Over a year ago, I watched in disbelief as a matatu christened TY Dollar, jammed with youth, vehemently rammed into a stationary police car. What could have been going through the minds of the driver and the cheering youth? Is this kind of behaviour an outcome of infirm parenting, socio-cultural breakdown, or both.
It is tricky to pinpoint the root cause of such bizarre behaviour.
This drama, coupled with other freakish incidents, raises numerous questions about our values. What is the source of our values?
Probably, we need to remind ourselves who we are. Perhaps we need to stop looking for affirmations from Tom, Dick and Harry. Possibly we need to deal with our identity crisis.
Don’t fit in
I think it is in our human nature to want praise, rewards, love, and appreciation from our friends and acquaintances. It is a need that resides in our genes. It is the way of life. It is the way we were brought up. This is what society has taught us. It is a tag team of nature and nurture.
We are occasionally knocked down by this duo; nature and nurture. Nature pushes us to want affirmation and culture props this, even if it is to be found in wrong places. Applause is pleasing. The wiring that went in us permits this kind of proclivity. The building blocks that add up to my entirety hanker for it.
We want our names to be on the billboards and in households. We enjoy the razzmatazz. We yearn for a cheering crowd. We dream to be celebrated and adored. We want to fit in and move together with the big crowd. We envy the company of big boys and girls.
In the process, we find ourselves dancing to a rhythm that does not correspond to our uniqueness. We start singing to the tune that mocks our exceptionalism. We begin to pander to our baser instincts. No sooner we find ourselves tangled in a tarantula’s web.
However, it is not unsurprising to note that the Almighty God does not really give a hoot how much praise we get from people. The number of friends we have in our real-life set-up does not move Him. It does not bother him how many followers we have on Instagram or Pinterest. Our popularity cannot disturb the Almighty.
The purpose of the Gospel of Christ is not to fit in but to stand out. That is why it is futile to sweat blood just to have a spot in the eleven squads, only to be given a red card later.
In the process of living our lives, we should not be obsessed with the idea of trying to gratify everyone at the expense of God. We should not allow any idol around our fiefdoms.
Romans 12:2 spurs us to remain ahead of the game. It instructs us to be at the top of the events. It reminds us of who we are, lest we suffer our uniqueness.
The world has taught us that failure is bad, being different is imbecilic and taking a path less travelled is foolishness; that we are not supposed to fail; that we must never go against the grain. That we must follow our peers and do what they do. That we must belong to a cliche. That we must do whatever we can to be accepted by fellows around us. You are supposed to get it right always.
Lessons from those who made it to the Hebrew 11 Hall of Faith
Abraham, the Father of Faith, had his own share of failures and mistakes. He could not admit Sarah was his wife for fear of death. Jacob, The Prince of God, starved, and he had to hurry to Egypt for survival. Moses, the meekest man on Earth, could not express himself eloquently. Gideon, the valiant man, loathed himself, and even after God worked through him mightily, we still find that his future life was unimpressive. Naomi lost her husband and two sons and called herself ‘Mara’. Paul, the great Apostle, collected a snake in the process of fetching firewood. It is not strange to collect a snake. The list is endless. It spills over the Bible into our modern times. You can surely mention people you know who failed all the way to victory.
Nonetheless, we are not supposed to lose our cool in failures, ups and downs, twists and turns, thick and thin. Failure is not supposed to drive you to seek consolation in downtown. Do not run into wrong places as a result of a temporary blunder. Do not run into wrong places because of a seemingly permanent blessing.
As unique as snowflakes
God has called us to be unique. Your earlobes, lip print, tongue print, teeth, and other body parts and traits are just as unique to you as your fingerprints. We are to be idiosyncratic in personality. We are supposed to stand out when others are fitting in; take a walk when others are sitting; run when they are walking and fly when they are running.
Despite the hullabaloos in our lives, we can still make it. We still have a hand to hold us through these murky waters. We can again shake down the snake and survive the bite like Paul. God of the universe is still waiting on us, and we can evermore run to Him.
That is the sure way of discovering the purpose of our existence.