men but certainly not with God.

The experience also taught me to stop putting people in God’s stead. Let men be men and God be God. Rather than looking up to people, I looked up to God and trusted that He would do the impossible. I know I cannot fight my battles alone or run my race without help but then I realized that trusting God is enough. He knows how to best handle the part of sending people and resources to respond to my vision.

I also learnt not to put God in a box. By putting my trust in people, I am placing a limit to what God can do and I have defined the terms. However, when I leave the “logistics” to God, I usher in limitless possibilities and can experience boundless favours even from people I do not know.

I again learnt that no one owes me anything in life and I am responsible for how life happens for me. I cannot afford to be bitter over help that was not given when I needed it. People have their choices to make. No one has the right to blame anyone for withholding help in time of need. We are all responsible for the life we individually lead.

It also taught me that there is time for everything and that God’s timing is in my best interest. People cannot be perfect all the time. What’s more, it is sometimes by the mercies of God that people disappoint us. It is God’s way of making us bud. Just like the eagle trains the eaglet to go for its own catch by not providing the usual food at certain growth stage.

Last but not the least, it makes me perpetually grateful that man is not God. Can you imagine the uncertainty that will greet our visions if men were God? We should indeed be thankful for the blessed assurance we have in the God that never fails and loves unconditionally.

Let’s look away from men…Let’s look unto God.

Black is the colour of the skin, not of our minds

Sometime in February, my husband and I went to see the movie; Black Panther. What I love most about the movie is that unlike the backward narrative usually portrayed of Africa, it reveals an innate intelligence, creative ability and potential of the black race that transcends skin colour or geography, while also whittling down Africa’s undeniable economic and infrastructural challenges. Unarguably, Black Panther is a revelation of who we truly are as a people; a prediction of things to come.

You know, for once I enjoyed the privilege of escaping reality to catch a glimpse of who we really are as Africans; bold, courageous, fearless, strong, rugged, intelligent, wealthy, blessed, gifted….I practically savoured the depth of technological prowess that was brought to bear by a simple and unassuming young lady called Shuri and the fact that it was not the usual techy-nerdy display. It just further points to the fact that the heroes of Africa are not limited by age, gender, tribe or colour. They are dearing and unapologetically creative.

In Black Panther we see clearly that black is the colour of the skin and certainly not of the mind. We are geniuses and inventors and not consumers!

I know many black people that are unrelentingly looking for ways to escape the harsh realities in Africa for ‘greener pastures’ overseas. Permit me to reset your gaze; did you know it got to a point in black panther that they had to fly a white cop to Africa to save his life with  African inventions (Wakanda inventions, precisely)! Some of us like to think that we are inferior just because of our black skin…I remind you again; black is the colour of the skin and not of the mind.

Rome was not built in a day, similarly, these first world countries did not get to the present level of civilization overnight. We too can build the Africa of our dreams and make it a haven for foreigners. I like to see myself as part of the builders possessing a rare black power and holding up my little fire stick in the little corner of Lagos, Nigeria where I currently reside. I am very aware that my light is too little to light-up the whole nation/continent, but I am most assured that fire is extremely contagious compared to darkness. Besides, who says a little match-stick cannot bring down a mighty forest?!

No doubt the darkness in Africa is gross, but I am more determined by the day to light up every corner accessible to me rather than join the gang of onlookers who sit on the fence and curse the darkness. And I know that I am not alone…

Black is the colour of my skin but certainly not the colour of my mind. I am African; a soaring black power!

Photo Credit: http://www.gamespot.com

 

Direction is at the heart of progress; no direction, no progress

It is not quite surprising to find people equating ‘being ahead of others’ as progress. Let’s not get it all twisted, just because we appear to be ahead of others, doesn’t mean we are making progress.

The most important aspect of making progress is to have a clear sense of direction.  Moving forward in a direction that leads to nowhere is certainly not progress. Direction is the starting point of progress.

If we do not yet know the path to follow, and we just stray along on any way, we will end up nowhere. The norm in our world is such that everybody is always moving or chasing after something and one would feel and look odd if one is not doing likewise. Nonetheless, we must never fall prey of just going through the motions without really having a sense of the direction.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all – Peter Drucker

I have fallen prey of running along with the crowd before and I paid dearly for it. I came out of school all bent on writing a professional exam because most successful professionals have a handful of certifications and qualifications. I decided to go for ACCA, which was closest to my line of study and was highly recommended as being rewarding. However, I ignored the fact that I just did not appreciate accounting as a course to study, so much so that it was the only course I dropped in high school (SSCE). I spent a great deal of time, money and effort before conceding to the fact that this was not who I was. I am a number of more amazing things than this boring subject (sorry…accounting fans…)

We must also be weary of comparing ourselves with others. People should never be the yardstick of progress; just because we are running ahead of others doesn’t mean we are making progress.

We may not know how it is all going to pan out but we should have a sense of the path we must take. We cannot run because everyone is running; why and where are they running to?

We must seek out this right path in our secret place with God and walk boldly in what He unravels to us day by day.

Although, we may sometimes get carried away and go off track, we must constantly align back with what/who God has revealed to us. I am still in the process of unraveling the ‘who I am in God’ daily and it has been amazing as I am confident in the seeming small steps I take because I have direction.

We must avoid being like the crowd who are always busy moving, but going nowhere. As always, the crowd will mislead you. I recall a time in Nigeria where the ‘crowd’ had declared that medical Science was a very lucrative profession and every parent fought tooth and nail to get their child enrolled for it in the higher institution. Today, in Nigeria, this is definitely no longer the case.

Like they say, one step in the right direction is worth more than a thousand steps in the wrong direction…

Where on earth are you headed?

Let’s make progress!

Photo by Edouard Ki on Unsplash

Good manners are indispensable spices of life

My mother taught me so many fundamental lessons while growing up. Lessons, that have greatly simplified my life and of which, I am forever grateful. I grew up in  a “Teachers’ Staff Quarters” and from time to time she would send me on errands to other neighbours. On a particular day, she sent me to the Commandant who happens to be at the apex of authority in the hood and I told her I did not think it was appropriate for me to face him; I was just too young.

She looked me in the eyes and said; you will go and you will deliver the message to the commandant because you need this skill for life, the earlier you learn it, the better. There should never be anyone in life that you cannot approach. All you need to approach anybody is to have a clear message and the right manners. These golden words have stuck with me ever since.

I particularly like the way manners was referred to in Matthew Vaughn’s movie; Kingsmen Secret Service –  “manners maketh a man”. Indeed manners has made many a great men. You cannot go the full yard without manners; you certainly will not make it. Good manners are like sweet fragrance that attract favour from God and men. It is a matter of respecting others and giving them due regard and acknowledgement. It is a reminder of the fact that we do not exist in a vacuum and a caution to us that what goes around, comes around. It is a way of making the world beautiful and spreading goodness in little bits as we go through life.

Everyone is endeared by good manners. It makes us easily likeable and allows others feel safe to be themselves with us. Showing good manners is a subtle way of saying, ‘I never take you for granted’. Besides, one of the first observations people will have of you after your physical appearance is your manners. I have heard people say;  Although, I do not know that guy, I just like him. He appears to be cool.  Perhaps, what they are actually saying that they can’t express in words is that from the little vibe I got from his well-mannered approach and courtesy, I can almost say for certain that he is a good person. Most people will judge you not just by your appearance but also by your manners.

Like they say, we become what we habitually do. Therefore, manners are a reflection of who we are and who have become. They are like the fruits of character. If you have a history of being perceived as having bad manners, you need to check the foundation; character. I once worked in a firm for over five years where the most prioritized value was character. I watched the MD pardon a lot of offences save those relating to Character. I recall that when I newly joined the firm, I would wonder; what’s the fuss about character in this place! It was only a matter of time before I was enmeshed in the firm’s perspective. I later discovered that, for the MD, people with bad character are like bad eggs that need to be removed from the egg basket immediately, lest we risk contaminating the whole basket. More like preventing the proverbial bad apple from spoiling the bunch.

No one wants to be or be perceived as a bad egg but when it comes to manners, people tend to see things differently. If we are to go by the analogy, we all know there are lots of bad eggs all around. People with good manners are blessings wherever they go; it is just always a joy to work with them or be around them. But those with bad manners are always a problem; more like cogs in the wheels of progress, making simple things complicated every where they show up. I however strongly believe that God has given us the power to become whatever we desire and that character/good manners will lubricate our wheels.

If indeed we are what we habitually do, then our good character is garnered from the pockets of good manners we exhibit in our daily lives.

Let’s be reputable for having good manners! Manners maketh a man…

Instructions received from God, give life to our potentials

Sometimes in life we become exhausted from running so hard only to discover that we are barely a distance away from where we took off. At other times, we get lost chasing after the so called good things of life that we just always seem to be in a constant race for something…

Need we struggle and go in circles before our lives make sense? Do we need every experience? How do we know the right path in life to follow? Why are we here? Who are we? What were we created to do…what is our specific purpose? Who on earth should be our life partner? These, and many more questions, come to mind in our life’s quest.

Although, many would rather have a success recipe doled out to them instead of discovering it for themselves, there is no secret to success, except that it is found in the secret place. Like it is said, treasures are not found on the surface but deep down in the earth.

We may choose to keep on with the rat race of life or focus on the core of life and have a fulfilling life as we go, regardless of the challenges. If we cannot shut the world out and focus from time to time in our secret place, we would never discover the answers to our many questions. At best, books and people may confirm or clarify answers gotten in our secret place.

I love the unique qualities of the eagle; it is said that the eagle retreats to the top of the mountain for three months to shed off its feathers and beak and grow new ones. In the same vein, I have read and heard the success stories of many great men and one underlying basis of their success is their constant connection and interactions in the secret place. That was how they had breakthroughs and came up with numerous inventions.

Like the eagle, we must constantly seek flight away from our daily plight to focus, think, pray, meditate…Alone and in secret. We must escape our current reality to create a new world through our focused thoughts and imagination.

God has something to say and show to us but we can only access these in our secret place. Just as the bible in Exodus recounts the story of how an instruction from God gave life to the rod of Moses, so that in his hands it became more than a rod, it is the instructions we receive from God that can give life to our potentials.

So, we should stop wondering why we have so much potential and do so little or why African nations are so richly blessed with numerous natural resources and yet produce so little. We have failed to retreat constantly to our secret place; to think, meditate, ask questions, seek answers. Until our leaders in Africa begin to focus on who we are and what we have to offer, think and seek answers to our many questions, we would always be struggling and running around without direction…Going forward, yet going nowhere.

We need not weary ourselves around, searching for solutions and answers, when all we need is a secret place with God away from the world, its harsh realities and busyness.  The battle for our secret place is one of the greatest battles we would ever fight.

A man disconnected from his secret place, has no depth, he is left with few imaginations and can only go so far

Everything and everyone in life will contend for this secret place. We must however not fall prey, we must fight for our secret place, for therein lies the secret of our greatness.

The battle lingers on daily…Fight for your secret place!

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How Art the Mighty Iroko tree Fallen

My husband shared an interesting story with me last week; it was the story of the grass and the mighty Iroko tree. In the forest, the grass survives the boisterous wind by bending over and rising only after the wind has taken its cool. The Iroko tree on the other hand, known for it’s strength and height, chooses to maintain its stance when the wind comes and is left broken in two afterwards.

This story sums up the marriage arena. Marriage is not necessarily meant for the ‘strong and intelligent’ but rather for willing and forgiving people. At several points you may need to take a bow, even when you have justifiable reasons not to. Marriage is about bending over and going over to the other person’s zone to feel their pulse and catch a glimpse of their perspective. It is certainly not a place to maintain your stance like the Iroko tree. Most times, you discover in the end that there was absolutely no reason for strife as it was merely a misunderstanding. What’s more, by bending over, you halt the chain of anger and unnecessary contentions that can birth other negative occurrences.

Couples who behave like the grass consistently reap the dividends of forbearance and kind understanding. I have heard people say they would not take any ‘nonsense’ in their marriage. Please, do not get married if you cannot bend over. We need to allow ourselves room to fall and rise as we grow together…No one can be perfect all the time.

Let’s know when to bend over…and bend.