By Kolo-Manma Joana
The year was 2015 and it was a significant year, not only because I became an adult but I was also called to serve – serve Him. I really must confess that if I had a choice, I would have talked God out of it. Okay, I actually did try to negotiate with Him, but He just would have me serve and nothing else and since I had already pledged an allegiance to always allow His will have the upper hand, I had to give in. That’s how I started to serve as the General Secretary of my fellowship in school.
I need not bore you with the duties of a General Secretary but added to the numerous task of the office of a General Secretary is the task of heading a team that will produce a magazine. (Somebody say magazine! and make sure you put a little respect on it *lol*). At this juncture, I’ll like to say a big kudos to all magazine producers and editors out there, even if it’s a bulletin you get to produce, I give it to you!
First week in office and I’m basking in the euphoria of being the new General Secretary: The ‘JJC mood.’ I lost count of the number of times I looked through the files handed over to me (mehn, I was so excited!). I promised God I’ll put in my only best to the work. I’ll make sure all letters are well punctuated, if not they will not be printed (I felt I was bad like that), I’ll make sure I write the minutes of all meetings (lol… that’s if I attended all the meetings), I’ll produce a magazine that will make Forbes grow green with envy. You know those promises we make.
I had big plans for the magazine: a rough sketch of its content, how we’ll raise a large sum that will leave something for the next team of editors (taaah…I pray o), the interviewee, you just name it. All was somewhere in my mind and also penned down. (You know they say something about the pen being mightier than the brain.*lol*)
Well, you remember that shoe your Aunty in the Philippines sent to you, which you adored so much but began to pale in significance after sometime, the same started happening to me in the sight of reality.
Although there still was that glimpse of hope that things will go smoothly but the enthusiasm was being whet down by circumstances. Sometimes, a letter which didn’t have a comma at the right place will just pass and I’ll have to console myself by saying that it is not a defect of substance but of technicality. *God help me*
Time to constitute the committee for the magazine came so fast. I did same and was just as ready to share with them the ‘O’JoHannah’s dream’ for the magazine. Great team I had that worked with me to produce the magazine.
All of a sudden, I noticed that the path I imagined myself work in: paths devoid of stress, pain, disappointments, tears etc. were all in Wonderland and I sadly wasn’t Alice, nothing near the realities that obtained on the real path.
Need I add that as General Secretary, I had to stand before the fellowship to give the announcement? (Lord, I thought this was just about letter writing!)
Okay, so back to the magazine. I encountered a lot of unplanned and unforeseen circumstances and began to doubt if God was really involved in this, Baby Christian attitude) because somewhere in the corner of my mind I had pictured a smooth ride or a journey where God shows up at every hard turn.
I remember that on two occasions I secretly prayed that the dates on the calendar be on a standstill so that the set date for launching the magazine will be farther away. One particular event stood out and that was with my laptop and phone. It all got carted away a month to the launching and if you care to know, all the materials for the magazine were in soft copy format. That’s another way to say I lost everything; the laptop and phone went at a very critical stage of the production: editing, proof reading and all.
The second occasion was with one of the companies that was to advertise in the magazine. We kept going back and forth on the price. (By the way, I learnt negotiation skills)
As I write, it’s June 2016 and the magazine has been launched. I have also passed the baton of service to another but amidst all, I can look back and say that I have learnt some lessons:
1. Though we always have a plan; how we want things to go such as hoping to have graduated by 23, National Youth service completed at 24, but then ASUU comes with her strike *Gosh* but beyond human factors like ASUU, I have learnt that there is the God factor who always has A WILL and most often it prevails. Need I say that sometimes our ways do not align with His will.
2. I learnt to depend on God more than ever before. God made me see Him as the only sure, dependable, ‘always got your back’ person and even when things are not smooth, God is at work and I don’t always have to see it.
3. People are not perfect. I learnt to leave room for offences and disappointment. If the person is not able to make up one, create one for him in your mind *winks*. Never expect too much, just hope for the best.
4. That I was a perfectionist and people cannot and will not always see things the way I do. They may not catch the vision. So I learnt to give some allowance (not the ones in clothing though)*lol*.
5. That as a good lawyer, (which I aim to be) I should know how to draft letters and so that was a session-in-training.
6. That there are people out there who have worked on same or something similar to what we are exploring. Most times, they are willing to share their experiences. I have learnt to stand on the shoulders of Giants. (S/O to Adebayo Okeowo of In His Steps magazine.)
7. I saw another side to myself. It’s amazing how we think we know ourselves only to see an abated side of us spring into life.
I will never have been prepared for the roses of lessons that I picked from the thorns of this experience. Ask me tomorrow if I will have answered that particular call to serve again? I’ll say yes, because it changed my life.