‘How do you stay happy and encouraged even when things have not worked out’?
To all those who have waited long,
To all those whose plans have not come to pass.
I am sharing this.
I am still a young man, the days I’ve spent in this world are far less than the days before me. In my little time here, there are some truths I have always known.
My father called me sometime ago and asked to speak with me. I was immediately anxious and quickly went outside to meet him.
I sat in front of him and after a few moments passed, he adjusted himself on the chair and began.
‘Victor, I want to tell you some things…’
For about the next ten minutes, he talked on.
He mentioned my friend who came around to visit me some days ago, the guy came with a car.
He also told me about my other friend who just got married.
My dad ended the examples with one of my friends who studied abroad; and the one who just got a good job.
He started slowly while I just sat opposite him with hands clasped between my knees as I listened. I knew where he was going but I allowed him finish.
After citing the examples, he went ahead and told me some things.
He said he hoped I wasn’t feeling as if my life was on the slow lane.
He asked if I was not looking at the success of these friends he mentioned and asking why my own life had not quite made progress.
He knew it had been over four years since I graduated, and he knew I had never really had to face a delay in life.
I bowed my head in the darkness and smiled as he spoke on.
When he was done, both of us were silent for a while before I began my response.
I started with a story I will never forget.
It happened when I was in school.
When I resumed school in 100 level, one of the first tutorials I attended was handled by a lady.
I think she was in her third year of a six-year course that time. She taught the English tutorial while we listened and wrote down some things.
Since then, anytime I saw her, I always greeted her with great respect and gratitude.
Two years later, while I was in my third year, she walked up to me that morning in my department and said she wanted to speak with me.
We stood in the corridors of my department as she began the story.
She told me how she had just been told by her Faculty Board to transfer out of the previous department into another department.
It wasn’t what she said that struck me, it was the way she said it.
I’m not sugar-coating this story, I am regaling it as it happpened; she was actually smiling while she told me.
She even laughed when she saw the look of sorrow that crept into my face.
I stood in front of her and pondered and wondered how she still could keep her smile on in the midst of such a terrible news.
She just lost four years.
She was ordered to start from the second year of my own department.
While she was in 300 level, I was in 100.
Then, I was in 300 level, she went back to 200.
As young as I was then, it was one of the saddest stories I ever heard.
My eyes started to get red as she told me of some more struggles in her life.
And you would never have guessed she was passing through anything.
Each and everytime I greeted her in school then, she always smiled, always smiled.
She didn’t know she touched me that day.
I never ever forgot the way and manner she was always smiling even in the midst of life’s doubts and struggles.
And everytime since, whenever I am faced with little troubles or I am tempted to get discouraged, I always remember her.
I always recall her story and smiling face and then ask myself, ‘Is my situation as dire as hers?’.
The answer has always been ‘No’.
I don’t know how she did it then, but that experience has always served as a source of strength to me, and I hope it does to you reading this today.
Some years later, she finally graduated and served. She is married now with kids and the last time I saw her, the satisfaction and happiness I saw on her face reminded me of all her struggles in the past.
She still kept that smile on, and it reminded me of the advice and encouragement I gave her those years ago, in the corridor of my department, when she told me her story.
I told her that for someone like me, who has had a smooth sailing in life up until that point, my testimony wouldn’t really be sweet to the ears.
My success story wouldn’t be interesting, as I’ve never had to face any challenge in life.
I told her that but for a person like her, who has been beaten down by life, yet stood back up, I told her her success story will be interesting.
The presence of struggles, pains and trials act as ingredients that make our life’s story much more interesting and challenging.
And I guess I was right.
I have told this her story many times in the past to encourage people, and I am still telling it today to encourage whoever is out there who may be filled with doubts.
Try to remember the few good things around you. It is hard, but try.
I grew up amidst uncles and men who, though ten years older than I was, were just some levels higher in education. They taught me quite early in life that life is not a race or competition with some other folks.
My neighbour growing up was in SS3 when I was in JS3 but I gained admission before him and graduated before him. That taught me never to think I have prospered more than another because I presently have higher ‘achievements’.
A couple of years down the line, things will definitely change or switch.
I hope everyone stops comparing their life story with another person who is their agemate, classmate or even younger.
‘She is married, when will I?’
‘He rides a car now, what about me?’
‘He earns a six-figure salary, why not me?’
We always remember all those who are seemingly doing better than us while we conviniently forget those who we are better than.
Do the persons now dead deserved it more than you do?
Do the ones who are crippled or condemned to the hospital bed worse than you?
Are you better than your agemates who are still in school?
What have you done to be in a better place than the man who cannot even get a job in the primary school down his street?
No matter how rich you are, no matter how successful you might become, if you keep focusing on the things you do not have, rather than those you have, you will never live a happy life.
I think everyone feels down, discouraged and worried about life at some point or the other.
I think it happens to everyone.
Sometimes, no one is too strong not to think about his path and journey in life. And ponder about what the future holds.
You ask yourself if life would get any better for you.
But there is a constant hope, or reason to hope.
And that is God.
The maker who knows tomorrow.
I have always known, and I always believe I will be disappointing God and myself if I get too worried and start to fear the future.
I have spent almost five years out of school.
I should have a stable well-paying job by now.
With the gifts God has imparted in my life, I should be living well and giving to others by now.
A good job is important for most of my other plans to work out.
Things I thought would have arrived by this time of my life when I was in school are still absent.
I am very far behind. Very far.
But I haven’t seen a single day, not one day; and I am not saying this to show I’m strong; but I have not seen a day that these thoughts have brought me down or make me cry.
I don’t know why I am so sure, or some may call it faith.
But I just know this:
Things will not continue like this for ever.
It is not possible.
And if I can’t be happy now, I might not be happy ever. Ever.
I always ask myself, ‘Am I not better than some other people’.
People who are even better Christians than I am, closer to God than me.
Yet, I have cause to be grateful for a lot of things in my life.
I went to school, graduated.
Served the country, finished.
I am alive.
I have a very good family, filled with love.
Good friends everywhere, who are always happy to lend a hand.
I am not alone, never felt alone in the world.
I am a happy guy.
I have a lot of reasons around me to be happy.
I accept that there are things I wish I have, things I wish I have achieved. Many of which have not come now.
I can’t count them now, I’d rather count my blessings.
Things will be better, for sure. There is still time.
We are not dying today. We will be here next year. And the year after that.
Things will move forward.
I’m more concerned about staying as close to God as possible, never straying away.
And I hope you do too.
I hope you remember the good things in your life, no matter how few, and get up and be happy about your life.
I hope you stop feeling sad for how your life has been.
I hope you are encouraged today.