By Joshua Onuekwusi
I have found it personally difficult over the past few days to reach out to some brilliant, amiable, cheerful and wonderful friends and colleagues from the Nigerian Law School in light of disappointment that has greeted the release of the 2016 Bar final examination for many caught up in the light of fate. In this aura of mixed feelings; triumphant mates and the not so lucky friends. In this loss of words, I ran into an old story – quite familiar to some of us – I’d love to share with us.
The song “It Is Well With My Soul” was written by a successful Christian lawyer Horatio Spafford. “His only son died at age 4 in 1871. In 1872, the great Chicago fire wiped out his vast estate, made from a successful legal career. In 1873 he sent his wife & 4 daughters over to Europe on a summer trip on the ill fated SS Ville du Havre. Since he had a lot of work to do, he planned to follow them later. The Ship sank and he lost his 4 daughters with the wife being the only survivor. She sent him a famous telegram which simply read, “SAVED ALONE….” On his return home, his Law firm was burned down and the insurance company refused to pay him. They said “It’s an Act of God”. He had no money to pay for his house and no work, he also lost his house. Then while sitting and thinking what’s happening to him, being a spiritual person, he wrote a song – “Whatever, my Lord, You have taught me to say – It is well, it is well with my soul”.
None of us is Horatio Spafford. None of us may lay claim to his sort of faith and character. Nevertheless one thing we can say at this time, in this trying moment, amidst the pain, the anguish, the disappointment of not achieving our set goals in the bar exam, or even failing outrightly is this, “Whatever be my lot, it is well with my soul”. Then comes the difficult question that no mortal can assuredly answer. How do we move on from this present state of “despair”? First, we must just accept how we feel. It will most likely hurt. Maybe a bit. Sometimes a lot. Then remember: you’re not a failure just because you had a setback.
With the right determination you shall overcome and move on to do greater exploits like many great women and men whose gallery bear the scars of failures and triumphs of glory, biographies made beautiful by stories so rich in triumphs and equal or more measure of frustration and loss. Remind yourself everyday: anyone who wants to do things of value in life, who wants to climb the mountain of fulfillment, bow to the applause of accomplishment will have low-points, now or later, somewhere, somehow. Talk it over with someone close to you, someone you trust, someone who believes in your ability and your dream, someone who can stand shoulder to shoulder with you. Find inspiration and support from your world. You can read about many great people who have handled setbacks including Jesus Christ who was crucified in quest to bring salvation to mankind. Maintain and improve your self-esteem. You are as brilliant, gorgeous and smart as you were a year and weeks ago; not even a piece of paper can say otherwise. Someone, somewhere up above has the final say. You must take a decision that you are going to move on. It may not happen automatically. You will have to rise up, summon courage and faith and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.’ Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. In this defining period what would count in years to come is not that we had a setback, what will count between you, your creator and your generation is that you summoned the faith and courage to move on. And you moved on.
We never really know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have. Now more than ever, being strong, confident that we shall overcome this challenge, this disappointment and any other yet unknown is the only choice we have.
I and many others stand with you, in prayer now and always. Our faith in you has never been determined by few words on a piece of any paper. Not now, not ever.
Joshua is a lawyer. He likes to engage in volunteer work and orphanage home support projects. When his not writing he watches football or documentaries. He can be reached on Facebook – Joshua Onuekwusi.