One of the things I love about us Africans, and Kenyans especially I may add is the way we are communal. We are our brother’s keeper.
That is why when you hear a blast somewhere, rather than run away from it, we move towards it, sometimes to our detriment. Or when there is a road accident, every car has to slow down or stop to see what is going on. Or if I am unwell and in hospital, you can be sure I will get very many people visiting to see if I am improving.
The other day a close friend of mine was admitted in hospital and you could tell the difference between him and the non-Kenyans; the Kenyans the nurses had to actively manage the visitors’ inflow for the Kenyan. I even felt sorry for the foreigners, obviously you cannot compare with when you are a foreigner in a land but generally we are a more caring society.
I worked abroad for a few years ago and our warmth is one of the things I missed most!! Nothing like the Kenyan warmth, believe me. I missed hanging out with a crew of people after church without necessary having an agenda, I missed that I could walk into a friend’s house unannounced, I missed nyama-choma plots, I missed how we are communal.
Moving against the wave
But perhaps with our warmth and communal trends, we have unknowing often tended to block each other from being any different.
We have the norms as we know them and we want everyone to fit into those norms, again not out of malice, but with a lot of love.
As a result, a woman who decides to be a stay at home mother as a personal preference is seen as being ‘weird’, or if a family decides to adopt children again, out of norm, or if a person resigns from their workplace as they are not fulfilled, or someone decides to move to a less lucrative job as they enjoy the less lucrative job, they are seen as weird. If someone decides to do a small card only wedding, weird; it’s their wedding surely they should decide what they want.
As a society we have set norms and we are uncomfortable with deviations from those.
But with this comes a life that easily passes many of us. We are too afraid to live the dream we have or even fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. Rather than rock the boat, we flow along. A person recently told me ‘you only live once’ and I thought yessss, I only live once so I best be doing that which God has placed in my heart right?
One of my favourite history classes is in King David, and I love many things about King David but the one that stands out on my mind today is the famous story of how he brought down Goliath.
On this day, David comes to check on his brothers, he then hears Goliath taunting the armies of Israel. That made him angry and he volunteered to kill Goliath. At first King Saul dismisses him as this young and inexperienced person. I can almost imagine, he must have been thinking something like ‘this generation Y people who think they can do it all’. Can’t he see we the experienced ones, the ones who have done this too many other times and if we have been unable to deal with this Goliath person. David would not relent (Gen Y, familiar?) so Saul gave in. But before he let David go to the battlefield, he gave him his personal armor to wear.
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 1 Samuel 17:38-40
David could not function in Saul’s armor, perhaps because Saul was much taller, perhaps because he had never won an armor. For whatever reasons the armor, as reasonable and sensible as it was to Saul just wasn’t David’s. God had prepared him in a different way; he had set him on a path, a road that was just David’s. So David took off the armor and took up what he felt most comfortable with –a slingstone and some stones. These he had used before in shepherding, these could not make sense to anyone else but they made perfect sense to David, these were what God had prepared him with.
I always imagine what the results of this would have been if David had tried to fit in and take the road that made sense to others, I bet Goliath would have brought him down very easily.
My personal walk
The road less travelled is scary to many. It is even lonely at times. Yet it is only in this walk, the less travelled road that we connect with God’s purposes for our lives.
I am learning to take this path, with all its scariness and occasional loneliness, only then do I feel I am alive, really alive.
I have also learnt to accept that people will take different walks in life, and that is okay. For some that road less travelled leads to a common place for others it does not, but the important part is to remain true to self in the walk. To search your heart and kick away the fear and loneliness and determine to walk this road. The Lord thankfully helps you! It is an amazing walk.
For me this road has led to more writing…I only began to actively write mid-last year. I took some time off from work and during that time I found myself writing. Had I never taken the time off, scary as it was, I never would have written anything, and now I just LOVE writing! I realize God has gifted me with the ability to. I am humbled by that.
The other day a friend of mine told me she never thought I could write – what I dint tell her is neither did I. In my younger days, I always found that I expressed myself best when writing. But I reserved that for when I wanted to communicate fully, like clearly! I had a boyfriend once who dreaded me writing to him, he knew it would be like a sword. But I have learnt that I can write elsewhere, it is my gifting.
Why am I telling you this, it is to nudge you to the road less travelled. If I had never taken my road, lonely as it was, scary as it was, I would be sitting on a gift.
Have I fully allowed myself to take this road, a big no. I am too afraid of the backlash of those who will not understand me. I hold myself back. I probably am afraid of the unknown in that road. Yet everytime I search my heart, everytime I am brave enough to take this road, I am astounded at what I see there. Perhaps it is the walk of faith that makes the road less travelled a necessary. It is as we take those steps of faith that we meet with God, and learn to fully depend on Him.
I am amazed at how Abraham could in obedience to God pack and leave the comfort of His home to an unknown land that the Lord said He would lead him to. That was his road less travelled. And as he did that, he met with God’s purpose for his life.
My two cents advice
Step out, search for your road. I cannot tell you it is like this that or the other, all I can tell you is it has the marking leading to your purpose.
The only way we can say like David that wen his purpose was fulfilled he went to be with his Father, the only way we can accomplish the workmanship the Lord has specifically created us for, is if we take this road – it starts with a search. It starts with a desire to take the road; an abandon to allow the Father to lead you to this road. I get excited wen I think of the road less traveled.
Don try to fit into someone else’s shoes.
I feel one of the biggest challenges we have as a generation and a continent in general is that we want to compare and contrast. It is that we want to imagine there is only one right way and path to take. It is that we have been bred to live in a communal way that has taken the individual in each of us. As a result many of us are living the dream of others, afraid to take their own path. Unhappy yes but too afraid to try anything different. In the process we miss our lives. We do not know the joy of facing our Goliaths using a sling rather than an armor that really does not fit us. Yes the armor made sense to Saul but imagine it could not for David.
So step away from the societal expectations, step away from the path society has laid out for you, be true to yourself and ask God to lead you where your stone is. To where He created you for. Do not live someone else’s life, imagine you will never be happy there, and imagine life is too short to not live your life. Find your own joys, your own paths, your own roads, be true to self. And when we get into that road, we will flow, we will naturally know this is my path, it will feel like home. Coz it is the path you were made for.
Coz life is short
Let me also say that yes sometimes people will be the ones God uses to speak into your life so I am not advocating for ignoring people. All I am advocating for is for us advisors to ensure we are not advising others into the path that makes sense to us but rather helping others to discover their own path. All I am advocating for is me as a person when I have listened to my advisors to go back to God and ensure that is where He is calling me to.
Coz life is short.
One of the people I have a lot of respect for the other day shared how a few years ago he discovered he had cancer. The cancer was really bad and for some 2 weeks he was in a coma, infact the doctors had written him off its just that his wife refused to have his life machine switched off. By God’s grace he lived.
When he woke up, and lived and looked at his life, he changed many things. He realized he had lived his life for many others. He realized in the process the people who really mattered; those who’d accept him even if they do not understand had taken a back sit in his life. He realized his family barely saw him. He realized he hardly ever got a chance to do the things he loves to do, he did not have time for them or was it that he lived in a society that expected him to run after the mikes and makenas. He realized the futility of it all and that day to date his life was changed.
What a lesson. I am still trying to learn it. I struggle often. But it is what I want my life to be about, the road less travelled yet the road that God prepared me for.