This post is especially dedicated to the members of the executive committee of CLASFON NLS Bwari 2015/16 Session. To those who gave it all, and in the eyes of the world, got nothing in return. The Lord is indeed your portion.
Let me appreciate @hrh7 who was my very first follower on this blog. She is an awesome writer, and you will definitely not want to leave her blog in a hurry.
I cannot count my blessings. I figured out that God’s way of dealing with me is to be really mysterious, leave me in the unknown so that my trust in Him will grow. And big (really small) it is now. The last three years of my life, total God-work. And I cannot be ungrateful.
Last year, God helped me face law school. It was a huge decision for me, leaving a somewhat comfortable zone to go into the unknown. Today it is over. My initial response to my result was of annoyance and sadness. But in retrospect, and looking at the fact that I barely ever read a quarter as much as I should have, my joy is boundless.
But like I told my friend sometime ago, it is almost difficult to celebrate passing these exams. When you are right there thanking God, you suddenly remember your friends who did not pass, and somehow you just become less ecstatic. My friend Oluwatosin understands better than myself, having attended law school when almost half the students failed. There was no way you would not know at least ten close friends who failed. She described it rather aptly for me:
Law School tested so many people. Friendships and all. People stopped being friends after law school results.
The difficult life caused by barriers. Barriers are not only blocking you from the other side, they also potentially block you from people who don’t make it across. They set people apart through various, some times unfair, parameters.
I remember one time in Igbobi College, I was picked to represent Townsend House in the high jump. I don’t understand why I was picked but it probably was not unrelated to the fact that I was academically outstanding, and I knew PHE in theory. Inter-house sports day, and there I was trying to live up to expectations. I ran forward the first time, looked up and saw the barrier, and just stopped. I did it again, and stopped. The third time, i just ran right past the barrier and went to my seat. I was too afraid to jump. My housemates and masters were disappointed.
For days, I was the school joke. For those few days, no one cared that I was almost always top of my class. No one cared that I was arguably the best goalkeeper in my class, and I could jump really high. No one cared that I answered questions well in class or wrote my notes ahead of time. No one cared about any other thing. I was the guy who could not even make a single attempt at high jump.
That is how unfair barriers can be.
I have had my fair share of failures. You see it, and at first you don’t believe. You can’t tell your friends; they all expected you to blaze it. You begin to withdraw. You tell the occasional lie to get people off your back. Oh I passed. Oh, my results were inconclusive. Mine was cancelled. Blame other people. Resent your friends who passed. Question God. Stay away from people you felt did not deserve to pass. Question God. Resent God. And so on.
After years of failure however, and all in times of being a Christian, “serving God” so to speak, I have come to learn a lot about being a real Christian and adjusting to failure.
First, failure does not exist. At least not in the sense that we see it as humans. Failure is only that because that is what we believe it to be, not what God calls it. Our orientation as Christians is that we must be successful, pass our exams, get good jobs and all the good stuff. When bad stuff happens, we term it to mean either God did not favour us, or we did not do enough for God to deserve success. Those are just clear falsehoods. Those notions of success and failure are created by our desire to judge God according to our own parameters, rather than judge our circumstances according to God’s parameters.
I could not go to law school in 2013 because I failed. I failed and there was nowhere to turn to literally. It had to be the next year. To me, I had failed and God had failed me, and did not reward me properly. But I got the opportunity to work at The Destiny Trust because I failed. I learned love because I failed. I was so happy it took committed efforts from God through my mom, Abimbola and Kemi to get me back to law school last year.
So did I fail in 2013? No. I saw in the seeming losses, so much gain. I learnt that failure was our creation. To really fail is not to see the hand of God in everything. To fail is not to trust Him. He never promised all roses and sunflowers. He promised to make us better and grow to become like Him. Failure is when we lose sight of that. Every other thing is just really relative and does not really count.
Second, God did not call you to Himself so you can earn your keep on the earth. So if you are serving because you want to earn His favour, it is indeed an effort in futility. This is the reason why when people do not meet human standards, they get disappointed and easily fall aside. They came to Christ for the glory of the here and the now, and not for His glory. People like that find it hard to stand in times of heavy storm, because the anchor is not on anything above.
Again we must understand the purpose for which we have come to Christ. It determines our perception of failure and success, really. The world has its own standards. I urge us not to bring down God to our perceptions. Rather, let us stand up tall and reevaluate what we have first believed.
In this world, failure is hard, I admit. I am saying this from experience. I hope I can share that soon. It comes differently to different people at different times. The effects are however almost usually the same.
For me, reacting to it is what really shows if you failed. A man has not failed until he has accepted defeat. Just as success creates opportunities, failure also creates opportunities.
And the first opportunity it creates is an opportunity to be strong. It is a tribulation, or a trial or whatever. That is to build your character, especially as a Christian. And truth is a sign of courage. Speak the truth. When you lie about your performance, you are opening the room for the devil, and you are alienating people of goodwill. Say no to that.
Strength will usually mean talking to your true friends. Please, if you are afraid of being scorned because you failed, I cannot allay your fears. It will come. It will come from people who are close to you. Forget it. Look on the bright side. You now have an opportunity to see the real Christians among your friends. And those who scorned you are new prayer points, for God to help their wahala!
And granted, you may cry. It is a free world. But make it short. Get up from there and be a tool around you. Do something. Continue at what you failed at if it is a barrier you must cross. If you have other options, biko find your way.
Most importantly, be at the feet of God. It is in the darkest hours that light makes more sense. It is in darkness that the true valley of light is seen. Let adversity bring you closer to your maker, not away. You may find answers, or new roads, or both. But you will never rise from the feet of God as a failure.
From there, you are a victor.