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Growing up as a boy I was both intelligent and ambitious. Well, I still am! But somewhere along the line, I started struggling with low self-esteem. I honestly cannot point to what exactly may have triggered this, but it was what it was.

I began to increasingly think of myself as less, I felt small and unqualified. Somehow I felt I needed to do more, or put in more effort than others did, to get the same things. Then came all the symptoms of low self-esteem. I would isolate myself or refrain from certain activities, to avoid looking foolish or inept. I’d stay quiet and not share my ideas or knowledge for fear of saying something “wrong.” Most importantly and also the most painful, I missed out on several meaningful relationships because I was afraid they would “see” me.

Let me share some history with you, maybe together we can identify a cause. My two younger siblings and I were raised by a single parent, our mother. Our other parent, our father, was absent.

You see, my parents got divorced while I was barely three years old, and mum was granted full custody. Dad got visiting rights, mostly supervised, and he was made to support us financially.

That’s a lie! Everything you just read about the divorce or rather the separation is a lie. Our father left. He just upped and left. Sparing no thought to how a 24-year-old mother of three, without a career, would cope or how her children – his children – would survive. Since then, he has only visited once (in 1993), sent two letters and lately, several frantic reconciliatory attempts via phone calls. Isn’t that a shame? It sure is.

I thank God for my mother. And every day, I celebrate her. She is a rock! She outdid herself. She surpassed expectations. I love her. But you see, it is God’s plan that children are raised by both parents. She wasn’t supposed to parent alone.

Even though there was never an official conversation to break the news of the separation to us kids, like we see in Hollywood movies, I soon figured out that mum and dad weren’t together anymore. However, that didn’t stop me from wondering why he never visited us or why he didn’t write to us. I always wondered, ‘did he even remember our birthdays? If yes, why didn’t he send gifts?’

Many Christmases came and passed with me wondering whether he would visit. Then I hit puberty phase and I had lots of questions, questions only a father could provide answers to. Still he was a no-show!

I often thought and asked myself, if there was something wrong with me? Did he leave because of me? Why am I unworthy of his love and attention? If my own father can reject me, why should any other person accept me? If my own father couldn’t love me, why should an outsider consider me worthy of love?

Imagine how this kind of destructive thought-pattern can mess up a child’s mind, and his perception of his self-worth.

Fast-forward to the year 2012, my pastor was teaching from Matthew chapter 10. Here Jesus was giving his disciples instructions for service, but it was verse 13 that got me. He said, “If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.” – New American Standard Bible.

Jesus was helping his disciples, who we later discovered were uneducated and ignorant men, understand and appreciate how valuable they were. He called this value which they possessed, the blessing of peace. It didn’t all stop there, these same uneducated and ignorant men also had the authority to share this value with others or withhold it. They carried so much value on their inside that people had to put in some work before they could have a piece of it.

Now you should understand that I grew up in a very Christian home. My grandpa led me to Christ in 1994, and I was baptized in the Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues during the same period. I had read the Bible cover-to-cover twice, the New Testament and few books from the Old Testament a couple of times more. So I had read Matthew 10 before now, but this time, it was different.

In just a few sentences, Jesus crushed the nature vs nurture argument. By showing his disciples what they carried on their insides and allowing them the permission to use it, His disciples had a foretaste of what they could achieve when they drew from their nature as God’s children.

So, at this point my mind is doing all kinds of acrobatics, many revelations are exploding in my head. You mean I am more than this? How come I never saw this? Truth be told, coming to this revelation marked a new beginning for me. I was now able to see how my nature as God’s child supersedes the negative impact of my experiences and the limitations that came with it. From then on, this became the prism through which I saw myself.

Gradually I’ve began to come out of that dark and lonely place I had found myself in. Admittedly, it is not a sprint, but I have to say, I have come a very long way.

What is the take out for you from this piece? Good news! Which is that we have greatness inside of us and not only that, we have also been given the authority to express it through service to God and humanity, and through godly living.

There is greatness in every one of us. Every one of us is valuable.

Don’t let your environment, your present circumstance, or your past experiences, place a limitation on the expression of your destiny.

 

Lewis Ofili

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