31 May 2016


In the apartment above me lives a man. A man and his wife. I used to wonder why this guy was always home. His car has an employee pass to some local bank, so he could not be unemployed. Every evening he would pass me while going to get groceries, and when I returned early, I would see him walk up with groceries. “Aww…what a nice man” I would always say. “But where is the wife? Shouldn’t she be the one buying groceries?” I would ask myself. I had only seen her twice….at the balcony, when she was asking me to pick up some of their clothes that had fallen on my line (oh, these Nairobi houses, you hang clothes on your line, the wind blows so hard, they fall on your neighbor’s line. If they are good enough they will keep them for you. If they are #TeamEnterprise, they will just look up to God, whisper a thank you prayer and set off with new stock to their mitumba stall. No offence, watu wa mtush, but ushawahi ibiwa nguo then mtu wa malimali anakuja kukuuzia the same clothes unaskia kumwambia zilikua zako? ).

Where was I? The family up stairs. One day, I woke up at wee hours of the night and I happened to go upstairs, and there I saw something that broke my heart. I found the guy washing some hospital bedding. You know those green things that separate patients in the ward, and that green stretcher used to move patients in the ward? He was bent down rinsing those. We exchanged a glance with no words. And sorrow filled my heart. His wife, I later learnt, ails from a disease that makes her only get out of bed when she is strong enough. She is fed, washed, clothed by this dear man. He, I later learnt, had to quit his job to take care of her himself. A question has kept ringing in my mind since then “If it were me in place of the guy, would I do it for my beloved”? And it kept occurring to me that this guy not only gave his all, his commitment to his wife, but was selfless. He has the “Not for me, but for her” mentality. 

Fast forward to this conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago concerning this matter. We, the younger generation and some of the older generation, always thinking of ourselves. Me this… Me that… how will this benefit me? We cannot do something without first asking what’s in it for me? The “the world revolves around me” attitude. Unless we are Jesus so that “All things were created for His glory”, then selflessness should be part of us. Many are the times even I have been so selfish, that I would not do anything for anyone if it cost me a lot. Selfishness (if such a word exists). And God reminded me of Moses…see this guy eh, he has brought people out of Egypt they are in the Wilderness. Then these guys decide to so hard-headed that God wants to do away with them.  So Moses keeps asking God to have mercy on them. Then God calls Moses and tells him
“…now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation…” Exodus 32: 9-14

I know most of us would have said “Yeah God…enyewe these guys are so stubborn, they are giving me a headache…I think your plan is okay. Finish them off, and then start afresh with me.” Such a selfish thought…right? But Moses put the needs of the Israelites before his and pleaded that these guys be saved. Friends, that’s what being selfless is all about. See, I have been reminded severally in my self-assessment that being selfless means thinking of others first, putting other people’s needs, interests before your own. Now, Dee, (someone will ask) "at our time and age, who would dare think others without first thinking of themselves” but one thing I have come to learn, when you do things for others not expecting them to you back payback  (I did not say lending huge amounts of money), fills your heart with joy. Be it from the smallest thing as joining a group that visits the desolate or terminally ill, buying that beggar food, paying transport to random people leaving hospital, to huge things like paying fees for that orphan, even helping around in the house or helping your parents or loved ones. My mentor always tells me that as a parent and a spouse, this trait of being selfless is very necessary. You will have to put your child’s or spouse’s needs before yours. How many of us can do that? It all boils down to who’s needs come first. Mine or theirs?

Friends, I am on a self-assessment journey and being selfless is something that I can currently learning and practicing. Join me, won’t you?

Facebook:  Njeri Kareithi
Twitter: @deekareithi

*all pics source: www.pixabay.com

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