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Selfless comes after self

There’s a Yoruba adage that translates, “the world will make a mockery of whom they carved you into today, tomorrow.” It is a solemn reminder that no matter how much love you have for people, self-love comes first. It is good to be selfless but it is wrong not to consider yourself adequately. The negative effect of doing otherwise is that in the end, the people you dedicated your time and life trying to satisfy still consider you as unworthy, most of them will even go an extra mile to make you a laughing stock.

Last week I visited the hospital with a relative. We were waiting for the result of the test she was instructed by the doctor to take when a woman was wheeled past us. The person pushing her stopped few meters from where we stood and began to admonish the woman, who was now crying. I couldn’t catch the whole gist but I heard him asking her in Yoruba,

“The person for whom you jumped in your car and got involved in a car accident that put you in this wheelchair hasn’t been here to see you. When I visited him to solicit for help, the same person made it clear that you brought this misfortune on yourself.”

The poor woman couldn’t stop crying. The man final words to her before pushing her into a farther distance was,

Oun t’aye ba so e da, won a fibu e t’oba dola – The world will make a mockery of whom they carved you into today, tomorrow.”

That line resonated with me. I can’t say it enough, kindness has its limit. That limit is when you put your health, happiness and needs at the expense of other people’s joy. It is okay to make sacrifices but you have to know who deserves it and who doesn’t.

A good heart doesn’t rule the world, right acts do. Begin this week by evaluating the sacrifices you make, and if the recipients are worthy.

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