Nothing beats a life lived on purpose.
Founder and convener of the annual Becoming Conference, Olufunto Ibuoye turns 28 today. In commemoration of this milestone, the exciting wife, mother, author and CEO of Five28 Interiors shares 28 apt lessons she has learn so far.
“I remember growing up there was this nursery rhyme I really cannot remember now, but one line I can never forget in the rhyme is “Wednesday’s child is full of woe” I hated that nursery rhyme for that line because I was born on a Wednesday and used to feel bad that my life was full of woe. Until I realized I didn’t have to define my life based on a silly song, so I formed my own version to be- “Wednesday’s child is full of WONDER!” And indeed, my life is so full of wonders; in fact, I’m a wonder woman because my Father is the God of wonders!
I thought of how best to celebrate today and I decided to share some of the life lessons that have helped me to become the woman I am today and the woman I am BECOMING. I get a lot of compliments from various people both young and old saying they are so impressed and proud of all that I have done at my very young age, even though I personally don’t believe that I am that young anymore. I mean, I’m 28 already! And I don’t believe I have done so much yet, there’s still a long way to go and I have only just scratched the surface.
Embrace your story
A lot of people are ashamed of their stories, so they try their best to erase it out of their memories and live life like it doesn’t exist. Well, I’ve learnt that until you embrace your story, whatever it is, you may never be able to fully embrace the future you were created for.
Asides from being born out of wedlock, my mom tried to abort me three times; my mum and dad both married separate people years after I was born and so all my siblings are steps. For most part of my childhood, I was bitter and angry with my dad for not marrying my mum. It was until I accepted this part of my story and let go of the bitterness that I became stronger and closer to God. I used to tell myself God wanted me to be fully His, so He put me in between two families so no one could fully claim me. But what’s your story? Embrace it. Your story is really not about you but about the lives that will be liberated when they hear your story and how you triumphed.
Live up to your purpose and not people’s expectations
People, especially your family, have their expectations of what they want you to do with your life and who they think you should become. At some point, you are going to have to stand up for yourself and choose your purpose over their expectations. No, it won’t be easy, but it would be worth it.
I remember in 2010 when I had just graduated from school and was waiting for my NYSC call up letter, I wanted to really go to a makeup school to learn, while waiting to go for service. Of course then I couldn’t afford to pay the fees by myself so I sent an email to an aunt of mine who lives abroad explaining to her what I wanted to do and asking her to please send me the money. She took it another way and replied my email copying all my aunts and uncles and my grandparents saying how irresponsible I was to want to go and learn makeup after spending money in a private school for four years studying accounting bla bla bla.
It was a huge episode of emails back and forth, but that did not stop my resolve to go to makeup school. So once I started NYSC, I went to a makeup school and negotiated with the owner that I would pay in instalments once I got my monthly NYSC allowances and thankfully she agreed.
I also enrolled for my professional exam during NYSC and passed. So after working as an accountant for about two years and I knew I had to move, I knew best not to tell any family member before resigning.
Nobody understands your calling and purpose as much as you do, so even though they really want the best for you, you’re going to have to choose at some point between pleasing them and pursuing your purpose.
Find yourself early
I meet a lot of people in their twenties and some even in their thirties who have no clue who they are or what their purpose is about, so they are just wandering through life. Yes they have jobs and live in nice apartments and drive lovely cars but it’s all a cover up of the emptiness they are trying to fill. Your 20s are for finding you. The best way to find you is to find and follow God. It’s in getting to know who God is that He reveals to us who we are and the purpose He created us to fulfill. Your life truly begins when you discover your true purpose and begin to live it.
Nothing happens by coincidence
Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe in coincidences. If it happened then it was part of the plan from the beginning; there’s a purpose for it. And even if it wasn’t part of the plan, God knows how to make it work out for your good. So everything you’ve been through, everything you’re going through and everything you’d go through all works out to make you into the person you are becoming.
Life is a bed of roses
I know you are used to hearing “life is not a bed of roses”, but I choose to believe that life is indeed a bed of roses, only that beneath the roses there are thorns (challenges). The thorns are there to make us strong and keep us moving, so we don’t sleep too long on the bed of roses.
Our struggles and challenges are exactly what we need in life. If we go through life without challenges, we will never be as strong as we could be and it would cripple us. So instead of focusing on and magnifying the thorns focus on the roses.
Some friendships are for a season
Old friends are great; so are new friends. As long as both categories share the same values as you do and the relationship is mutually beneficial. Some friendships are for a season, when their season is over, don’t sweat it; it doesn’t mean that they are bad people, it just means that they are done playing the part they needed to play in your life.
Being friends with those older, wiser and smarter than you takes you steps above your peers.
Find someone who allows you be yourself
Everything rises and falls on marriage, that’s why you cannot afford to make the wrong choice when it comes to marriage. Your marriage will either make you or break you.
Nothing is as fulfilling as marrying someone who supports you, allows you to be yourself and helps you grow into the person God created you to be.
There’s no award for who gets married first, so don’t be moved by the hype of everyone getting married every day. Take your time and let God lead you. Regardless of the many stories of bad marriages we hear, there are still many more beautiful marriages. And having a beautiful marriage requires a lot of dying to self daily.
I’ve met a handful of singles who are scared of getting married because of the stories of bad marriages all over the media; truth is, if you truly have a relationship with the one who founded marriage i.e. God, then you have nothing to be scared about. He’s got you sorted. He will teach you how to make your marriage work and help you become a better person while at it. The core of marriage is to help us become like Jesus.
Words are really powerful
The words you speak determine how beautiful or ugly your life will be. The entire world was created by God’s spoken word- God said “Light!” and light showed up, making day and night; and we were created in the image and likeness of God, so whatever we speak becomes our reality. I realize that my life is how it is now because of the words I’ve been speaking. My life is beautiful and I love the life I live because that’s what I speak every day. So be careful of the words you speak. We build our worlds with our words. Proverbs 18:21 in Message version says- “Words kill, words give life; they are either poison or fruit- you choose.” If you feel like there’s so much poison (bad stuff) in your life, check the words you speak and then change your narrative by speaking the right words.
If you want to do something, just do it!
Don’t wait till you think you’re qualified enough or till you have enough funds. I did not think I was qualified enough to write my first book- Beautified, but I did it anyway and I did not have the money for it when I was done with my manuscript, but I didn’t let that stop me. I did not feel qualified to start my interior design firm, but I started anyway. If you wait till when you think you are qualified, you just might be waiting till forever. God hardly uses those who think they are qualified; rather He uses those who are available and equips them on the go.
To have more, give more
The more you give, the more you have, whatever it is. It is always more blessed to give than to receive. If you want more love, give more love. If you want more money, give to those in need. If you want more attention, give more attention. The secret to having more and being truly blessed is to give.
Motherhood is a gold collar job
One of the most challenging yet most fulfilling job ever is being a mom. You don’t realize how really strong you are until you become a mother. And you really don’t fully understand it yet until you become a mom of two. Having a second child opened me up to strengths I never knew I had.
Motherhood is indeed a full time job, whether you’re a stay at home mom or a career mom or a business mom. Yes we don’t get paid in currency, but I believe our payment would be seeing our children grow up and live right at the center of God’s will for their lives, that is fulfillment no amount of money can ever buy. Motherhood is a GOLD collar job.
Remain authentic – be true to yourself
You attract the kind of people you truly are. If you notice that there are usually fake, lazy people around you, check within; it’s most likely you’re that way too. Birds of the same feather always flock together. To attract genuine people, you have to be a genuine person. People connect more with you and open up more when they see that you are real and authentic. There are too many fakes out there, people are looking for real! Live your truth. Embrace your truth and stay authentic. I realized that I have so much following on social media simply because I live and share my truth and people can absolutely relate with my vulnerability.
Don’t bug people to mentor you
There’s so much rave about mentorship these days, while it’s great to have someone mentor you through certain aspects of your life, truth is you really do not need someone to mentor you physically. If there’s someone you’d really like to be mentored by, do your research on them, buy their books if any, follow their podcasts or blogs, follow them on social media, attend any training or workshop or conference they are speaking at, you’d realize that most of what they will say to you would have already been mentioned in their books or articles or other materials both offline and online. Don’t bug people to mentor you. Just follow them as closely as you can and if there’s ever a need for them to personally mentor you, it will happen without you having to bug them.
The more I submit to my husband, the more he honors and respects me
I love being wife to my amazing husband (PS: that I said he is amazing doesn’t mean that there aren’t times I don’t think otherwise). Our marriage started to become truly beautiful when I started to learn to truly submit to him (PS: this is not for extreme feminists.)
Personally, I’m very strong willed (better way of saying stubborn) and my husband is strong willed too. Earlier in our marriage, we were always having strong conversations (better way of saying arguing) about really unnecessary stuff but the root of it was we both wanting to have our own way.
My attitude then was the Bible says husbands should love their wives first then wives should submit; so anytime I felt my husband wasn’t loving me the way I wanted, I wasn’t going to submit. How very foolish of me. I had to get to that point where I decided that having peace in my home was more important than fighting over unnecessary stuff.
I have realized over time that the more I submit to my husband, the more he honors and respects me. Even at times when I feel like he is wrong, I’m still learning to submit (Sometimes I still want to have my way) and just pray about the situation. In the end, it always turns out for good.
The order for wives to submit to their own husbands came from the author of marriage Himself, that’s like giving us ‘expo’ to pass the examination of marriage. Submission is not weakness, rather it’s about becoming aware of our power and then surrendering this power to God, so that through the help of the Holy Spirit, we can harness this power to helping (not hindering) our husbands fulfill the work God has called them to, while we also fulfill ours. It’s about stooping to conquer.
Fearful parents cannot raise courageous children
To be honest, parenting in this generation is one of the hardest things ever, and I have come to a conclusion that parenting is warfare. If we are not careful, we will be parenting with so much fear because there are so many things going on that just make you fearful. But I realized that fearful parents cannot raise courageous children, so I handed over my fears to God and now nothing really scares me about my children. I speak God’s words over them daily, after all, they are His and I’m just their care taker here and certainly, He knows how best to take care of them. They are taught of the Lord and great is their peace. Since great is their peace, then great should also be my peace over them.
It’s OK to say NO
I used to feel bad telling people NO and then go out of my way to do what they wanted me to, not because I wanted to please them, I just felt it wasn’t nice to say NO. Now I know better, and it’s actually stupid not to say “NO” when you have to. Now I easily say no to invitations and requests that are not quite essential to my purpose and wellbeing even though they are good. Sometimes, you need to say no just so that you can have time for yourself. When you say yes to everything and pour out all of yourself, you become empty and useless to others and even to yourself because you can’t give what you don’t have. You need to take time to refill and refuel. And NO is a full sentence, you don’t need to always explain your No.
Joy will take you further
Yes you’ve heard this from a particular Johnnie Walker advert- Joy will take you further. And that’s really the truth. Joy is not simply an emotion triggered by good happenings; joy is a tool for advancement in life. Ever wondered why the bible says so many times that we should rejoice ALWAYS, in good times and bad times. Pastor Sam Adeyemi usually says “It’s not because things are bad that you are sad, it’s because you are sad that things are bad.” I’m generally usually joyful, not because things don’t happen to make me sad, but because I understand that being sad would only make matters worse, so why not rejoice. And times when I am sad and trying to be joyful, what helps me get out of that sad mood is turning up praise music and just dancing.
Fall in love with YOU first, and other things will be added unto it
The very best time to fall in love with someone else is right after you have falling in love with yourself. When I met my husband, I wasn’t looking to be in a relationship. We started talking and I started getting attracted to him and then he told me he was in a relationship. I had reached that point where I was so in love with me that I could not imagine myself being with a guy that was already involved with someone else; so I started putting him at a distance- minimized my chatting with him and whenever he chatted with me, I’d make sure I asked him about his girlfriend; until he got the memo and had to make his decision by himself and today we are here.
Acquire non-academic life skills
This is for those who are still in school; life is more than academics and having a first class degree. While in school, try out other things that are non academic. this will help you build life skills for coping after school. Back in school I tried out two different business- one was called “Hot and Spicy” I and a friend of mine partnered to sell food to students right in their rooms to help curtail the long queues in the cafeteria; I also tried out politics buy campaigning and running for positions in my course association- NUASA (Nigerian University Accounting Students Association) and so many other non academic things I got myself involved with.
Today, I run my on business which has nothing to do with what I studied in school; I haven’t even collected my BSc certificate yet and I just might not even bother to, even the ICAN I did, I wasn’t available to attend the induction ceremony to collect my certificate. Both certificates aren’t quite useful to me now. I know people who graduated with first class degrees but they haven’t been able to handle life outside school.
Learning never stops
You never stop learning in life. I remember Bishop Oyedepo used to say this a lot back when I was still in Covenant University “When you stop learning, you start stinking.” Education doesn’t stop once you graduate from university, in actual fact it only just started. Education is beyond the four walls of a school. If you’re going to make any mark at all in life, you’re going to have to keep learning, unlearning and relearning.
Read books on a wide range of topics, travel, go on tours within and outside Nigeria, meet new people, experience different cultures; don’t simply stay in one place with your head bowed scrolling through your phone; experience life outside your phone. One of the principles I imbibe is this- know everything about one thing and know a little about everything. For instance, I know a lot and still learning more about Interior Design but I still try to learn about other things like sports, politics, public speaking, style, investing, photography etc. this helps me hold intelligent conversations with different people I come across.
It’s ok to ask for help
Never be ashamed to ask for help. At certain points in life, you would need help and sometimes if you don’t ask for help, you won’t receive it. Today, I’m all the way in Dubai attending an exhibition and conference for Interior Designers, I saw an ad for it and I just knew I had to be there. But as at the time, my account balance didn’t look like it could get me to Abuja talk less of Dubai, so I reached out to certain people to ask for a business loan. If I didn’t, I most likely wouldn’t be here today. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; rather it’s a sign of strength.
Strength should not be measured by the amount of suffering you can endure
I get asked this ‘How do you balance it all’ question a lot. Truth is, sometimes I don’t even know how I do, I just do. However, one major thing that really helps is having a support system and putting structures in place because no one can do it all by themselves, we all need help.
For managing the home, I have domestic staff for doing domestic work, so I can have time to focus on my husband and children. I have a team of amazing people who work with me when it comes to ministry- The beautified network and for work I have staff who work with me to achieve our goals per time and sometimes I collaborate with others.
We all love the proverbs 31 woman and really strive to be like her, but what most women miss out in her story is the fact that she had a support system. Verse 15 says she rises up early in the morning and assigns portions to her maids. Let’s stop this silly mentality of measuring our strengths by the amount of suffering we can handle and shaming women who have maids, calling them lazy.
Life is not that serious
No it’s really not. Don’t live on the serious side of life, take time to laugh and play and let the child in you be. On the flip side, life is not all about playing and so you have to find the balance between work and play. I absolutely love to laugh and play a lot, when I’m in my element, you’d think I’m not a serious person. But there’s a time to play and a time to be serious. Don’t hold on to life with a serious grip, live a little; laugh and play with your spouse and kids. Share laughter with your domestic staff sometimes, smile at complete strangers. Even laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. It’s really not that serious.
Don’t stop trying
Just because you asked and got a ‘no’ doesn’t mean you should give up. Just because you started that business and it didn’t quite work out, doesn’t mean you should pack up. Just because you failed that exam doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again. If you really want to make it in life, you cannot afford to give up; you got keep trying and trying until you get what it is you want. Just because you applied for a scholarship and you didn’t get it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply again. NO means Not Over, try again next time.
Invest in yourself
You are absolutely worth every investment you make on improving yourself. Stop investing in bags and shoes and weaves that really add nothing to you, rather invest in developing yourself and becoming better. The money you’d have used to buy a new weave can be used to pay for a personal development training or workshop or conference that will yield more returns in your life than a weave would. While I was still working at a 9-5, I have once used my entire month’s salary to pay for a personal development workshop. Developing yourself would give you a sense of purpose and make you more appealing to others. At the end of the day, when you’re gone, no one at your funeral would say “Awww, she had such an amazing collection of beautiful Peruvian weaves.” Rather they will talk about how you impacted their lives, either in a good or bad way. What would you have people say about you at your funeral? Think about it and start living it out.
Stand for something
I’m sure you have heard this before- “if you don’t stand for something, you’d fall for anything.” Truth is in life, there are really no middle grounds, it’s either good or bad; black or white; hot or cold; and so you have to stand for something. Let people know what side you’re on and be absolutely unashamed about it. I stand for Christ and all He represents; I am an unashamed chaser of God, lover of Jesus and student of the Holy Spirit. I am an ambassador of the kingdom of God here on earth. I stand for sexual purity and I say no to sex outside marriage whether single or married. So what do you stand for? This boils down to your values. If you have no values of your own, you’d easily take on other people’s values whether good or bad.
Your greatest support may come from strangers
If you ask every great person you know, you’d find out that most of them were not supported by their families and friends but by strangers. The truth is, it’s hard for your family and friends to support you at first (they may later come round) because they have seen you finish and so they find it hard to believe that you, you that they know inside out can do anything great. Even Jesus, He couldn’t perform much miracles in His hometown because they despised him, they said to him “are you not the son of that carpenter?” in other words they meant “you this ordinary son of an ordinary carpenter, what silly miracles do you think you can perform? So you think you’re better than us now abi?” To be great, you’re going to have to take risks and be prepared to face opposition. Not everyone is going to support you and that’s OK.
It’s all up to you
Your life is as beautiful as you decide it is. Life is all about choices; you are where you are today because of the choices you made yesterday. You have the power to rise up today and choose to live a beautiful life right at the center of God’s purpose for you. It’s really all up to you. You have the power to use your words to build the kind of world you desire.
Happy Birthday from all of us at TOPNAIJA.NG; here’s wishing Funto many more decades of fulfilling and impact!
Photography – @gazmadustudios
Styling – @karenubanapparel
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