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My life is not my own – purpose through the lens of a bullet hole

By Themba Dlamini

It is Thursday, September 17 2015, the night of my daughter’s 18-month birthday. I have just arrived at OR Tambo International Airport from a successful speaking engagement in Cape Town. On my way home from the airport I stop at a traffic light and my window is aggressively mowed down by a group of criminals. Before I know it, I am pulled out of my car and beaten to a pulp. Finally, two gunshots are fired at me as I naively try to fight back — I am defenceless.

The criminals steal everything they can get their hands on, except my car and leave me for dead. I get up and run 50m back into my car and start driving franticaly trying to find help. My phone has been stolen and blood is gushing out my wounds like a tap with no valve. I finally get help from a security guard at Melrose Arch. I can hear the police sirens as I am strapped into an ambulance van having lost a considerable amount of blood. Before I pass out, due to significant blood loss, it suddenly dawns on me that I’ve been a victim of a malicious crime in my beloved country. The questions in my mind are “Will I make it? What about my 18-month-old daughter, my wife, family and friends?”

"Non-Violence", a bronze sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reutersward of an oversized Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver with a knotted barrel and the muzzle pointing upwards, sits on the grounds of the United Nations on September 29, 2015 in New York City. (AFP)

“Non-Violence”, a bronze sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reutersward of an oversized Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver with a knotted barrel and the muzzle pointing upwards, sits on the grounds of the United Nations on September 29, 2015 in New York City. (AFP)

Here comes the irony — when life and death stand face to face — the velocity, power and precision of the bullets in transit calculated for death are the very substance that has the power to resurrect broken dreams, forsaken purpose and a zest for life. It becomes an inerasable reminder of my purpose, vision and existence.

It reminds me of the vanity and futility of a life lived for one’s own self-aggrandisement, of the value of life lived in harmony with all.

It reminds me of the bankruptcy of my life in the absence of others. How naïve are we to think we are self-sufficient in the absence of others. An experience like this provides you with the opportunity to re-evaluate life through your death bed, on borrowed time.

All of us, without exception, will one day look back at life and do an assessment of the things that mattered and the things that wasted precious seconds, minutes, days, years. For some, at this point, it might be too late to make amends.

I have come to conclude that near-death experiences are God’s precious favour-portions given to His loved, favoured and selected children. God uses these experiences as instruments, as a much-needed wake-up call, as a reminder to number our days.

How long will we go through life day dreaming? If we knew we had such little time to live, who would we spend our time with? What words would we speak? What would really matter? Would the never-ending work deadlines take precedence over your sick child? Would the criminals who tried to take my life continue living their lives this way? Would we even have crime at all?

Every day we chase something, which is in reality, unimportant — we chase the sun as it rises in the east and sets in the west.

I am eternally grateful for the bullets that pierced through my flesh like a hot iron. What was meant for my destruction failed. Instead, as iron sharpens iron, the bullets sharpened my focus to be the best man God designed me to be. I’m thankful to all the friends, mentors and family who through their incredible love and support have helped me better appreciate this blessing in disguise.

My brother and my sister: life is precious, fragile and passing at the speed of each breath and soon life as we know it (in its current state) will be over. Make the right choice, where you can, say: “No return, no regret and no surrender.”

www.thembadlamini.co.za

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