Seasons and times are a very fundamental aspect of every society. A review of all cultures show that every society had the day and night divided into various parts. The sun, moon, rains, migration of animals, how plants grow and shed off leaves were some of the indicators of changing seasons. Globalization has continued to result in a harmonized calendar to show changes in seasons. Probably, only religion and a few cultures still remain with some sort of their own calendar. However, there is every sign that this may change with time.
It is therefore not a surprise that we are looking forward to and are energised for another year called 2022 by the majority of the world’s over 8 billion people. People have high hopes that the new season will come with good tidings and favour that propels them forward. It is common knowledge that the covid 19 pandemic has affected the last seasons. Social and economic state of our lives were greatly disrupted. All of us have had to accept, adapt and adopt new realities of living.
Even with this major change, there are still many that believe there is no “corona” as covid 19 is mostly referred to. In various social media platforms, many people will be found arguing first whether it exists, it is a human creation and whether we should be vaccinated. The debate even gets uglier when laced with religious views and perspectives.
The reality is that our lives have majorly been interrupted and disrupted and even as we review 2021 and look at the future of 2022, we cannot be oblivious of the things around us. Anyone planning for 2022 must have this in mind and make it a necessary consideration if you want to make progress. Covid 19 has made healthcare costly, death a closer reality and something that changes families forever.
Adios! A look into the coffin
The year had so many deaths. Many of my friends were bereaved after the loss of mostly their parents. Some lost their children and others spouses. Loss of a loved one is always a very tough experience and not an easy one to climb that mountain and conquer unscathed. My friends from church to Net Ministries Trust, Kenyatta University Christian Union Alumni and Onjiko High School 96 Alumni groups, work place and space among others lost their parents, children or close relatives. Apart from parents, there were also the loss of colleagues. Death is a bad reaper, says Elechi Amadi in his book, The Concubine. I have no words to share with those who lost their loved ones. Death has made many orphans, childless, widows and widowers. I pray the Lord hold your hands as you walk through a phase without someone whose life meant almost everything in life.
In my reflection of 2020 year titled 2020 briefs, I had indicated that if God was to open the pandora box and get to allow us to see our future of mixed grill- good and bad, sadness and joy- many of us would not even live. We would lose hope.
The year brought us another death. Baba’s death was just very sudden and unexpected. He just went like that without any serious sign of looming death. The previous week we had gone to Nyamakima, Nairobi town to check on some land matters and he was very jovial then now he was gone. Where do you start from? How do you start? When do you start? Why do you even start? There is always that state of confusion, disbelief, pain, grief and the unknown future when death strikes. Family members find themselves in a shaky boat with little or no ability to chart the course and steer the ship.
The sting of death, while the Bible says is defeated and asks a rhetoric and sarcastic question, is usually real to the most affected. Even condolence, comfort and caring messages may not alleviate the pain. As I reflect on this, I have learnt that the pain of grief will take many years to end or to be forgotten. I have just learnt to carry my grief with me- cry when my heart is bleeding, find laughter over some of the events and our history and forge ahead by being inspired by the values and vision of my departed father. This lesson was also learnt from Rev Simon Mwangi of Parklands Baptist Church, who narrates his experience of grief in the book, Embracing Seasons Wisely, by Bishop Simeon Oyugi.
“My major disrupter happened on the morning (5am) of Sunday 6th March,2011. This is the moment when my wife Joy went to be with Jesus….I now had to face the future without her and with five young children……I broke the news to my children . We did the burial within a week and the long walk began. I determined that I was to engage my new season under three areas namely ‘a person, a parent and a pastor.’ I took a prayer retreat and reflected on these three considerations. I resolved to march on……I sat with my children and agree that we would pursue the values their mother had inculcated in them, namely God first, develop self through education and investment, and finally serve by giving back to the society.”
My method of dealing with my pain may not work for someone else. I am always pressed from inside to comment with messages of comfort but deep inside I am wondering how and whether the message will make any meaning. In his book, Where is God when it hurts, Philip Yancey says:
I feel helpless around people in great pain. Helpless, and also guilty. I stand beside them, watching facial feature contort and listening to the sighs and moans, deeply aware of the huge gulf between us. I cannot penetrate their suffering, I can only watch. Whatever I attempt to say seems weak and stiff, as if I’d memorized the lines for a school play.
The Fowler’s snare
It was a dark period of over two weeks. Waking up each day to go to hospital to get a report either way. The year also had its fair share of sick family members. Shuttling between home and hospital daily, reaching there to attend to my patient in the best way I can. I thank God for the gift of friendship who for those 12 days prayed, visited and checked on my children. Some used their finances to support me sort out certain issues.
Being a caregiver is energy sapping. One is easily drained while you still have to give 100% attention, energy and hope. At times the caregiver and the patient are all in need of hope and assurance. For those who are struggling with health challenges, may His grace be sufficient even as you bear this thorn in your flesh. In this world, these are some of the things we must go through however strong you are.
The year 2021 found me severally reflecting on the Economics of Relationships, a blog I am yet to publish. I learnt that it is important to establish, maintain and enhance friendships. In a world where social media is making those far away to look closer to us and those seated near us to look very far away, we must be deliberate and intentional in building relationships that foster unity, togetherness, friendship and that can propel us beyond our comfort zones.
During the year, this required that I work on my people skills of relating, initiating and sustaining regular conversations (calls, sms, whatsApp, messenger and in person engagement). Additionally, getting involved in people’s issues by being there for them as much as possible. One may say that building relationships is only possible for extroverts, however, God expects us to all work on this area.
In a world that is becoming unkind, uncaring and mercilessly hurting down one another, a sense of brotherhood will take us far. We do not need to pay a heavy price on this. Rather, just commitment and consistency will take us far. For example, deciding that this year, I will reach out to someone once a week or a month makes a big difference.
The words of pop singer Jackie DeShanon speaks clearly on this: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It is the only thing there is just little of”. However, the cry from the world is mostly,“what the world needs now is jobs, sweet jobs, it is the only thing there is just too little of.”
It was a year of various assignments entrusted to me by the Lord through His people. Some came as surprises while others were mostly part of my daily routines.
Leadership is never a walk in the park. It has its fair share of challenges, most of which are man made. Leading Christians is especially one which is unique in challenges and self fulfilment.
The biggest challenge is the balancing that is required to juggle between job, christian service and family. Juggling the liver in this situation is never an easy assignment. Some key practices I developed to balance my time were planning, prioritization, regular reflections, spending quality time with my family, holding effective meetings, regular exercise and delegation.
Another lesson I learnt during these engagements is what I call monkey management. As a leader if you are not careful, people will hand over their monkeys for you to handle on their behalf. However, I have now learnt fully well how to deflect monkeys and ensure they do not perch on me.
Lastly, a key thing was excellence in execution. It is not just about doing an assignment but also doing it in style and ensuring the oomph that accompanies the results. Excellence is never an accident. It is the results of endless efforts, sacrifices and commitment to deliver in a better way that not only satisfies self but others in the game as well.
Every season has its ups and downs. 2021 had its fair share of challenges. However, looking at life with a positive perspective enables one to press on knowing that the challenges are short term. I celebrate life. I celebrate the fact that I had food, friends and family. They made my life better. They kept oozing freshness even when all around was marshy and salty.
Happy new and blessed 2022. May you walk with God steadfastly and faithfully. May your mind and heart be connected with the Lord’s and endeavour to do what the Lord wants you to do.