Credit to Reuben Muhindi. I found it incumbent that your thoughts and convictions be shared on this platform.
We are living in times when the pressure to perform, to impress and be something is intense and the stakes excruciatingly high. There is pressure to please others and the world in general; to look perfect, to look strong, to make no mistakes and to hide our flaws and weaknesses. When you start thinking that you are always correct or somewhat perfect, then perhaps you do not belong to this world. This world is a world of imperfections. It is not a complete world and therefore its inhabitants too must be incomplete.
Each and every one of us is vulnerable to making mistakes and faults. If a day can go by without you messing up, then you should consider yourself an alien. Our brains are incapable of sourcing perfect ideas all the time and our mouths have no force against outstanding chaos-driven words. In every successful action there must be an element of error. Man is to error and mistakes are not a sin but rather a reminder to awaken us to work towards perfection; and in our search for perfection, futile as it might be, we might achieve excellence.
Being truthfully human is regarded as weakness while being mean, rude and coldhearted is projected as confidence. I guess the line between arrogance and confidence is quite thin. We are in a ‘fake it until you make it’ world even if it means faking the very essence of our lives. We have taken it notches higher; told the lie so many times that we have believed it ourselves and now live in the beauty of our illusions. Everyday life is about impressions no matter how empty or horrible we may be feeling. We live for that glorification of us by others. We live for those moments when the public is fixated on us forever in the battles of the scramble and partition for likes. We wear brave faces to mask our disillusionment with life and for who? Our ten thousand followers on Instagram or twitter or Facebook who you only know ten of? You should read Facebook, down this road too to get a better sense of what am talking about.
Life has become a game and everyone wants to win if not participate in. Somewhat in this game true joy has become elusive, real human connections have become a bother while stress and depression have become commonplace. Generally, life has become draining and unbearable for many. Remember your childhood definition for happiness? Do you realize how basic happiness has become complicated? That we have to keep finding new meanings of happiness and the more complex and sexier the definition the better.
If you are patient enough to discern and observe those around you, you will realize that beneath the smiles and laughter many human spirits are crushed. Many people are in emotional turmoil and mental distress and many smiles and impressions you see are human efforts to stay afloat; efforts to avoid drowning in seas of one’s shortcomings, unmet expectations, offenses by others and other pressures of life. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be this way for life in itself is just a gift of great value. There are many root causes to this but one fundamental problem causing distressed lives is that we have forsaken mercy- mercy for ourselves and others.
Mercy for ourselves is accepting that it is okay to be human with all its shortcomings and being comfortable with this naked and harsh truth. It is accepting that we can never have it all together. That some days we have our A game and some days we fall flat; that some days we feel high and rejuvenated and some days feel low and crappy; that somedays things will go our way while some other days they just won’t; that someday the girl you like will like you back and some other days they just won’t notice you exist. Okay, maybe that’s a little irrelevant or outside the context but I know you can relate. I might still be holding some remote resentment for a lady or two or maybe three who brushed me off back in the day. It’s okay to be distracted, right? After all, that’s the shit am talking about and the important thing is to pick yourself up and get back on track. (The next paragraph should have been a continuation of this one but I found it inappropriate to use the word shit and quote the book of Psalms on the same paragraph. Call it religious upbringing.)
Now back to my point. I know some people who know me intimately will read the next couple of lines, roll their eyes and wonder what happened to their boy. It’s okay, times have changed and I was probably hiding my religious side from you because I was still living under the yoke of making pointless impressions but now I can proudly call myself a man; in fact, thumb my chest. In Psalms 63:3, David says that God’s love is better than life. Yes, God’s love is greater than life and this is the starting point of mercy. That our lives are intrinsically valuable from the source. It is God’s love that gives our lives true meaning, not our accomplishments nor failures. That our real worth and value doesn’t emanate from our human abilities and achievements; that our efforts and hassles don’t give us value but rather build upon the intrinsic value within us. That our dignity is not external. It is for every one of us. That yes we fall, but still we rise. That yet we sin, forgiveness is available to anyone who repents with a broken heart. That yes we have weaknesses, but we can confront them one at a time. That our lives are imperfect and will always be so. That we may not be of value in the eyes of some people but it is still okay.
If we don’t live on the side of mercy and regard ourselves, we will never be able to treat others with mercy and the regard they deserve. For who can give what they don’t have? We will keep unnecessary expectations against others if we cannot meet them ourselves. We will keep holding others down because we can’t stand to see them rise. We will keep draining others so that we are not alone. We will keep brewing jealousy because we have forsaken our mercy. We will keep chasing useless pleasures and things in the hope that they will fill our internal hollowness forgetting that “those who cling to worthless idols, forsake their own mercy” Jonah 2:8.
The greatest challenge of our ever so demanding lives is to allow ourselves to live on the side of mercy for ourselves and others’ sakes. Don’t be harsh on yourselves, you’ll get depressed yet so young. There is no value in magnifying the details of your shortcomings and incompetence. Focus more on the strength and mercies of God than your weaknesses. As one of my mentors would say (quoting Reuben Muhindi) “We are God’s work in progress, we’re in the workshop, not yet in the showroom”. God delights in mercy, for mercy triumphs over judgement.
Come alive and live on the side of mercy!
Inspired by Kathy Omenda. The lady who inspires constant reflection of self. I would never have gone looking for material for this article if it were not for those screenshots. Thank you.
Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain or regrets. To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices, today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but to embrace it.
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©Cooper Jose Njoroge