Elizabeth Kalu, popularly known as Laiza King is an Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Kingdom Influencer aand Digital Marketing trainer. In this post she shares her story of low self esteem, overcoming depression, discovering purpose and the peace that comes from knowing God’s will for your life. Read her inspiring story below.
Life has been a great learning curve for me. From living with low-self esteem, feeling like I couldn’t achieve anything great in life, living with nothing, to NOW creating a new life for myself and understanding that life should be lived with love, purpose and giving.
Right now, I can sincerely say that I’ve found my place (and still seeking) in life and it feels great to be walking and living in God’s purpose for my life. While far from perfect, I’m definitely not where I used to be. The life I lived during my old path was full of thorns and thistles; it was an uneasy path. I was arrested by fear, cuffed and incarcerated by the chains of negativity. I know what is means to merely exist and not live, to just be a statistic, or probably not really different from the existence of the piece of furniture in your room.
Have you ever felt stuck or lost? Have you ever been at the centre of despair? A place where all your experiences are working against the grain of your dream, and your desire is getting tired; so tired that frustration is leading you to rest, on the bed of suicide. Can you relate to this?
Maybe you’ve never had to go through the eye of a needle, but no matter the level of challenges you face, or had to face, deep down within you know there is something more than your situation. There’s a feeling of bliss within that is yet too far for your faith to reach. You just want to touch it! Right in the middle of your struggle you still smell something good. Have you ever felt this way? I just heard you say, “hmmm”, so my guess was right. We are family, related by our experiences.
I had an undeniable knowing of greatness within, but many times it felt like the light at the end of the tunnel was still 1,000 miles ahead.
There was a phase in my life when I felt totally lost. You know those times when on the outside it looks like everything is going well? You actually feel like an excited bottle of champagne, enthusiastic about the future and ready to make things happen; more like a fast track life. You live all the way, turning deaf ears to that inner voice or whisper; being distracted by other people’s definitions of success and then you embrace the limitations of society while living behind the masks they threw at you. I mean, what kind of life is that?
That is the life I lived for a period of time. I must admit, I knew who I was and was gradually embracing my unique self, but it wasn’t at the level I am right now.
Something Changed! Something Happened…
On Friday, August 23rd 2013, I woke up really refreshed and happy that I was home, away from the hustle and bustle life of Lagos City. I decided to take a break from the craziness of Lagos, get some good peace before going back more energized and ready for something bigger.
Feeling like a super woman as always, ready to take on 100 tasks at the same time. I decided to clean up the house, cook and gist with my siblings and cousins who also came to visit. After doing my house chores, I decided to rest before starting my day fully. As I was walking, I felt a very sharp pain on my left ankle. The pain was so excruciating, I had to literally hop to my room on my right leg. I called my mom and she told me to just rest for some hours before getting back up. I was probably tired from travelling, cleaning and being hyper.
Few hours later, I woke up and stepped my leg on the floor, forgetting about what had happened and BOOM! Another level of deeper pain! After that moment, I couldn’t walk. I thought it was going to be an uber quick fix by popping some aspirin and maybe supporting my ankle with band-aid, but I couldn’t even place that foot on the floor; the pain grew worse by the day.
Days turned into weeks and weeks embraced months. I had visited several hospitals across Nigeria for three months, while doing series of scans, but the doctors still didn’t have an answer to the problem. Some of them made guesses and dumped heaps of pain killers for me to take. By then, I was using two crutches to aid my movement. I could no longer wear normal shoes. This left me sitting or lying down most of the time. I was exhausted from getting no results. I was tired of random people saying- Chai! Fine girl, O accident mere gi? (Is it accident?). I was tired of self pity too.
After 3 months, I travelled to Dubai for further treatment. After series of scans, the doctors told me I had torn ligaments. Since it was an extreme case, I had to do surgery. Some people might be like – no big deal. I mean, most sports players like Kobe Bryant have such injuries and they get back up in few weeks right? Mine was more extreme and it wasn’t a 3 months or 6 months or 1 year journey.
I fought the idea of doing surgery on my left leg again…I mean, not now, not again. That point, I prayed and still asked God- But why now though? Silence………
Picture about 20 years ago when I was about 6years, I had injection palsy on my left leg (My advice to you- let injections be your last resort, seriously!). Injection palsy normally affects the longest nerve on the human leg and creeps into the muscles by making it unable to function properly. This issue immediately leads to a foot drop or drop foot. It’s a terrible experience and makes one feel incomplete.
This issue was actually corrected to some extent but I later got to know that it wasn’t well managed. YIKES! So maybe that backfired somehow I guess. But I had gone through University, paid my dues to NYSC and started my career without any problems until that moment. Honestly, it was one of the worst things at that time and my mind still refused to accept it.
We finally decided that doing a surgery would be right in order for me to get back on my feet as soon as possible. The surgery was done 2days later and that was when the real journey began.
I was at the peak of my life and career, felt like a super woman and was ready to rise HIGH like an Eagle, then suddenly this? Hello Laiza, welcome to the real world. Little did I know that in order to rise to greater heights, I needed to be broken- like really broken.
The Process- Physiotherapy & Personal Growth
Months of pain, sitting down while wishing you could be achieving your goals already (the pain was so excruciating that sometimes I literally had to just stay in one particular position for hours), loitering around social media, wishing that your life was like that of Jake, Amanda or John (Even though some of those social media projections are mere “make believes”), sleepless nights, disappointments, anger, feeling of shame and discouragement.
The most overwhelming ‘not so cool’ part was when I saw people I knew while sitting on a wheel chair or using a walking stick at the airport or a gathering. It’s even worse when that person doesn’t connect with your situation, or sympathize with you and it makes you wonder what goes on in people’s minds. I mean, I thought you were my friend? Or you talk to people about it and their reply makes you wonder if they have a heart.
In 2013, I gave so many excuses because of the surgery I had on my leg. In addition to that, physiotherapy wasn’t really going well either because my leg wasn’t responsive to the physiotherapy process like we expected. I honestly think that physio is one of the toughest yet interesting things because it puts you in the spot where you have to relearn what you could do before.
Some days, you’ll get people around make it feel like it’s easy but if you’re lucky to have a good physiotherapist, thank your God. My first therapist was a loving and God fearing woman who understood the essence of getting into my mind first before my body. I believe that our minds are one of our deepest treasures that can either make us or break us. During the first few months of physiotherapy, I gained inner strength and believed that no matter how long it took, I would walk perfectly again. I attended different sessions where I had to strengthen my muscles, learn how to balance myself with my legs without falling and also learn to walk again.
I got accepted to one of my favorite schools for a Masters program in New York. I was sooo looking forward it. You know that hype right? Well, maybe it should be Harvard during the next try instead or maybe none. Who knows?
But at some point, I was tired of all that waiting and complaining (that isn’t life!) and decided to focus on God. I decided to surrender completely and just ask God to teach me all I needed to learn during that phase of my life. That was when my biggest process started, way deeper than the previous ones. You know the process that turns your mess into a message; the one that turns your pain into meaningful purpose. Yes, that one! Sometimes we think we know God, but He starts opening the eyes of our understanding to see deeper.
I had to take a step back and re-evaluate my life at that point. The moment I decided to open myself up to God and His Word, He began to “break” me. Most people just go through life without really going through their process because they probably don’t have time for it or maybe they simply miss the point. In order to be a great leader or achieve your purpose in life, you must first be broken on the inside; that is when your true light begins to manifest. I knew the life ahead of me was going towards something greater than the usual, but I needed to make patience, wisdom and understanding my best friends in order to prevail, conquer and overcome.
Through my process, I figured out the key to real joy and purpose. This can never be found in human beings, a job or material things. You’ll have to draw it out from within; it’s right there, deep in your belly. It is that undeniable inner beauty that brings out your light and makes you shine and become enviable when people see you (despite your physical challenges or any circumstances).
This is the stage where you find the “PEACE…that peace that passeth ALL understanding”, that, only God can give. It took me a while to get to this point…despite days of laziness or ‘I don’t feel like studying my bible’, I’ve been able to conquer all that and I am still growing and learning.
Besides spiritual growth, I dedicated many hours focused on personal development; from studying books (more self help books), leadership, entrepreneurship and also taking some online courses that will prepare me for what was ahead. I knew I couldn’t afford to waste my time just sitting and hoping. I gained a higher level of strength both spiritually, emotionally, personally and all round.
I’m not a perfect person, or some lady who has it all figured out and I never pretend to have all the answers. We all make mistakes right? But I’m dedicated to sharing what I’ve learnt (and still learning) to add a sparkle to the lives of many people.