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Turning 28 – The Journey So Far

To be honest, I don’t know where to start. The beginning would probably be too far in the past to begin this story, but that is where it all started.

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV.

I often look to this scripture as the beginning of the discovery of purpose for me. At least, that was the first thing I thought about when I first read it. It is also probably why I don’t make so much effort to argue whenever people say that I would be a pastor.

Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. This is where it all started for me.

I was born on a Wednesday morning, I think around 10 am on the 24th of August, 1994. I obviously don’t know a lot about what happened on that day, but from what I was told, I was born through CS (Caesarean operation), I was born in a hospital in the eastern part of Nigeria, and during the regime of arguable the most hated Head of State in the country’s history. What a time to be born.

I have tried to imagine how my parents raised me in the middle of everything going on in the country. One thing was certain, I was born into a resilient family that believed in God and trusted in His plans for us. I mean, my parents trust God for literally anything and everything.

My dad is one of the most resilient and resourceful people I know. I didn’t know much about us moving from one state to the other as a child, but I cannot imagine that it must have been easy for my dad moving with his family from Anambra state to Akwa Ibom state to Lagos state. One thing was always apparent in his actions, he really cared about his family and would do anything legally possible and available to provide for his family.

My family has been through some really challenging periods. I remember my dad losing his job, which really affected my family, so much that my mum was the one trying to pay our school fees. That could have ripped any family apart. I also remember that while he was scouring for a job in Lagos, he turned his car into a cab to make some money to support the family.

I would never forget seeing my dad at the bus park calling for passengers at one time, and when he drove past the house with loads of food items tied to his car and strangers in the passenger seats.

Perhaps the most pivotal incident was when my mum had a really serious accident and she could not walk for about a year thereabout, after which she started using crutches. My dad had to cover her medical expenses while taking care of the family. During this period, one thing that kept amazing me was the fact that he never broke down in our presence during all of these. He took up the responsibilities with so much strength even when we as kids were not helping so much.

In the last 28 years of my life, there has been so much to learn from my dad.

He has been a pastor for a large part, and yes, that did put some pressure on me, with lots of expectations from a pastor’s child. But I have seen him work hard and excel despite the odds. In the middle of that, he ensures that he makes out time for his family and does his best to ensure that our needs are met. Lastly, he is very particular about maintaining relationships. Some of the benefits I have access to have been through the relationships my dad has built and maintained, professionally, personally and spiritually.

Now to Mum. Lol. I guess the love I have for her is seen in how much we disagree on a lot of things, mostly because I am usually not sure how to express it.

Should I start with the constant reminder that she put her postgraduate studies dreams on hold to give birth to me and never went back to it, which is one of the main reasons she wants me to be a doctor? Or holding the family together when my dad lost his job? Or leading me to Christ?

Wherever I start from, one thing is consistent, a lot of things I have grown up with, I learned from my mum. She has always been a constant reminder that God is interested in me. I usually tell people that even if no one else is praying for me, I am sure of one person that never stops praying for me regardless of how many times I mess up, that’s my mum.

She actually gave me my first job at her lab while I was waiting to get into the university. I always looked forward to the white envelope she would give me at the end of the month, containing N6,000 or N8,000 depending on the profit for that month.

She taught me to pray, to give selflessly, and to love people regardless of who they are or what they have done.

One thing I hate is seeing my mum cry. I remember one time, she came to my school, we had an argument, and my mum started crying. I could not help but cry as well.

My mum is also one of the strongest women I know. Strong and soft. Two attributes I took from her. It was so painful seeing her go through about 4 to 5 years of pain after the accident she had while going to work.

Sometimes, I blame myself for the accident because I should have gone to her lab ahead of her. I usually tell myself that maybe if I had left the house early, she would not have had to rush to the office to meet with a patient on a bike, hence the accident.

When my dad called to tell me about the accident, I was speechless. I just could not believe it. I cried when I saw her in the hospital after her first surgery.

I remember praying for her after a program we had at fellowship, for a miracle that she would start walking immediately. As I prayed for her, I cried and she cried, but she did not start walking there and then. I was so pained that everything I had learned from the fellowship program did not work.

One more thing that my mum had in common with my dad was her passion for maintaining relationships. I have benefitted hugely from the relationships that my parents have built and maintained over the years. And it is one lesson I am carrying with me for the rest of my life.

And then there are the two siblings. Lol.

I and my brother definitely have the weirdest relationship in our family. I always felt (still do) that my mum preferred my brother to me and learning about the story of Esau and Jacob did not even help matters at all. Like Jacob, my brother is the homely guy, usually in the kitchen with my mum and seemed to have a better relationship with her than me. As you may have guessed, I felt like Esau in the family.

This definitely did not give both of us a good start in our relationship. My jealousy also led to competition with him, which usually got physical. One that I can remember clearly is playing the drums in church. We would literally get into a physical fight to get to the drum first.

Over time, I think our relationship has just been based on mutual respect. On my part, I tend to be quite careful of what I say to him, trying as much as possible to avoid a disagreement. I guess my understanding has been that as long as there is no disagreement, we would be fine. However, I would still like a closer relationship with my brother. Of course, I am making efforts, and even though it seems it is not enough, I believe that it would happen.

Beyond our indifferent relationship, my brother is an amazing guy. He picked up the resilience and resourcefulness of my dad, as well as the relationship-building skills from both my parents. I do marvel at how he does these comfortably. He is amazing with kids, no matter how many times he beats them, they still want to be around him.

And then my beautiful sister. It is fair to say that we were not close at some point. As a matter of fact, I remember when she actually said in front of people that I relate more with outsiders than her. I think this was on one of my birthdays. That hurt me real deep. But we are in a much better place now.

I think we are alike in a lot of ways, except that she is more extroverted than I am. She is both resourceful and soft-hearted. And she is one of the very few ladies that can get me to take a picture. I am really proud of how much she has grown, especially in recent years. Her love for God and people is so obvious. She would definitely do well in ministry (I hope she sees this).

Oh well, I really thought I was going to write more about myself and what 28 years have taught me. But I can see that the past 28 years of my life have been a constant reminder of the importance of family and how we are truly shaped by the constant presence and input of the people closest to us without realising it.

In all, what I am most grateful for is FAMILY. And it is my desire and prayer to raise one even better. In 2 years I would be 30. The road to 30 looks quite scary, but I am also looking forward to it. I do plan to document this journey and share it with you. Well, not all of you, just those it is meant for.

What do you think?

Written by Temitope

Temitope Durotoye is a Hope and Self Discovery Advocate. He is proudly African and loves to see young Africans be the best versions of themselves.

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