Pilgrim’s Progress: My mess, my growth

by Akan Nweke

I do not like stress or anything that poses a threat to the equilibrium in my world. Just like every human being, I do everything within my power to restore balance as fast as I can. I particularly hate being broke; and it has proved time and time again to be one of my most dreaded inconveniences. “I know both how to abound, and how to abase, ” Paul says in Phil 4: 12; but I must confess that I’m still learning to appreciate the merits of abasement.

I would not be who I am today without all the troubles that have plagued me since my life began. I’m sure you have heard stars and great men say this in interviews, when they are asked the secret to their greatness.

It’s no news that challenges lead us to growth and troubles inspire greatness. Throughout last week, a particular verse of Scripture was going through my mind;  “And let patience have her perfect  work, that you may be perfect and entire lacking nothing” ( James 1: 4).

The Lord has been saying, “In your bid to cut short the life span of your challenges and to extract an instant wave-of- a-magical-wand above all your troubles, you will miss out on what I am trying to achieve by all of it.

“You’re trying to achieve something, Lord?

“Of course, he says, can’t you see how different your life is from when you began ‘going through’”.

“Hmmmm”, I respond.

Yes, we talk that way, my Lord and I. You should try it; therapeutic to say the least.

Every young person deals with various issues at different points. If we are not trying to gain admission into college, we are trying to graduate or dealing with the incessant exams. Or we’re dealing with relationships or marriages, struggling to overcome the pressure of our peers while trying to project the emerging identity of our true selves.

I am going through my own crises; essentially a crises of identity and refusing to accept the labels of the world and instead accepting the name that the Lord has given me; Hepzibah which means Delighted.

It is a crucial time for us; our youth – a time to establish foundations and utilize the debris, the stones, the rough gravel, the gritty sand to build a sturdy and stable future.

In the interim it will be tough, I know. I’m ‘going through’, remember? But I know the end is a fully formed individual – bold, sure, wise, impactful and above all living the destiny for which she was made.

Embrace your struggles, for in them lie the potential for greatness.

Here’s a fledging attempt at poetry. I hope you will be blessed:

Lo, behold a magnificent building

Where, where, I see it not

Here, here, right before your eyes

Where, where, I see it not

Lo, behold a magnificent building

Where, where, I see it not

All I see is gravel; broken and jagged

All I see is stones; big and small

Lo, behold a magnificent building

Where, where, I see it not

All I see is cement, grey and unassuming

All I see is sand, dry and gritty

Lo, behold a magnificent building

Where, where I see it not

All I see is water, tepid and colourless

All I see is a builder in the shadow of the son of man

Lo, behold a magnificent building

Where, where I see it not

Come back on the morrow

For your eyes may be clear just then

Lo, behold a magnificent building

I see, I see, a magnificent building

But I see no gravel or stones

No cement, or sand, or water

Lo, behold a magnificent building

‘Twas all of those that made the building

For that is the stuff of which magnificent buildings are made

A broken, ugly mess of raw materials.

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