I can’t forget how I felt on the day I was told that I have been posted to work in Malawi. That day I was in my former parish in Lagos sitting in my air-conditioned office and I was feeling fly as if that is all to life. Then, I received a phone call from one of my superiors telling me that I have been posted to Malawi.
I was speechless for almost a minute because I couldn’t possibly process it in my head. I was like “Malawi of all places, one of the poorest countries in the world!!!???”
Ordinarily as a missionary I should have been excited because this is actually one of the reasons I decided to be a missionary priest, but at that moment I was not.
First, apart from the fact that I just finished burying my dad not up to two months as at the time the posting call came and my mum still down, I was also afraid of the unknown based on all I have heard and read about Malawi.
But upon deeper reflection and in the spirit of being sincere to oneself, I can say that more than any reason I could fathom, the fact that I gradually and even unconsciously allowed myself to be influenced by what society defined as “success,” stood out as the major reason why Malawi was not one of those places I would have chosen on my own to work.
There is something the society creates in all of us, it tells us the type of places to go to be happy and the type of position to occupy to gain respect. Added to that, it defines success mostly in relation to material things and physical comfort. Unfortunately, we buy into this, even without knowing.
I still recalled when I was posted to Lagos after my ordination, people gave me the look of: “you don make am.” Then, when I was posted to Malawi, I got the look of: “eya, be strong, we will be praying for you!” Others were like: “who did you offend?” The reaction would have been different if it was USA or Canada.
I say this with all amount of respect, most people make these wishes for us from the sincerity of their hearts. We all grew up with the idea that the more the comfort, the more the happiness. Most of our prayer points are usually centered on that.
But we forget that comfort to a large extent is in the mind.
If I am comfortable in my skin colour, society won’t push me to bleach it. If I am comfortable with my shape, society won’t push me to use silicon breasts. If I am comfortable with where I live, I won’t be hiding my house address from my friends.
I am making this post, not merely because I want to share my Malawi story, but because I see people everyday whom due to influence from society on what happiness should be, are depressed.
If I had not come to Malawi, I won’t have known that Malawi is the best thing that has been waiting to happen in my life.
I say this, not because I still don’t have challenges here, but I discovered that even in those challenges, one can still find peace and joy if you go into your inner heart and not focus on comparing yourself with others.
Society made us believe that to be happy we must be married at a certain age and to certain persons. We must have a certain amount of money…we must be with certain persons…we must have certain children… we must be in a certain position or country… our wedding must be done in a certain way…we must dress in a certain way or reside in a certain place.
So, we literally wake up every morning not enjoying what we have or who we are, because we are working and thinking and stressing so much to be where or who we are not sure of ever becoming.
In the end, we are neither happy now nor happy then.
And sometimes in life, you are contented and happy with where you are and how your life is, until someone comes to put a thought of something else into your head. They will be like: why are you still in Malawi when someone that was recently ordained is in so and so big country, can’t you see that your superiors hate you? Or why are you still single when your younger sister is married, can’t you see that it is not ordinary?
Then, you start buying into such thinking and you suddenly become depressed.
Please, guard your happiness jealously.
Source: Rev. Fr. Kelvin Ugwu