As a young child, I never really believed anything serious could proceed out of this girl called Ife Grace. Even at the phase in my life when success was measured by grades, getting to the top of the class was not a possibility for me. It was not a thought to consider because I was constantly, effortlessly at the back of the class. I know I’ve shared this story before but I want you to follow my train of thoughts and see a new light in what I hope to leave with you today.
The first time I got into St Louis Secondary school, Kano, one of the best schools in the region, a group of girls looked at me and thought, ‘oh this girl must be intelligent.’ I was immediately invited to a join a team of nerds on my first day. They brought out the General Maths textbook for SS1 students and everyone of them began to solve questions. I was dumbfounded. I had never seen it before. Who solves Maths questions on the first day of school! I sat there and stared at the questions. I knew nothing. My full scalp sheet was blank and I was astounded at how figures moved back and forth on their sheets
Alas the truth came out. Grace may have a face that looked intelligent, but she was a dullard. They stopped talking to me after that day. In months to come, I’d become one of the most despised students. May God forgive my teachers who read out my test and exam script scores before the class. I didn’t belong anywhere. Who wants to be associated with a girl like me? St Louis was a crazy place to be. The competition for grades among the students was something I’d never seen in my life. They read like their lives depended on it.
I was asked to repeat that class but my principal, a white Reverend sister ordered that I switch to the art class.
Here’s where I am going.
Suddenly, a desire to be better consumed my mind. I started to read books by John Mason. I read books like, Why ask why?; The enemy called average; Know your limits then ignore them; You are born an original, don’t die a copy; Let go of whatever makes you stop; The impossible is possible….I found all those books in my Dad’s library and I sat with them during the august break preceding the resumption into my former class. I was a heartbroken 13 year old girl but I stayed there and devoured all of those books.
At the time school resumed, I was so ashamed to be seated in a class with my juniors. But reading those books had done something to me. My mind had shifted without me realizing it. At the end of the school day, I’d sit in my class with notes and read for an hour or more. I stayed back after the driver picked my sister and preferred to take a bike home. Thank God for supportive parents. I still remember the many spots I sat with my textbooks, digesting materials and memorizing words. A spot at the back of my house flashes before my eyes as I write this article. I’d sit there after carrying out my chores and read textbooks-economics, government, biology…
I sincerely couldn’t put my new experiences in words until in class, an hypothetical question was asked and I found myself explaining concepts and receiving a nod to my brilliant ideas… It was like magic. Low self-esteem was gradually losing its hold over my life!
The day I sat to write my exam, the fear returned. Failure had become a common term to me, where for every term, my report card had red marks- f9 splattered all over it. Immediately I saw the questions, I sincerely did not know what possessed me. It was like a tap turned open. I wrote till my fingers hurt.
Here’s what changed everything.
There had been a riot and schools had been closed down for almost a month so I didn’t get to see my assessment scores announced in class as the usual practice was. We only reopened to write exams. When one of my teachers walked into the class with our scripts, the fear rose again. He started to call out names and then he got to my turn and here’s what he said.
‘Where is Grace Dada?’
I stood there, staring at him, wondering why he had called my name. Some of my classmates who had surrounded him peeped at my script and when they would look at me, their eyes were filled with wonder…
It had never happened. No one had ever said, ‘wow’ to anything I did but here I was, looking at the surprise in their eyes at my scores. I will never forget that experience.
The second thing that shook me was seeing that I, Grace Dada in that same term, had the highest score in Biology. I mean, this girl beat science students hand down. From that moment, that thirteen year old girl started to see that she could succeed at whatever she puts her mind into. In the years that followed, I became accustomed to excellence. I became the girl students looked up to. I was the girl they called, ‘intelligent, smart, brilliant.’ Studying became an exciting adventure for me. When I missed a question and felt sad, my classmates would squeeze their nose and say, ‘Is it not you? You will still score the highest’ and it was usually so. I was that girl who took prizes home.
Every time I remember this part of my life, I become retrospective. I remember the power of seed-sowing. For me, it has remained the greatest outworking for successful ventures in every level of my growth so far. I have seen this principle modeled in the people I consider successful, people who model possibilities of success for me. Scriptures was not joking when it says, whatever a man sows, he will reap.
If I sow the right seed, it will grow!
I will succeed beyond my wildest imagination if I keep putting this principle to work in my life!
Those weeks I spent with John Mason’s books was the starting point for me. I consumed the right knowledge that impressed in my mind the existence of a life that seemed a fairy tale. The moment I stepped into that possibility in my mind, I opened the door for progress, for improvement as a teen girl.
Yes I know success is beyond just acquiring grades but what I experienced at that time was beyond merely getting to the top of the class. It was a re-engineeering of my mind. A lesson on diligence and the importance of getting the right knowledge.
I believe if I am going to become successful at whatever I have been called to do, I must sow seeds and nurture them until the harvest shows up.
I must keep sowing seeds in my walk with God because for me, success is defined as an alignment to the will of God per time. Seeds of prayers, seeds of meditation on God’s word, seeds of implanting the knowledge of God’s word in my heart. I have seen the possibility of seed-sowing in my teen years and I know it can be replicated now that I am an adult.
Through the pains of building a routine, the stubbornness of refusing to yield to the flesh when it wants the easy way out, the calls to long times of consecration done in the secret where no one notices, the drive for knowledge, the openness to learn and relearn, the place of sticking through to commitments, the courage to step into the waters when it seem uncomfortable, the financial commitment required for my growth process….
The seeds I have sown over time determine my harvest.
When I feel discouraged and lazy to pay attention to my personal growth and my different expressions, I remember the power of seed-sowing and so I press deeper. My seeds will become a fortress.
Let me leave this for you:
Put God’s word in your mouth always. Visualize the great things God is saying to you in the secret. Stay with the process, no matter how rigorous it seems. Stop looking for a way out of God’s call to consecration. Put before your eyes your dreams. Put in the work!
Delayed gratification is worth it. Put your resources, your finances and your time into personal investments that have lasting impact.
Will you stop the endless, unrestrained focus you give to social media where you consume everything that passes your newsfeed and feast for hours on things that do not put your brain to work?
For those already putting in the work, when you feel discouraged about the slow growth and the tough process, just take a moment to visualize the end result.
Your dreams will come to reality. Enjoy this journey. Harvest day is coming.
No room for fainting right? We press on!
Here’s a scripture to re-assure your heart.
‘….And don’t allow yourselves to be weary in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming! Galatians 6:9 TPT
Read also: When I was an unemployed graduate
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