It has been 28 years since I was delivered on this earth and breathed its air in a midwife’s humble house somewhere in a little village called Ongeche in Kano plains. When I gave my first cry, I was flagged off to begin the race of life and the only guarantee was that it was going to be full of many uncertainties. And so the journey began. Born in a humble family, my mother converted the clothes she wore to a wrapping shawl so that I could be covered. The luxury of pampers and napkins were too superior for my humble butt.
The journey has been characterized with many ups and down. Swimming my way to school 2 kilometers away because of the floods and eating rice with its husks past midnight having waited for my mom to come back from the rice fields 5 KMs away. From putting sugar cane in tea because we couldn’t afford sugar, to eating plain kunde and mrenda for lunch because we had to balance the ratio of flour vis a vis when we wanted the luxury to eat a complete meal.
After sitting for my KCPE, an admission to Lela Secondary school was secured and I reported. While the normal practice for many students revolves around shopping and being able to choose the school they want to attend, mine was different. My brother, who was 10 years older than me surrendered his shoes to me so that I could use them for school. Herding neighbors’ cows over the weekend for a meager amount for pocket money was routine.
Four years later, overwhelmed with hunger and deprived of energy, I stepped into the KCSE examinations room because we had slept on an empty stomach the previous night. I questioned the relevance of education in my life and if at all it was necessary. The 2 pairs of uniforms that had been bought for me when I was admitted in high school were the same ones I finished high school with.
But my life took a detour on 28th February 2007 when I gave my life to Christ. And my perspectives changed. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt from my life:
Don’t waste the struggle
Regardless of what you have gone through; a terminal illness, poverty, hunger, death of loved ones, loneliness, lost investments, addictions among other painful experiences, you must understand that as fire is to diamond and gold, trials, and tribulations are meant to purify us. While we are in the midst of the storm, things might not be clear but once the storm subsides, its value becomes clearer. Therefore do not lose faith in the storm, do not give up along the way, do not throw in the towel because if you do, the current pain you are feeling would have been wasted. As Maya Angelou once said,
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
God is good
One of the questions that many of us have asked is this; if God is good, then why is there so much pain in the world? And that’s a justified question that I asked on October 10th 2010 when I lost my brother in a terrible road accident, he was only 25 years old. Recently, I lost a good friend who was only 22 years old, she had just completed her undergraduate studies at Daystar University and she was waiting to graduate on 27th June 2015 (Read her story here).
Yet in the midst of all these questions, one fact remains; God is good. He has sustained me in my lowest moments, he has bound my broken heart when the spears of pain threatened its very existence, He has been a faithful friend who sticks closer than a brother, He has wiped away every tear from my eyes, He has amazed me by his constant provisions and favor. He has forgiven my sins and wiped away my transgressions, my cup overflows with his goodness; He has poured on me the oil of gladness and given me a double portion for what I lost. I don’t have the right qualifications to be working for the leading radio station in Kenya, neither do I have the right background for the job I currently have. I don’t think I had the right qualifications and money to take me through a degree program in Daystar University, arguably one the best Universities in Kenya.
But God’s favor can take a lame man and make him dine with kings. He can take a reject and make him acceptable before men. He can take a man from obscurity to prominence. He can take a village boy and plant him right in the state house. And that’s the God I serve, he specializes in doing what no man can do. That which has been declared impossible by men, he makes it look like child’s play.
For a while now, I’ve been struggling to find meaning and relevance in my job. I’ve been feeling like I’m in a career maze and finding my way out has been seemingly impossible. I’ve been feeling trapped in a career that I don’t see myself pursuing in the long run. I have tried my hand in numerous things [to get out of this maze], but it seems like my all my efforts are becoming futile. So earlier this year when I started blogging, the new hobby brought many prospects and I felt like finally I had found my way out. But five months into my writing hobby, incredible things have happened, yet I still feel like they are not happening at a faster speed so that I can do that which I love i.e. telling stories and impacting lives.
It hit me this morning that success is a collection of experiences. The job I’m currently doing is meant to impart in me relevant skills that I will need when I’m doing what I was made to do. It took Joseph 13 years in prison for him to be molded by God so that he could have the right character for the prime minister’s position in Egypt. David first was a shepherd and then he waited for 15 years to be king after Samuel anointed him. As the adage goes, easy come easy go. God is not in the business of sending short-lived blessings your way. And he knows that sometimes what might be good for you in the future can turn to be poison now. And therefore I will wait, trusting that he who holds the future knows best and nothing gets him by surprise. And as he says in his words, the blessings of God makes rich and adds no sorrow. As Helen Keller ably puts it,
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
In this life, many people will hurt you both unintentionally and intentionally. However, the choice to let go lies in your hands. Throughout my life, I’ve hurt people and I’ve been hurt too. Sometimes these experiences numb you and therefore you turn cold. And as it has been said, hurting people hurt people. But as you grow older, you realize that life is too precious to hold on to any grudge. As it has been said, holding a grudge is like drinking acid and expecting the other person to get burnt by it.
So today as part of a gift to my new year, I let go of everyone that hurt me. I forgive unconditionally, I open a new chapter of freeing everyone trapped in my mind because I’m also just a beneficiary of forgiveness on the old rugged cross some 2000 years ago.
Things might not go as planned
When I was 19 years old, I had drawn the grand plan for my life. I was to graduate by age 25, be a middle level manager of a giant corporate body by 26, marry and own my first house by 28, have my masters degree and our first born baby by 29, among other grand plans. In short, some of the goals have come to pass while some have not. But I am not discouraged at all. I have peace because life has detours. I’m still hopeful that I will achieve them in due time.
The future is bright, in fact it’s so bright that sometimes I get blinded by it. My passion for leadership stems from the life that I lived and knowing that everything rises and falls on leadership. That’s why I will write about politics until that day when Kenyans will choose leaders based on the content of character and what they can do for us.
I want to travel the world doing human stories, I want to touch people’s lives as I live my purpose, I want to write and write more. I want to tell the stories of that refugee in kakuma and I want to be the hand and feet of Jesus when tragedy strikes. I want to be the greatest father who ever lived to my future children and the greatest husband to my future wife. I will die empty having poured out all that God has put within me.
The greatest joy in my life will be to go to heaven and find a standing ovation as my name is engraved in the hall of fame. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness,’ are words that I long to hear from God the father.
The article was first published here: dannish.co.ke
Follow the writer: @DannishOdongo