Building Relationships We Can All Be Proud Of

Monday, 20 August 2012


The expression that, ‘A door has opened to me’, is a common expression in Ghana and indeed Africa. It is also common among Christians. That expression is often made when an opportunity of a kind, which takes a person from one place to another, is presented. 

Two weeks ago, I was an MC for a programme for singles at the Accra International Conference Centre, organized by Ghana Newslink on how to start and keep a lasting and formidable relationship. In the course of the programme, the speaker, a Reverend Minister and a Professor of Biology, Rev. Dr. Kisseadoo, made a comment which I am sure a lot of the participants might not have considered it beyond the surface. For me it was a profound statement which never left my head; tossing and turning and bouncing, asking to be digested upon and a deeper meaning found to it. 

His statement was simple, and I will paraphrase it because the statement came and passed before I caught the revelation. He said something like, ‘We all keep saying doors have opened unto us, as if when we walk by the road we see doors standing on their own opening and closing by themselves.’ 

Something like that. It was a simple and unassuming statement. In fact we all laughed it off because he said it in a context. But while midflight in the torrent of laughter, my spirit pinched me. The expression would not leave my head, so I obliged it, indulged it and came up with this article. 

A door. What is a door in very simple everyday English? It is a movable, usually solid, barrier for opening and closing an access way. Simple. 

One word is worthy of consideration in the above definition – access. The word access in connection with doors means in that a door simply gives access and nothing more. There is nothing unique about doors beyond the access they give. Therefore what makes all the difference is whatever is accessed beyond the door; that is the most important thing. But then the reality is that without gaining the opportunity to go through a door, you simply cannot access anything beyond it. 

From the above, it is probable we are all likely to ascribe then a lot of power to doors and doorways; indeed that is what we do and that is where the challenge starts. Again from the above, what it means is that, people tend to focus on the door opening a lot more than what they would access beyond the door, which rather ought to be the most important thing.

Access. If a door grants access, then we need to explore some of the identifiable ones without the intention of trying to exhaust the list. A door serves as an entrance into a house and into a room. The same door can serve as an exit point from the same place. So the most important point, for me, must not be the opened door, but the room beyond it and what it contains. The entrance door or the exit door is not as important as what lies in or out there once we have walked out through that door.

Rooms beyond the doors. Through some doors, you can access Living rooms, bedrooms, washrooms, kitchens, storerooms and garages. Beyond some doors, some rooms have no windows for air and are kept usable through electronic means; others have no access to direct light unless the use of electric bulbs. What it means is that when the source of power is disconnected, the room can be potential death traps. 

Some doors have no means of being opened from within so once it is closed, you must be opened from the outside. Some doors lead to rooms with no beds and seats. Some rooms beyond some doors are so small they can only contain the bare necessities of life; you cannot add more than the room can contain. Some rooms are too huge that they inspire loneliness. 

Some doors lead to rooms that give joy and privacy, some lead to rooms where no privacy exist and peace and joy are a dream never to be realized. Some doors lead to the chambers of kings, others to boardrooms and others, the jail house. Some lead you to prayer rooms others lead you to covens. 

Some doors will lead you from one room to the other only to realize you were better off in the previous room; some also connect you to rooms that are literally the same as the ones you just left hence the need not to have wasted time and energy making that move. The list is endless. 

Some doors exit rooms and houses. Some doors will give you a well deserving exit from restricting, constricting and suffocating rooms. Some doors will spew you out of an entire house and give you the freedom you deserve. 

It could also be that in there was the best place for you. Out of that door, you are exposed to the elements – the heat of the day, the cold of the night, predators and scavengers. Some exit doors lead to the backyard where all the nasty things are dumped. Some doors close behind you and you cannot enter it again no matter what faces you out there and how hard you scream and beg to be let in.

Doors. So from the above, we all agree doors are not as important as what lies behind them. They are crucial but they are means to an end. 

For some doors, you enter or exit for your life in that no matter what lies beyond them, you would prefer them to what is pursuing you in your current state. Who would not run out of a house into a storm when someone is chasing you with a machete from within the house? Who would not lock themselves up in a windowless room to save themselves from a killer who has entered their house? Sometimes, and in fleeting moments, the worse place can be the best place for temporal relief.

It is a reality, however, that only few people enter new doors without pausing to consider a few things. The average reasonable person is motivated by higher returns and a promise of a better existence. So before any door is considered as an ‘opened door’ they might have seen the potential of something positive in it, or the prospect of something positive showing up soon. It might seem from this that, people then, somehow, consider the room before they enter the door. But it is not mostly true. What is true is that people rather consider the beauty of the door to form an impression of the room beyond it; that is if they even think beyond the beauty of the door itself. 

An attractive door will definitely attract and an ugly door will repel. The deception in this is that a garage door may appear nice to a stranger at the side which is in the hallway. Meanwhile, the side which is in the garage itself might be ugly with peeling paints and scratches from the odds dumped there. In the same way, a door opening into a house might look faded and cracked and dust ladened because of the heat from the sun and the dust from the road; but beyond it might be a magnificent interior of a house. Some doors lead to rooms which are as ugly as the doors look and the reverse is also true for beautiful doors which lead to beautiful rooms. But the average person falls in love with doors and not the rooms beyond the doors.  

Everyday someone says a door has opened to them; it is usually in the areas of marriage and related issues, work and related issues, travelling and relocation, social standing and education. 

Marriage. It is usual to hear, and mostly from women, how a door has opened in marriage. She is 34, has no man and it looks like her biological clock is ticking. This man comes around; all caring, loving, understanding, and well to do. Perfect. A marriage doorway has opened. 

She could even be from a poor background. She is sorting her life out and struggling at it because whatever she earns, there are many more hands taking their cuts – parents and younger siblings. Suddenly a ‘Borger’ (Common Ghanaian term for someone who has gone to stay in Europe or America -  a word derived from Hamburg, which was the major location for Ghanaians who travelled to Germany, especially among the Twi Speaking Ghanaians) shows up. Oh woow. A door has opened. He is actually coming to marry me and take me to Italy or Germany or England.

A young man who has prayed to the Lord to bless him with a good wife and has really taken care of himself, finds a young caring and seemingly responsible lady in the church and decides, 'this is it. God, this is it!’ The examples are many.

Beautiful doors; the man is rich, he is a Borger, he is gentle and responsible, he is caring and understanding. He is even talking about marriage. The lady is simply too good to be true and real. She is everything I want in a woman. Beautiful doors. But the question is, 'what is beyond the door?'

Do not forget, we have what people say and what they do. We have what people show us and what we have to see for ourselves. We have what they look like in the privacy of their lives and what they appear as on the stage of life. There is the door – what we see, and there is the room – what is found beyond the façade

What do you know about this Borger? What are you willing to do within acceptable boundaries to know a little bit more about him, beyond what he is willing to show you, without jumping into the marriage first? What questions are you asking him? What does he do and how does he make his money? How consistent, precise and reasonable are his answers? What does his mean when he says he is a businessman? What kind of business? How legitimate is the business? Any link, direct or indirect, to any major business you can simply Google and read about? Migrant and citizen graduates who are working in well paying jobs in America and Europe are crying they can’t make ends meet, how come an uneducated migrant who can barely read, is able to ship luxury cars to Ghana every month? And you do not wonder how? All you see is the money, the fame and the ring.

So this guy wants to marry you so badly he could have married you like yesterday. He is 38 and says he is single; never married before, has no child, no woman and you are thanking God for him without a single background check? His word is your utmost trust? Like seriously? What has he been doing with his life all this while? Has he got a PhD to show he invested all his time in books? Has he got a business empire to prove that was why he is still single? Has he got a verifiable proof of all the business he started and failed and still committed his life to making them work? 

What plausible explanation can he give for being single at 38? How possible is it that he is 38 and no woman has settled with him? Has he got a woman problem? What limitations are you testing him with and how is he taking them?

Is the fact that he loves you enough? Is it enough that he does not beat or abuse you? Does showering you with love, attention and support enough a measure of his love? What of the things he has not told you? He does not lie to you….how do you know? Mum on his phone could be his mum or his baby mama…how would you know? How come he has still not taken you to his family? How come you do not know any of his friends, and those you know, you do not know where they stay nor have their phone numbers? How come he is quick to drive to your house to picks you to his house, but would not allow you to visit him whenever you want? He says he works with this firm; have you visited him to check whether he truly works there? Questions must be asked about what lies beyond the door of marriage that has been opened. Like serious questions.

So this lady is all that. So if she is this good, how come she is single? The story is always about how terrible men have treated her; oh yea good girls always get stupid boyfriends. True, we all know that cliché. But what is the operational definition of 'a good girl'? The story is her story. Have you asked what the guys who have ‘treated her badly’ would also say about her? As she tells you about her bitter past, have you started measuring her with the things she claims those guys did to her for no reason? Have you taken time to see if there are any behavioral or attitudinal patterns that can, even in the minutest way, make the men from her past do the things she says they did to her? How come those four unrelated men, separately treat her badly? Don’t you think you could be the fifth person to have treated her badly as far as the future sixth person is concern? 

It is like being in a bus and getting these quark doctors selling their universal medicines for less than a dollar per pack; cures everything. Watch what you are buying.

You are a lady of 35 years and understandably desperate. He wants to marry you and he is ready to; that is good enough. What if he is taking you to a room which will suffocate you? What if he is taking you to an isolating room which will literally leave you lonely for the rest of your life? What if by agreeing to marry him, you would be compromising your freedom, privacy, dreams and aspirations? What if in his life you would dwell in perpetual darkness? What if he controls the source of your air and light figuratively speaking? What if you are safer where you are, and that the so called ‘opened door’, is taking you out of your safety into a world of predators? 

Some marriages will take you away from your family, your values – be it moral, spiritual or social. Some marriages will take your covering away and expose you to all manners of dangers and at different levels. 

Is your partner matured enough? Can they meet the standards you look for? Do you see eternity when you look at them now? Remember Marriage has a funny way of being a one way door in many cases....and once you enter and come out, society will not be friendly to you - And divorce in most societies is a no no! 

Better stay out than come out if you do not have a good view of how the future would be like. And if the view is not good enough, do not make any excuse for it, just stay out. no one frowns on anyone who broke up with a boy or girl friend.
But like I said earlier, some doors would also lead you to greatness. Some men and women would come into your life and help you manage your finances, help you fine-tune your focus and vision and aspirations. Some husbands or wives would come into your life, and by your attachment to them, some favours may come your way through their social, spiritual or economic affiliations. Some marriages are like Schengen visas; once you have it, you can cross some specific borders with little impediments. 

But it all starts when you look beyond the beautiful door and ask questions, do your investigations, think and pray.  

Career. Some career doors look so exciting you cannot wait to enter. But I know jobs that kill marriages no matter how hard you work your marriage. The fact that John is in the same job and his marriage is working does not mean you can be in it and yours would work. John is not married to Anita like you are, John is not married to a woman who wants attention, a woman who works from 9am to 4pm, a woman whose moral fabric is so questionable that prolong periods of absence can simply jeopardize your marriage. So do not think that because John is succeeding, you can. 

Some jobs will take your life away; you will earn all the cash and would not be able to spend it meaningfully. Some jobs are a health hazard, some are a spiritual hazard, and some, a moral hazard. Some jobs pay cash to one hand and take it from the other. Some jobs can put you on paths which naturally and by their nature make it difficult to take up another job again. Some jobs simply take you from safety and expose you to the elements of life.

Some jobs will bring you before leaders, make you a leader, take you to the boardroom, expose you to the best in the world and the grandeur you did not know existed. Some jobs are best described as the perfect jobs in the complete sense of the word. 

But first all job offerings must be investigated. It is not enough to take a job because of the money or the prestige; which is really the case lately. It is not enough to accept a job because it gives you the opportunity to travel all over. It is not enough that your friends are doing it. It is not enough that a company is running after you to employ you. It is not enough that you have always wanted to work in that field. 

What do you know about that particular job? Yes two banks might not be the same in their operations; but trust me, bank tellers in Ghana, and probably all over the world, do not close before 5:00pm. Do not ask about the pros of it because you are already attracted. Ask about the negatives because that is what they will not put in the advert. That is what those in the field will tell you and you might doubt until you are in it. Find out what you do not know or what you might not like about the job and weigh it against what you know and what you like about it and then make a good and balanced decision.

The package is good and you need that, but at what cost? Are you leaving a relatively less stressful and more flexible job for something that pays twice at the end of the month and increases your medical bills? Well your bill is taken care of for sure, but not the Hypertension, or the Migraine or the Lung disease. No amount of money can compensate you for having to add your dignity and pride to the product you sell just to meet your target. The door is good and it is exactly what you want to enter… but please find out a little more about the room behind it; it might help you decide whether the door is worth walking through.

Relocation and traveling. Another major thing you hear people going to thank God for bringing their way is the opportunity to travel abroad; especially we the dwellers of the fringes of modernity and wealth. A door has opened for me to go to Europe or America. Wow. Three years later, they come and they have nothing but their bodies, stuffed with all manner of strange things. Everything they once held dear has been discarded and strange tastes imbibed. Some go and so goes their fidelity and subsequently their marriage. For some, they must be crooks and criminals to survive; they have no other option. Some must have fake marriages to secure resident permits and these marriages later become complicated. 

Some people enter these doors with the view to securing greener pastures. Some later come back as deportees, while some can’t even afford plane ticket to come back. Some, as far as their folks are concerned, are simply not in touch, but in truth, are in jail. Some medical doctors have become cab drivers, some Architects are working as security men. Some innocent ladies are now prostitutes. They did not ask questions about the rooms they were entering. The door was beautiful and they assumed the room behind it was also beautiful.

Not all opportunities to travel outside to work, however, are fraught with misery and negative consequences. Of course I need not tell anyone that. There are those who are blessed by taking the step. They knew exactly what they were getting into and they were sure it was going to work positively. 

I must, however, add that the fact that you do not see anything wrong with a door you entered does not means you are successful and your choices are right. In the broader scheme of things, you do not live to yourself. Your work can kill your marriage and you wouldn’t care because you love your job. Fine; but you would have wrecked a woman or a man and possibly some children. The fact that you earn $6,000.00 a month and you are the happiest person in the world does not mean you are in the best room. When your blood pressure goes up or you are most likely to suffer stroke or some lung disease, remember money cannot compensate for the misery that you will bring to the family you would become a burden to. 

Your relocation might, in your eyes be the best decision you ever made; what about the woman you have left behind? What about her basic sexual, emotional or psychological needs? 

Some doors will make everyone around you happy when you enter them, except yourself. Others will make everyone around you sad, except yourself. But we do not live solely for ourselves. Always keep that in mind when making life long choices with ripple effects. Sometimes no matter how much we want to damn the world around us and pursue happiness, we must remember, that there are some people we simply cannot damn. In an interesting way, we would discover that complete happiness would only come when these people around us who matter a lot, are also happy. 

Doors. They do not just exist. They do not just open and close. They lead us into rooms and out of them. Some of the rooms can stifle and destroy us, others can bless us. We are mostly attracted or repelled by the appearances of opportunities without a moment pause and consideration of what could lie behind those opportunities, or the content thereof. Some opportunities do not attract by their looks, but they are the best for us. Others are the glittering things which are not necessarily golden. Some opportunities are as good or bad just as they appear. 

To know which door to go through, you must know where it leads to and what is found at the place where it leads to. Ask questions, investigate and do background checks, apply common wisdom, open your ears and your eyes, but most importantly, pray. Not all doors are worth entering.    

~PG Sebastian~
2012. All Rights Reserved. 

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