“You are stronger than you think”

The following is based on a true life story.

Average height, steeled face with a complexion of dark eclair chocolate. His name is Captain MY Bizi. When I remember him,  I recall his words with impressive precision. Perhaps because he didn’t say too much at a time or because of the confident way he walked about. His stone faced demeanour and the aura of his presence is undeniably unforgettable. I had three encounters with him and each of those times left me wondering the kind of persona he had.

 
Captain Bizi is one of those people whose very presence instils discipline and corrects anomaly. He is a captain in the army but this time, not just a soldier, he was the commandant of my NYSC orientation camp. Placed over 2,500 graduates, he had the great responsibility of ensuring discipline and that he did in the best way I have ever seen. It was very common to see twenty something’s running away from his direction whenever he came around. Infact it was the only way you knew where he was per time: the sight of people in white running opposite way. With his unique gait and a portable chair, Captain Bizi is VERY easy to recognize.
Now, Captain wasn’t a mean man. I had gotten punished by him twice before this occurrence. One time for not doing disciplinary exercises well and the other for going to fetch water from the the bottom of the hill my hostel was on after lights out. I believe his favorite punishment was push ups. He dished out pushups like he was a very generous chef. 

Of course, it comes easily to understand why I never wanted an additional one on one with him anymore especially for punitive purposes. This was so until he called me. Yes. He called me to himself.
It was a hot afternoon when I went to get some drinking water in front of the camp clinic. Most of my mates were about 300meters away on the football field watching an ongoing football match or volley ball at the volley pitch. I got my satchets of water and started back slowly to the field when I saw Captain walking towards an adjacent path. Perhaps I would have gone the other way quickly but no, not today. I was breaking no rule. Not one and I would not walk away when I was ‘clean’. I walked towards the mass of youth corpers in white shirts and shorts on the football field when Captain Bizi called me. 
“You. Where is your head rest?”. ” Sir?” I said with a voice filled with confidence and fear. “Where is your head rest?”. This time I was quite close to him. I for some reason did not relate his question to his asking for why I had not worn my cap. “Where is your cap?”. Oh oh. I did not like my cap. The shape of the semi circle had a few not-so-wonderful-to-behold rough protruding lumps. I didn’t want to spend money fixing it so I just abandoned it.  “Give me 20” He said in a cool tone. He didn’t shout. He never shouted. I understood the sentence. Anytime Captain Bizi said “give me anything” where anything is a positive integer, it meant only one thing. It meant to push up. I went horizontal and started my push ups. Maybe due to the fear or adrenaline I had, I finished quickly and stood to my feet. Satisfied that he had taught me a lesson, the Captain turned to go when I stopped him. I do not remember exactly how I felt at this time but it was not fear. Certainly not fear. “I want to bring down the Nigerian flag when it is 6pm sir”. “Okay. See me later.” Then as if he had a quick extra thought “You would have to give me 50 before you do it”. What! 50 ke? Not me. Never. “Okay sir. I think I would do it tomorrow then” (if he would ever see me again) “Why not today?” Captain said coolly. Why not never sir. “You can do it today” He was in control.  I managed to say “Because I am not mentally ready for it sir”.  The highest number of pushups I have ever done is 30 something I think. Doing 50 would push my limits. I could attempt it but it wasn’t something I felt I was ready for. It was then he said with ease “You are stronger than you think. See me later and you would bring down the flag”. He could as well have said “Do not limit your willpower to what you are used to for you have more power on the inside of you than you could imagine”. I understood Captain’s words,  thanked him and walked to the field to the amazement of my fellow youth corpers who had been watching all along. I had engaged in a talk with CC (Camp Commandant) and I had smiled and talked confidently. They of course didn’t know the story in its entirety. 
I eventually brought down the Nigerian flag but I didn’t see Captain anymore that evening. His words like iron scratches etched in metal still lay in an unerasable part of my memory. “You are stronger than you think”. 


Limit is a figment of the imagination.
Push forth. Pursue that dream God has given you. Break boundaries. Stretch yourself. Expand your knowledge base. Love God more. Write that app. Start that exercise plan. You are indeed stronger than you think.
Captain probably never knew what that meant to me as a Christian. You are stronger than you think.
“I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”. – Philippians 4:13.

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