Wow! I have missed writing and connecting with you! I was away from my blog all through the month of September, it started unintentionally at first but later grew to be conscious. I needed some time to retreat and rejuvenate. I have always believed in doing what you need to do and are supposed to do, regardless of how you feel, but I have recently found that you need to honor and listen to yourself sometimes: What is my body telling me? What are my results telling me? Am I connected to my Maker and Source? Why do I do what I do? Does it matter? And is it achieving the purpose for which it is being done? I had all of these questions to ask of myself in September and in order to stay authentic and true to you as well, I took some time to reflect. I just want to say only the most awesome people read my blog! Yes, you are awesome! I got quite a number of emails and even phone calls inquiring about my well-being because I had not blogged in a bit. I really appreciate it and it made me feel really special. If you wondered but didn’t call or text, you are still absolutely awesome. Thank you all, may you be favorably thought of where ever you go. Henceforth, I promise to let you know when I’ll be away for a protracted period of time.
Any how, I thought it fitting to re-start by taking the Gratitude Challenge that has been trending all over the internet for a while. I was nominated by Akaji Ndefo, my dear friend and guest blogger on this blog, my gorgeous sister, Ayeesha Momoh, another dear friend and big sister Dorothea Gbemudu-Otite as well as my sister from the same Father, Chinwe Madubuike. So here goes:
GRATITUDE CHALLENGE DAY 1: THE GIFT OF MARRIAGE
I am very thankful for the gift of marriage. The Yoruba’s of Nigeria, have a saying that goes “ile oko, ile e’ko”, which translates as “your husband’s house, is the place of learning”. Not being Yoruba (I am from Kogi State but grew up in Kaduna and Kano States, so if you ask me, I’m a Hausa girl) and marrying into a Yoruba family, I initially viewed this saying as negative. I thought “wow, is it going to be so hard that it’ll be a place of just learning? How about ‘your husband’s house will be the place of joy, of love, of beauty, of friendship? Why learning?” LOL! Sure you can hear the whine in that thought!
Anyhow, marriage has been just that to me. Being from the North, marriage into a family from the West, learning the new culture, learning to adapt to that culture while still staying true to myself and merging the beauty of both cultures has been amazing. My biggest lesson from a cross-cultural marriage is that everybody responds to love. It doesn’t matter what your differences are, if you look for what makes you similar, if you will treat everyone kindly and try to step into their shoes you will find great joy. Notice that I say step into their shoes, not treat everyone how you would want to be treated because one of my biggest lessons in a cross-cultural situation is that how you would want to be treated, is not necessarily fair or comfortable for the other person. For example, if you’ve been to the core North, you will find that in a lot of households, we eat together from the same plate (not for want of plates and cutlery but out of an abundance of love), so imagine my great hurt when my husband will not eat from the same plate as me, or his refusal to continue eating when I went, washed my hands and started eating from his plate (yes, I eat with my hands a lot, the food tastes better… pancakes especially and I eat them with stew, not jam, syrup or anything like that!). LOL, am I losing readers? Anyhow, he wasn’t brought up thinking that was a sign of love, he was brought up thinking it was a sign of discontent- you should eat from your plate and not look at another’s plate. We had to communicate, we had to learn that I wasn’t bad mannered and it wasn’t that he didn’t like to share, it’s that we were brought up differently and so we honor our differences and meet one another half way (this applies everywhere where you are different…). So now, I feel loved when he says “won’t you come and eat with me?” (this is still rare though) and he is happy that his plate is generally left as his.
I am grateful because that need to see everyone and all our differences through the eyes of love and a shared humanity has enriched my life, enriched my character and helped me forge beautiful bonds in my friendships and other relationships. My favorite Yoruba saying in this regard says “iwa jo iwa, ko lon je ore, j’ore, mo iwa fun oni wa, lon je ore”, this means “having the same character or behavior is not the determinant of friendship, knowing (and I add, accepting) the person’s character as his, is what friendship is”.
I am grateful for the gift of marriage and the “learning” to love that comes with it. I don’t know if I understood the marriage vows in all or even most of its ramifications when I took them. “For better or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and obey, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance!” Thank God for love o, it makes you blind and allows you believe the impossible! And for being unaware because those are really weighty vows, and you know the weightiest part? The vow is made before and to God! Wow! I just have to say, this learning process has been, well, a process! To obey! Really? I am a first-born, I am quite head strong, very sure of my opinions and very intelligent. It is difficult to obey, just because I generally think I know what is right and what to do. LOL, my DISC profile (a personality test) says I am high D, high I, it says people of my personality generally think of rules as guidelines… so imagine when someone like me vows to obey, and the “real” me, just doesn’t get it. And to cherish? Can that be changed to “be cherished”? I can vow to agree to be cherished o! In sickness? Till death do us part? WOW! You make the vows and it seems like life is bent on taking you at your word!
I am grateful for the gift of learning to love… for balancing between loving yourself and loving the “us” that being married creates. I am grateful for the friction, the heart wrenching fights and the making-up. I am grateful that over time, if we stay patient, if we remember that it is a collaboration, not a competition and that this person is yours to nurture, their successes are yours and their growth means you grow, then you will see the absolute gift that your spouse is. Like a gift that keeps on giving, they get better with time.
I am grateful for in-laws, my family has become larger, more diverse, richer and more interesting with all the different people I can now honestly call brother, sister, mother, father. I am grateful because I now speak another language and I love the Yoruba language, I love its richness in proverbs, in praise, I especially love “oriki’s” (like names of endearment and praise that kids are given). I love the richness in culture including tying glee’s which I could not fathom in the past! I love how our families blend as well, my larger family, with his…
Okay, I could go on and on. I am in love with marriage (now! It wasn’t always so) but that’s the beauty of it, that if you stay, that if you focus on the purpose of God for the institution, if you CHOOSE to see the best in your spouse, if you decide to collaborate and for me, if you decide that God loves you too much to have allowed you make a mistake in the choice of your spouse, then, with time, it gets more and more beautiful and the view from the peak will totally justify the pain of the path! I am really thankful, that I am blessed with a spouse that makes this my story.
Thank you for reading! It’s good to write again. I hope you enjoyed this. In keeping with the Gratitude Challenge, I will be writing a post every day for the next 7 days. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, please leave me a comment and please do me a favor, I am experimenting with my blog, I have changed the theme to something unusual for me. Let me know what you think of it and if it is easy to navigate. Stay awesome and enjoy the Sallah holidays!