Though I rarely talk about my faith—I believe that faith should be within and expressed outwardly only through kind gestures—on the seventh day I talk liberally about my walk and my journey towards finding my purpose as God wills it. I do not do this to sanctimoniously preach as if I’ve figured out the answer to life; I only talk about my faith as a means to share my testimony and by extension give hope to those mired in hopelessness.
I’ve walked a long journey in the past two and a half years. From living a life of comfort, a burden was placed on my shoulders that turned me into a pariah. One second working in corporate America making six figures, the floor fell beneath me as I suddenly found myself homeless in South Carolina. The hardest part was knowing that I could never explain the whale that came for me. I cursed God for giving me a story that would only lead to ridicule if I dare to loosen my tongue to tell of it. Broken and alone, I became a man without a nation, family or friends.
I went through three phases of darkness. First I let my ego blow up to the size of Texas thinking that it was my greatness that pulled me from the fire that came knocking at my door. I did this even though I was warned; an elderly gentleman who I did not know randomly told me one day “if you ever get through this, do not make this about your ego for ego means easing God out”. I thought I knew better and soon enough I went about easing God out of my life convinced that I had it all figured. Regardless, God was right by my side. As I roamed Main Street in Greenville, South Carolina, one angel after another by way of strangers nourished me and provided love where those who I fed only a few months prior were nowhere to be found.
After sauntering in ego for a while, soon enough darkness enveloped me. Pride, they say, goeth before destruction. The destruction came for me and I wanted to blame God for my sorrows but really I did it to myself. Refusing to submit to His will, go at it alone soon enough found me cocooned in the deepest of sadness. I was faced with an existential crisis of faith—for months I was mired and marooned in such deep dejection that I prayed for God to take me home only to wake up the next day to be greeted by depression’s kiss. Tears became my best friend; tizita (memories) became my netela (blanket). I did not know where to turn. The sheer gravity of the moment hit me as I realized that my life would never be the same. How to explain what happened to me, how would I find vindication for the way my life was turned upside down?
It was during this moment that I Googled “farm + mission + mountains” as I tried to reconnect to my youth and the passion I once had for God, planting corns and my birth city I now call Finfine in Ethiopia. A farm community in the Rockies popped up on Google. Desperate and without a penny to my name, a kind soul paid for my plane ticket and I flew from New York to Colorado. I arrived at the Fort Collins Mission on May 1st, 2015 where I spent two weeks with the broken and the homeless before I transferred to the farm in Wellington that I would call home for a year. It was there that I was put to work in the kitchen feeding fellow strugglers who were praying and hoping to get a second chance at life.
For nearly eight months, I was stuck in the deepest of dark holes as the thought of futility and hopelessness gnawed at my soul like ten thousand piranhas. All the sudden, the flicker started to come back; a dying ember started to get renewal as I served people food. The greatest blessing about my journey is fact that I did not let the coldness of this world frost over my giving nature. I love feeding people and helping others; this is why I used to let a village of people into my home as I made food for people I never knew. It was this giving nature that was viewed by too many as a weakness and would lead to a couple of “friends” defrauding me.
But the past is past; to be honest I will thank both of these people one day as well as those who played a part in my struggles. Chief of these culprits was me for I was my own worst enemy. I have learned through hardship that giving should be done without taking away from self. Moreover, I have learned to stop fighting with people who are broken—though my old conniption sure has a way of reappearing at times when people come at me with enmity. But I’m a work in progress, I shall be patient with myself. Through it all, I am thankful for this one thing; the darkness gave way to a star bright as the one over Bethlehem—a birabiro (butterfly) kissed me where once depression was smooching me. The past does not confine us nor do past adversities define us. Refuse to let failures imprison you and don't listen when people talk ill of you. Your perceived weakness they ridicule will one day be the source of strength they… Click To Tweet
As I continue this journey towards my purpose, it is my hope that others who reside in the darkness I once called home realize that temporary setbacks lead to blessings. Where you might be in a season of hardship today, a time will come where you will be in a season of abundance. Through it all, I say temesgen (thank you God) for all that I have been through. Hardship is a blessing for it teaches us to loosen our egos and to be humble. I pray that God continues to guide me towards love and to be less about my ego. I also pray that I forgive those who hurt me and that I be forgiven for those whom I hurt in the past. I pray this for the world as I do for myself: love, love, love; be love and let love redeem all of us:: #Temesgen
“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.” ~ Hosea 6:1
Today’s “contribution campaign” will be earmarked to Harvest Farm, a community farm in Wellington Colorado that was home to Teodrose Fikre for more than a year. Find out more about them by clicking HERE and give as you are able so that they can give as they can. Thank you.
Two years later, I’ve traveled a long road but I found my purpose. This Ghion Cast below talks about this process.
Check out a video below that I put together at the start of my journey, God speaks to us and through us without us even knowing it.
Speaking of Birabiro…
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- Ethiopia’s Choice: Poverty through Grievance or Prosperity through Unity - September 9, 2019
- Bloody 60s: the Decade that Aborted Leadership in America - August 22, 2019
- A Matter of Life or Death: We Cannot Afford to Ignore Mental Illnesses Any Longer - August 17, 2019