Walking into the unknown by Funke Oham

September 7, 1997 – the day my dream began. I had left Africa with high expectations, hope of a new life with unlimited possibilities. It was my first time travelling on a plane, and on getting to Amsterdam, I was nearly returned home, as I had boarded one day after my intended departure date, due to an emergency at home. I was relieved to finally set foot in London. However, things took a different turn, as the Airport official suspected my passport belonged to someone else. Eventually I left Heathrow, and couldn’t wait to start my next chapter.

My first goal was to enrol for my A-levels. I had been informed it was easy to get into college; the reality was different. I went from one Further Education institution to another, and was informed I had to be resident for three years. God came through, and I was offered a place at a local college. Two years later, I failed my A-levels exams and my dream to become a doctor and help others ended. Some months prior, I had had second thoughts about studying Medicine but, at that time, no other careers resonated with my purpose. After speaking to careers advisers and my family, I decided Psychology was the way to go. Despite my grades, I was offered a University place and, miraculously, home fees. Although I did not meet the three-year residency mark, I’m delighted to say I graduated with a Second Class Upper.

Life in London has been a mixture of great memories, disappointments, challenges and pleasant surprises, both personally and professionally. As I reflect on the various seasons I have come through, walking into the unknown and getting out of my comfort zone were essential.

Here are a few things that have helped me along the way so far:

  • Watch your thoughts – Fear starts in the mind. Identify patterns. What am I thinking? Fear is a product of the thoughts you create. Fill your mind with God’s Word, which dispels fear. Spend time fasting, and ask God to set you free from fear. Speak ‘fearlessness’ over your life.
  • Ask questionsWhat makes me worried? Who makes me worried? Why am I worried? When am I usually worried? What if I was not worried? Ask yourself what is the worst that would happen even if you ‘failed’? What is the best that could happen if it works out? What have others done in your situation, and what was the result? What would God want you to do? Be honest with yourself. Consider sharing your answers with the right people. Take some action after this exercise.
  • Study people of faith – Read about their stories of courage; how they handled their doubts; how they developed faith, regardless of their circumstances, and the difference their actions made.
  • Give it a try – Don’t let assumed ‘failure’ stop you from stepping out. Victory awaits those who brush their fears aside and take action. Refuse to do nothing because of fear. Courage breeds courage. Atticus said, “What good are wings, without the courage to fly?”
  • Red light – Reflect, pray and give thanks when circumstances force you to a halt. Spend this time seeking God’s face for the next step. Sometimes, amazing things develop after such periods. Bear in mind, goals can be accomplished through more than one method. It takes bravery to go through this process. Avoid complaining, quitting or praying for things to be fast-forwarded.
  • Be one – Have at least one person in your life who looks up to you. Be an example. As you inspire and encourage them with your stories of courage and faith, it will motivate you to keep being a role model.
  • Know your purpose – Discover, rediscover and find out the ‘why’ of your purpose. Consider the impact of achieving and not achieving your purpose. Write it down, talk about it, think about it, read about it and pray about it, until it becomes a necessity that has to be fulfilled. Record your small and big successes. When you feel like giving up, remind yourself and let this spur you on.

Learn to leave your worries with God. He loves you, cares for you and has your back. You can face tomorrow with a smile – despite what you encountered yesterday, what you experience today or what will come your way tomorrow.

Face each day with His Word, then watch faith develop to live a great, fearless life and to achieve your God-given purpose.

Funke Oham is passionate about encouraging and inspiring women to discover their purpose and maximise their potential. She spearheaded the concept for a ladies’ network, ‘Women Mentoring Women’, to connect, support and envision women to achieve their goals. Following a personal heartbreak a decade ago, this led Funke to birth the ‘Inspirational Woman Awards’, which celebrates International Women’s Day, recognising women who have overcome adversity and are making a difference in society.   Through these initiatives, she also published a poetry book and quote book, ‘Through These Eyes’ and ‘There Is More To You’. She is a speaker, qualified life and performance coach, with several years’ experience coaching and mentoring women. She is married and a mum to two boys.

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