April 12, 2019
Traversing the Human Jungle

by Judy Mzungu

Every experience is a goldmine; a land full of treasure. If only we can draw from it, and use it to navigate our life’s journey.

Joseph, the first born son of Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife – grew up in a home where he was favored by his father and envied by his half-brothers. He learnt how to survive in the extremes of deep love and deep hatred – within the same environment. He probably longed to belong, to be part of ‘the gang’, to find acceptance – but somehow he never really could fit in.

Years later, Joseph finds himself in an almost similar situation – a Hebrew slave, favored by his Egyptian boss, and most likely working among people of Egyptian descent. This was Déjà vu. he had been here before. What had been a disadvantage throughout his childhood worked for him in this situation. You see, Joseph already knew how to survive where he didn’t necessarily fit in.

Yet, aside from this – Joseph must have had an exceptional quality. He knew how to navigate life through the barriers of human prejudice. He had learnt the art of survival. He was simply street-smart.

And so it is with us today. Faced with the challenges of interacting with people of various social classes, races, tribes, generations, even levels of exposure. Yet successful living demands that we must know how to navigate rank and class – and hold our own – despite our backgrounds and whatever personal challenges that would ordinarily hold us back. It is being so confident that we find our place, that somehow it becomes difficult to tell the difference – because we are comfortable in who we are. It is being able to make relevant conversation within the context we find ourselves in; to know a little about everything; to be aware of our environment – and be able to morph into it without changing our core.

Like Joseph, we must learn to carry ourselves before Potiphar, a dignified man who dined with the Pharaoh. And yet, be able to work with other ‘slaves’; and gain their confidence and even their co-operation, when we are placed in the position to lead them. This is a defining skill that can never really be taught in a class-setting.

You see, no one told us that to navigate through life successfully, we must have different caps – and know when to wear each of them. That we must know when to be professional and when to get personal; that we must know when to negotiate and when to fight; when to stay in the race and when to walk away.

At the end of the day, our level of success is really dependent on our ability to connect with people. And no, it doesn’t mean that we must conform. It just means that we must be found to be humane enough to be trusted, and willing to trust – while being open to the fact that the relationship might change. If it does, our conscience must be clear that we did right; and then we must be able to simply change gears – and walk away – grateful for the opportunity to have impacted a life.

In Matthew 10:16, Jesus tells us

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Jesus Christ understood that the world is a jungle. For us to survive we must apply Wisdom and Sound Judgment, knowing how to circumnavigate through various relational situations; while maintaining a pure heart and a clean spirit.

That is the definition of being street-wise.

Rising above circumstances, triumphing in the midst of the storms of life, and doing so with Wit, Dignity and Character.

Here’s to Wisdom for the journey!

Bon Voyage


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