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Linda Orajekwe: Our Lives Aren’t Vanity



dreamstime_xl_34572459The phrase, vanity upon vanity has become a cliché that people use constantly to talk about the vainness of life and how all we do eventually amounts to nothing at the end of our days on earth.

These words are usually backed up with scriptural verses from the book of Ephesians that clearly states that vanity upon vanity is vanity (which I totally agree with), but I have a problem with the saying that my life on earth is vanity… I don’t understand why they will say our lives on earth surmounts to nothing but vanity.

Thinking about this quote one day, I asked myself a couple of question… if this life is vanity, why do anything? Why not just sleep and wakeup; doing nothing and living for no cause? Why the need to be more and do more? These questions did reveal things to me. It brought me to the conclusion that some things are indeed vain, but our lives on earth aren’t. at least God can’t be that purposeless that he expects everything he created to just exist and die with no purpose.

So what’s not vain about death? Yea, someone is definitely asking that! Looking for that verse to show me that life truly is said to be vain. But let’s take a minute to think about our lives and how things we sometimes don’t feel matters tend to later matter. How some things which we consider a waste of our precious time turns out to be useful after all, and how that blue dress you thought will never come in handy becomes useful for that dinner party that requires a blue dress.

Now think about your life and every single day in it. If you observe closely you’ll see how one minute has helped moved or made easier your next minute and please tell me if that in itself is vanity. The last time I checked, vanity means something that is vain, futile or worthless; something with no value or profit, no fruit or reason for existence… nada! But I’ve come to realize that our lives aren’t vain because there is a need for existence. Humans aren’t meant to exist in isolation, we are meant to coexist. That’s the same reason God brought a companion for Adam. Since we’re coexisting, our lives certainly mean something to someone. Our attitudes, be it good or bad will eventually influence someone else which will surely add something to the person’s life; be it positive or negative.

Joyce Meyer is a good example to cite in cases like this. I’m sure during her period of trials and tribulations one would’ve thought her life useful, at least she would’ve thought so. Those misfortunes she went through are helping thousands of women today who seems to be battling with something she has gone through.

Sometimes the things we pass through aren’t meant to favour us. These things might even happen to us simply because someone needs to learn something from it… how can that e vanity? Would you look at the life of Joyce Meyer and call it a vain life after she has successfully turned her mess to a message that sells? If your today gives another person hope for tomorrow, how can you call that vain? If the gentle nature of someone gives you hope that all humans aren’t trouble makers, how can you say that person lived a vain life after death is her life, made you believe? These are little things that should make us see that life is a cycle where a life gives purpose to another. But the harsh truth is that humans just like product will expire and these dates aren’t the same for everybody. At the end of it all, we will all die. We are suppose to die because that’s the nature of humans, as we are not immortal beings. So, if your presence on earth, despite how short, made any impact, how can you call that vain?

If by reading this piece today, you saw someone tomorrow whom, since you’ve heard that life isn’t totally vain, you decide to help, and that little action skyrocketed you to a better future, do you think your stumbling on this article or the time you spent reading it would be called vain?

I covered a funeral in Edo state recently. The deceased lived to a hundred years, and according to the children, it might be more. During the funeral, the reverend while speaking mentioned that life is vanity. During the tribute, the children and grandchildren of the late woman spoke extensively about their peaceful mother and how her life has impacted theirs. This was a woman with no education, but her children talked about her like a larger than life person who they strive to emulate in life.

I stared at the reverend for so long thinking “How can you say our life is vanity if this woman left behind something this great?” It is important for us to know that how we live is very important because despite the fact that we are not taking anything physical with us after death, we’re definitely taking our records with us which will ultimately define pour judgment.

I totally understand that some people usually use this phrase because they believe you can’t take anything to your grave or the afterworld (if there’s anything like that) when you’re dead. Well, no one is suppose to, and no one has ever. But while you’re at it, while thinking about your leaving all behind, remember to think of the hurt you’ll leave behind when you act on things you’re not supposed to. This shouldn’t stop you from understanding that your presence on earth is a part of a big picture, and though your quota might seem small amongst the billions of people in this world, you should know that no one will do that quota if not you. So take your time in deciding how you will be adding value to this life because so far as I know, your life isn’t vain… I won’t be writing this if I know you’re not here to read it.

So trust me I’m not alien to that phrase, I’ve used it a couple of times, but I need us to use that with worthless things and not humans. I know vanity upon vanity is vanity, but the question now is “Is your life vain? That seems like the only way it can end up in the Vanity Fair.

I’ll love to read our constructive opinions on the issue… how purposeful or vain can our lives be?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

My name is Linda Orajekwe, a graduate of English Language and literary studies, Lagos State University. I love reading, writing and talking. I am a proud African naturalista who believes that Africans can only be great when we learn to embrace our rich resources from books, food to culture.

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