THE VOICE TOOK ME BACK IN TIME

I didn’t get to watch The Voice yesterday when it aired live. I was busy hanging out with some friends and having a blast being an absolute nuisance. So, I started my day today with that, and gosh…it was such an emotional experience for me.

Now some of you might know that I was in a reality show in 2010 – The Debaters. That show wasn’t the easiest of shows for me: I kept running into trouble with the judges because instead of being oratorical in my approach, I was conversational. The one time I decided to be passionate (the episode to raise awareness of autism), I was rebuked for not being empathetic.

(I’m still very upset about that episode by the way. I worked out an achievable plan, created a tagline, everything, and those people didn’t even throw me small face. Choi)

Anyway, I went along, worked hard, spent weeks fighting my own feelings of insecurity, tried to balance friendship with the fact that my housemates were also my rivals etc etc. By the last but 1 episode, I was in the lead (that episode was my absolute best), I was sure I was going to win. The morning of the finals though, we had a short interview panel – total curveball, none of us knew it was coming. I was so pumped for my debate that I hopelessly flubbed the panel, I think I even burst into tears sef.

I ended up coming 4th.

I was bitterly disappointed and more than a little resentful that I didn’t win. Then one day, after He probably got tired of my relentless whining, Abba said “If you needed a victory to achieve what I took you into the house for, you would have won”. In other words, His plan for me didn’t depend on victory to be fulfilled. I didn’t see it, I barely agreed with it, but I decided to try my hand at hope. 3 years later, I got the call from my now CEO that showed what God’s plan had been all along, and that plan is still unfolding.

Every day of my life, God makes this truth more and more evident to me – we might all be in the same space, but we are not in the same place, we do not have the same destinations and we definitely do not have the same journey.

My friend DJ Switch on the other hand went for X Factor Nigeria. Week after week, she put out her best effort, she wasn’t always the best singer, but guess what, she won that competition, the only edition  so far. E be like say God create that platform make my girl just show herself.

I watched Brenda perform week after week. There were arguments “Brenda dey sing” “No jor, she dey perform, she no fit sing like the others” and so on. Watching the finale, I smiled as I remembered my “not-victory” I understood that for her, God’s path to her future does not require her victory. The girl go still blow – she is an AMAZING performer. I watched Viveeyan grow stronger every episode, watched her final episode and was blown away by the accomplished musician who held me enthralled by Wrecking ball. I watched Nonso strip away all the extras and present music in its purest form, I watched Patrick and Dewe, stories of grace and the kind of favour that makes men stand for you when you have been counted out.  I watched Arese, who throughout the show has marched determinedly to her own tune, picking the more eclectic songs, standing firm even when it didn’t seem like it should work. I saw her take the mic and sing “Hallelujah”, sing like everything so far had been just for that one moment, and I was reduced to tears. All in the same space, not in the same place.

I’ve been in a place of transition in the past year, I’ve written about it a few times (I no really dey sure of the exact post, abeg make una just help me find am), and it made me smile that today, in the month of the third anniversary of my joining EbonyLife TV, God reminded me of where it all started.

Do you know that the benefits of the Debaters came after for me? The confidence, the public assurance, the ability to hold my own, the patience to dig deep in research? All happened much much later.After the show had ended.

Guys, I am learning that we cannot use the expected end as an indicator of what our expected end should be. For everything we encounter, there is a need to seek and understand God’s personal purpose for us. And where He chooses not to share, we must trust nonetheless that there is a purpose. When you understand that, disappointment is minimised, faith is established, because we know that His thoughts for us will come to pass.

To anyone in a place of wondering and waiting – asking God why what is happening for others hasn’t happened for you, asking if you’ve failed because your outcomes are different, wondering what you’re doing wrong that you are not getting the same results as others…take a deep breath, exhale the anxiety, take hold of peace.

You will not always see the end from the beginning, everyone’s definition of victory might not be the victory appointed for you, success might not come via that promotion or that new opportunity. Trust however that there is always a plan, trust His thoughts towards you. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the same space as you.

I will not say “maintain your lane” because it assumes that you all are headed in the same direction.

I will say – find your map…and then, step by step, trusting in your Way maker, trusting in your journey, trusting in your destination, grab hold of faith and make your way.

 

 

Peace in the Promise

I’m not even going to bother with the apologies again..no point. I nearly decided to leave off with this blog. I just got tired. Like when I finish working, the last thing I want to do is pick up my lappie and start another work…this was becoming work. Which is a problem.

I’m not joking I have like 5 titles to write on, but no energy, no motivation. So I decided to give it a break until today.

And today I am here because…I am grateful…

This time last year, in response to a situation, God told me “No matter how it looks, it will turn out for good”. I got a bit alarmed by the way Abba phrased it, I mean what did He mean by no matter how it looks…I was worried o.

The second half of last year was hard. I’ve blogged about it before I think. It wasn’t fun o. You know when you’re dealing with something undefinable. It’s not – Oh this person said this, or that person did that, or this thing I need is unavailable. It is just life becoming struggle on every single front. I was tired! Spent so many nights questioning God and hearing “You are perfectly in my will” and “Stop trying to escape this process. You must go through it” All those sturvs.  Ah!

I’m sitting here in my house and I am so grateful. Did the situation change? No, not really. But guess what? Somewhere, somehow, without knowing how exactly, God arranged my perspective to see my situation through new eyes. Through frustration and despair, He took away fear and anxiety. You know how you hit rock bottom and you’re like – This is it, I’m done. And then you find, most unexpectedly, peace in the giving up? I found it. Because I found out that the results were not up to me, the answers were not up to me. When I stopped trying so hard to hold on, and I let go, guess what I found? I found out that He was holding onto me, that He wouldn’t let me go.

I had a bit of an accommodation situation this year, needed to move out of a place within a certain period of time, hunted, searched, and then quite randomly got led to a place that is 10 times better than the former place. I wake up each day peaceful, content and excited. This is what He has done, showed me how precisely He governs each detail. How precisely I am led.

Today I was asking Him – All these seeds I’m sowing, will they ever pay off? And I got an assurance in my Spirit – Of course they will. This is a process, just like the past one was. My life is a daily giving, a daily pouring of myself for Him, through my service to other people. And though I am coming to a place where it is becoming less like “doing” and more like a regular way of life, it still made me smile when I said to Him, “I’m ok if You never give me any of the things You say You will, it’s about You, not them” and He sends me to a Scripture that says…let me find it first I’m coming

Aha..Ruth 2:12. In the CEB – May the Lord reward you for your deed. May you receive a rich reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you’ve come to seek refuge

He intends to reward, all that one I was speaking was just grammar.

I’m blessed with daily miracles, big and small. And now I hunger to be a miracle too. To be the vessel through which someone goes back to God to say “Thank You for coming through for me”

I used to wonder why people never gave to me the same way other people testified of receiving. You know how people say “I was just scratching my foot and someone came to me and gave me a new car”. I used to wonder why I never was the recipient of unrequested and unexpected gifts, and then Abba did something –  He took that feeling, and then turned it into a hunger to be the giver instead, of unexpected blessings. I want to be the reason someone testifies, I want to be the channel by which people are blessed.

His hands on earth and that sort of thing.

Anyway…I’m grateful. The situation I was in hasn’t changed, but being in a place where you are totally out of control and the ability to predict what comes next…well it does something to you. It gives you peace. It teaches you faith and trust. Because you are no longer able to influence or push or manipulate. And all you can do is lie there and wait.

There is promise in the waiting. There is peace in the promise.

 

G’BYE ZANZIBAR

I’m writing this post like I wrote the first, sitting at the jetty bar, watching the sun make her deliberate way down to the sea. For some reason I’m close to tears, in a good way. I’m grateful. For this week, for the things I have been told and the things I have been reminded of. It has only been a week, but it has been enough.

I’m watching the sun do what she does every evening, and watching the sea gracefully receive her. I watch the birds skim over the waves, the white one, the 5 Black ones and the last one that always gets left behind. All listening to a clock that they might not always be aware of, one that says nonetheless when it is time.

This week was perfect. I planned to explore Zanzibar and I did, but I also spent time doing absolutely nothing and remembering how it feels to pause. Sometimes we rush about so busily doing so many things, that we miss life. So I paused; I did nothing. I slept early and woke up late; I ate new dishes, had evening cocktails and took long luxurious baths in the middle of the day. I didn’t check my email at every minute, didn’t fuss, didn’t stress, didn’t talk on the phone, did nothing I didn’t have…or want to.

And it was good.

I decided on this trip after a malaria attack that scared the living daylights out of me. Scared me because I am one of the healthiest people I know. I spent 3 days in bed sleeping, partly because I was unable to get out of bed. Weirdly though, my appetite was fine. I went back to work to hear how good I looked. I know it was malaria, my test results showed malaria, but I also know I was exhausted and that my body quite simply, shut down.

On this trip I’ve, without effort, found my thought processes arranging and assessing – all I did last year in life, work and love, all I need to work on this year, things I need to change, things I need to upgrade, goals and so on.

Things have popped to the surface, other things have disappeared and I can feel that again I am in a cycle of evolution that will see me better, stronger, wiser and more capable.

I had a funny experience on Monday. Now, 2 days before, on Saturday, I had missed an opportunity to see the dolphins on our ocean safari. So I asked God if He could pretty please, give me some dolphins. Fast forward to Monday, I asked the guide as we rode the boat to Prison Island, if dolphins came the route we were taking, he said “No, but who knows”. I accepted that I had missed my chance and forgot about it. On my way back from Prison Island (pictures soon), I was chilling in the boat, lulled into semi hypnosis by the movement of the waves, when the boat operator pointed at something with a shout.

Dolphins

Jumping, flipping, crossing from one side of the boat to the other. They’d disappear for a while and then, just as we were getting all settled in, they’d flip again and jump and play. The guide looked at me and said “You’re the luckiest person. I have never, in all my years of touring, seen those dolphins so close and so many. They don’t even come to this side of the sea; I have never seen them here.”

We have a Father who hears our silliest, smallest prayers. And who delights to give us these pleasures to make our lives beautiful. If He would send dolphins off their route to answer His daughter’s prayer, what won’t He give me if it is His will?

I’m grateful

I’m grateful for this trip, that I took it and that I could afford it. It’s not a blessing I take for granted, God’s grace in my life in all its different manifestations.

I’m grateful that I got to watch the sun set, got to learn that no matter how dramatic life gets, that there are certain things that will never change, that all our worry is as futile as trying to stop the waves of the sea, that sometimes our “only me” way of thinking stops us from noticing the vastness of the world we live in. I’m grateful that I got to explore and experience things I’ve never done before. I’m grateful for the promise of possibility.

Watching the sun set this evening, with my heart so full that I feel I need to cry to ease the pressure, I accept again that I will always be the one who feels things maybe a bit too deeply, who is more sensitive than people think, whose heart is easily full…I know that it means that I will feel hurts that others will ignore, and that I will agonize over decisions that should be easy, that sometimes my heart will speak before my head. But I will also be the one to fall in love with the fading hues of the sunset, or the waves as they travel on endless journeys, or with dolphins who take the time to say Hello.

I got what I came here for. I’m full. I’m ready to go back home.

DAY 29 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Do you know the hardest part of this gratitude journey? Being consistent. It has seemed many times that it is just as I have finished all my work for the day, just before I drop off to sleep, then I remember that drat! I haven’t posted.

Something else I discovered, a number of things have happened that I would want to rant on, and then I remember I’m doing gratitude all of this month. Usually, by the next day, my complaint has vanished, it has simply become irrelevant.

I went today after a week away. It was a good feeling and it inspired my post for today. Three things that made today great and made me grateful:

1. Colleagues were happy to see me. I have been away for a week since school resumed and through the day, people kept coming up to my office to say Hi and they were glad to see me. I don’t take it for granted,many  work environments are characterized by backbiting and nastiness and to have people in my office come up to me and repeatedly say how glad they were to see me, it made me feel valued.

2. I’m grateful for the calm  before the storm. It’s holiday time, so my work hours are reduced. This means that I can get a massive amount of work done without the hubbub that usually attends a regular work day – awesome!

3. Today I got the opportunity to do something very small for someone who has often gone out of his way at work to be kind to me. I was excited about it because this person is usually so self sufficient, but blessedly, I was with him when this opportunity came up, and I jumped on it with excitement. It was great!

In addition, I have been working on a project and finally got the go-ahead to go full steam ahead. It’s quite a big project and I am excited about stretching myself and putting my talents to the test.

today, Abuja was cold and very rainy. I got home freezing, jumped under my blanket and had a quick nap. I am grateful for my blanket. It’s been with me 9 – 10 years. It went with me to Zamfara and kept me warm during the cold harmattan. 9 years later, it’s still doing an awesome job.

2 more days of gratitude. I got one big one today…one thing to be grateful for. I’m still processing it, but God worked something out for me in a very roundabout way. In the process, He taught me some things about myself and also showed me how His starting point is often a very poor indicator of where I will end up. He works in such mysterious ways and today, He just reaffirmed to me not to judge His destination by my perception of His direction. It was a wonderful lesson.

I’m asking God for 2 nice things for the next 2 days, I want to round the month out with a bang. Looking forward to seeing what He does.

Have a wonderful night guys. God bless

 

 

DAY 28 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

So I’m sitting here, listening to the prayers from the mosque down the road and asking myself why the heck I’m still awake…but it is beautiful though, there’s an awesome breeze coming through my room and there is something about the thought of people who have put aside sleep to pray.

Today I went out with my sister and my friend and my gratitude bits for today come from the outing.

1. I had an evening of uncomplicated fun. Me and 2 of my fave girls out, listening to karaoke, chatting, playing with our phones, pretending to be back up singers…there was no drama, no need to put up airs or present an impression, it was simple and it was fun.

2. We put a little money in our bags and were able to order what we wanted, knowing that we could pay for it. Guys, you won’t understand this if you’ve never been out with someone, nervous about ordering because you know that you don’t have a dime on you. It was lovely to make our orders, knowing that we had enough in our wallets to cover it. Financial independence is a blessing.

3. I got in a cab and got home…safely

4. I got home, made myself a mug of tea, walked into my slightly messy room and heaved a sigh of sheer happiness. My space, arranged (or disarranged my way)…I am grateful for this.

5. And one more thing, I tried to log on only to discover that my internet had been exhausted again, and for a minute all I felt was blinding rage…I started to think of budgets, was thinking up several choice words to express my opinion of the finisher of my internet when this quiet thought came into my spirit “You can afford to renew it” and I calmed instantly. Just a short while ago, I couldn’t even afford internet…then when I finally got it, I could only afford to renew it once a month and if it finished before the next month…toh. Today, I realised that I could afford to renew it, and yes, it might mean putting off one or 2 purchases, but I can afford it…guys I don’t know about you, but thoughts like these just serve to bring my mind back to just how far God has brought me…how much my life is changing, in these fairly simple ways.

The bottom line of today’s gratitude was simple pleasures. These by themselves might seem like little things, but they are the little things that add the extra to my life…my outing, my tea, my friends, my laughter…the ability to exist in the moment and not worry or stress…I find myself stripping away a lot…drama, stress, unhappiness, confusion…a lot of the extra drama that we take on might not be as necessary as we assume they are. Life as it is, as it was today, well it was beautiful…simply beautiful. And I am grateful for that.

 

DAY 26/27 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Ok this is where I confess that I am actually slacking. This is becoming a habit. And no be say I no get things to be grateful about o! I’m just letting life and it’s plenty busyness get to me.

So today I was reading through my journals and some of my old letters. Journals are great btw. There are few things as good for establishing growth as reading your thoughts and experiences from a year or 2 past. Every time I read a journal entry, I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for how far God has brought me, because I can see the changes within me so clearly.

Anyway I was reading these letters I once wrote to someone I was madly in love with. We weren’t in the same place and so we communicated by writing long letters to each other. It inspired me today to talk about all the things I am grateful for in love and relationships. Not just romantic relationships but in friendships, work and even family relationships:

1. I am grateful for all the people I have had the privilege to love and be loved by. It is not easy…in fact it is really scary to open your heart to someone, understanding that this relationship has the potential to cause you pain. So I am grateful for each person that looked at me and decided that I was a chance worth taking.

2. I am grateful for the lessons they taught me. Each relationship has taught me something.

  • One day, in an argument, an ex said to me “If you keep complaining that people treat you this particular way, it’s not them, it’s YOU!”. It was said in anger but I tell you it opened my eyes and it showed me that it was MY responsibility to decide how I would like to be treated
  • After an evening sitting with some frenemies – you know them, smiles face to face, sharp daggers soon as you turn, I just decided that I would no longer do this. I made a promise that I would only engage in mutually affirming friendships and I would have nothing to do with people that I knew did not like me. And I haven’t since.
  • Every relationship has cleared a new truth for me – the things that matter to me, those that don’t and why. I understand myself, why I act the way I do, the types of people I should never date and much more.

There are many many more like that. Things that I have picked up along the way  and which have helped me as I have crafted the person that I am becoming.

3. I am grateful for every single period in my life. See, I love being single…maybe too much sef. But you know, there is a blessing in the seasons of aloneness. When you can up and move without worrying. When you can apprise a situation and see exactly how it works for you. Being single has given me the freedom several times to take chances or steps or make decisions as they needed to be made. I enjoy my “me” season to the fullest so that when there is a “we” season, I will have no reason to complain about things that I could’ve done but didn’t.

4. I am also grateful because I have learned to value of my affection. See…many of us treat love like we are being done a favour. yes we should be grateful for our partners and their value in our lives, but that gratitude must be balanced by a healthy appreciation of what we are bringing into the equation. This is not arrogance – I am an awesome partner; I know this. It took me some time and a great many tears to learn this, but having done so, I have gained the ability to enter a relationship knowing that the person I am with is encountering an asset. I am less likely to waste my time with relationships that are not profitable to either of us and I am able to love freely, knowing that my value is not dependent on the person I am with, but on who I am.  I acknowledge expectations but do not trap myself into meeting every single one. It means that rather than accepting everyone that walks into my life, I weigh…I treat every encounter deliberately and everyone that is in my life is there because I have chosen to keep them there.

5. I am grateful and excited about the future. I look forward daily to a value adding, mutually beneficial relationship. I am excited about learning about this special person that God will bring into my life. I look forward to being a blessing and being blessed. I know that it will be beautiful…I will accept nothing less.

6. Loving people has taught me more about loving God. Like I said previously, I grew up with a rule book of how God should be loved. Having thrown away the rulebook, sometimes I am confused. It helps to ask myself “How would my partner/sister/friend like to be treated in this circumstance? When I am trying to get out of praying, I remind myself about how much I love chatting with my boo just before I sleep, and realise that God would probably like that too. When I am grumbling about reading my Bible, I remember the “Good morning baby” messages that ensure I start my day with a smile, how much more a love note from the Lover of my soul? When I don’t feel worthy of His love, I think of just how much it pleases me to lavish love, and then I understand.

7. I am grateful for every heartbreak. Guys…every heartbreak has stretched my heart, made it softer, made it bigger. I love deeply. I love children, I love sunsets, I love rainy days, I love people. Sometimes it feels to me that my heart is just so full of love that I must pour it out. I am learning to love like God and there is no way my heart could be as big as it has become without every heartbreak. I have encountered shades and colours of love…I know that love is not perfect and I accept that it is not meant to be; I understand that its beauty is in its many flaws and in its frailty and so I take as I am given, valuing and affirming myself and those around me in the process.

There’s much more to be grateful for, but my washing machine has just sung its “I’m done” tune and I need to go hang out the clothes. Have an awesome awesome Saturday people! God bless

 

 

DAY 25 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I’d like to share some thoughts that gave me great comfort today and reminded of just how much I am loved by God. I was lamenting to Him this afternoon that I don’t love Him like I should and this is what I got back. “You do love Me, but you’re learning how to live a life of love to Me. When you quarrel with a partner or a friend or a sibling, when you ignore them instead of listening or brush them aside or get irritated, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love them, just that you need to learn how to live that love…it’s a process”

Guys this thought comforted me, it settled my heart and put a smile back on my face. I grew up in a Christian environment that tended to praise performance. I am learning to exist in God’s love. To be a child of love. To accept the unconditional love that He lavishes on me. I’m learning not to judge myself by my successes or failures, but by the steadfastness of His love for me…that’s grace isn’t it…that is the beauty of grace

And then, some minutes later, I didn’t even realise that I was worrying about a decision I needed to make. However, I slowly became conscious of another thought – that God is not some mean old guy sitting with a scornful expression and a big stick, waiting for me to make a mistake. He promises to guide and lead me. He promises to show me the way. And if I go off track, He promises to bring me back on the correct path. God is committed to my – to our – success. It gives Him no pleasure to see us fail.

Finally, remember when I asked that question this morning, about what to do when you get the chance to do the stuff you’ve always dreamed of. Well, I had to ask myself that recently, and the answer wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I agonized, pondered and couldn’t shake off a niggling worry. Finally, I realised that the issue wasn’t what the decision itself, but rather, how it would change my routines. I realised that I would be leaving my comfort zone and entering a whole new dynamic of operation…and it scared me, because I had become used to the way life was.

I never want to become so used to comfort that I forget adventure. I never want to become to set in my ways that I hesitate to break loose and head off in another direction. There is a life available for the living, and I do not want to spend it from the safety of the rocking chair on my front porch. I want to be out there, whooping it up and wringing out every minute that life has to give. I want to Live Out Loud…and I thank God for yet another opportunity to go right ahead and do just that