Pay Attention to Patterns in Your Life
Your life is generating data, use it
How was your valentine? There were no flowers here. I just bought books for myself and the girls. I also went out to see some flower sections at the stores.
This week I shared on my Twitter account about how I, because of the carelessness of Nigerian doctors, almost lost my life when I was six years old. A student doctor in the hospital was my lifesaver. He, knowing that he could be in trouble, bought blood for me and helped me ‘escape’ from that govt hospital to another place where I stood a chance of living.
Despite my photographic memory of my childhood days, I can’t remember his face. Well, how would I? I was between life and death. I only remember that he was just returning from the mosque on that Friday. His coming at that moment was a coincidence — my life is littered with many such occurrences.
I got to know as my life progressed that it wasn’t a mere coincidence. It was a divine coincidence. But today I am not talking broadly about coincidences. Just stay with me.
I will jump over other similar events in my life to when I was searching for a firm to undergo the compulsory Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme popularly known as I.T. I had a network of people who had promised to move heaven and earth for me when I was ready.
To cut a long story short, when the time came, nothing came out of their quarters. I underwent the SIWES program at a notable Federal Research Institute in Lagos. Prior to that time, I had not heard of that place. It was my classmate who heard about it and thought we should give it a try.
When I had the opportunity to come to Lagos, I went to the place, wrote the necessary application letter for myself and him and we were selected for the next batch. After employing my set, the door was shut. They stopped taking ‘I.T’ students including youth corps members posted to the institute at that particular period. Again I am not particular about the coincidence there. I urge you to stay with me.
While I worked as a journalist, I was added to a WhatsApp group comprising of some Abuja-based media top guns. I think we were over 100 in the WhatsApp group. I can’t remember the exact figure now. One day I was scanning through the names of participants in the group. My eyes got fixed on one of the names. I had a nudge in my spirit to save the contact. I did and forgot about it.
Some months after, I left the WhatsApp group when my work there was done. I also wanted to change my job at that time. I was reading the news one afternoon when I saw that the person’s number I saved months ago had left his previous position to establish his own firm. I dug out the number and ‘shot him a shot’ to work at his new place. He responded, sent my CV to human resources and got me employed in a week.
I can write a full book on divine coincidences in my life. I can keep recounting these experiences including how I moved to London for my masters (this is a long story for another day). This time last year, if you told me I’d celebrate my Christmas in Europe, I’ll probably say you’re bluffing.
In the newsletter where I will write about divine coincidence (that people call luck), I’ll show you examples from the life of others too. For now, let’s just stick to the plan.
The most common thing in my life that I wish to point out in those short stories again is that God likes to disgrace my efforts when he wants to do his thing. I don't get the full picture yet. But it sure looks like he does these things so that I don’t have any chance to ascribe anything I own solely to my human effort.
Do not be mistaken. I am an obsessed planner/dreamer but God has a way of editing my plans. This is a common trend in my life. At some point, after planning, I present it before God and say “For apart from you, I can do nothing” (John 15.5) because I have learned by experience that my ‘gra gra’ doesn't always work.
When I understand this pattern, I am wiser in the way I approach everything in my life. I don’t get offended when something happens/doesn’t happen. Not even with those who promised heaven and earth but didn’t come through for me. If I do my best, I will walk into those God has sent to me. I am just getting to understand what some people call “The unforced rhythm of grace.”
What are the patterns in your life? Patterns are data. It helps us to avoid mistakes and make an informed decisions. The more data we generate about something, the more that stuff will (is supposed to) get better. The more data you generate (and apply accordingly) about yourself, the better you become.
The old religions of the world that still exist are because of data. The Bible, Quran, Buddhism Tripitaka, and other religious books are all data. The easiest way to phase out something is not to document or pay attention to its pattern. I once argued that this is the problem with the African traditional religion. Europeans didn't collect it from ‘you.’ There was no data to enable continuity. There is no book on Ifa, Ogun, Esu, Obatala and co that is readily accessible. Every longstanding religion has a book/constitution — centuries of data kept for posterity.
In Christian theology, David went to fight Goliath with ‘data.’ He knew he could kill the Philistine giant because he had killed a lion, bear and other dangerous animals unscratched while tending to his father’s flock. He met Goliath with data. He was well informed. The data he had made him know which stones could kill, which amour was fit and other details.
The Bible is a book of data. How do you know God is powerful? It’s because the Bible say so. It said he parted the Red Sea, gave sight to the blind and did all kinds of supernatural stuff — that’s DATA. If God has ever done anything for you, you can leverage that data to ask for other things. In fact, our faith in ourselves that we will succeed is because we have seen someone like us succeed.
The more we live, the more data we generate about our life. Take a look at your life, study it from as far back as you can remember till the present and observe the trend. It will surely tell you something. Pay attention to it. Use the information you get out of it to better your life. Check your family, workplace and business for patterns too. The guys we look up to are so because they are, first, good students of themselves.
This same procedure of data generation works for a lot of things in our life. Stop wasting data (patterns) in your life, use it to your advantage.