Why I Won’t Give Up…

So my brothers and I have this inside joke, whenever I start to tell a story that they have heard a hundred times before, they start to sing “story of my life, searching for the right”…(I know, it’s only funny if you hear them sing it)

6:10 am; standing in front of my bathroom mirror, toothbrush in hand, trying to gather myself to start my day. My tooth was throbbing so hard I was very afraid to put the toothbrush in my mouth. So I stood there for a while, and then I did what children do when they are in pain, I called my mother. She cheered me up, told me to be a big girl, brush my teeth and get on with my day but before she hung up, she said; wait, let me tell you a story of why you should never give up, Insert music; ” story of my life”…

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December 1988, Olodi Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria. I had been sick for months, been admitted at LUTH for several months, I was not getting any better and the doctors gave up. They told my mum to take me home and let nature take its course. My fever was so high that my mother couldn’t sleep a wink, she had been up for days and she was exhausted but this particular day she was really tired and had to catch a quick nap. She had barely closed her eyes when she heard my cousin screaming for her, yelling at the top of her lungs because I had stopped breathing. My mum did not even look to see if it was true or not, her daughter was dying and she was terrified so she ran, she ran out the door into the street, wailing and crying for help, she was so overwhelmed and all she could do was cry.

I was convulsing again, and this time my jaws had locked up and my airway was completely blocked. Mama Chiago, one of our neighbors had heard my mum wailing and she ran into our house; she and my dad managed to pry my jaw open and administered medication to me. My parents weren’t even born again at the time, but my mum said she could remember my dad praying from the depths of his soul saying” Amarachukwu, you will not die! Not today, please God not today. It is safe to say that God answered that prayer because here I am today!

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My mother,my hero

My mum told me that after that day, I never had another seizure and I thrived and grew like I was supposed to. She recollects holding me for hours, looking at  my tired little face, bruised and battered from the efforts to pry my jaw open and just weeping and thanking God for sparing her little girl’s life. Amara, If God didn’t want you here, He would have taken you that day, you are here today for a reason. You went through that, you can go through anything! You see why the woman is my best friend? Anyway after we hung up, I braced myself, took a couple of pain pills, finally brushed my teeth and went about my day with a huge smile on my face. My tooth might ache like hell, my life might be going in the opposite direction from where I planned for it to go, 2016 might have been a whirlwind of tears and low moments; but I won’t give up! I have come too far from where I started from, God has been my God through all of it, and He didn’t bring me this far to leave me…

Don’t give up, not when the sun is just about to shine. 2017 will be our best year yet… ps: this is a heartfelt thank you to Mama Chiago, God bless you wherever you are today!

Fall seven times and stand up eight.”- Japanese Proverb

A Stranger’s Kindness

 

Dear Diary,

It was a really long day. Emotionally tasking and physically draining. Walking to the bus station seemed like a herculean task and as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other, I found myself doing that which came naturally to me; crying. So I stood there, in the middle of Lindbergh station, bawling my eyes out, feeling the weight in every inch of my body. I could care less if anyone was watching me cry, I just knew I needed to ease the tight feeling in my chest and too bad if I was on the road. It was a windy day and my tears dried before they reached my lips, leaving streaks in my makeup and what was left of my eyeliner, I looked a mess.

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I needed to blow my nose so bad so I dug frantically in my handbag looking for tissue and I could not find any, somehow that made me even sadder. Now this is America, if you strip naked on the road people will probably walk right through you, because everyone is always in motion, and they just keep moving. Still digging through my bag in a frenzy, I felt a hand on my shoulder and the person said to me; here, you need this and handed me a pack of tissue. I took it buried my face in it for a minute, finally feeling shame and remembering where I was. When I looked up, the person who handed me the tissue was a man, dressed as a woman, make up and all.

He led me to the nearest park bench and asked me what was wrong and if I wanted to talk about it and the words came spewing from nowhere and we talked and talked. The bus came and went and we did not notice, this stranger somehow, had taken my pain away. He offered to buy me coffee but the next bus had come and I really wanted to go home so I declined politely. He encouraged me some more, gave me the warmest most comforting hug and thanked me for not looking at him like a crazy person. He was walking away and I called out to him and said; thank you so much, God bless you and Jesus loves you…His eyes lit up at that and he gave me his card and walked away.

I finally got on the bus and I thought about the experience I just had with a total stranger. I  was standing in the middle of the road, crying my heart out and straight, regular people walked by without a second glance. Not that they owed me anything but still, they did not care. This man, who is kind of confused about his gender and  judged by many to be crazy was the only one that stopped to show me basic human kindness and a love that trumped race and orientation. We are often quick to judge, condemn and dismiss people based on their outward looks, quick to label and call them names forgetting that we cannot reach anyone unless we do it in love and tolerance and humility. How as a Christian, do you hope to convert an unbeliever if you refuse to associate with them or talk to them? How will you tell them of God’s love, a God they do not know and  cannot see if you who they can see refuse to show them love? We cannot change anybody by sheer will power, only the Holy Spirit can do that. Our job is to obey the greatest commandment of all, to love our neighbors and to show them the way to God’s heart through love and patience rather than condemnation and disdain, at the end of the day, we are all broken. Whether or not we admit it, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God and we all need Jesus.

Your life style, the words you speak and how you conduct yourself might be the only Bible an unbeliever ever gets to read, your life is a message, what are you saying? I made a friend today, and somehow someday I will invite him to Church but until then, I will be loving and kind to him, to show him a glimpse of the restoring power of the Love of God.

“It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, especially when we’d prefer not to be.”- Josh Radnor