What was your reaction when you first heard the viral news of Tessica, the Gorilla Glue girl? Most people thought it was hilarious and ridiculous, right? Others sympathized too.
But my focus in this article is not on Tessica but Dr. Michael Obeng, the plastic surgeon who performed the procedure on her hair, freeing her of glued effect.
Not only is my curiosity in Dr. Obeng because he’s originally from Ghana, as I am. But also because of what I gathered as I dug deeper. As human beings, none of us are perfect; we all have various flaws. Whatever the shortcomings of Dr. Obeng may be, they are not the focus of this article. Our attention will be on parts of his life, from which we can all draw some inspiration.
Here are four lessons I learned from Dr. Michael Obeng and the Gorilla Glue Girl’s Experience:
1. ENCOUNTERS THAT SHAPES OUR LIVES
While still in Ghana in his younger years, Dr. Obeng was introduced to a plastic surgeon who performed surgery on one of his neighbors. This was a neighbor’s wife who had been assaulted by her husband (he poured acid on her face). Thanks to the surgeon, her facial deformity was corrected. Dr. Obeng’s exposure to this surgeon years ago shaped his dream of becoming a plastic surgeon.
Many are such stories of children becoming like adults they were exposed to. Even as adults, the company we keep reflects a large extent on the quality of our lives. 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) hits it right on the nail- “Bad company corrupts good character.” And again, in Proverbs 27:17 (NIV), “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Who have you been exposing your children to? What kinds of people have you personally been relating with? Will they make you better or worse?
2. GIVE BACK
Dr. Obeng started a foundation called R.E.S.T.O.R.E., an acronym for Restoring Emotional Stability Through Outstanding Reconstructive Efforts. His foundation offers no-cost medical services to patients in African nations who suffer from congenital disabilities, deformity due to accidents, and disease-related deformity.
We may not be in this capacity Dr. Obeng is in now. But no matter where our current position in life, we should strive to give back to those less fortunate than we are. Giving back is not only limited to monetary value, but you can provide your time, services, work, or household items you no longer use, etc.
If you gave someone who needed it a slice of banana or a bottle of water, and that was what you were most capable of providing, you’ve done plenty. It’s not merely the quantity of the donation or even the quality but the heart with which it is being given. When the widow gave just two coins compared to the many rich who placed large amounts into the offering bowl, Jesus said the widow’s two coins were worth more than those who gave enormous sums. Why? Because she gave with all her heart from all she had [Story paraphrased from Mark 12:41-44 (NIV)]
We often associate this scripture with offertories alone, but this ought to be extended to all forms of giving.
3. DON’T DESPISE SMALL BEGINNINGS
Dr. Obeng was born into poverty in West Africa and came to the United States with less than 200 dollars for his undergrad studies. Don’t despise your current level or circumstance. It doesn’t matter how you are starting now or with what you are starting with. The most important thing is to start anyway. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 7:8a (NIV), “The end of a matter is better than its beginning.”
Most times, we allow fear of the unknown to hinder us from making bold decisions. What would have happened if Dr. Obeng never took that bold step of coming to the United States with 200 dollars? No matter how frightening your situation looks, don’t despise or give up. Take actions boldly. Will there be challenges? You bet! Will you overcome them? You may or may not. But until you take that first step, you will just never know.
4. PRO BONO
Dr. Obeng performed the surgery pro bono for Tessica, the gorilla glue girl. He probably had no intention of reaping any benefits from this free work, which initially cost almost $13,000. Yet he’s gotten so much publicity beneficial for his works and foundation. Though he was already quite known, this has heightened his reach.
Tessica also decided to donate $20,000 out of $23,000 she raised from her go-fund-me account to Dr. Obeng’s foundation- R.E.S.T.O.R.E.
We should not always look at opportunities from a monetary viewpoint. Some prospects may come in very unappealing covers but take it, and it may land you your next big break.
5. THE CONCLUSION
Whether you are an Immigrant like Dr. Obeng, an American, a European, an Asian, African, or any other nationality, I hope you can relate to these four titbits from the Gorilla Glue Girl and Dr. Michael Obeng’s experiences.