One of the first things people get to know about me is how special the month of October is to me. The reason is not far-fetched: aside from the fact that October is my birth month, this special month holds some of my best memories so far. Coincidentally, I had to take a Facebook detox this month (yeah, you guessed right – school-related issues) but I have summarized my twenty-nine-day handwritten journal notes in this piece. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing this.
I started the 29-day open gratitude challenge, which I have now called my “October of Gratitude” at a time when I felt the world crumbling at my feet – literally. It was the first of October 2015. I felt inspired by the holy spirit to go on a complain-fast and just praise for 29 days (just before you start thinking I am twenty-nine years old……lol…. I was born on the 29th day of October). It’s so funny how gratitude changes things! “October of Gratitude” is a milestone for me.
The past year has no doubt been intense however, I can praise because, despite it all, God has been super amazing. In no specific order, I am grateful for:
- New beginnings: I have made mistakes, gained and lost possessions but God has never given up on me. He loves me regardless and each new second, minute, day, week, month and year is an opportunity for a fresh start.
- Nigeria: There are some things I have grown to accept because I have little control over them. My nationality is one of those things. I am grateful to be Nigerian (I love my green-white-green), and though my country might not be in its best state presently, I know that there is hope for the future.
- Family: Someone rightly said that “of all the beautiful gifts of life, the greatest is family”. I am grateful to have a family where God is supreme, love is a language that is freely spoken, and though we are worlds apart physically, we are more closely bonded together in unity. I could not have asked for anything better!
- The present: Each day comes with its peculiarities, challenges, and blessings but it is what it is – a gift from God. I have come to appreciate the currency of time, the beauty of “now” …and as I take daily steps towards my goals, I am glad because the future is super bright!
- Friends: By nature, I am an introvert (I used to be a super-introvert actually…lol…. How time changes!). So, before you ask me how I manage to have such large following on my social media handles, and maybe in real life, let me be quick to say that I have been thoroughly blessed with the most amazing people alive in my circle. If you are reading this, you are probably one of them! I am grateful to have you in my life, and I bless the day our paths crossed.
- Growth: The “Pearl” you knew yesterday and the “Pearl” you see today are two different persons. It is simple logic: I am still actively growing – super-exponentially and in every ramification! In my perspective, success is never a destination but a journey. Daily, I take little baby steps on this journey; I see a refined, reinvented and better version of myself each new day. Don’t judge me based on my yesterday; I am a work-in-progress! I am grateful for this.
- The Bad and the Ugly: First, I am a human being and like everyone else (I figure), I have my “good” days and “character-building” days. I am grateful for every closed door, missed opportunity, wrong decision, failed plan…and everything terrible. They have primed me. I do not believe in luck, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I believe in a God who carefully orders my steps, and though I may not understand all His moves, I can be confident in His unfailing love.
- Help: I would not say that I have accomplished so much yet, but I realise that for the little that I have achieved so far, it has been God all the way. I am indeed grateful for timely, divine assistance.
- One Moment: An inferno which happened very close to my lodge brought to my consciousness that there was a fragile line between life and death. I realised that nothing on earth is worth living for or even dying for; that the things of earth are too fleeting to be of eternal value. I am grateful to a loving Saviour who bridged the gap between God and man, which sin had created. Really, the world isn’t worth your soul.
- Rubberband: The rubber band is such a versatile object. It can be put to various uses – but only when stretched. The journey to where I am currently has involved a lot of “stretching”. I have been pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed…. stretched yet I stand valiantly. How did this happen? All I can say is “It’s been grace all the way”.
- Details: As I study Molecular and Cell Biology of life, I cannot help but notice how articulate our God is. Every process is so beautifully planned, it could take more than a lifetime to comprehend the complexities fully – these could never have happened by chance. A God who “numbers” even the strands of my hair and calls the stars, despite how numerous they are, by name. Do I need to worry about a thing? Who “worrying” help? I know that God has all the details figured out. I only must trust him one move at a time. I am grateful for this.
- Godly parents: Someone once said, “everything that I am, and I have, I owe it to my parents”. I am grateful to the vessels God used to bring me to this world. When I count my blessings, I count them thrice. I am thankful for all these years of Godly guidance, mentoring, friendship, unconditional and unrestrained love. It is easy to picture the love God has for me because you make it so real. Mum, Dad… I am tremendously blessed to know and have you. God bless and keep you for me.
- Craziness Buddies: Whenever I talk of craziness-buddies or partners-in-crime, three names quickly come to mind: Timothy, Jochebed, and Christine! They have seen every silly, genius side of me. We have played in the sand, fallen into trouble together, share in the strokes, cried and laughed together, quarrelled and made up…lol. The love I have for you guys is indescribable. You have been and are a blessing to me. What can I even do without you guys, eh?
- Mentors: Where do I even start from now? I could share a very long story if I must, but summarily, I do not believe that God has created us to live in isolation. He has created people ahead of us to guide us, so we do not make avoidable mistakes (isn’t that beautiful?). I am so blessed to be mentored by amazing people – some of whom I eagerly look forward to meeting in person.
- Passion and Creativity: These two words are among my favourite to use (I imagine you have figured this out already) and they adequately describe my personality. They have been my fuel all these years. While I am grateful for all the talents and skills I have been blessed with, these two stand out.
- Music: For me, music is not just a pleasant arrangement of sounds (and words) – it is life!! I can barely get on a day without some musical spice. I am grateful for the wonderful men and women that God has raised to bless my soul, especially in the past year.
- Books: Books are my favourite objects ever! They are rich storehouses of ordered, useful information. Through books, I have learned from the best minds in the world and gained great insight. I am grateful to those who have taken the initiative to document their thoughts for posterity. I believe one of the most significant ways to impact on people is through writing!
- Purpose and dreams: Talk about that thing that wakes me up very excited early in the morning and keeps me at my table all night. Talk about that thing that drives me to my bed – because, on my bed, my dreams are nurtured and fed (Hahahaha – how ironical!). I am grateful to a God who made man to be purposeful beings and planted dreams in our hearts.
- Nature: “All things bright and beautiful” …. I am grateful for the beauty of nature. For the light blue skies with the scorching sun (lol) and dazzling stars, the beautiful flowers and birds that sing, the trees that dance so gracefully under the evening breeze, for the rain that waters our crops (and floods my balcony…Hahaha, you wouldn’t believe it!). I draw so much inspiration from nature, and I am glad God amply prepared all things before creating man to enjoy them.
- Diversity: I can imagine how boring this life would be if every plant, animal and human being were exactly the same. Thankfully, he has made us “beautifully and wonderfully unique”. Being in a highly cultural environment, I can notice similarities yet difference in culture and lifestyle. Did you know that an African in West Africa is more genetically diverse than another African from East Africa but less genetically diverse when compared to Asians, Europeans or Americans? Profound! I am grateful for the beauty of diversity.
- Water: Of all things to be grateful for, I am thankful for water -the life-giving liquid that quenches my thirst! Have you ever been really thirsty with no water in sight? Then you will understand when David in one of my favourite Psalms likened his love for God to a panting deer on the lookout for water.
- Smile: Recently, someone told me that I had a “million-dollar” smile. Whatever that means, I am grateful for this little act: the shortest distance between two people, the most beautiful facial expression ever, the most powerful makeup ever. I am thankful for the smiles I have been able to give, and those who have blessed my days with their pleasant smiles.
- Appetite: This might seem like something too trivial to be grateful for, but when you remember this childhood rhyme: “Some have food but cannot eat, some can eat but have no food. We have food, and we can eat. Glory be to Christ the Lord”, you know it is by no means trivial. Just a few months ago, I struggled to get food down my throat. These days, I need real discipline to determine when to eat because I am almost always hungry! (The Biochemists in the house would start talking about excessive ghrelin secretion…. smh).
- “Press On”: This has been my slogan in the past year. Life really gets so rough a times, you know. There are those days where giving gratitude is a real challenge. These days do not last for long. “Tough times never last, only tough people do”. I am grateful for those tough times that made me realise how blessed I am to have good times.
- “Knee-engine”: Strange word, huh? Don’t even bother searching on google because I coined that word (I should win a Nobel prize for that, you know…. Teehee). I use that term for lack of a better word to describe the depth a heartfelt commune with God in the place of prayer. That moment when you resolve “I would not let you go till you bless me”. I am grateful that my God, though big enough to govern the universe, is small enough to live within my heart. When I cry out to him, he hears my call…. He comforts me. I cannot say this enough, but I am God’s biggest deal!
- No words: There are times when it seems that there are no appropriate words to express ourselves both verbally and in writing – and I have those awkward moments a lot. It is profound to find someone who understands my silence as much as my words. I am grateful to my Friend and Intercessor, Jesus Christ who understands the complexities of my emotions – and has himself experienced the full complement of human emotions. This makes me have so much more confidence in Him – and when He says He loves me dearly, I have no doubts.
- Discovery: Few things really excite me – and discovering something new is definitely one of those things. I have noted that we only observe the things we feel are important, and when we actively seek for something we desire, we will get it. I am grateful for each little adventure – discovery waiting to happen: from the word of God to life itself. I hope to discover something that would be of great value to humankind in my lifetime. I know that there is nothing new under the sun and everything that is, has been…. but this makes life so much more exciting!
- Risks: Being the “gentlegirlie” that I am, I have always loved to play things safe, but in the past year, I have taken majors risks, and God has blessed my faith tremendously. The statement “Sometimes, you have to risk it all for a dream only you can see” resonates so deeply with me. Like Les Brown says, “you can never get out of life alive”. I am grateful for every risk I have ventured to take in the past year – both the calculated and “uncalculated” (whatever that means though) ones because I can put all my eggs in God’s basket and be sure of safety.
- Life: I cannot adequately describe how blessed I am to see yet another new year of my life!!!! I have waited for October 29 for 365 days, and it is finally here. Need I say more?
PS: My 2018 twenty-nine day gratitude challenge would be released next week. I know this is a very long post. Thanks for reading…
Categories: My lifestyle
I’ve read this before, what’s amazing to me is the newness it carries even as an old reading; how many things we should be grateful for but often neglect is the more intriguing aspect. I’ve also realized that it takes a spiritual grown-up to fulfill 1 Thessalonians 5:18a (In all things give thanks). Well done, Prof. All glory to God
Happy bday sis,may God bless u ,may u continue to shine everywhere u go.
Thanks so much, Jessica. I appreciate your kind wishes and prayers. God bless you richly.
Wow… this is a much needed reading for me. My life has never been an ‘easy’ one and even after I got married and had my 2 beautiful kids, life seems even harder and as such, truthfully confessing, I haven’t been a very thankful woman. I am constantly overwhelmed by one problem or the other in the last 10byears of my life. Reading this now, I realise that regardless of everything that has happened, still happening, I am here. I shouldn’t be, but I am! Now, I lift up my hands and say thank you Lord! For those things you already mentioned Pearl, things u didn’t think to be grateful for before, and for the many blessings I have failed to see because of the rather overwhelming circumstances around me. In my life, I see a picture of just one or two steps being illuminated, while those before and after are engulfed in darkness and cannot be seen. This describes my walk with God. I am learning to trust God for each day of life. This has reinforced my attitude to be grateful for every breath, determined to look for the blessing in the moment, no matter what the circumstances. Thank you Pearl.
Hi Joyce, I am so glad that this note resonated with you. I can perfectly understand those times when it seems God has forgotten about you, and you complain about everything – because I have been there. It is beautiful that you have learnt (and are learning) thanksliving and giving gratitude for even the littlest of things. I pray that God continues to strengthen your faith, help you to daily see Him in every situation of life you find yourself in…and help you to always give Him thanks no matter what. Cheering you on with so much love, Joyce.
That’s so sweet to hear. Thanks for your kind words 😊