Breaking the Worry Habit
A True Story
on Apr 25, 2021
Last Wednesday, I traveled to Nairobi City to produce a hymn I had composed. As I always do whenever I go to Nairobi, I decided to purchase some books. So while passing through some streets in the city, I kept stopping on every bookstall I passed by to see if there was any book worth buying. To my delight, I came across one bookstall that was selling books I have always desired to read. What delighted me even more was to hear from the book-vendor that he was selling the books at prices that were affordable to me.
Because of the affordable prices of the books, I picked four of them and then walked to where the book-vendor was seated, intending to bargain with him that he sells the books to me at cheaper prices now that I was purchasing four of them. When I begged him to lower the prices for me, he affectionately embraced my hands with his and whispered to my ear that he was selling the books to me at the cheapest price possible. And when I insisted that he lowers the prices for me, he asked me if the prices weren't fair.
Agreeing that he was selling the books at fair prices, I stopped bothering him, paid him the money and walked away with the books in my hands. I felt so elated to be in possession of the books that I sauntered the rest of the distance with a spring in my step and joy in my soul. Imagine I could hardly wait to start reading the books.
But you know what? Instead of feeling enthused the following day when I began reading one of the books, I found myself worrying that I could have contracted the dreaded coronavirus when the book-vendor affectionately embraced my hands with his in a crowded street. In these times of coronavirus pandemic, hadn't the vendor heard of social distancing and using sanitizers?
I kept worrying about the possibility of me having caught the coronavirus as the day wore on. But later on in the day, I turned the matter over to God by asking Him by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, that He let it be the case that I never contracted the coronavirus from the book--vendor. After praying, I felt the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. And I now believe God answered my prayers because so far, I have not developed any symptoms of coronavirus: symptoms such as fever, coughing, sneezing, headaches and difficulty in breathing.
By the way, last Thursday wasn't the first time I have found myself worrying over some strange issues. There have been other times in the past few years when I have been anxious about something. Like there was a time, not so long ago, when during my walk to my hometown of Kiserian, I worried that I may have left my electric heater on. That got me concerned with what could happen to my room if the electric heater was on.
From my readings and from the stories I have heard from other people, I have learnt I am not the only one who worries over problems, both minor and major. Worrying is a malady that afflicts virtually all people. That must be what prompted Dale Carnegie, the famous 20th century writer, to author a book about worrying titled How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
One thing I have discovered about worrying is that it is very addictive. If we worry about minor issues such as the possibility of having left the water tap on, we end worrying about major issues such as the possibility of losing a loved one through an accident or terminal illness. Yes, worrying is that addictive.
But worrying is a useless habit because it doesn't empty tomorrow off its problems; it only keeps us from enjoying our present blessings. Worrying is like riding in a rocking chair; it gives us something to do but doesn't get us anywhere.
It has dawned on me that the best way to break the worry habit is to trust in God fully and turn over to Him every issue that is troubling us, just like I did last Thursday when I worried that I could have contracted the dreaded coronavirus. The Bible promises us that if we talk to God about any issue that is causing us anxiety, He will fill us with the peace which surpasses all understanding and make the answers known to us.
Having experienced that peace which surpasses all understanding on several occasions, I now believe God doesn't want us to worry about anything; He only allows problems into our lives so that we can pray. So my advice to you is that whenever you catch yourself worrying, however small the issue, tell God about it in your prayers. He will fill you with His peace and cover you with His grace. That's all I am saying.
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update three days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn that is available in the videos' section of this blog. Just click on the "videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog to listen to the hymn.
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The Habit of Reading
A True Story
on Apr 20, 2021
On November or December last year as I was heading home during my evening exercises, I happened to walk behind two teen girls and eavesdrop what they were saying to each other. One of the girls was boasting to the other of how she hadn't read a book since schools were closed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She claimed with an air of pride that she hadn't even touched the Bible. As I listened to her speak, I thought to myself how foolish it was of her to disdain books.
The girl reminded me of what Paul Ouma, the 2006 Starehe Institute captain, told us one morning in 2006 when we were in Starehe: that some people are like wheelbarrows - they can never do anything unless pushed. That teen girl was acting like a wheelbarrow; without being pushed by school to read, she couldn't do it herself.
I later resolved that if I ever get lucky to have children and overhear them boasting of how they never read, I will give them a good spanking - the kind of spanking the book of Proverbs exhorts parents to administer to errant children. But I want to believe I will succeed in inculcating in my children the same love for reading that my father instilled in me.
Yes, my father did instill in me a love for reading. When I was growing up in the '90s, he bought for us plenty of books, magazines and newspapers which he encouraged us to read. He even offered us private tuition at home, mostly in writing and in Mathematics. For my father, Maths was his forte.
I vividly recall the day in 1994 when I picked a Swahili textbook to read; I was six years old at the time and in Standard One. And wow! When I discovered that I could read the Swahili textbook, I felt a quiver of excitement run through me. And after that discovery that I could read, I don't think I ever stopped reading for the rest of my time in primary school.
It was as a result of reading a lot that I passed the 2001 national primary school exams and got into Starehe Boys' Centre, a prestigious institution in Nairobi where I had my high school as well as college education. At Starehe, I became preoccupied with reading books, mostly to pass the exams that we frequently took at school.
When I was preparing to sit for the SAT exams in 2006 during my time in Starehe Institute, I was encouraged to read widely and wisely by an SAT revision textbook that said reading broadly is the only means of enriching our vocabularies. So I read a variety of books not only in the subjects we were learning in the institute but also in other fields such as literature, motivation and entrepreneurship.
Then when I was a first-year student at JKUAT in 2007, I was inspired to read even more by somebody at the university who was promoting a reading culture among students by hanging posters that encouraged us to read. On one such poster was a picture of Barack Obama with a quote on it that said, "If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads."
Those encouragements to read that I received in Starehe Institute and at JKUAT kept pulling me back to books every time I was discouraged from reading such as when I was forcefully admitted to hospital in 2008 after I went astray at JKUAT. They have also made me gravitate back to books in the times within the last eleven years when I became too bored to read.
Reading has now grown into a passion for me. These days, I don't read to pass exams; I read to be entertained, to be inspired and to be enriched with knowledge. The knowledge I have gained has enabled me to overcome my dark past. And I tend to believe it will also unlock for me the doors of opportunities I need to live the life of my dreams.
Such is the passion for reading that I will inculcate in my children if I ever have some. And I will encourage my children to read not by force but by example. I will have them see me curl up with a good book in the evening instead of watching the telly or surfing the Net. By encouraging my children to read, I will prepare them not only to excel in school but to also make a lasting difference on this grand and magnificent planet.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on the habit of reading, you might also enjoy another one I wrote a few years ago on "Books I'd Love to Read Again". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.