DIAGNOSING ADDICTION TO SIN

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A couple of years ago, I began suffering from terrible, crippling pains in my knees. I went to see a doctor and he sent me in for an X-ray. The X-ray revealed that I had severe arthritis in both knees, and that the years of abuse and injuries from practicing several martial arts plus my poorly managed weight had all contributed to damage my knees and ankles to the point where I couldn’t run or squat without almost passing out from the pain. I was devastated because martial arts and physical exercise are among the few things in which I found genuine pleasure and personal challenge. The doctor suggested I go for knee replacement surgery in the near future, but to manage the pain he prescribed the controversial pain killer Tramadol. Now Tramadol is a narcotic drug, and a pharmacist will only sell it to you if you have a doctor’s prescription. He put me on a daily dose of 50mg twice a day, and warned me to make sure I seek further treatment, as the Tramadol was only to help me manage through a critical period at work.

 

I began taking Tramadol as prescribed, but after some time I found that the duration of relief was starting to reduce. I needed to take it more than twice a day if I was going to get through work, and without talking to my doctor, I upped my dose to 50mg 3 times a day. Before long I discovered that 50mg wasn’t taking the edge off the pain anymore, so I started taking 100mg of Tramadol per dose. Shortly after that my doctor relocated abroad, and without his prescriptions I couldn’t get Tramadol from the pharmacy close to my house. Unfortunately Tramadol is available on the black market at a very high price, and I began to buy from a local dealer just to get my fix. At the height of my addiction I couldn’t get out of bed without popping a 100mg pill of Tramadol and taking it at least 2 more times before evening. The mellow feeling it gave me soon became a requirement for my productivity. I had become an addict without even knowing how or when it happened. The wakeup call came when I took a sizable amount out of my wife’s ATM one day to buy a few tablets of painkiller. I realized what I had become; the very thing I taught my students to stay away from…a junkie!

 

Getting off Tramadol was not easy; I prayed to God for relief, and forced myself to stop taking any sort of painkillers. I started going to the gym again and began using the treadmill to walk at least 1 kilometer a day. It was painful, but I stuck at it. I weaned myself of my addiction and endured the agony, forcing the muscles in my legs to get stronger so that they would take some of the pressure off my bones. Slowly the pain in my knees reduced to an ever present ache, but at least I could handle the aching. Now I can box and use a cross trainer without relying on drugs…as long as my wife helps me massage my knees at night.

 

Sin is a lot like drugs in so many ways. We often resort to sin as a solution to a problem, and most of the time we get into it innocently. But like drugs we soon find that we do not get the fulfillment we experienced the first time we committed the sin, so we sin some more. After this we begin to develop a tolerance to the sin and our conscience no longer bothers us when we sin, so we start to commit other sins that complement the original sin. Finally we become so addicted to a sinful lifestyle that we sacrifice the most important of all our relationships – our relationship with God – just to enjoy that lifestyle. The only way out of sin is to draw closer to God and try hard to live according to the standards that He set for us. This is not easy at all, and many times we will find ourselves in pain and agony while we try to live sin free. But the good news is that living a sin free life opens up a blissful and joyous world of communication with God, because that is His original plan and purpose for us. Living without sin is difficult, and many times in your life you will fall short, but as long as you do not allow yourself to remain in the sin, and as long as you do not let your spirit build up a tolerance to sin you will find that the pain of living sin free will not last; God in His love will even provide you permanent solution to your problem (1Corinth. 10:13).

 

So in this 2019 try to wean yourself of your dependence on and addiction to sin. The fewer the sins we have in our lives, the happier and closer to God we will feel. Don’t manage the pain; deal with it and I promise you that it will subside. Happy New Year and God bless us all as we resolve to live sin and guilt free.

 

Follow me on social media and check out www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more content and information on how to get my books. Cheers!

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LIFE AS A VIDEO GAME: AN INTERESTING ANALOGY

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I like video games. No, scratch that…I LOVE video games! Ever since my friend Ike brought one to school and convinced me to skip classes and go to my house and play Mario with him, I’ve been hooked. Over the years I have been an avid follower of the gamer culture, and I have invested a lot of money in my games. I say ‘invest’ because I understand the role of digital entertainment in my own personal process. Video games help me develop my problem solving capabilities because the sort of games I play have cool puzzles and tests which you must pass before you can advance to the next level; they help me improve my goal setting process because for me few things are more rewarding than playing a difficult game on the hardest level all the way to the end and seeing the end credits roll and the CONGRATULATIONS! Message light up the television screen. Another thing computer games do for me is improve my hand eye co-ordination and my mental reflexes in actual combat scenarios, so that when I’m sparring an opponent I think faster and react better. But I guess that as a married man the greatest benefit of my gaming habit is that it keeps me occupied and out of trouble when my wife is away from home on trainings or attending meetings. I love my games; Street fighter, Halo, Mario, Tomb Raider, Winning Eleven, ISS pro…I own them all and I play them enthusiastically because they help me relax after work.

 

My favorite video game of all is the god of War series. In this game you play as Kratos; a Spartan warrior who must embark on a long journey armed with twin blades mounted on chains with which he slices and dices his enemies on his quest to destroy his arch foe Ares, the god of war. I love this game in particular because of the high level of blood and violence, and the realism of the graphics as well as the fact that I can relate with the flaws of the hero. Kratos is a tortured soul who seeks to avenge the betrayal of Ares and redeem himself for his unspeakable crimes against the innocent. He has no allies and is driven solely by his rage and his desire to exact vengeance. But I digress.

 

The good thing about video games is that even when you die in the game, you can come back to life and just continue from where you stopped, or you can save your progress and continue playing at a later time. Unfortunately, real life is quite the opposite. You cannot afford to be reckless with your life, or attempt to put life on “pause” because “something came up”. You cannot select who you want to be or switch characters halfway through. There are no “continues” and “extra lives” or “cheat codes” with which to go through this world. We don’t get “free bonuses” and “unlimited” anything because we stumbled on a hidden box containing upgrades to help us make the game of life easier. Finally, you cannot select a difficulty level that makes your challenges simple, or skip the really hard levels because they’re “not fun”. Unlike video games, in life you have to play as you are; you have to play through every single level with no unlimited ammunition or infinite continues because if you die…that’s it. We must live and grow through our experiences and be mindful that whatever decision we take today will most certainly affect our tomorrow. I’m not saying this to depress you, rather I want to remind us that we have one shot at life, and the best thing to do with that shot is to appreciate it by serving The One who programmed the game and gave us an opportunity to play. God expects us to use what He has given us to serve Him by doing His work. Sometimes it may seem like ours is on the hardest difficulty, but if we recall, the bible tells us in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus lived in the same world as we did and was tempted just as we are. That’s right; Jesus had no cheat codes either.

 

So try to enjoy the life you have, and don’t spend your time wishing for shortcuts through your challenges. If we accept the gift of life and do the best we can with it we can be sure that no matter where the game may end for us, those end credits will roll and when we enter the kingdom we will see the boldly written message CONGRATULATIONS, YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE GAME!

 

You can access more of my written and video content on www.ifeanyiubawords.com Merry Christmas!

ACTUALLY IT SHOULD READ; “WITH GREAT RESPONSIBILITY COMES GREAT POWER”

 

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If you have ever read a Spider-man comic, or watched any of the Spider-man cartoons, or seen any of the Spider-man movies on cinema, you must have probably come across the signature quote of the hero’s late uncle Ben; “With great power, comes great responsibility”. These words define the character, Spider-man and his complete belief in these words is what leads him to perform so many brave and heroic deeds, and make so many personal sacrifices to keep his friends and family and the entire comic universe safe. Those words are so powerful that they have found their way beyond the comic world and even pop culture into mainstream reality. So many people have adopted them as their personal mantra, and a lot of companies, businesses and initiatives use a portion of that saying or all of it as part of their Vision, Mission Statement, or corporate motto. Even politicians and religious leaders have been known to quote the words dreamed up by the late, great storyteller Stan Lee (RIP); “With great Power, comes great Responsibility”. To explain this quote I would point you to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, which he spoke in Luke 12:48; “To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” This means that if you are blessed with great ability, resources, opportunity, or influence, you are expected to use them to better the lot of the people around you. That is what God requires of us all, and He demonstrated this severally in the bible from Noah to Joseph; from Gideon to Samson to David. When God calls you, He equips you.

 

However, though those words are 100% true, and though they represent the right paradigm with which to change the world and validate our existence, I discovered years ago that even truer than “with great power comes great responsibility” are the words “With great RESPONSIBILITY, comes great POWER!” When you accept responsibility for your life and your circumstances you accept also the ability, resources and opportunity to change it. When you accept responsibility for others you receive the power to help them. I have written before about the direct relationship between the amount of responsibility we accept and the amount of happiness we have. Now I’m writing that when you take charge of your life, you also receive the power to improve it. We can whine and complain as much as we want about how unfair life is, but until we accept responsibility for who we are and where we are, we cannot have the power, or authority to make it better.

 

As a banker I used to complain about how my efforts were not being rewarded, and how my career was at a standstill because the bosses were being unfair. But when I decided that the direction of my career and my future was up to me, I suddenly became aware of all the options and opportunities available to me, and I could take action and make decisions that made me better, richer, and happier.

 

So, in the context of the words of the immortal Stan Lee, spoken by the greatest of all superheroes; “Take responsibility to help others, but first of all take responsibility for yourself”. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and I urge you to live this festive season the way Jesus lived…by using what you have to take care of others. Check out my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com and remain blessed. Cheers!

 

PS: Thank you Stan Lee, for everything…Excelsior!

HAPPINESS COMES FROM BEING YOURSELF

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As readership of my blog grows, I find myself under greater pressure to generate content that a broader group of people can relate to. And because I base my write-ups on the lessons I learn from things that have happened to me, this has become more of a challenge. But I will always try to draw parallels that everyone can understand, and I pray that God will continue to give me the grace to do this.

 

Olaitan (not his real name) is one of those people who have that uncanny ability to fascinate and perplex you, all at the same time. We met during my first year in the university, and we have remained friends to this day. Olaitan was a Humanities major, but he would always tell anyone who would listen that he wished he were studying Medicine, or Engineering, or Art, or whatever course of study caught his fancy at the time. He was never content with what he had, or what he was doing; he could play the keyboard and the guitar quite well, but he wished he could rap and write poetry like me. He was a gifted Judoka and Wrestling champion, but he would rather envy me because of my skill in Taekwondo. Whatever talents and gifts Olaitan had, he would always say that he preferred the talents and gifts of someone else. This inability to appreciate his own strengths led Olaitan to end dozens of relationships with many lovely women, just because he would observe another happy couple enjoying their intimacy and immediately wish that the woman was his instead. To Olaitan everyone else had it better than he did, and he was never satisfied with just being himself and enjoying the things that made him unique. The last time I saw him was when he came to me to borrow money to start a business that he was not suited for, even after we all advised him not to quit his well-paying job as a Human Resources Manager at big company. The reason he gave for leaving the company was simple; people who were into that business seemed to be so happy…happier than he. Olaitan is now in his forties, but is still unmarried and unable to appreciate the good things and good people in his life.

 

As children we all envied something about someone else, and I’m certain that we have often wished we had the nice things our friends owned, which we did not have. This is normal. But at some point you have to begin to appreciate yourself and be grateful to God for who you are and what you have. This is one of the cornerstones of maturity, and until you can appreciate your own, you can never become the best of who you are. Yes, there are certain talents that shine like a beacon, but because you cannot sing or dance…because you’re not an academic prodigy, or a gifted athlete, doesn’t mean you’re not special and loaded with potential. Some people have their talents bubbling just below the surface, while some of us have to dig deep and work hard to discover our unique abilities. This is the fun of living in this world; the diversity of people. I have done some checking, and I discovered that indeed God has equipped everyone equally. He did not equip us the same; He just equipped us equally in different areas. Whatever it is someone around you has in abundance, know that you too have something else in equal abundance. That is the wonderful mystery of God that we must all appreciate. But like the servant who was given one talent (Matt.25: 14-30) we would rather hide our talent and envy those who seem to have more. Please do not do this. Be yourself all the time, and make full use of the little you think you have or are. Look at it this way; there are people who carry a heavier burden than you do. Would you rather exchange with them? So if you would not accept a heavier burden why would you envy a greater talent?

 

In conclusion, know that God does not see our service by quantity; He judges our thoughts and actions by proportion. If you believe you have little, but you do all you can with that little, you will be given more. But if you do nothing because you believe you have little then you are abusing the existence that you have been given. So please, look less at the blessings of others and more at the abundance of opportunity that you have been given. I pray God will give us all the grace to be truly happy with who we are and the strength to make the best of what we have, even as we appreciate His grace in the life of others. Check out my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more inspiring content. Cheers!

YOU MUST OWN IT BEFORE YOU CAN CHANGE IT

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Over the years I have posted numerous articles and write-ups on my blog and my social media pages, and each time I’m always careful to post only what I know to be truth through personal experience and many hours of deep thought and prayer. But of all the lessons and advice I have ever posted, this one is to me one of the most powerful and effective lessons I have ever learned.

 

Emeka was a young Taekwondo-ka I trained with back when I was competing in tournaments. He was one of those fellows who you would call naturally gifted; long limbs, flexible and with good reflexes, Emeka made Taekwondo look beautiful. His kicks were strong and his footwork and stances were textbook perfect. In fact, with the right training and attitude, Emeka could have gone all the way to the world championships…even the Olympics. Yes, Emeka was THAT good!

 

But Emeka had one serious flaw which I believe derailed his chances of becoming a world class martial artist. He always had an excuse to give every time something went wrong. If he arrived late for training and missed a spot on the team, he blamed it on traffic, or the rain, or something else; whenever he lost a match, he complained that the referee was being partial to the other guy; if he failed to break a board during grading test; he blamed it on the person holding the board. That was Emeka for you; he blamed everyone and everything else except himself. Before long he was dropped entirely from the team and his conclusion was that the coach was tribal and jealous of him. The last time I saw him he was hanging around the National Stadium, obese, unkempt, telling anyone who would listen about his glory days as a fighter and how the envy of those he was better than caused them to conspire against him and end his career. I tried to feel sorry for him, but it’s hard to feel pity for someone who never took advantage of his unique gifts, or took responsibility for his failures.

 

If this story does not strike a chord with you, then you’re not being sincere to yourself. Our society teaches us to hold others responsible for our failures, and blame something other than ourselves for our shortcomings. We are conditioned to believe that our poverty; lack of education; disadvantages, and even spiritual immaturity are the handiwork of “the enemy”, regardless of our decisions, lifestyle or lack of commitment. People flock to churches where they are told that unseen enemies are to blame for their lack of wealth and physical and psychological discomfort. They spend time praying and fasting against their fellow man, and seeking for miracles from heaven in the form of “covenant helpers” to magically provide them with things that so called “unbelievers” wake up and go out and achieve every day through hard work, dedication, and personal sacrifice. We are a society of blamers, and between the secular zeitgeist and the religious programming, we are taught to blame and not own.

 

Success is a process, and that process begins with first owning your reality. Whatever your reality is right now; whether it is your fault or not, you must accept responsibility for it before you can change it. When I finally decided to accept responsibility for my failures I discovered that I was no longer concerned with whom or what caused them. All I was interested in was how to change the situation. Yes there are bad people out there who seek to take from you and destroy you, but there is also a God who loves you and will replenish and multiply…all you have to do is accept responsibility for where you are and begin to work towards getting to where you want to be. If like Emeka you choose to blame everyone and everything else for your failures, you will never hold yourself responsible for your success. Remember that where you are today is as a result of the decisions and actions that you – or someone who has authority over you – have taken in the past. So if you want a change you need to accept responsibility for your shortcomings and work towards overcoming them. Are you poor? don’t blame society or government, accept responsibility for your finances and start working toward riches. Are you obese? Stop blaming your moods and circumstances and accept that it’s your responsibility to get fit. Are you unhappy or dissatisfied? Stop blaming your past, accept your present, and begin to create your ideal future now! So accept responsibility for what you don’t have today, and when you do you will become empowered to go out and get it all.

 

Because before you can change it, you have to own it. Check out my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more content. Cheers!

If I were to ask you to name a boxer, I can almost bet that you would say Mike Tyson, right? And why wouldn’t you? Iron Mike Tyson is known as one of the most phenomenal and brutal fighters to ever step into the ring. Virtually all of his professional victories were knockouts, and the man had a brute strength and raw punching power that the world had never seen since maybe the days of George Foreman. Tyson was incredible, and there was no one on earth who could withstand his devastating left or right hook. He used to knock opponents out in the first or second round…if they actually got that far, and after each fight his opponents always said the same thing; they were trying to land a punch or retreat, when BOOM! A single punch out of nowhere laid them out flat. For casual fans of boxing, Mike Tyson was fun to watch because his fights were over before you could even start to get bored. But that was his problem right there. Iron Mike always went into each fight looking for the single punch knockout because that was what he was used to. He was not trained to draw a fight out and exploit his opponents’ weakness. When he lost to James Buster Douglas in 1990 it was because of one simple reason; Douglas drew the fight out and made Tyson work for 10 rounds. Tyson did not know what else to do. He was exhausted. He was used to finishing opponents with one punch before round 3, and he had no answers for Douglas’ barrage of blows in the latter rounds. Unfortunately, that is also the problem with most of us. We go into situations and challenges looking for the single action that will solve the problem immediately, so that we can score a victory without exerting ourselves too much. That’s not the way life works, despite what we may have been taught, or what we see on television. Life is a drawn out encounter and you often have to go toe to toe with our problems for hours, or days or weeks or months, chipping away slowly, going through the process, before finally we achieve victory. This applies to almost everything we are faced with; whether we are trying to create wealth, or do well in school, or solve a personal or professional problem. Any boxing trainer worth his salt will tell you that you have to study your opponent, while you dance him around and throw jab after jab to weaken his defenses. Once in a while you may solve a problem with one swift action, but don’t think that you will always win that way. When you try a solution and it doesn’t work, don’t get discouraged: try something else, approach it from another angle, rest a bit, regain your strength and go at it again. People who approach their problems in this manner rarely ever lose, because they understand the reason for the process. The process builds physical and mental and emotional strength, and each problem you solve equips you with the tools to deal with the next, bigger challenge. So, don’t try to be a one technique knockout artist. David had danced and destroyed several carnivores before he came up against Goliath of Gath, and even after that victory he fought many long, drawn out battles which he won. So many churches promise their members one single solution to solve their problems, while they know fully well that this is not the truth. Face problems with faith and a determination to find a solution no matter how long it takes, because if you expect to win immediately you step into the ring, your disappointment will be even greater when you lose. Be patient and keep jabbing, dodging and weaving, and I can guarantee you that not only will you outlast all your problems; you will also develop the skills you need to solve even bigger and more challenging problems. Check out my website www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more life affirming content.

FACING YOUR FEARS

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In 2003 I took part in a tournament organized by the martial arts community in the Lagos State University (LASU). I was still a fresh black belt holder then, and I was pretty sure I was good enough to win and get the prize. Unfortunately I was very inexperienced in the psychology of fighting, and I still had some doubt in my abilities. So when I met one of my opponents before the actual fight I was totally unprepared for what transpired. His name was Yemi, and he was an overweight freestyle fighter who had a reputation for being a thug and a bully. He looked me over and told me point blank that there was no way I would last a full round in the ring with him. Yemi taunted and bullied me, and made jokes about how skinny and slow I was. He got inside my head and his words did a lot of damage to my confidence and made me afraid. By the time our fight was announced, I was so scared of fighting him that I kept stepping to the side and trying to avoid taking a hit without making any effort to attack. Yemi scored a series of easy points against me, and I eventually lost that fight. Looking back now I’m quite sure that if I hadn’t allowed my fear to dictate my movements that day, that fight may have turned out to be one of my most conclusive victories because Yemi was slow and lumbering and he kept dropping his guard like a rookie.

 

Everyone has a fear. No matter how strong a man or woman is, or no matter how bold and confident a person is, there is always something that they are mortally afraid of, something that puts them at a disadvantage. As children the sight of a cane was enough to fill us with panic and send us running and screaming; as we grew older our fear of corporal punishment was replaced with other fears and anxieties, depending on who we are and how fully our personalities formed. For many people their greatest fear is the fear of being alone and without family or friends or someone to love, while for others it is the fear of poverty and lack…and this fear pushes them to do whatever evil thing possible to make money. For others still their biggest fear is the fear of the world seeing them for who they really are. These people go to great lengths to present themselves as the complete opposite of what lives within them. Yemi made me feel fear, and because of that fear I was defeated even before I even stepped into the ring. The trick to overcoming fear is to remind yourself that the fear is in your head. Jesus reminded his disciples that even though they would have troubles and difficulties, he was always with them and he would send them a comforter in the Holy Spirit. Whenever things begin to go bad for me and I find myself gripped with fear I remember Deuteronomy 31:8 and most of the time that is enough for me to grin and surge ahead.

 

I like to present myself as bold and confident in the face of difficulty. Sometimes I tend to overdo it and come across as cocky…even arrogant. This is not usually my intention, but I have come to discover that in life the admission of fear or the succumbing to fear often brings about the circumstance that we are afraid of. Don’t let your fear dictate your actions or define your thoughts. Remember your creator and hold onto whatever word or teaching in your religion that deals with the overcoming of fear. Surround yourself with people of courage and face your fears squarely, and you will find that fear is just a bully without any real power to hurt you. For me, my biggest fear is the fear of failure, but I face that fear every day and continue to do more and more. Face your fear today, and I promise you that you will surely overcome it. Check me out on www.ifeanyiubawords.com for more messages that deal with courage and confidence. Cheers!