Tag Archives: guest post

Sometimes dreams make you cross oceans. – an interview with Oddie Moghalu

She left her parents in Nigeria to pursue her education. I told you this summer I would introduce you to some fellow Lark & Bloom readers who dominate at pursuing their dreams. Oddie is a lady who lives life like a boss and won’t let an ocean keep her from her dreams. She knows her destiny is in Something Bigger and today she is sharing her story with us. Ladies & Gents…meet Oddie.

oddie

Liz: Oddie, you were born in Africa. Tell us a bit about how you came to the United States.

Oddie: I was born in Nigeria, Western Africa and lived there till i was 16 before moving to London to continue my education. From London I moved to Leeds where I started out my degree in Medical Engineering at the University of Leeds. I chose medical engineering because I had this interest in medicine but I also like mathematics and physics and wanted to study something that incorporated both.

While I was at the University of Leeds, I felt very distant from the career path I had in mind. The education system in England is so different from that of the United States.

The system is more rigid and did not give me room to explore a degree in engineering while also preparing for a career in medicine and this really frustrated me. I started feeling very depressed about school and started hating to even be in class. Anyone that knows me knows I love school. Yes, I am being 100% serious. I love school. Looking back at the situation I was dealing with at that time, I believe the frustration I felt with my classes was God’s way of showing me what he really wants me to get into.

So one morning I woke up, called my parents and told them that I wanted to transfer to United States to complete my degree. They thought this was a phase but also encouraged me to do what I thought was best for me. I bought new SAT books and started preparing to retake the SAT while keeping up with my classes. I travelled 6hrs (to and fro) to take my SAT because the closest place I could take the exam with the short time I had was in Oxford. This all happened so fast and as God would have it, July of 2009, I was on a flight to the US to continue my degree at Baylor University.

Liz: What made you decide you wanted to study medicine?

Oddie: Growing up, I remember wanting to be two things, a model and a medical doctor. I laugh at this because I am 5’3′ tall so modeling was definitely not in God’s plan for me. To be honest, I was not sure I wanted to study medicine, which was why I refused to go the direct route into medicine after my A levels. However, I immersed myself in the medical field, I shadowed doctors, I volunteered with medical organizations and as I did this, I saw how much it affected me.

Volunteering and shadowing brought me joy; I was excited to be in that position of helping people and serving people and also enjoyed the responsibility that came with it. I love science, especially when it has to deal with exploring the human body. I could not see myself spending the rest of my life as an engineer so while at Baylor, even though I continued with my engineering degree, I also declared a pre-med concentration.

Liz: Obviously, medical school is incredibly difficult. What keeps you motivated?

Oddie: My parents are my number one motivation. This might sound very cliché but when I feel like studying is too much work, I think of the sacrifices that my parents have made to be able to get me to where I am. My parents still live in Nigeria but they have been able to help me pay for school and basically make sure that I do not lack anything.

The other motivation I have is myself. In a society where people feel entitled and demand the easy way out,I find pride when I work for something. I prayed that if God’s will for me was to be a doctor that He would make it possible for me to get into medical school.

Granted I studied and worked hard to get here but I believe that the strength I got to get through all the obstacles were not mere coincedences, but were God’s way of directing me to the career He has called me to. I keep myself motivated by reminding myself that medicine as a career goes beyond treating patients and working crazy hours but using my career as a platform to show the world the love of Christ.

Liz: What was the biggest risk you have had to take to pursue your dream of being a doctor?

Oddie: I would say travelling 6 hours to and from Oxford in the middle of my final exams of freshman year. My SAT was scheduled for the weekend before I took my thermodynamics final exam. Thermo as we fondly call it had a bad reputation for being the one class that made people repeat the school year because it was a cumulative final exam where 80% of your grade depended on that exam. My classmates thought this was unnecessary but to me, this was one decision that determined where my career was eventually going to go. As God would have it, I pushed through and ended up doing well on both exams.

Liz: We talk a lot on here about the dreams we carry in our hearts. You have obviously had some pretty big obstacles to overcome. What have you learned about pursuing the things you feel called to in the midst of adversity?

Oddie: One thing I have learned is that there is something in us that moves us and that thing might be the passion that God has woven in our heart and it is different from what He’s woven in others. Passion as I like to define it is that unique gifting, wiring, aptitude and opportunity that makes us come alive and fulfills our entire God given potential.

It means that we understand that God uniquely gifts us. For me, it is a medical degree and serving people as a doctor and the passion to accomplish that has driven me to face the obstacles that come my way. For you it might be taking on a new job or even leaving that 9-5 job you have and pursuing that music career – whatever it is, find it.

Find what makes you tick. Find what makes you happy and even when you don’t feel like doing it, you still do it because you find joy in it.

 

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How My Christian Friends Turned Me Jewish

Today, we have a guest post from Elad Nehorai. I first discovered him through the Huffington Post when his article about how he didn’t love his wife when he got married went viral. I’ve loved his writing and blog since then, and was thrilled when he agreed to post on Lark & Bloom today. So, high five your screen and give him a big Lark & Bloom welcome.

headshotElad Nehorai is a writer living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Five years ago he became a religious Jew in the Chabad Hasidic community and has since written about his experience extensively, most recently in his blog Pop Chassid. You can find him on Twitter as @PopChassid and Facebook.

I remember when I looked at him and I argued, the way he looked at me, almost like he was sad. And I remember thinking, how dare you, how dare you be sad for me.

I was a secular guy in college, and I had spent the last few months living with a bunch of Christians. I ended up there because one of my best friends happened to be a Christian in college, and I thought maybe it would give me some sort of order if I moved in with him and his friends.

I was surprised how quickly I became friends with his roommates, how quickly I opened up to them and how quickly we shared our thoughts and experiences despite me being in a completely different place than they were.

But something always happened when we brought up that word. That word I could hardly bring myself to speak. I spit it out like it was a disease whenever I said it.

Religion.

Gross. Add the word “organized” in front of that and, as far as I could see, you had a crud salad. A mix of everything wrong with the world.

So when one of those friends and I argued that one night, and I argued louder than I ever argued before, and he calmly answered my questions, and I stamped my feet and got angry about all those things, about how they make no sense, how they’re oppressive, how they’re foolish, so foolish, and all he did was calmly answer, and then give me that look for a second like he was sad, like he felt bad for me, I remember how badly I wanted to punch something.

But instead we just argued the whole way down the highway as I drove and I pointed my finger up and down and he answered, answered, answered, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something going on here, something I was missing. Here was a guy, calm as a cucumber, and me, frustrated as all hell.

It didn’t hit me that night. Instead, like most of our arguments, we went into our rooms afterwards, and I was frustrated and sad and quiet, and wondering how someone I respected, how someone I thought so much of, could believe in his gobbledygook. It made no sense.

And I remember how eventually things became a sort of neutral peace about these things with a few eruptions of debate punctuating our quietude every now and then.

And I remember how for weeks, months, a year, I watched them quietly, trying to understand this weird breed of person. These people who I never would have respected if I never met, and now I couldn’t help but admire. This whole group of Christians who were cool and hip, but got all weird and bizarre when they started saying things like, ” I put my trust in Him.” How they were are all artists and deep thinkers and intelligent people.

It made no sense.

There’s an experience that you have when your views are challenged. When your worldview, one that you’ve held all your life is being dismantled in front of your eyes.

It’s kind of like the stages you go through when something tragic that you can’t compute has happened in your life. Denial, anger, confusion.

You’re in a state of cognitive dissonance. Where something has to give in the way you think and believe, or your brain might explode from the conflictedness of it all.

I remember going through that with them, with those people that proved to me that being religious doesn’t mean being stupid or not thinking for yourself or being a mindless sheep.

And I remember having this realization at some point, maybe it was as late as when I started to become religious myself, that maybe I was the one who was brainwashed. Maybe I had been led to believe false things. Maybe I was a victim of a system that turned people against each other just because of their beliefs.

It wasn’t one of those things that just hits you at once, but slowly creeps up onto your shoulder, and tells you with a whisper in one ear that you’re the very thing you fear, that you argue and throw a fist around for.

And soon I started to look back on other people I knew in college, the people who helped convince me that this is how religious people are, and I remembered how they were, how they judged others, how they looked down on whole societies of people without really knowing them or their beliefs. How they judged everything based on books they read and websites they visited. And the whisper grew louder.

Because those were the people I should have been waving my finger at. Those were the judging, stereotyping, sheep. And so was I.

As the whisper grew into a wailing siren, and I began the transition into becoming a religious Jew, it took me a while to stop getting angry at those people who I felt had brainwashed me. I started to realize that I felt bad for them, just the way my friend felt bad for me.

These were people who were sacrificing so much in their lives for these beliefs they didn’t even know they had. They were extreme secularists, living lives based on gender studies classes and an echo chamber of beliefs that distracted them from looking at the world in a truly open way.

And now, it truly makes me sad, and I realize that maybe, maybe, it’s a patronizing sort of sadness (although I hope not), to see a world of people who judge, who criticize, who attack religious people and just anyone with a different belief than themselves because they are a part of a combine that tells them to do so, that says they shouldn’t judge anyone except who their society has confirmed is eligible to be attacked.

I’m sad because I realize these people are sacrificing something for their judgements.

They’re sacrificing self-awareness.

A self-awareness that can only be had by looking at ourselves honestly and deeply and realizing that we don’t have all the answers, that the world is deep and dark and mysterious, and that things like feminism and politics and “Occupy”-ing have been distorted into distractions, distractions that come with a cost. Like when a woman chooses that she will not have children until later in her life just because that’s what is accepted practice.

Because that choice isn’t inherently wrong, but that lack of self-awareness that has pervaded our culture, those choices that aren’t really choices, because people have been convinced that their choices are intelligent simply because they live in a vacuum that tells them what choices are intelligent. That’s criminal.

And that’s why I’m sad about those people, and maybe it’s patronizing, and maybe it’s arrogant.

But there was a time when I thought my friend was arrogant. And he changed my life. Thank G-d.

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October 10, 2013 · 3:11 pm