Pressure Trapped?

Not so long ago, I happened to have a chat with a young lady. She had been referred to me by one of my brothers who thought I would be of good help to her. So much was happening in her life that had caused her to be under so much pressure. One of the pressures she faced was that she was turning 24, and she didn’t have any serious relationship that would lead to marriage. “All my friends are getting married, settling into their own apartments and I am here, still living with my parents.” She said. I felt sorry for this young lady. At 24, She was missing out on so much life while focusing on what she thought would make her happy.

I think many of us today, consider marriage to be just another big achievement to tick off in our milestones. It doesn’t help that our society makes it seem like it’s the next box to tick after University. Thankfully, my friends and I were so focused on getting our lives together (from being broke to meeting our needs), I don’t remember being under such pressure at 24! I even recall receiving a marriage proposal that scared me out of a relationship. I was getting to see the world through another angle of job hunting and learning to live without university allowance. I know for some girls then, that would sound sweet, but you see, I was not handed life on a silver plate. Or maybe I was but circumstances like death changed the course and I had to figure out certain things. To be honest, if I had gotten married then, I would have done for the sake of having my financial needs met. Being in the reality of marriage now and in a much better place in my hustle, I ask myself, would I have maintained respect for that person if circumstances had changed and he wasn’t able to meet my needs anymore? Did I even know myself? Would I have discovered and lived out my potential?

I am not a marriage expert. But for the few years, I have been at it, I know that there have to be certain foundations in place for that marriage to stand. One of them that I could never compromise, is friendship. As in, a good level of emotional and social intimacy between us that we could be build on over the next 80 years of our marriage. When one is under pressure to get married, this aspect is usually under-looked, in the hope that it will be developed in marriage. No doubt, it does grow over the years for those intentional about it, but it is always good to start from somewhere. To be honest, for the married people I have talked to, it is very difficult (not impossible) to build it from scratch when already married. Being friends came in handy during our wedding preps when we had to deal with our share of pre-wedding drama. To-date, there are several instances that have reinforced the value of friendship in marriage. I am so grateful that I didn’t downplay the fact that I needed a friend for a spouse and I am ever so thankful to God for this answered prayer.

The second thing I have come to learn that is key and that I asked my young friend, “Why do you want to get married?” Most of her reasons were out of pressure. I shared with her that life is a journey and every one of us has a different path. Sometimes we even have different destinations, so we shouldn’t try to just follow what so and so has followed because we may not know the bumps in their path or have the emotional strength to go through it and not lose ourselves. In another set of young people, I recently interacted with, I shared about marriage having a purpose beyond just the sweet flowery feelings. Together with them, we had gone through a session on living an extraordinary life. We had watched a story of two famous people and how they ended up getting married. Each of them had a dream/passion linked to their purpose. When they shared, they discovered that their passions were kind of similar and that together they could contribute to a better world the power they possess. It is not that the love between them was disregarded. No, after they had gotten past just the mushy feelings, they had to deal with a bigger why. I have heard it said in one of the Ndoa experiences (if not all) that it is a purpose that holds a marriage when all is said and done. It is the ability to look beyond just what I want, need, love etc to what ‘We’ are here to accomplish together. Happiness in this case becomes a by-product of purpose.

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As I interact with people younger than me, I feel sad for those who are under so much pressure to just go through the motions or achieve a status. I feel sad that society has reduced this awesome privilege to co-create with God in many ways, to just another activity to tick off. I feel sad that many of us don’t get to ask important ‘why’ questions or talk through our individual dreams and how they fit into our marriage purpose. For that case, many of us get into marriage for the love of being married but do not build the deep roots to stay and fulfill our marriage purpose. Certain foundational principles are disregarded only to get into marriage and be faced with a big elephant in the room.

As I said, I am no expert, neither am overly experienced in these matters, but I have purposed, to tell the truth, and live out this truth with my One. We didn’t start out at 100% in knowledge of our purpose,  but we knew we had to live for something bigger than little minute us. Along the way, we keep discovering why God gave us the gift of each other. It was not out of pressure to tick the box but a desire to bring our love, giftings, callings together to contribute to the advancement of God’s Kingdom in areas He has shown us. We are daily growing in our pursuit of a purpose-filled life, as we rely on God to help us meet each other’s needs.

A word of encouragement to all my single friends/family. First of all, please forgive us for putting you under any pressure. Before you feel and act out of pressure, in regards to marriage, make sure you and your potential spouse have had a discussion on why. Trust me, it is important.

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Lead Not Deal

I know I have written a lot about leadership this year. Whether in my posts or in my blogs. Truth is, this year God is teaching me a lot about leadership. Like our friend K!mera sung, God is up to something. But I think I have fallen in his plot this time. I am not going to sleep on the jobboo. I am putting myself out here to learn and share as much as I possibly can.

I was enjoying my growth as I journey through Harvest Institute. Feeling the one that is learning quite a bit. It’s a shame to admit that at some point I was getting a little a head of myself. If there is such a thing as being over confident, I was slowly getting in that box. Huh, then at work, my boss gave me the wonderful news. I and my colleagues had been enrolled in a short (6 weeks) course in leadership. The Course was a result of a workplace environment survey that had been conducted two years back where staff were asked to give suggestions on different trainings they would like to be taken through. Our organization contracted Solutions Africa to take us through The Journey to Servant Leadership.

On 6th May 2018, we began our training. It was unlike any other training we had ever done at work. It started with a self-awareness test for all of us. Solutions Africa uses the Insights Discovery test that brings out stuff (the good colourful stuff and big glaring bad stuff) using four colour energies; Fiery Red, Sunshine Yellow, Nurturing Green and Cool Blue. These are quite similar to the temperaments – Choleric, Melancholic, Sanguine and Phlegmatic. But the Insights Test is more comprehensive as it shows strengths and weaknesses in the different attributes such as team work, communication style, management style, motivation. In my temperament tests I usually come out as Mel-Phleg.

The Colour Energy Test which revealed that I am both a Fiery Red and Cool Blue (Directing Reformer on the Wheel), made me learn so much about myself. It brought to light some of my blind spots like the fact that my being a natural critic (even of myself) makes it difficult for me to demonstrate appreciation of positive attributes or contributions of people around me. Why I feel offended by people when they suggest things that I had already planned to do. Or why I can appear to be present for a meeting, or presentation but when I have already switched off mentally. Continue reading

Reflect. Learn. Grow…

It has been a month of reflection over here. Being half way through the year, I deliberately took it slow to reflect on what I have been learning over these past months. I wanted to see how it is impacting me on my journey. The idea came while we were in the preparing for our  mid-year review of our annual workplan at work. We were just about to go through the performance appraisals and I thought it would also make sense to have a review of my personal life too, outside the job am paid to do. I’m I learning? What has changed? What can be better? What have I neglected that I need to revisit? In the process, I discovered so many things, big and small, silly and serious and my past and present self. Some of these I share here. I like to believe that someone may pick up on a few lessons learned and who knows, learning is just getting started. Read on.

First of all, reflection is part of learning. I smiled when I realized that I was getting deliberate about it. In the past I would just run through my year and the only close point I ever got to, in line with personal reflection was when I had to go through the mandatory performance appraisals at work. This time, I had a different perspective when appraisal time reached, I looked forward to it as I knew it would be the best way for me to discover gaps in my work. This is liberating in a way.  That weird feeling of nervousness I used to get when the season came around was no more. Instead I was really looking forward to sharing my new insights with my supervisor. Above just my work performance, I reviewed how I am faring with my personal goals. I celebrated my wins and made a plan for those things still lagging. Reflection helps us get better at the things we  purpose to do. Make it a part of your day, month, year etc. Whatever you wish, have time for reflection.

Secondly, I realised I used to waste so much time. Granted, the year has been super busy, yet I am awed by the important leaps I have made towards my personal growth. Since I became quite intentional about my personal growth, I subconsciously filter all my activities through The Five capitals. This was among the first lessons at Harvest Institute. The Five Capitals tackle some important life questions. Is there more to life than what we are experiencing? How do we invest our lives to have maximum impact and minimum regrets? The Five Capitals are; Spiritual Capital (Wisdom and Power), Relational Capital (Family and Friends), Intellectual Capital (Ideas and Concepts), Physical Capital (Hours and Health) and Financial Capital (Money). To grow in any one, we must invest in the other four. I encourage you if you haven’t heard about these before, to do some research on them. Personally, the lesson on them changed my perspective to life. I realize now that my decisions (big or small) are made subconsciously in line with the Five Capitals. It has helped me to focus on the most important things in life. Did I mention that I used to waste time? I used to feel too busy but unlike back then, this time, my busy has much more to show for.

Learning is a journey that never ends. This used to sound like one of those cliché phrases that people like to say but really never mean, but I have discovered it true for myself. It really never stops. Everything in life has something to teach us. When we put on our learning cap, we see the lessons in most of life. Otherwise, we miss the lessons. In staying humble and open-minded, we get these lessons even through the most unlikely persons, or situations, Talk about my less than 2-year-old teaching me about seeking the Father. Let’s broaden our perspective to discover new things in our ordinary lives.

Don’t be afraid to go into the unfamiliar. However scary it may seem; all new things always have new lessons for us. Think about God, our ultimate life teacher, did he ever take anyone through familiar grounds while He taught them about Himself or His Kingdom? No. In fact, He threw them into the deep of unfamiliar situations. If you have read the Bible or at least heard Bible stories, you can remember that Abraham was asked to leave his familiar land into the unknown Promised Land. Joseph was thrown into slavery to get to the realization of his dreams. Moses was asked to lead people out of slavery with all his flaws and no history of leadership at all. Who else? You name it, am sure you now get the drill. Are you always waiting on the perfect conditions to act on that dream God has ignited in you? Guess what, that perfect time may never come. Do it anyway, He will equip you and make it clear as you DO. This realization helps to keep us humble because sometimes we humans love to get ahead of ourselves. When we get stuck along the way, we remember who is and has always been in charge. Have faith enough to get you started, and reverence in Him to keep you going.

Are you always waiting on the perfect conditions to act on that dream God has ignited in you?

My final share from my reflections is; Invest in your relationships. Life gets busy and it never stops but you need family and friends to keep you fueled up for it. Don’t desert them.

As I end my month of reflections, I am grateful for this year of growth. It is really giving me a great foundation for my future learnings.

The journey has only just begun.