I’m sure you can agree with me that most of us have heard the phrase “doing time” or “do your time” being uttered as part of popular culture lingo. The phrase “doing time” is slang for spending time in a jail or prison (http://onlineslangdictionary.com). I was reading one of my favourite women magazines a while back and I was particularly touched by the stories of the extraordinary women who had graced their cover for that month. I think what touched me the most was the depth of their characters and the wisdom they all shared. I also, kind of felt a little guilty after reading their stories because initially I had judged them by their outward appearance. Before I read their stories I just thought they seemed too perfect. They are absolutely beautiful, they have perfect bodies and one of them had graced our television screens for many years before going into business. Now here they were, being interviewed to share about the great business empire they had built and are continuing to build and what trials they had encountered. I was particularly touched by the main founder’s story, as so many of its elements spoke to my personal journey towards fulfilling my destiny. Even the alone conversations she had when she had failed in one of her first business ventures sounded so much like mine. But after reading the entire feature, a faith filled up in me that said, “You will also fulfil your purpose but you’ve got to do your time first”.

Ladies and gentlemen, their story is obviously no different from many people we know who have faced trial after trial in their pursuit to fulfil what they believe is their purpose. I know in popular culture lingo the term “doing time” specifically refers to going to prison. But as I was contemplating on the journey of trials which all human beings encounter, I couldn’t help but think that we all at some point in our lives are going to “do time”.  I’ve only been on this earth for 28 years, I know they are people who have been here longer, but in these few years of my existence and based on the observations and conversations I’ve had, I see life unfold in a particular trend. There will be a period where you will engage in all that you were socialised to do (e.g. completed school, got a degree, got a job, got married, bought car/house etc.), the list is endless. These are the things that are considered social norms and we all meant to partake in them at some point. As you are living within these social norms, you may encounter a period where you begin to feel a bit uneasy on the inside of you. It’s that very subtle but persistent voice that just won’t leave you alone. You hear a whisper that there’s more to my life and when you zoom into the “more” and realise what you should be doing, you come alive. The discomfort part will lead to you taking crazy life risks like quitting your job, relocating, removing yourself from certain people & environments, etc.

As you journey through life, trying to balance out the social norms and listening to that inner voice, you will encounter a period where life will ‘imprison’ you with challenges and you have to “do your time”. This is where you experience a “real baptism of fire”. This is the period where the voice that told you there’s more to your life and showed you great visions of the future, is silent. The trials come from every angle, it’s the most confusing period and when you in it, it seems like it will last forever. But the good news is there is always light at the end of each tunnel. And of course the amazing thing about life is that you will enjoy and be rewarded the fruit of your persistence.

I am aware that life is not static and I am not saying that all human experiences will be the same, but in most ways they are very similar. Our social upbringing, does not prepare us well for trials, obstacles and failure and yet, these are such an inevitable part of our lives. Maybe instead of only attending conferences on Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Project Management, etc…We should pair these conferences with tangible truths on learning how to fail well. This should start from the time we children, because our education system is built on the premise that you always have to pass and that if you fail, that failure becomes ingrained as part of your self-worth.

My enjoy life tip is this – We need to live with consciousness that “doing our time” i.e. going through the journey of our individual trials and challenges is part of our human right. I know it’s not an easy thing as even in my own life waiting for God hasn’t been easy, often it seems that he isn’t answering our prayers or doesn’t understand the urgency of our situation. But maybe when we in our “doing time” period we should realise that this is a season of renewal, refreshing and reaffirmation about our life purpose. So do your time well…