By Francis Ewherido
If you are reading this, you obviously have life. Everyone who is alive, well and mature has issues, and it is your primary responsibility to deal with your issues. You do not fold your arms and wait for others to make your issues their primary responsibility. Many of the issues you deal with in life are as a result of your choice or the accumulation of choices you make. You are the sum total of the choices you make, so you must take responsibility. A lot of the time, what you reap is a consequence of what you have sown. Also, if you do not sow, you do not reap; sometimes, you sow, but get a poor harvest, while some reap where and when they did not sow. At other times, it is like you sowed cassava, but end up reaping cocoyam. That is one of the mysteries and unexpected outcomes of life. That is when you feel that life is not level or life is not balanced. Life can deal cruel blows. That is when you hear people say, “I do not deserve this.”
Life can be mysterious, but without inexplicable events, your life is not complete. No one is immune from these mysteries of life. Though the events are inexplicable and outside your control, how you react and deal with them are somewhat within your control. These are part of the choices you make. A man lost his wife early one morning. By 6:30am, he was in church to attend morning Mass. Another lost his wife also in the morning. By afternoon the same day, he was dead. He could not handle the death of his wife.
For some, every unexpected and “negative” event is either caused by witches and wizards or other evil forces. For others, they have totally surrendered their lives to God and to them “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). You cannot claim to be serving the all-powerful God and spend all your time casting and binding evil forces. When are you going to focus on that “purpose” for which He has called you? As long as you are a mortal, the worst that can happen is death (I am talking about the physical). It is an inevitable end to which you have no control. In the meantime, I just want to live my life; I do not want to die many times before my physical death. Let me just live my normal life, control what is within my power and leave what is not within my power to God.
Yes, your life is your primary responsibility to sort out and you must devote time to plot your graph. You cannot cede that responsibility to another person. When you wake up in the morning, your duty is to plot your graph, focus on your life and think of how to move it forward. But it is not so with some people. Their lives is ruled by Afghanistanism (the practice of concentrating on other people’s lives and neglecting theirs). They are consumed with so much pain and bitterness, they wake up thinking of how evil will befall their fellow human beings. You see social media posts made by people as early 1am to 5am blaming uncles, aunts and other relatives who “refused” to be there for them. Some people are already pre-occupied by thoughts of how they will work against their hitherto political leaders who did not extend political largesse to them after the 2019 elections. If you spend all your time plotting people’s downfall, when will you have time to plot the graph of own progress? Can’t you see you are the architect of your wretched life? How can you make progress when you do not spend time planning your life?
Talking about getting help from others, have you asked yourself how much help you have offered to others? Some people do not even know they can be helpers. They are so selfish and involved in themselves that all they look out for are people who can help them. But every human being is in a position to render help to humanity because God has deposited gifts in each of us which we can use to help others. Life has many currencies – love, goodwill, mentorship, knowledge, your uniqueness, etc. – but many people only think about money. Use your God-given currency to render help to humanity. Also, appreciate people who give you other currencies beyond money.
It is difficult to get help from people when you are not there for other people. You want people to put sunshine in your life, how many people are you putting sunshine in their lives? You cannot live a life of selfishness and expect selflessness from others. If no one is helping you, look into your life; you are the architect of your problems.
People are not only helpers, they are also refuge for the stranded, the depressed, the homeless, the financially distressed, etc. The reason some people are angry with others is because they did not provide them refuge when they wanted them to. Ideally, your parents, siblings, children, spouse, relatives, friends, some other relationships are all potential sources of refuge, but know that the surest refuge you have, after God, is yourself. You must be a refuge for yourself because you are in charge. Others have their own issues that they are dealing with and that is their primary responsibility.
Talking about being your personal refuge, what is that thing that is in you that you can take shelter in when you are down or need inspiration? It is within; it is not dependent on others. It changes your mood for the better; it lifts your spirit. For me, it is writing and meditation. Those two work magic for me. If you have not found yours, you better look for it. It is life-transforming, especially in these very depressing times. You will never find true joy and peace in your life until you realise that you are not an accident of history. God created you for a specific purpose, look for it. In doing that, be true to yourself. These days, perception has been elevated, so packaging is important, but it is external. After wearing the good clothes, taking photos and posting on social media, in your private life, time and inner recesses, be real to yourself. Strip yourself naked and know yourself as you truly are. “Lying” to others might be a little failing, but lying to yourself is criminal; it is a grievous sin; it is ruinous.
I am not saying personal refuge is a substitute for external refuge. They go together. No one is an island. We are supposed to be independent (mature) people, living in an interdependent world. We need family, friends and other relationships. If you have a fractured relationship with family members, especially spouse, parents, children and siblings, try and fix it, especially if your life is not at risk. Your family is key to your happiness and fullness of life.