What a small world!
I have been in Los Angeles for a year now and it has been refreshing. Often, I have been driving around with family folk, hiking across coast lines from one beach to the next, biking for hours, sightseeing, making new friends, and trying new things. Plus, I am a foodie and California offers variety. Its awesome except for traffic. My goodness…traffic! And you know what…?
I love it.
I live with my cousin, Sophie* and her family. Chloe*, another cousin visiting from the U.K, also lives with us. Barry*, Chloe’s husband recently visited us from the U.K to join Chloe and Barry’s sister, Jackie* came to visit from Atlanta.
Oh yeah…its a Full House and its fun.
Its one of our family traditions. If you are family, you are not allowed to stay in a hotel, motel, or Airbnb if you are in town. So, we are all cramped in one house until vacation is over, no matter how many of us are visiting. Its usually chaotic and fun at the same time. While I am sad that the fun is almost over, I was reminded of just how small the world is.
Barry and me were at each others throats because of the fight of the century – Mayweather vs. McGregor. Of course, he is British so he supported “The Notorious” Irishman. I loved him but…Mayweather though. We ended up watching the game at Irish Patrick Molly’s. But, before that, we indulged each other in business conversations. He is an entrepreneur and I dabble a little in the trade.
We discussed what our friends and peers were up to and how most of them had engaged in commerce. No sector was off limits. We talked about technology, boxing, conflict resolution, boxing, banking, insurance, boxing, marriage, and spouses boxing; agriculture and more boxing. As you can tell, the men in my family are passionate about something.
It was a DOLLAR for POUND conversation.
(I’m not saying in your face more than is necessary but I did predict Mayweather was going to win…hmm hmm)
THEN…while Barry and me went driving, I shared how proud I was of some of my mates who were breaking new ground with commerce in my home country, Cameroon in West Africa. But, there was one person I was most impressed with. His name is Herbert. I sang his praises as Barry listened curiously. We last spoke about four years ago.
Herbert had been featured in a popular newspaper as an emerging talent and person in business to watch. He owned, managed, and produced cash crops on hundreds of hectares he owned. That is impressive for a man in his 20’s no?
I became acquainted with Herbert when I was still in Africa. We both studied international accounting. I gave him most of my books and we helped each other through this hard course. He was my senior by far. But, he looked up to me in some sense. We shared meals. We became each other’s keeper. We became brothers in adversity. We were tight.
As I shared this fond memories, Barry seemed to be in shock and after some quizzing he exclaimed in Pidgin-English, “NA MA BROTHER THAT!”
Translation -THAT’S MY VERY OWN KIN!
Come to find out, Jackie, Barry’s sister who was vacationing with us was Herbert’s mom and Barry was Herbert’s uncle. Barry was the one who payed for Herbert’s education and he is the same one who bought the land Herbert owned and was working on. They were partners, like a Barry and Son’s Inc. The resources Herbert offered me while we both studied together came from Barry, who had only been mentioned to me.
It would be several years before Chloe and Barry would meet in the U.K and get hitched. It would be two years after (fall 2016) before I would be helping Chloe in her pregnancy, enthusiastically waiting to for the moment when she would say,
“AHHHHH…MY WATER JUST BROKE!”
for the first time in my lifetime. (Well, I missed it). It would be weeks after that when Baby Dennon would be born, Barry would come to the U.S, and we would all meet face to face at last.
It would be months after that when I would assist in nursing little Dennon, (aka Mr. Bubbles) who would subsequently grow to adore me as his favorite uncle – laughing when he sees me and crying when I left (Its a chip on my shoulder which I am very proud of, thank you very much).
I would teach him silly games and songs. It would be seven months into the year (August 2017) when Barry would return to the U.S and his sister, Jackie, would visit from Atlanta. It would take a week before we all discover how connected we have been all along.
Jackie confessed to feeling a kindred spirit each time we spoke. Now, we get why.
Herbert and me were friends. Now, we are family!
So you see: its a small world.
We are told:
Love your neighbor as you love yourself – God
It is one of the most important commandments. Why? Here’s one reason.
GOD wants to bless you. He wants to show you His kindness. BUT…
He will always use PEOPLE to bless you, to show you kindness. He will always or often use his other friends and family members (believers) to do that. He will even use strangers and enemies. Welcome to the Kingdom club. And that’s just one reason I have always argued that its about the people…always about the people. Love the people! Hence –
Life, success, destiny…is NOT about the destination. Its NOT about the journey either. Its about THE PEOPLE on the journey to your destination
A place is NOT about the place: its about THE PEOPLE in that place. The people make the place.
So, if GOD sends people to you and you don’t love them, they will leave. They will go their way, carrying away with them what was meant for you. So, its crucial to love your neighbor as you love yourself for
GOD’S blessings, solutions, and opportunities are always locked in the hearts of the people in your sphere of influence. He hides these gems in the people. That’s why He says you cannot claim to love Him who you don’t see if you don’t love your brother whom you see.
Before I left for the U.S a long time ago, my century old Grandma gave me a blessing. She lay in bed, half blind, with her hand on my tummy. As if seeing and repeating what she saw in heaven as she looked toward the ceiling, she said,
“Love all people. Respect all people. Be each other’s keeper. Be your brothers keeper….“
I am convinced it was a GOD-HOLY SPIRIT moment.
Now, I understand in part what Grandma Dinah meant when she cramped her counsel into a crafted blessing. She was saying –
Love and respect people always. Each time you do, you are planting seeds of goodness that will compound over your life through good speech, other people’s recommendations of you, and human connection. You are investing for a lifetime. Herbert told his people of his “good friend” way back and now they see who he is. They love him and bless him much more.
You will easily find that God’s blessings, opportunities, solutions, and counsel are accessible to you each time you unlock the door of a strangers heart with the keys of godly love and respect.
Jackie was thanking me for helping his son when I had the opportunity. Turns out, her brother is the one supporting and helping me out in my own hard times.
Isn’t that just funny how the world works?
What grandma was also saying is something I have shared ON NOT BURNING BRIDGES which is this –
Never burn a bridge. Never, under any circumstance, break or burn a bridge with any person…but if you have to separate from people, it is wiser to be strategic in your separation, rather than spontaneous in your answer. It will keep you from being alienated and serve you well in the long run.
By not burning a relational bridge and by being wise in your approach, we can at least preserve the goodwill that already existed in a fragile bond.
So, you see –
It’s a small world after all. One where a brother in adversity can become a literal part of your family. One where an enemy can become the one delivering your next meal in days of darkness. Be nice.
Love and respect people, people.
People are full of surprises.
They just might surprise you.
*Names changed; (1) Mt 2:37-39