The anchor was once used by persecuted Christians as an alternative cross. They disguised their allegiance to the cross using the symbol of the anchor because it signaled hope and safety just like it also had a sign of the cross in it. How many times do we feel like orphans? Drifting without direction.
The anchor gave those Christians the needed safety to be who they wanted to be “in the shadow of a cross” as it were. Sailors associate the anchor symbol with safe arrival and the end of a journey.
Sailors usually wear Anchor Tattoos. Generally, the anchor represents hope, salvation, composure, calm and steadfastness. Today’s story is one about fathers.
This is not going to be a simple task but I have decided to put this work out here. The “Technical Override” (TOR) Series will be a compilation of stories about people whose role in our lives cannot be overemphasized.
I was inspired to finally share it after reading Tochukwu B. Igwemadu‘s post about her father’s approach to guiding her towards success. I started writing this as a result of a long talk with Jane Oma about some personal battles which I have by God’s help chosen to work out over time.
TOR series would be a call to those whose lives seem doomed to fail. It’s a call to activate a technical override.
As a child, I was aware of being tagged a dullard. My positions in lower primary score sheets were so poor that I almost thought I could never learn.
I once cried in exasperation “mi o le mo!” I didn’t care that my father was just as frustrated as I was. All I wanted was for him to stop bothering about teaching me my counting and mathematics. I felt that I could not know them.
Do you know he never gave up on me? Well, that’s what fathers are made for; to never give up.
At this point, I would love to stress the father’s role in a child’s life. At a point, I disregarded “the Lord’s prayer,” because it started with “our father.” I thought my father was not a good enough representation of the image I wanted to see in a father I prayed to. I had childish thoughts, now I know better.
I would say to myself, “if God is like my earthly father, how much can I expect from him? This man does not give as much as I want him to give”
This is how deeply the position of a father in our lives may affect us. It even affects the foundation of faith we hold on to. Whether you believe or you don’t have a lot to do with such roots.
He is not just a figurehead, he is a character builder, the shape of who we may aspire to be. The father is a guide, a kind of map and children most times learn by imitation.
Children are known to imitate their parents but in my case, I didn’t realize early enough that my father had given me a gift of himself. That instead of me struggling with his image while praying, I could have been struggling with an emptiness? The lack of a father figure is another struggle.
I struggled with his flaws, instead of allowing the fullness of God to shine through and guide me around this shadow of himself who is my father. He is an anchor and not the cross.
Even Orphans have Fathers
Looking at the alternatives, I don’t know which would be better; A flawed father or none at all.
What I have realized is that fathers have a major role to play in the configuration of a child. They help us:
1. To have a fulcrum, a core, a center to start from. Father’s are like compasses that help us grasp a hold of life.
2. To have a sense of self. Our awareness of being or existence is to a large extent drawn from this father or fathers we have in our lives.
3. To identify a path. It may be difficult to
come out into this harsh world and just figure our paths without a father pointing out his own path.
There are a lot of things I want to say about this role a father plays. I don’t want to call him an anchor for the soul because Jesus is the main anchor.
Our Fathers imitate the anchor closely and they keep us rooted.
Sometime in 2007 when I would prepare for my exams into the University, my father again played a major role in helping me discover myself academically.
For a lot of people JAMB exams in Nigeria are a tough hurdle. I wrote my first exam at 16 years of age and it was scary. I thought I would fail a few times before getting into the University.
For a number of weeks before the exams, my Dad organized a mock-Jamb exam for me. Every weekend, he would copy out a year from the past questions. This copy would have all my exam subjects. Each weekend I wrote a mock exam and this meant that I had just the right incentive to study on my own.
Every time I failed, I would go back determined to have a better score the next weekend. This continued until I wrote the main exam. In that period, my fear of failure got a technical override.
The intentional authority and position of my father with regards to my intellectual growth provided the needed shock to override the default of failure and fear.
I had one of my major technical overrides because my father believed in my success. He saw potential where I saw failure and was willing to go to any lengths to break my fear. I tasted success before even writing the main Jamb exams. I scored 266 eventually and that got me into the University on merit.
This set the precedent for every other success I have marked since then.
Sometimes, you may think you don’t have a father or you may indeed lack one but I want you to look out for those whose positions in your life have had as much impact as mine had on me. Remember it has nothing to do with the gender, some only had mothers.
There is always someone who takes so much interest in you that they become a sort of anchor for you and you would do yourself a lot of good to be aware of their efforts.
Without awareness, we may be unable to embrace the authority they wield. This authority could be all you need to change the course of your life.
This is a draft of my thoughts and eventually, we will have a better version of the TOR series in a book form so take this as just a propeller for me and you. We need to start recognizing the fathers in our lives and how their decisions affect us. They have what it takes to create a technical override in our personality and growth.