Category Archives: Spirituality

Do unto others…

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Tolerance

 

I bet I’m going to get a lot of indignant feedback by the time everybody is done reading this, but then…God gave me a brain so that I could use it, don’t you think?

Forgive me for the lack of preliminary niceties, but my mind is otherwise preoccupied with a burning question: What is the difference between a Muslim jihadist, and a Christian who throws gay people in jail?

The way I see it is this:

– A Muslim jihadist is someone who has crossed the line from religion, to fanaticism. He becomes convinced that Allah has given him the mission to institute Sharia law on earth, and to kill those who do not want to conform.

– A Christian gay-basher is someone who has crossed the line from religion, to zealotry. He is convinced that God has given him the mission to protect the earth from gay people, and any person who goes against his divine job is to be jailed and yes, maybe killed .

Sounds to me like both types of people are on a divine mission to impose their religious beliefs on others, because they feel it is their God-given right to do so! No thought as to whether the persons affected are in accordance or not, no consideration for the scores of people they might harm, no TOLERANCE for the differences between the people on this earth…my way, or the Highway (to the grave!)

So, where’s the difference?

Everybody has some sort of bias, or prejudice, or standard by which they live their life. What is important is that we learn to respect each other’s differences, each other’s beliefs, each other’s right to choose how to live their life. I’m not saying my personal opinion is that being gay is the way to go – I’m saying until the gay lifestyle poses a real (not imagined) danger to me, I think I should mind my own business.

After all, if a Muslim fanatic can’t tell you how to live your life, why do you think you can tell a gay person how to live theirs?

 

Find That Silver Lining!

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Hey people, this is going to be a quick one because I have a meeting in 15 minutes with a very antsy client, but I just had to say this.

You see, I’m happy.

Okay, now some of you may be hissing rolling your eyes and wondering: “So..what? What is so wonderful/earth-shattering/life-changing about that?”

Let me make it easier – I just had a car accident 2 hours ago, BUT I’m happy.

See why I think I need to share now?

I’m not going to bore you with the details, but not only was I thoroughly scared shitless, I have also lost 2 hours of my morning, argued until my mouth hurt, busted my left headlight, took apart somebody’s fender, paid over 50 000 FCFA for damage caused (that’s about GBP 70, USD 110, not the kind of money you can toss out in the blink of an eye) and to top it off my heel is wobbly.

But when I look at the situation, I think :

1. Two months ago, I was in a hospital bed;

2. Someone could have been injured or died;

3. It’s only money, plus it’s meant to be spent;

4. Ei bad as ei bad, I go waka emptyfoot (If push comes to shove, I’ll go barefoot);

See? I’m counting my blessings, people.

We all have a period in our lives where it has felt like everything is going wrong, where we just wanted to give up on our hopes and dreams and aspirations, abandon whatever struggle we have going on, and let what will happen, happen. However, sometimes all we need to do is look for the silver lining in the cloud, because I assure you IT EXISTS!

What’s making you unhappy? Is it your marriage (or lack thereof)? you job? finances? family pressures? even physical hang-ups? No situation is completely hopeless. Take a step back, calm down and assess the circumstances objectively. Identify what went wrong and if you need to, accept the part you played. Then, GET OVER IT! Stop wallowing in guilt/self-pity or simply reminiscing about what would have, could have, should have been. Map out a way-forward, whether it is taking a different route, or considering the incident to be a learning experience and moving on.

Happiness does not walk around looking for a home. It’s within us, always. All you have to do is prioritize. Realize that things are hardly ever as bad as they seem. Count each and every one of your blessings one by one. And of course, look for the silver lining in every situation!

Happy August, people!

NB: By the way, it’s my birthday in 5 days. Yippeeee! *dancing azonto in hiding* šŸ˜€

The day I looked death in the eye.

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The T-shirt I was wearing that night.

“I can’t die like this. My mum will be heartbroken, and my house is a mess, and my T-shirt is really sweaty. Oh God Oh God Oh God, I can’t die like this.”

Doesn’t make sense huh? Well, it’s hard to think straight when you are gripping the blade of a knife whose handle is held by a lunatic, and he’s trying to bury it in your body. I’m surprised I even managed to think about anything.

It was a regular Friday night. As I tookĀ a little walk from the gym, I thought about my plans for the weekend. I was down to my last 10 000 FCFA, but I wanted to be broke with style – a bottle of white wine, some roasted fish, and movies. I needed to call my mother. I had to find time to pick up my shoes from the cobbler and my skirts from the tailor. I could sleep at 1 am because I only had to be at work atĀ 11 am.Ā Normal random thoughts for a Friday night. I remember that I didn’t flag the taxi, I looked up and there were 3 taxis lined up, so I took the first one in the line. It was 9pm, a busy street – my mind was filled with how many calories I intended to consume and if I could power-walk them off on Saturday – I barely noticed the guy sitting in the back seat.

“Think, think, THINK”. I can’t keep this up much longer. Have you ever been opportuned to look into your body? See your blood in free-flow, come up close and personalĀ with the muscle and sinew and gory bits which are hidden by this most resilient of organs, the skin? It’s an unforgettable experience. And one I wasn’t prepared for.

I remember crying, screaming for help, begging them to take what they wanted, and let me go. I mean, people get mugged everyday, right? So why was my own different? Why wasn’t he looking through my bag? Why hadn’t he seized my phone? Why did he seem excited at the sight of my blood, spattered over the dashboard, leaking down my arm, staining my T-shirt, and whose smell filled the car? WHY WON’T HE STOP STABBING ME?

“I need to get out of here. I’ve got two minutes max, before we hit open highway, where I won’t be able to get help. I need to jump. Don’t think about it. Jump. JUMP! Oh, don’t forget your phone and your bag. That Blackberry cost good money. Erock will be so upset if you lost it.” For the first time in my life, I didn’t second-guess myself. No thinking ‘what if i hit my head/break my spine/get run over by the back tires? etc etc’.

It’s been 2 weeks 2 days since I looked death in the eye, and refused to sit still and let it consume me. I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of visits, phone calls and text/facebook/chat messages, emails etc from people who are concerned about my wellbeing, and others who, I suspect, just wanted to be in the know of the juicy details.

When I think about what happened that night, about the men who woke up that morning, sharpened a dagger, rewired their car, and went a-searching for someone to kill; about the car whose headlights I saw reflecting in the rearview mirror, whose driverĀ had to have seen me struggling, heard me screaming for help, but who carefully overtook us and sped away; the guy who drove past me standing along the highway, bleeding and cut up; the taxi driver who stopped on a lonely highway and took me to hospital; my dear ‘grande soeur’ who waited in the hospital outside Emergency for 2 hours while the doctor put over 25 stitches in my body; it amazes me how different people are. How the actions of one person can be a source of so much pain for others. How intertwined our lives are, such that each action we take has untold repercussions and effects on those around us.

As I prepare to go back to work tomorrow after 2 weeks lying in bed, nursing numerous physical and mental wounds, I realise that this has been a blessing in disguise. I’ve gotten a second chance to make it right, to live my life like my Father in Heaven wants me to and make it count for something, to redefine myself, and reevaluate my worth. And even while it might take some time to stop shaking when I think of the events of that night, I’m confident I can do it. After all, I’ve been told that I’m brave, I’m courageous, and I’m too stubborn to even die.

Plus, I wanna go to England in the summer. Can’t travel if I’m afraid of my own shadow now, can I?

Another Side of Easter

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I was reading a post onĀ a much-loved blog this morning (you can read the post here), and it opened my eyes to a lesson many people seem to overlook when it comes to Lent, and Easter.

I have to admit, like every other Christian, before todayĀ my attention was completely captured by what Christ did for me by dying on the cross. Indeed, this is undoubtedly the central focus of the Easter story, but even while we commiserate and appreciate His sacrifice, there areĀ other stories surrounding Jesus’ personal story, which could teach us a thing or two relevant in life as we know it today.

Case in point, Mary’s story. Mary the mother of Jesus, I mean. When I think about all the emotions Mary must have felt in connection with Jesus; from her trepidation and shame at the pregnancy, to her piety in accepting her condition, her fear when Jesus aroused so much jealousy amongst the Pharisees andĀ theĀ rulers of the land, and her pride when he was loved and followed by many; this heightens my perception of the sorrow and despair she must have felt, during Jesus’ last days. To see your son, a miracle child, beaten and killed by the very persons he tried to save, to be helpless to shield him from pain and shame, to have to trust God even when you don’t understand what He is up to…these are circumstances which will try any human being

As human beings, it is our natural instinct to shield those we love from pain – to think about our needs first and the needs of others later. It is unthinkable to many of us to allow ourselves and our loved ones suffer, and be hurt, for a ‘greater good’, particularly when that good favours those we don’t know, or those who hate us – but I would like to think when God puts a burden in your heart, He gives you the fortitude to bear it. When He asks us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, He expects us to do just that. To make sacrifices for each other. To go the extra mile to help a person in need. To take a step back sometimes, so that a needy person can take a step forward. Basically, to put aside our own (sometimes) selfish desires, for the good of another.

So, asĀ I celebrate this Easter, that is what I want to focus on. Seflessness, as opposed to selfishness. Humility, as opposed to pride. The ability to show compassion, commiseration, empathy – the strength of character, to put others before myself. This I believe, is another, very important and often neglected lesson, which we can all draw inspiration from during this season.

Happy Easter!