Separation is almost as applicable to man as is the desire for the achievement of set goals and dreams. When a man (or woman) is stripped bare of the fineries of material riches and geographical comfort, our response or reaction usually marks the distinguishing factor between individuals. I’ve had friends break away from glitz, glamour and fame just to go into isolation and rehab because the clarity of realisation suddenly dawns on them that there’s so much more to life than what today’s world offers. Am I inferring reclusion as being the best way of life? That I certainly am not doing….however I acknowledge that most times, change is preceded by separation or else how would you achieve any change by remaining in just that one spot?
I was recently faced with a friend’s dilemma (and when I say friend, I mean that he’s not just kicking cancer’s butt, but he is also one of the nicest and most modest people I’ve been blessed to meet). It was actually one of those ‘moments’ for me, when he told me that he’d been diagnosed with cancer, and yet you could see that he was committed to making every moment count each time we interacted. It’s funny but the best perspectives are usually gotten from people who have had their fair share of life throwing both the kitchen sink and the entire plumbing at them. Now it’s more meaningful to me why he was so beat up when I recall our last conversation. He’s an instructor and as is the norm today, a basic requirement for any career/job/internship is the inevitable drug test. What was his dilemma? He just lost a couple of his bright student trainees because they failed their drug test/urine-analysis and he was so beat up about it because he felt that these people were trying to turn their life around and for some reason, the system would not let them.
Now that right there is the beauty of association, it offers a different perspective because when I heard the news, I took the well trodden path that people should assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions (more of harsh truth, less of tenderness…oops!). I opined that it is common knowledge that you must pass a drug test prior to being accepted as a new employee or as an intern, and just incase my opinion is skewed….it is always clearly stated in bold print usually that one of the first requirements is that you are subjected to and must pass a drug test. It’s done everywhere; sports, blue and white-collar jobs, even in jail and so more often than not, you have the opportunity to discontinue what wrong habit you have been indulging in (separate yourself) because chances for change do not come everyday. I feel bad hearing such news and it’s closer to heart when I am somewhat involved with such persons. Why is it so difficult for people to admit to themselves the truth that they’ve made mistakes or are still making them but are man enough to be willing to face the consequences? From experience, the consequences (when there’s an admission, realisation and repentance) are a little more than a smack on the back of their hand because not only is forgiveness divine but there’s a love so profound that when we do acknowledge and give in to it, we luxuriate in the truth that He’s borne it all just for you.
The startling truth is that, more often than not, we reject the most profound of loves and the best of relationships and naively or ‘wisely’ choose the ever-present short cuts in life and convince ourselves into believing that we can get to a destination on our own terms without breaking a sweat. Nope! Life is one hard task master; so experience has taught me that the short cuts in life are usually still under construction and so in our bid to be smart, we find ourselves stuck all by ourselves surrounded by others like us amidst tons of debris, completely unable to make it to the other end. (And I kid you not when I say that’s definitely not a venue for making worthwhile relationships, heck!you cannot stay calm or be at your best whilst you’re being smothered and sucked under debris). Is life unfair? It sure has to be in order to accommodate everyone, the difference is our response to our perceived unfairness of life. Separation is indeed a hard choice to make, sometimes we don’t even get to claim the bragging rights, because it’s just what it is at that moment of intervention. In hindsight however, separation precedes change. We have all been given second chances, some are on their ninth chance but irrespective of it being your second or ninth, it’s still another chance and could very well be the last.
The trifling issue is if we are ready to make that change, then the harsh losses associated with separation is something that we must be ready to put up with. The pains arising from withdrawal symptoms, the discomfort of the transformation, the loneliness et al are things we must be prepared to face. I remember the words of my swimming instructor during my late teenage years when I had barely two weeks to learn swimming and prepare for a comprehensive certification exam; a prerequisite for working in the oil sector…”keep your eyes focussed on the prize (in this scenario, it was the end of a 50m pool) and as long as you see that wall, I know you’ll ace the test”. Needless to say, I did both of us proud by passing my certification exam in swimming and today, swimming still remains one hobby that is no longer just a means to an end but it’s become many things; therapy, an avenue to meditate and a place to clear my head.
Now, unfortunately for many of us, we convince ourselves that we can beat these tests of life – I’ve heard quite a few ‘intelligent’ comments –
‘buy a bottle of detox (I don’t even still know what that is) and drink it at least 48 hours prior, then you will be fine!’ (#geniusforfree)
‘get someone to pee for you, so you can swap the containers cos your employers don’t really care how you pass’
‘turn up your charm knob to the maximum, and talk your way through it, they’ll remember your personality and not care about your performance!’
I can go on and on but in all reality, there’s usually always one casualty and that’s you. When we realise that it’s in our nature to err, we must always realise also that for us to be better, we must separate ourselves from that recurring error (elementary mathematics!). Admission always precedes repentance! If we don’t, the change that you so desperately crave will be gone before you even realise it, and not only does it ruin your chance for change but it gets put on your personal records (personal yet public) – still grappling with what I just said? I leave it to your imagination to paint the domino effect you’ve just set in play that will irretrievably affect your future. Regardless of the errors we made in the past, remember that there will be an opportunity to right that wrong and therefore we must be prepared to recognise the chance when it comes and make that change we so desperately need.
‘He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, just to gain that which he cannot lose’ – Jim Elliot. We are all created for a purpose, the passion needed to fulfil that purpose is inherent in us but first we must pass through the ordeal of separation so as to emerge tried, tested and proven. As we face our fears, let us confront them with faith that despite the glaringly difficult and thorny road that stares us in the face, there are roses too, but run we must because the moment we stop running with God who alone can strengthen you, then we feel the thorns prickling us on all sides. God never promised us smooth sailing, but He did promise that He’d be with us through it all and guess what….we will see clearly when the rain is gone. Our lives depend so greatly on how much of our good (status, riches, comfort..) we are willing to sacrifice for the best that we deserve, and even though we be besieged on all sides be it in the form of dystonia or cancer or addictions or the relentless pressure from the world to be someone else, we must keep our eyes open and make that chance count.
The chance to be nice, the chance to be less self-centred and more selfless, the chance to be a shoulder for another, the chance to rewrite our story and give another hope just from reading it, the chance to surmount our physical limitations and soar on wings as eagles, the chance to give and not always take, the chance to empathise and share another’s burden, the chance to love even if we’re not loved back, the chance to just sow some good in the lives we meet, the chance to be a friend to some stranger and/or be rebuffed but still not give up on other strangers, the chance to spread a message of love, hope and faith….because not only do we actually become better people when we take these chances but we also reach out and touch someone who is going through tough times and give them a reason to forge ahead. We can make it if we really want, but we must try – allow The Perfect One all the room He needs so He can take the wheel of our lives and steer us right. That should be our story, long told after we are gone, that he fought the good fight and now there’s an example to follow.
Remember, keep your eyes focussed on Christ cos He’s the author and finisher of our faith. Strap yourselves in, we’ve got some smooth sailing ahead and even when the storm hits as it will certainly do, pick yourself up because someday you’ll hear these words……’Land ahoy!’
פרידה עד שנפגשנו שוב בתזמון שלו, וייתכן שאהבתו של אלוהים להיות אמיתית לך!