Hi, my name is Chenai Mbanga! Welcome to my blog! I write to encourage, inspire and empower you in growing in your spiritual life through reflections and prose. I have been writing on this blog for 5 years now, and it has been a journey! Join me as I continue my journey toward self-actualizing.❤


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Latest Posts

Dirt Roads

“Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit


It took me 5 hours to get to a place that is an hour and 25 minutes from where I was. And the experience had me making comparisons with my own life and I had to laugh. Laugh, because the sting of life is unmatched. You set out with good intentions only to be humbled unceremoniously, where you’re left with more questions, more frustrations than you perceive your capacity can hold. 

I ventured out of the city toward my destination, only to encounter a road block that made no sense. Police were blocking the highway and would not let cars pass through. There wasn’t an accident in sight. I parked my car on the shoulder of the road, searching my GPS for a new route, but could not find one. The police officer told me to go back to the city, that the road was blocked for the next 3-4 hours and walked away before I could ask why. 

All the cars were being turned back.  I couldn’t believe that there was only one route to get to my destination but that’s all that was showing on my GPS and I wasn’t familiar with the area at all.

I decided it was a sign that it wasn’t meant to be and began heading home. When I was close to home I stopped, and just sat in my car. Disappointed, annoyed. I don’t know how long I sat in there. But things changed. I was made aware of a different route and I mustered the strength to give it a try. I didn’t anticipate any issues, but is life worth living if it doesn’t throw a few unexpected wrenches into your best laid plans?


This new route took me from the nice, civilized, smooth roads, to a dusty, rocky path reminiscent of obscure dirt roads in serial killer movies. On my right and my left were endless fields of grass or weeds or something. I couldn’t accelerate much because my car kept swerving. I could only drive at most 30 kms/hr. I anticipated the dirt road would last for a short while but I drove like this for what felt like 45 minutes.  I stopped at one point, distressed, because where the hell was I going?

My GPS said I was 27 minutes away. All I could see ahead of me was dust road. On either side of me were endless fields of grass or weeds or both. Home was over an hour away now, and I wanted to go home!

But I convinced myself to keep going. I assured myself of this: if in 27 minutes I find myself more in the middle of nowhere than I am now, I can turn around. Let me keep trying, and if truly 27 minutes from now I’m not where I need to be, I can go home. I can throw in the towel. 

It felt as though my entire car was falling apart and I was regretting the trip. I thought about how I should’ve rented a bigger car instead. I thought about a lot of things. I regretted. I tried to encourage myself.  The dust road went on forever. Rocks and debris kept hitting my car. Plumes of dust covered the back, and ahead of me was more dust.  Dark grey clouds rested overtop a kaleidoscope of colours on an endless sky that I could not appreciate.

How did the smooth road get this rough, this bumpy, this uncertain so quickly?


I wanted to go back, back to the comfort of my bed, where I wouldn’t have to inconvenience myself like this, putting more kilometres on my car, not having eaten for hours, going out of my way…. But that 27 minutes. 27 minutes. You’re almost there. Yes, this part of the road is unpleasant, but you’re almost to your destination. You have committed this far, push a little bit more. Why surrender the ground you’ve already covered? Why give up now? Is my intention not that specific destination? 27 minutes. 


I think about how it took me 5 hours to get to a destination that should have taken an hour and 25 minutes. I think about how I’d already convinced my mind not to be alarmed at my tardiness. I decided that I’d stay only for an hour, at most 2. I could pick up some food when I was closer to home. I’d do my best to salvage the few hours I’d put in. It made me sad, but I’d already settled that it would be ok. It wasn’t my intention to be this late, to miss the food, to miss everything.

Twenty- seven minutes. 

So I kept driving. Apprehensive. Uncertain.


And then I arrived.

And I was on time. 

I hadn’t missed anything. The festivities had not started. Food had not yet been served. The grand entrance had not happened. I wasn’t late. And I laughed. How could I not? My panic had been immense. Because I thought the worst. Because all my anxiety had been for nought. 

Isn’t life funny? Someone who knew my ordeal asked a guest who had arrived sometime after me if the road had finally been cleared, and the guest responded that she hadn’t been aware that it had been closed.  Everyone else arrived at the right time. Clear roads. No obstructions in sight.  I laughed wryly. 


For some reason, those 27 minutes have been on my mind. Something about it felt almost revelatory. For a split second ---when I was sitting at my table---it felt as though I was transported into the past, present and future, and I sensed an assurance that I’m still on time. Despite everything, I’m still on time. 

I won’t lie, the guest’s response triggered a moment of profound despair, of feeling like I leave on time ---and in the middle of my journey I get hopelessly derailed and the path to my destination is made unnecessarily longer---; it is how I’ve felt about life. So, that weird (glitch in the matrix? ahaha) moment was sobering, encouraging. 


Interestingly, Solomon’s words come to mind:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

I think about how I should be careful not to feel like I’m in a race against time or race against any one. I think about how the testing of one’s faith produces endurance.  And by God I’ve been enduring, pressing on by force. I think of men and women of faith in the bible who endured and pressed on. I think about my errors, and the things still pending for me to do, and the expectations I have. I think about what I need to change and what still needs to change. I think about giving up and not giving up.  I think, and think, and think, and think.

But something about that detour, and dirt road, and 27 minutes touched me profoundly. I stopped thinking and got on the route that I was supposed to be on. I pressed through despite my reservations and frustrations and uncertainties. I pressed through despite the initial set back. I gave myself the gift to try one more time, and I saw it through to the end. 

I may have taken the long route, and I may have been frustrated throughout that long road, but I made it to my destination. I made it because deep down I wanted to make it. I made it, and I got on the right path to get there.  And I did get there, in exactly 27 minutes.