Deborah Oyine Aluh

I vividly remember my roommate in my second year of university giving me a book titled “I do not come to you by chance” and how I was immediately captivated by the author’s humorous writing style. Despite being relatively unknown and underappreciated at the time, Tricia Nwabuani`s work left a lasting impression on me. The title has lingered in my mind, almost like a mantra, as I have pondered its deeper meaning. For me, it is an intriguing phrase that captures the essence of life-changing experiences. Inspired by this phrase, I am writing a post with the same title, although my focus differs from Tricia’s novel. Instead, I am exploring the idea that bad experiences should not be viewed as mere unfortunate occurrences but rather as tailored opportunities for our self-reflection, growth, and ultimately, a chance to rewrite our own narratives.

Everything happens for a reason. That is a statement we often hear, but it’s not always easy to understand or accept, especially when faced with a situation that seems so awful and unfair. It’s natural to question why such a terrible experience must happen to us and what possible lessons or personal growth could come out of it. But here’s the truth: life is a series of lessons, and experience remains the best teacher. We can read about life’s hardships and challenges, but it is by going through them ourselves that we truly understand their impact. Think about the most terrible experience you`ve had: would you have learned the same lessons, gained the same insights, and experienced the same growth if you had read about them in a book? Probably not. Going through difficult situations forces us to face our fears and discover strengths we never knew we had. It pushes us out of our comfort zones and compels us to grow and evolve.

As 50 Cent (yes, the American rapper) famously said, “Joy wouldn’t feel so good if it wasn’t for pain.” This simple statement holds profound wisdom that often goes unnoticed in our pursuit of happiness.  Imagine a life without any struggles or hardships. Picture a world where everything comes easy and where there are no obstacles or challenges to overcome. On the surface, it may sound idyllic, but deep down, it would be a life lacking meaning and fulfillment. When we reflect on our own experiences, we can find countless examples of how the hardships we have faced have shaped our perspectives and allowed us to value the good things in life even more.

I recall my own journey from being an entitled child who was very selective about food to facing the harsh reality of starvation during armed conflict. In that moment of desperation, when I had no choice but to eat whatever was available, a transformation occurred within me. I realized the value of every morsel of food and the blessing of having sustenance to survive. I developed a newfound respect and gratitude for the simplest things in life: food, freedom, and life itself. Without that painful experience, I might have never truly understood the significance of these necessities. So, while it may be tempting to wish away the difficult moments and wonder why they happened to you, how about thinking that there is a purpose behind it all? Embrace the lessons, personal growth, and even the pain of these experiences. Trust that they have a place in the grand scheme of things and that they are shaping you into the resilient, compassionate, and wise person you are destined to be.

Yet, even as I type this post, the skeptic in me is thinking of many horrible scenarios that seem to be entirely negative. For instance, what could be the purpose of war and other horrific crimes that have happened in the past and continue to occur today? Well, one could argue that war has led to many technological advances, forcing countries to accelerate their technological progress to gain a competitive edge. Also, the aftermath of conflicts has given rise to the creation of protective laws and advocacies. The horrors experienced during wars have led us to recognize the need for human rights, international cooperation, and diplomacy. Organizations like the United Nations, created out of the ashes of World War II, were established to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights and to foster peace and understanding among countries. It’s a pity that we still haven’t learned, and our growth toward the protection of these human rights and the peaceful resolution of conflicts remains stunted. Anyway, these explanations do not justify war and other horrific crimes, but they do highlight the complex interplay between tragedy and progress in the grand scheme of things.

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