Arguing With God
About nine years ago while here at home in Kiserian, I picked a piece of newspaper with the intention of using it to wipe myself after answering a call of nature in our old, wooden latrine. That was me in my primitive days when we considered tissue paper an unnecessary luxury here at home.
I went to the latrine to relieve myself as usual. But then as I squatted ready to excrete a few small bricks of waste matter, I happened to read what was written in the piece of newspaper. Alas! I was suddenly captivated by what I read; so much that I immediately postponed answering my call of nature so as to save the piece of newspaper.
The newspaper was reporting briefly of a prisoner who wanted to sue God for committing some crimes which I felt God had also committed on me, so to speak. I therefore plagiarized the prisoner's complaint and posted it on my Facebook wall as follows:
I, the undersigned Thuita J. Maina, currently struggling to lead a successful life, request legal action against the Almighty God, Creator of the universe, resident of heaven and represented here by so many religious groups for committing the following crimes: concealment, taking bribes, traffic of influence, abuse against my interests and not responding to my prayer requests.Some of my Facebook friends were amused by my intention to sue God. Others however unleashed a torrent of criticism.
Like there was Edwin, a friend of mine then at Cornell University, who instructed me to delete that complaint from my Facebook wall. Then there was Charles, a high school classmate of mine who bluntly asked me, "Are you on drugs?" And then there was William, an elder and lay-reader at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi, who wrote to me, "This is blasphemous. SEE ME!"
I however don't think I committed a serious crime by posting that complaint as my harshest critics put it because I think God appreciates humour. Doesn't the Bible say God loves cheerful people?
More importantly though, I also think God values people who argue with Him provided they are honest. The best friends of God, as narrated in the Bible, were those who complained bitterly to Him over His actions. Even Jesus when He was dying on the cross, blurted out, "Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani? (My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?)"
Let us therefore argue with God once in a while in our moments of pain and need. I think God will be more impressed with our honesty and understand our grievances. Or what do you think?
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on arguing with God, you might also enjoy another one I wrote last year on "Proof That God Exists". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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A True Friend
Sometime in 2017, it dawned on me that a true friend is not someone who offers much advice, solutions or cures but rather, one who has chosen to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. A person who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a true friend.
For me, when I think of a truly true friend, the person who first pops up in my mind is David Mwakima (see photo above). He is a kind, generous and understanding fellow; the kind of friend every human being needs and no successful man can do without.
I first met Mwakima in 2011 when I visited Starehe Boys' Centre, my Alma Mater. He was then serving as a deputy school captain in the school. When I told him I was an old boy of Starehe and my name, he responded, "I have heard about you!" That's all I recall in the conversation we had in 2011.
Then in 2012 when I went back to Starehe to give a motivational talk to the boys, I got to meet Mwakima again and know him better. He had by then been promoted to be the Starehe Boys' school captain. And one of the first things that struck me most about him was the way he was amiable, likeable and approachable.
I also noted he was an avid reader because when I informed him I was then pursuing Political Science at the University of Nairobi, he asked me whether I had read Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince. Being the honest young man that I am, I admitted to him that I hadn't and even told him the word Machiavelli sounded vaguely familiar to me. Thanks to that chat with Mwakima, two or three weeks later, I read Michael White's biography of Machiavelli titled A Man Misunderstood which made me know more about the famous Machiavelli.
One morning in 2012 during that time I had gone to give a talk to the boys, I found Mwakima revising for the SAT exams. I interrupted him and then fell into a conversation with him during which I learnt he was applying to MIT, Cornell and Stanford. Having also applied to those top colleges when I was in Starehe Institute in 2006, I gave Mwakima some advice drawing from my experiences. Like I advised him to "prepare for the worst but hope for the best". It seems he listened to my advice because even though he was applying to the top colleges, he didn't let an opportunity to study at Deerfield Academy slip away. Deerfield Academy is one of the best college preparatory schools in the United States.
Mwakima wasn't accepted into any of the colleges he applied for admission in 2012. While I am not sure whether those rejection letters depressed him as much as they did to me a few years earlier, I tried to lift his spirits by telling him via phone that he could still make into the top colleges by applying again during his time at Deerfield. And true to my advice, a year later, he was accepted into several top flight colleges in America. He chose to matriculate at Harvard. And I was happy for him that he had succeeded where I had failed.
My advice and moral support for Mwakima in the years 2012 and 2013 were not in vain because he in turn came to help me as the years rolled by. Like in the year 2014 when I was applying for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) - a program conceived by the Obama administration to mentor young Africans to be leaders in politics and in business - Mwakima helped me proof-read and fine-tune my essays and recommendation letters. And he was very meticulous that we get everything right. Unfortunately, I didn't get accepted into the program.
Then when I opened a blog for sharing my thoughts, experiences and learnings with the world, Mwakima was one of the few friends who gave me positive feedback. At one time in 2014 when he was on holiday here in Kenya, he was so impressed with my blog and the quality of writings in it that he requested we meet in Nairobi. I honoured the invitation. And during our rendezvous, he gave me a flower vase as gift with the name "DEERFIELD" printed on it. On my part, I gave him a CD-copy of Charles Swindoll's delightful book, David: A Man of Passion & Destiny.
In December 2015 when I apprised Mwakima that I was having difficulties making the best use of my life and gifts, he sent me an email full of advice on how I could become a better person. And I noted he didn't try to appear preachy or a know-it-all. His was a piece of advice given by a humble and understanding person to a struggling person.
Then in February 2017 when I was supposed to pay web-hosting fees for this blog before a given deadline, I approached several people for help because I was penniless that time. But none of them assisted me. It made me worry about my blog getting shut down. But then, Mwakima came through to my aid by settling the web-hosting fees. How grateful I felt! If it weren't for him, I would have given up on blogging, a hobby that has wonderfully enriched my life.
I would have loved to go on and on about the other ways Mwakima has helped me, financially and morally, but I beg to stop there in the interest of time. All I can now say is that for me, David Mwakima is the kind of friend the Bible says sticks closer than a brother. And my dear reader, I would advise you never to look down on young people because you never know: they could end up helping you a lot the way Mwakima has done to me. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on a true friend, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "A Model of Servant Leadership". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.