WELCOME TO LIPS AND LIVES, THE TRUE WORSHIPPERS’ CIRCLE

Dear Worshipper,

Girl-worshipping-bright-low-res-300x198

I’m so glad you’re reading this right now and I’m sure your quest is to know what’s happening in this circle. You probably saw the name and thought, ‘Oh! All these church stuff?’ If you really want to know what’s cooking here you should read this letter from start to finish, even if you feel like giving up just muster the strength to finish up.

Do you expect that everything we talk about here is spiritual stuff? Of course it is, because you and I are spiritual beings.  We cannot get to worship the way the Father desires without getting on the spiritual level.

Let me clarify this. Worship is not defined by activity. It is not restricted to some certain activities like singing, going to church, lifting your hands to the heavens. It’s much more than that. Worship is a lifestyle. It’s about placing your everyday ordinary life as an offering to God (Romans 12:1 MSG).

Let us take a list of some things we do everyday or at least almost everyday; going to work or school, eating, sleeping, chatting with friends, taking a stroll, washing the dishes, singing, listening to music, writing, watching TV, shopping-just think about those activities you’re involved in everyday or almost everyday. Alright! Worship is about taking all those things that constitute your everyday life and offering them to God on the altar of sacrifice.
Some other versions say to offer our bodies as living sacrifices meaning that whatever we do with our bodies must give God pleasure and we all know that the aforementioned daily activities are carried out with the members of our bodies-our hands, legs, eyes, noses, mouths…You get the picture? Great!
So, we’re going all practical, taking a tour into whatever facet of life you can think of in various dimensions. Trust me, I very well know that theories don’t do. I know you would like to know more but I can’t talk about everything in this one piece.

Here we have fun as we discuss issues about life ranging from girls’ gists to general relationships and music. There are poems, stories from everyday life and articles that are sure to make your stay worthwhile. Why not hop in for a ride trusting God that it’s going to be worth the while?

Welcome to the Circle!

Oluwatoosin.

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THE COPYCAT

The day was a loaded one for me. Power supply was out and the room was getting stuffy. The windows were already open but because I didn’t like the reflection of light that was coming from the sun, I kept the curtains down.

The heat was getting unbearable so from my bed, I leaned over to flip the curtains aside to let some fresh air into the room. I noticed the moon was out. I didn’t know I had been working that long.

I was feeling a sensation in my right leg that indicated that blood was not flowing through it properly. I tried to stand up and when I did, I could only limp. The sound that came from my throat was like the grunting of a pig. I took quick breaths at intervals. I tried walking around the room with my left leg. It was not funny.

I had been working on tidying up the second chapter of my thesis because I had to submit it to my supervisor for corrections the next day so I had been on my bed for almost 5 hours without moving an inch.

After a few minutes, I could place my right leg on the floor. I was back on the bed but my return was short-lived.

I heard a rumbling in my stomach. I stood up and went into the little corner in our room that served as a kitchen. I opened the pot on the cooker and shook my head in disappointment.

My stomach kept murmuring but I was too lazy to make anything. On days like that, all I did was take tea or a cereal and go to sleep.

As I contemplated what choice to make between my lifelines, my roommate got back from school. I considered pleading with her to make something but when I saw the look on her face and how soaked her clothes were, I changed my mind. It was the night to use lifelines.

“Hi roomie” She greeted.

“You’re welcome. How did work go today?”

“We’re on the last phase. We should be done by tomorrow.”

“Wow! That’s beautiful. Welldone.”

She went on her knees and I knew the discussion had been suspended for the moment.

I sat in front of my laptop typing nothing in particular. My stomach didn’t stop calling for my attention.

“What are we going to eat tonight?” She asked when she got up.

The dreaded question finally came.

“I don’t know, really. I cannot even think of anything right now. And you can imagine that I couldn’t even get myself to type anything in the last thirty minutes.”

“Ah. But you were pressing the keyboard nah.”

“Abeg, na demo.” I said, pushing the laptop aside.

“You are indeed hungry.” She pursed her lips, dangling her index finger in the air.

“What about bread and eggs?”

I winked at her.

“You’ll fry the eggs.”

She eyed me and pulled my legs.

“Lazy bone! No wahala now. I’m capable.”

I blew her a kiss.

The deal was sealed and my roommate set to work.

I remembered that I needed to remind a classmate about an assignment we were to submit later that week so I went to her room briefly to fix that, leaving my roommate to continue the Martha ministry.

I got back and as I turned the door knob, the door flew open. I was dazed at the sight that welcomed me.

“Roomie, what are you doing?” I asked. Shock had made a writing pad out of my face.

“I’m trying to fry the eggs.” She responded, whisking the eggs with gusto. She didn’t even look up. I moved close to her.

“Without oil? Why did you break the eggs into the frying pan?” I threw the questions at her nonstop, still trying to figure out what magic she was conjuring.

“I want to copy your style.” She said with a tone of excitement. My eyes widened. I placed my hand on my chest and looked into the pan again. Who whisks eggs in a frying pan, I mean the frying pan they would use to fry the same eggs?

I had never in my years of cooking fried eggs that way. My oil always made its way into the pan before the eggs. This new method was strange. Was she going to fry the eggs without oil? Was she was going to pour the oil on the eggs? I couldn’t fathom what was happening.

“But I have never fried eggs like that.” I protested.

“Really? But I saw you frying that way one day.” She argued.

The last time I checked, I was not suffering from amnesia, at least not over something like my method of frying eggs. There was definitely a mix up somewhere.

I tried to rack my brain to remember the last time I fried eggs in her presence. I sure needed some proof to nullify her argument. I stood there still staring at my roommate whisking with her spirit, soul and body. Suddenly, memories came flashing.

I had once poured oil into the pan and broken eggs directly into hot oil, adding pepper and salt almost immediately. I whisked the eggs and all other ingredients in the oil that was on fire.

That was what she saw but she didn’t see the entire picture. I could not help laughing.

“Now I understand. What you must have seen was me breaking the eggs directly into a pan that already had oil in it.” I clarified.

“Exactly!”

“But there was oil in the pan.”

“Nooooooooo.”

“Yes! Hot oil at that, and the cooker was still lit.”

“Ahn ahn! No way!”

“Yes way o!”

She dropped the fork she was using all of a sudden, placed her hands on her chest and stared at the mixture in the pan. It dawned her that a mess was about to be made.

She opened her mouth.

“Ooooh! Maybe that’s what I saw for real o!”

“It’s not maybe. That was exactly what you saw.” I said authoritatively.

She rolled her eyes sideways for some seconds.

“To be honest with you, I actually didn’t see well. It was the point where you were whisking the eggs in the pan I noticed and I just assumed that what I was doing a while ago was what you did that day. Chai! I only made assumptions.”

I ignored her lamentations.

“Please pour the eggs in another bowl.” I advised. “I can’t imagine what we’re going to end up with if we try this your assumed method.” I said blankly.

I had not even finished giving the instructions before she jumped to pour the mixture into another bowl.

“Copy copy is bad o!” She exclaimed as she transferred the mixture into another bowl. “That’s how people copy others without knowing what exactly they are doing and how they are doing it.”

“Hmm… You’re so right. And I have had situations that taught me this lesson. There’s even one that happened just last week.

“Tell me something.”

“I will. Fry the eggs first.” She got the eggs fried in less than five minutes and I started the story.

“When I was handed over to as financial secretary of my faculty’s students’ association, I didn’t see the need to ask my predecessor about anything. I had her handover report and thought it was ‘just’ the job of a financial secretary. I had served in that capacity twice in my fellowship so I was good to go.

“OK…”

“I had also been with my predecessor a number of times while she was in office and all I saw her do was sign whatever requests came to her table.”

She jerked her head backwards, a frown had formed on her face.

“Ah! That’s wrong.”

“You know that too.” I took a deep breath. “Well, I knew, but only God knows why I didn’t question her.”

I could see the disappoinment on my roommate’s face.

“Unusual of you.”

“I hissed. “Did I say only God? I was simply dumb.”

“Ahnahn!”

“Yes now. So, when I got on board, I stupidly followed suit.”

My roommate placed her hands on her head. I cast a furtive glance at her and chuckled.

“Little did I know that something amazing was cooking under my nose, something that blew up badly!”

“Was it that serious? How didn’t I know?”

I raised my nose at her.

“Didn’t you just get back yesterday?”

“That’s true sha.” She said rubbing her cheeks.

“My sister, I thought I was going to die when the whole issue started but…”

I went down on my knees and raised my hands in the air.

My roommate moved uncomfortably on her bed. I could read the curiosity in her eyes.

“Stop the drama and tell me what happened now.”

“I kept signing until one day last week. The dean called for a meeting with all executive members of the faculty students’association.”

She flew from her bed.

“Chei! Kasala don burst.”

“Wait now. Have I said anything? He said some sort of money laundering had been complained about by students.”

“Gheghen.”

“I didn’t understand. I was just looking like a mumu. I didn’t believe what he said. I knew the people I was working with. They were ‘church’ people so I didn’t have any reason to believe they had been stealing.”

“So were they really stealing?”

“Hmm… My sister. Whenever they were going to make 500 pieces of notebooks, they would write 1000. What do we call that?”

“Ah!”

I clicked the roof of my mouth with my tongue.

“Yes. The president would sign and I would not even take the pain to check. Fiam! My pen would grace the request.”

She covered her mouth.

“Uhhh…” She shook her head for the umpteenth time.

“The day the bubble burst, I almost wet my pants.”

“God really saved you o.”

“You’ve not heard the details now. Farabale jare. The dean called me aside to ask what exactly happened. I couldn’t give an explanation.”

‘You cannot do this’ I heard him say, ‘We have to find out what happened to get you out of trouble. But girl, you are stupid.’

“I nodded. A flood was about to find its source in my eyes but I contained it. I wiped the drop that escaped with my little finger. But I was at least grateful that he trusted me.”

“Hmm…”

“Immediately I got home that day, I got on my knees.”

‘Father, I have been foolish and stupid not to ask questions. I have been silly to follow a pattern without thinking. I have been daft to trust anyone. But please deliver me from this trouble.’

“I cried till I could not utter a word.”

“Those your prayers were funny o.” She giggled.

“My sister, they were necessary.”

“So what happened afterwards?” She asked, placing her hands on her chin.”

“I began to carry the weight of the world since that day. Everyday I woke up, my heart was in my mouth. You needed to see me before yesterday.”

“Eeyah…”

“I didn’t hear anything about the issue until yesterday when the dean called me.”

“Wow!” My roommate moved from her bed and clung to me.

“‘Congratulations’ was all I heard.” I looked into my roommate’s eyes. “Roomie, I started dancing.”

“Without even knowing what he was congratulating you over.” She slapped my cheeks playfully.

“I tell you. It was when I got to the door of his office my heart started thumping again. I had actually applied for scholarship and he was following it up. He had told me two weeks before that he would give me the final response that day. So, when I remembered, my smile disappeared. My hands were slippery. I walked confidently to the front of his office but dragged myself inside.”

“Was it that bad?”

“Hmm… When I got in, he looked into my eyes for some minutes. At some point I had to look to the ground.”

‘Don’t be stupid next time.’ He advised.

‘Thank your stars! The culprits already confessed that you knew nothing about it and that they only took advantage of the fact that you never verified stuff. You don’t sign documents without reading or making the proper verifications. Only an illiterate would do what you did.’

“I’m not sure I even remembered to thank him. I flew out of his office at top speed.”

“Oluwa o. What a miracle! That was God in the building!” My roommate screamed, jumping all over the room!

“That was how I was vindicated o… Hmm…”

When she was done jubilating, she sat beside me and placed her hands on my shoulders.

“Ah! The Copycat life is dangerous. So just because you copied someone’s method without knowing what it entailed, you landed in trouble.”

“Yes. So you see, that method you wanted to use would probably have been a disaster.”

“Hmm… Fried eggs disaster! But it would have be an innovation nah.” She winked.

“Yes. A wasteful innovation with 150 naira worth of eggs in these ‘end times'”

We both laughed. The days close to the end of a semester when students did not have much money on them were referred to as end times’.

“This is a big lesson o. And we do this a lot. We copy people. We don’t understand the process beneath what we see. We just see a portion of the whole process and we screenshot that, gbam. In the end we complain that the method isn’t working or we get into trouble”

“Exactly!”

“Thank you for this insight, roomie.”

“It’s nothing. What are friends for? What I did is just as small as an elephant.” I said, flinging my hand in the air.

She was almost rolling on the floor. My stomach started protesting again.

“Can we eat now?”

My room mate held her chest trying to calm down from her bout of laughter. She dished the fried eggs into a plate and we ate our loaves of bread, chatting over some other things that had happened during the day.

…….……….
N.B: This is a work of fiction based on a true story.

©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

YOUR BRAND IS A UNIQUE SPICE

I was talking with a friend about how crazy I am over a particular brand of milk and only opt for others when my pocket says no. In contrast, my friend thinks another brand is better. In fact, she dislikes my choice brand because she feels it is overrated and her beloved brand tastes better.

I remember that during my national youth service year, I bought two packs of a brand of noodles one evening because I couldn’t get my favourite brand. Not quite long after I started cooking, the aroma began to pervade the whole place. I had to hold my breath at intervals because it was nauseating. Because I did not want to waste the food, I ate it holding my nostrils. The taste was not that bad, at least not as bad as the aroma so I could bear it. But after that time, I was done with the brand. You can imagine how I felt when one of my housemates kept hyping the brand.

A final example I’ll give is this: My handwriting varies with pens. I feel more comfortable using certain pen tips and struggle with some others. You may perceive my handwriting as legible in one notebook and awful in another. In fact for examinations, I use a particular brand to avoid stories that touch the heart (Although my notebook/paper type is also a contributing factor. I don’t know if this is a mind thing😀). So, I prefer certain pen brands to others.

You sure can relate with your preference for brands of clothes, accessories, toothbrushes, electronics, mobile devices, etc. For whatever reason, you’re stuck with some brands for life. Indeed, there are different strokes for different folks.

Everyone has been created and wired to meet a need whether in the business world, educational system, entertainment world, politics and government, etc. Each person has a unique calling and of course, the ultimate goal is that God is glorified.

Sadly, many people have not set to work for certain reasons. For some people, the challenge is that they do not know that they have an assignment to carry out. Some do but have not discovered what it is. A number of people have discovered what they ought to do but have refused to lift a finger because the zone they have been sent to appears to be flooded.

For people in the third category, their eyes are blinded to what difference they can make or what value they can add to their harvest fields. They have seen the path in which the Master wants them to walk. In fact, they have all it takes to carry out their tasks. But when they look around, they get discouraged. To them, everything is already being done.

The last set of people pictured above are my focus. Thinking that you cannot thrive or make impact in a space occupied by other people unveils your ignorance of what a unique spice your brand is. Each person is a different brand, that is, a unique spice imbued with a distinct flavour that someone somewhere needs.

Just like someone would find his taste buds salivating for particular brand of milk or pasta, there are people whose destinies are attached to yours and your distinct flavour is what will attract them and subsequently draw them into the life God will have them live. What you ‘sell’ and how you sell it meets them right at the point of their needs because you have been sent to them.

Friends, if you’re called to be a spice in Teenage ministry, fashion, politics or wherever, and you shrink back because looking around you observe that the space is crowded, you need to look again. There is a way you would reach out to those God has sent you to that no one else can no matter how hard they try. It’s your flavour, the unique selling point God has given you to fulfill purpose.

Honeywell Group won’t stop operating her flour mills because Dangote Flour Mills is thriving. There are people who will chase Honeywell products no matter what. The same applies to Dangote products. Don’t be threatened by the fact that many people are walking the same path as you.

Doesn’t it strike you how there are many bakeries, food companies, water factories, schools and yet, new ones still come up and become a centre of attraction for certain people because their products or services are cheaper, better, etc? Lanes may be similar but no two are exactly the same.

Just like you are grateful for those brands that unleash their flavours which thankfully, suit you better than all the others you see around, many lives are waiting for your brand’s flavour. Step out and unleash it. You’ve been sent some people and they are waiting for you even within that space you complain is filled up.

# midweekmeditations
# stepout
# stopholdingback
# ©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

BLACK

“Madam, could you please move over to the other side a little bit? This seat is wide enough for three of us to sit comfortably.” I didn’t know when I spilled it.

The seat was meant for four people yet we were just three and none of us was fat, so I wondered why this lady wanted to squeeze me against the body of the bus.
I felt a prick on my thigh. As I tried to figure out what had just happened, I saw her hand. She moved close to me. My blood was boiling.

“I don’t want that man to stain me.” She whispered.

I replayed the words in my head, trying to unravel the mystery that had just slipped from the lady’s mouth but it made no sense. ‘This babe is probably not feeling too well ‘upstairs’’, I thought.

As if she heard my thoughts, she opened her mouth again.

“Ma’am I have zero-tolerance for black people. I can’t stand their skin touching mine,” She said, making a funny face.

I opened my mouth and then closed it. I looked at the man and for the first time in the course of our journey, I noticed he was black, very black. But then, how was the black skin going to stain… ‘This woman is crazy!’

I wanted to ask her more about this phobia, hatred or whatever it was she had against black skinned men but the fear of experiencing another ‘breathtaking’ moment crippled me. I didn’t trust that the lady would not say any other thing to me so I turned towards the window. I was going to keep my face in that direction till we got to Ibadan. ‘Father, this one that I have to face one side ehn, please, don’t let my neck become stiff’, I prayed silently.

I was getting accustomed to my new position until about five minutes later when I felt someone’s body pressing against mine. I turned at the speed of light and there she was. This lady again! The black man had dozed off and his head was already resting on her shoulder. ‘Ah! This girl is not normal rara’, I thought.

“Wake him up now.” I suggested with a frown. She shook her head. She was shivering. I looked around. Most of the other passengers had dozed off and the ones that were awake cared less about what was happening. I ignored her and tapped him lightly. He was startled and when he realized what was going on, his face was painted with embarrassment.

“Oh! Ma’am, I’m sorry. It’s not my thing to sleep on a bus but I was really tired. Please, forgive me.” He said, adjusting himself on his seat. He moved to the other end and gave enough space for the lady to sit.

My eyes were glued to the man. His diction was out of this world. His teeth shone from a distance and the freshness in his breath was matchless.
I looked at the lady again, shook my head, sighed and returned my face to the window side.

In a few minutes, we were at our destination. I was more than glad to get off the bus. As I turned my head, I realized that my neck had not cooperated. It took some time to get it back to normal. No thanks to the lady!

As we got off the bus at Ojo, there were cabs waiting to take people to their destinations. I was about boarding a bus going to Mokola when my brother’s call came in. My mum was sick and was demanding to see me. Old people and their babyish attitudes! I could have gone the next day but since I got to Ibadan around 2 pm, I decided to go straight to Lagos and return to Ibadan the next day because I had to be at work on Monday.

I looked around the park for a car that was headed for Lagos. I didn’t want the bus wahala a second time. I spotted the next in line and sat in the car together with two other people, waiting for the last passenger. Trying to quickly reply some messages on my phone, I heard the back door on the other side open and the man beside me stepped out. I was relieved. As I looked up, I was covered with sweat.

“What is this?” I muttered beneath my breath. I could not cry. The lady was going my way again and I was going to be with her for another two hours or more. The worst part was that because she was the last passenger, the man had alighted for her to sit in the middle. ‘Disaster!’ She seemed happy as she had so much to tell me about her ‘condition’.

“Sis, I couldn’t tell you everything in the bus. Actually, I just feel that man is dirty. Didn’t you notice how black his skin is? She asked, caressing her skin. In fact, I cannot marry a black person”, she continued. “How will I allow him to touch me? Chai! Tufiakwa!”

I stared at her skin. Hers was an escape from albinism. ‘Quite beautiful!’

“My sister, it has taken me so much time and money to maintain this skin. No black skinned person should come and ruin my efforts o.” She said, flaunting her skin in my face.

Everything I was seeing and hearing appeared like what one would see in a movie. To me, she was spitting gibberish!

“Do human beings like this exist or is this a dream?” I asked beneath my breath, pinching myself.

If only she knew that she was suffering from chronic halitosis and I was only tolerating her for the love of God, she would have shut her mouth and just appreciate the goodness in the black man instead. ‘See pot calling kettle black.’

Seeing that I didn’t utter a word and that all the while she talked, I only nodded, she hissed and turned her face away. That was good riddance! But deep within, I had a feeling that there was more to her hatred for black men. In fact, I felt strongly in my spirit that it was beyond a problem of skin colour. I wanted to probe further but I couldn’t afford to stress my nostrils.

I was usually very cautious whenever boarding a vehicle but I had not bothered to look at the face of the person sitting beside the driver. Well, it was not too late. I was seated directly behind him so I tried to do my scanning through the side mirror and what I saw made me freeze. The black man! The face in the mirror looked really calm and cute. ‘To hell with the zero tolerance nonsense or whatever the lady called it!’

I was still trying to get out of my shock when she dialed a number and the phone of the black man rang almost at the same time. He picked up his call and the most shocking scene I had ever experienced in my life played out right before me. The lady was to attend an interview in a company the two days later and the man happened to be the human resources manager of the company. He looked back and their eyes met.

The next few moments seemed black to me. Abi how else would I describe that? This black man definitely knew how much this lady had painted him black with her mouth. What was going to happen? I tapped my leg on the floor of the cab rhythmically, waiting to see the end of the movie.

We finally arrived at Lagos after about two and half hours and just before the man alighted, he turned to her.

“Ma’am I’m sorry for any inconveniences I caused you on the bus. I’m really sorry. We’d be expecting you at the interview on Monday morning at 8.00 am. And please, forget about what happened today. I hold nothing against you. Enjoy the rest of the day.”

“Wonderful! I said, clapping my hands, “This is a real man!” The driver nodded in agreement.

I saw tears roll down the lady’s face as she watched him walk away. I was going to leave her alone when I felt a strong restraint in my spirit. “Don’t leave her helpless. Your paths didn’t cross by coincidence.” I knew that voice. I gave her a tight hug and when I felt a release, I pushed her away from me slightly and spoke to her.

“Ma’am, you’re definitely very beautiful but you have to learn to tolerate people and accept the inadequacies youthink they have. And there’s nothing wrong with being black. I may not understand your perspective but you sure need to reset your mind.” I said, squeezing her arms. “I think we need to talk. Here’s my card.”

I hugged her again. “You have chronic halitosis. I mean you have a really bad breath and you’d need to see a doctor. I would be very willing to help.” I whispered into her ears. “My name is Pat.”

“Sonia”

********

She was in my office about a week later.

“I got the job.” She said.

“You’re joking!”

“In fact, that black man helped me a great deal.”

“Wow! What a white heart he’s got!” I said, chuckling.

“I’m resuming next month and even though I thought he may be a threat because of what I did to him the other time, he has been transferred to another branch of the company so it was not like he wanted to retaliate or something.”

“This man na Superman o!” I said, holding out my fists. She sighed.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“I think you’re right. I need a mind makeover.” She said, bursting into tears. She obviously had had a reservoir for them. “I was almost raped by a neighbour when I was only six. In fact, it was a very narrow escape.”

I took a deep breath. The smile on my face was nowhere to be found.

“And you know what?” she continued, “He was black, very black. Since that time I never wanted to have anything to do with any black man.”

“Hmm… Now I see where you’re coming from. I understand you perfectly. You need help. I’ll hook you up with one of my friends who is a pro at handling cases like this. But first of all, you need to meet Jesus. No matter how much therapy you go through, it would be insufficient without the ‘Jesus therapy’.”

“Yeah… I’ve been running from Him. But I think I’m seeing Him in you and I want Him.” She smiled.

I led her to Christ and hooked her up with one of my very good friends, a therapist who counseled people like her and walked them through the healing process. As an E.N.T specialist, I walked her through halitosis and as a Christian, I discipled her in her walk with God.

Three years down the line, she had undergone an intense mind makeover. Halitosis? I’m not she even remembers that the word exists. Her walk with God? Hotter than fire! Her life began to challenge even me.

She was in my house one evening all bright and bubbly. Guess who came along with her-the black man!

“I thought every black man had a black mind but I was the one who had a black mind. Now I’m getting married to a black man with a very white heart and mind.” She said.

It was as if laughing gas was sprayed in my sitting room. We couldn’t help it!

____________________________

Pat, I understand that you may get to meet some people like Sonia regularly. They may be unlovable but your duty is to show them love. You may get to find out that they’re just wearing masks like Sonia and you’re the helper they need to be unmasked. Please don’t ignore them.

Sonia, please stop hiding from the things you need to deal with while pointing at the log you think you’re seeing in other people’s eyes. I pray you find a Dr. Pat to help you get yourself back because I know you need her. But while you wait, you owe yourself the responsibility of opening up so that you can heal. Unmask, Sonia, unmask slowly till Pat comes.

Hey, Black man. You’re a real man. I call you superman. Keep being yourself. I know your colleagues may say you’re stupid and silly. Don’t mind them. You’re the kind of man we need around. Things are a whole lot easier with men like you. Cheers to your kind of breed!

# fiction
©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

A LETTER TO BETHA

I picked up my phone and saw that it was a little past midnight. My eyes were red, swollen and watery. I rummaged the little bag beside my bed for a handkerchief. I couldn’t find it so I ran to the bathroom. I blew my nose till I felt the moistness had waned. I had been battling with a terrible cold for about three days, but this night, it had worsened.

The turn of events earlier that day had hit me like a tornado. And to think that my so called Christian brothers were the ones who kept throwing stones at me since I became a Christian. Hmm… I was almost tired of my new life.

“A leopard cannot change its spots.” The words kept ringing in my ears. Betha was referring to me as she spoke to the Bible study group members. I had observed that every time she saw me, it was as if she was saddened by my new life. I thought she ought to be happy that I had been snatched from the pit of hell. But no! She was always painting the picture of my past whenever she had the platform to do so.

My past had been terrible, yes! She knew me when we were both undergraduates. We were roommates. She was aware of all my escapades back then. She wasn’t even a Christian at that time, though she was an unrepentant moralist. But, I had turned over a new leaf. What else did I need to do? I cried my eyes out when I got back from church that evening. That was the coal in the fire of my flu.

I sat in my bed, staring into space. “But wait. Is it true that I am still dirty, that my past would never be forgiven, that God still sees me as filthy? Am I really a leopard?” I asked those questions in confusion. I got no response in my three and half hours of crying and querying. So, when I was exhausted, I decided to go back to sleep. That was the best way I knew to drown my worries.

Immediately I lay on the bed, 2 Corinthians 5:17 came to mind. Ah! How did I forget? As I pondered on it, another verse showed up and then others verses that affirm my newness in Christ started rushing in like an uncontrollable flood. How did I get so overwhelmed that I forgot all these?

I stood up, sat at my desk, picked my pen and began to write:

_________________

“Dear Betha,

I started out walking the road of life staggering. I never understood that I was created by God for a purpose and so I lived my life the way I deemed fit. I was directionless. I battled with addictions and whatever evil vices you could name. I had attitude problems. I didn’t know how to relate with people, I had self esteem issues. You know many of these things. Uh! I don’t like remembering them.

I was not the kind of person you could call good or sweet. In fact, when you saw me, the words that came to your mind were: dirty, saucy, snobbish, brute, bad, filthy useless and everything negative. The image you had of me was etched on the pages of your mind. And over the years, as you flipped through each page, you kept seeing them.

As time went by, the wind of change swept over me. Things began to turn around. I began to realize who I really am and how I had been living in contrast to who I was made to be. Knowing I could not continue this way, I rolled up my sleeves and set to work. Bad attitudes slowly made their way out, sauciness gave way for sweetness. Honestly, I am a new person. I have learnt. I am still learning. But, there’s still one big problem I have and that problem is you.

Yes, you. You who know only the story of my past and have chosen to run with it till your dying day. You who have locked up the portion of your heart where you stored the initial impressions you ever had of me and have let them becloud your mind. You forget or probably don’t know that the person you saw last year can never be exactly the same person you’ll see in two years time because he would have changed either for better or worse. And I have changed for better.

So, how do I erase the initial pictures you had of me? How do I convince you to give me a second chance? I really don’t know and at this point, I really think I should not bother my pretty little head because at least I got a second chance.

Yes, I did. Some people saw the changes and acknowledged them. They gave me a second chance. God, my Father, who knew how weak and helpless I was also came to my rescue. He saw my sincerity and let me shock you- He has given me more than a second chance at life. Oh, yeah! He gives me several chances each day I open my eyes to behold the earth’s brightness.

So why do I need to bother about you who have chosen to crucify me? I will accept the second chances given to me by God and others. I would give myself second chances. I would maximize these chances. And really, have you always been perfect from the start? Didn’t you at some point in your life need a second chance? If you didn’t get it, would you be where you are?

I am not proud of my past neither do I seek to justify it, but I can’t let it hold me down-never! The tag I now carry reads ‘New’. There’s more to me than your opinions or feelings. They are lies the devil is using you to hawk and I can’t afford to mortgage quality living because of them.

The Bible tells me in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.” Do I need to explain that?

Those who have smelt the fragrance of my new life can tell that the pictures of me you have are obsolete. You would need to remove them from those walls where they are hung, but if you don’t want to, it’s up to you!

Yours Sincerely,

Charity.
_________________

I can’t explain what joy filled my heart that night. I was going to close my journal when I had a strong urge that she needed to read it. Read kini? “What for?” I thought. After struggling with the thought for two days, I found myself at Betha’s house. I didn’t say a word. I just handed her the letter immediately she opened the door and went my way.

When I told my mum what I had done, she thought it was a bad idea to let Betha see the letter and that I should have kept it to myself. Mum was almost always right about these kind of things. I had only worsened the situation but I knew that urge was not ordinary since I couldn’t suppress it.

I was beginning to scold myself, thinking I had made one of the most irreparable mistakes of my life until she showed up in my house two evenings later. This time she was the one with swollen eyes and a runny nose. The next thing I knew was that we were locked in each other’s arms till I could feel tears and mucus dripping down my body. I moved away from her gently to clean the mess.

“Charity, will you give me a second chance, please?”

I don’t know how that question melted all the pain in It was like I was experiencing a ‘love rush’ on the inside and I just wanted to pour it out. At last, the debate on whether or not it was stupid to give her the letter to read didn’t count anymore.

I nodded and helped her wipe her tearstained eyes. As I led her into my sitting room, the glow I saw in her face was out of this world. And the peace I felt on the inside? It was priceless!

# fiction

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If you’re like Betha, remember that everyone, no matter how terrible their past is, deserves a second chance. Christ died for us all. Be careful, lest you become an Antichrist.

If you fit into Charity’s picture, I’m sorry about the pain you may be going through. I can’t promise you that all the ‘Bethas’ would change. But you can rest assured that as long as you’ve embraced the gift of salvation Christ offers, and you keep walking in this newness of life, you have an amazing identity in Him that no one’s opinion can tamper with. Bask in it!

# midweekmeditations
©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

NKECHI

Thinking about Nkechi this evening, I can only hear my stomach rumble. I can even hardly breathe. The picture that keeps coming before me is that of my my spirit, soul and body rising like an army being alerted for war. It’s that bad!

I want to forget the whole episode. I really do but I can’t help it. I expected more from someone like her or maybe I didn’t, but she fumbled. I know I’ll get over it. Of course, I will. In fact, that’s why I want to tell you about it. My burden would be lighter that way. I also think you’d love to hear about it. So I’ll tell you.

It was yesterday evening that this drama unfolded. Nkechi and I had agreed to meet at her place for our regular prayer meeting. Oh! I forgot to tell you about her. Nkechi is my friend and prayer partner. We attend the same church. That’s enough news for the moment.

The prayer was scheduled to begin at 5.00 pm but I finished late from work so I decided not to go home. If I had gone home ehn, this week’s prayer meeting would have taken place in the spirit and since we had successfully missed three weeks consecutively. I felt we had stayed away from our communal prayer long enough. I was already feeling spiritually drained and needed some push.

As I walked down the street that led to her house, I remembered that the last prayer request she had shared with me was about two job offers she had received. As you might have rightly guessed, one was more juicy than the other. The difference was very clear; it was as clear as the gap between 5 digits and 7 digits. Ehnehn! You understand what I’m talking about abi?

See, I’m not that kind of person that believes that the will of God is usually the worst of the options you have. Mba! I call that a beautifully nonsensical mindset, I mean rádaràda! It doesn’t always work that way. In fact, I was going to tell her to just opt for the job with the higher pay.

She was preparing for her father’s burial, running her PhD programme at the University of Lagos and had the school fees of her two younger siblings to pay. Ah! My people, that was the logical thing to do. But the faith side of me cautioned me. That part of me always reminds me that not all juicy offers come by divine providence and that I need to seek God’s face concerning every matter. So, I ‘chillaxed’ and agreed to pray along with her.

Honestly, when I prayed, I was at peace with the higher paying job but I wanted her to tell me what she had heard from God. We had not seen since then and all the times we chatted, she never mentioned it. I know you would blame me for not asking. I accept my fault, but then, I wanted her to take the lead. I’m not even sure this reason makes sense but anyway that’s my reason.

The most painful thing that is making me rant like this tonight is that while I was sweating it out, asking God to reveal His will, my friend, Nkechi was busy waiting for me to respond. She did not pray o. Hmm… How did I know?

I got to her house at about 4.40pm yesterday evening since I went straight from work. It was Tolu, her younger sister who opened the door for me. Don’t get confused about the names. Nkechi’s mum is Yoruba while her dad is Igbo so each child was given at least one Yoruba name and Tolu loved her Yoruba name more for reasons I can’t explain.

“Sister Toosin welcome. It’s been a long while you came around. Are you fighting with us?” The words rolled out like they were coming out of a tap that had lost its control.

Tolu did not disappoint me. She jumped at me. I pushed her away gently. She could be all over me till eternity if I let her. Tolu was the mushy kind of girl, always behaving like a cat. She either wanted to rest her head on your shoulder, lean on you or play with your hair or fingers. Chai! I’m usually irritated by it but Nkechi seems to enjoy every bit of it and had once accused me of being unromantic. Taah! What is romantic about all of that?

I sat on the two-seater at my favourite angle- the left wing in the living room of their three bedroom bungalow.

“You’ve started again, sister Toosin. Your husband will try o.” She whined. I stared at her blankly. She made a funny face at me. I eyed her. I didn’t understand why I was so touchy. I think it was beyond the girl being mushy. I honestly felt she was lousy and I disliked lousy people.

“Lord, I’m a love being. Help me to love this girl as annoying as she may be.” I muttered beneath my breath. I decided to strike a conversation with her to start my love lessons, but before I could open my mouth, she opened hers. Ah! Talking machine!

“Your friend is praying o. I don’t know when she will come out. She locked herself up in the room since morning. I’ve never seen her pray that long.” She said.

For a second, I thought I was in the wrong house. Nkechi that I was begging to increase our prayer time together from one hour to two. Chei! She came out after a few minutes. The sweat that was dripping from her body could fill a 25 litre gallon. I leaped from where I was seated.

“Kabaya! Babe, within three weeks that we’ve not seen, you’ve become a prayer machine. My Father, my Father!” I said, stamping my feet on the marble tiled floor.

“My sister, na so we see am o. Na condition bend crayfish.” She replied, blushing.

“You need to take a bath, madam.” I blurted, frowning at the drops of sweat I saw dripping from her body onto the sofa in which she reclined. Her eyes caught mine.

“That’s true o. But, you get irritated by little things. God needs to deliver you from this your spirit of intolerance o. I’m sure your little pet must have gotten a taste of this ‘iron’ attitude today.” She teased, poking my nose. She was referring to her sister. I raised my eyelids. ‘I’m praying to love her’, I muttered to myself. Nkechi was back in about five minutes.

“So tell me, how far with the job issue? This one that you’re now high on ‘prayerdol’, you for don see revelation o.” I chuckled.

“My sister. I’ve decided to choose the one with the higher pay.”

My heart leaped. I was glad that at least I didn’t see fìrífìrí or ìríkúrìí. Almost immediately I felt the atmosphere change. It was tense, very tense.

“Nkechi, did you really pray about it?” I asked.

I didn’t know where the question came from. In fact, when I heard myself ask her, I knew I had lost control of my speech. This girl had smoked prayer weed and I was asking a stupid question.

“My sister, I permuted and combined the thing o.”

Fears confirmed! I scratched the back of my head.

“Repete!” I ordered in French.

She twisted her neck like a child disagreeing with her mother’s instructions.

“I cannot tell you lies o. Since that day I told you about it, I didn’t pray. I weighed all the responsibilities before me and boom, I choose the best option.”

My eyeballs must have tripled in size at that moment.

“Nkechi!”

“My sister, there are better things to pray about. There are more sensitive issues concerning which I need to seek God’s face. This is only a simple job offer nah.” She interrupted.

I nodded severally. “Ehnehn… Please educate me, ma.” I stretched forth my right hand and balanced the left on my waist. “Sensitive issues like…”

She adjusted herself in her seat.

“Good question! Like marriage. You know, choosing who to spend the rest of your life with is very crucial.”

The alarm in my head rang.

“Ehnehn, I didn’t know that marriage is a sensitive issue. I thought it was a trivial one.” I replied.

“You’re so sarcastic! Well, that ‘see and talk’ girl must have told you I’ve been praying since morning.”

“Yes, she has.”

“Bro. Titus came about a week ago to propose to me. Two days after, John came and then Olu. I had to embark on serious marathon prayer and fasting last week to know which of them is God’s will for me.”

I was already choking. My eyes were turning. If my hand had made its way to her face, the stamp that would have been set on it would have been brutal. I was trying to contain the rage within me. Don’t even tell me I have anger issues.

“The prayers you met me on are for the same reason o. Nothing more.”

Shey you now see that my anger is a holy one. What guts!

“Nkechi! Ah! When we were going to select excos for the fellowship and you were the nominating committee chairperson, it was suggested that we pray for 3 hours every week. You were the one who reduced it to 1. When you were to relocate here and I asked you to pray about it, you took it lightly. What about the converts we had from our last evangelism that I suggested we pray for at least once a week? You have said nothing about it till date.”

I paused to clear the phlegm that had formed in my throat.

“I was already blaming myself for not asking about the job not knowing you weren’t praying about it. Now it is time to make a choice of whom to marry, you have joined the fire brigade. Congratulations on on your induction.”

I stopped to cast a long glance at her. I noticed she wanted to say something but then I raised my right hand in her face.

“Who even told you that anyone of them is the one? You cannot tarry in God’s presence for instructions on seemingly little matters, how do you want to know what He has to say about this one?”

“Calm down nah, sister of God.” She finally burst out. It was as if she added coals to the fire in my head. Calm down where? Did she think I was joking?

“Hehehe! Sister Nkechi of God, choosing the right set of people to watch over the the brethren is not sensitive; your career is not sensitive; praying for a convert is not sensitive.” I said, a clap ringing each time I uttered the last syllable of the word ‘sensitive’. “Thank you for ruining my evening. I see you when I see you!”

I stormed out of the house. Yesterday evening was bad. My anger has subsided now sha. But I don’t understand. I really don’t. Why would someone be this selfish in prayer? Why should this marriage menene be the only one over which some people want to die to know God’s will. I’m just wandering in wonder o. And I know that some of you reading this are like Nkechi.

Don’t you know that the issue of making choices is a chain reaction? Don’t you know that the choice of whom to marry is just one link in that chain? Why would you place so much attention on one facet of your life and isolate it from the so many others that are definitely and obviously connected to it?

Why would you think that God’s will has no place in some areas of your life? What if God wanted to tell you to wear that dress, take that route, go to that programme, say that word, take that course, trash that habit, write that article etc., and in that way connect you with the ‘him’ or ‘her’? When you don’t let Him lead you to make those choices in the chain, what happens?

I don’t understand o. I’m just thinking about these things. Maybe you need to think about them too.

Right now, I just want to put a call through to Nkechi to apologise for yesterday. The sun of yesterday already went down on my anger. That’s a very bad one on my part. Today is almost gone. I also need to call that Tolu girl and start showing her some love. This touchy nature must die! I’m going to make things right while I leave you to answer the questions.

# fiction
©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

THE BLUE DIAMOND RACE

Can you just imagine that life is on hold for the next few seconds you’ll be reading this? I honestly think you need to relax and get what I’m about to share right about now straight.

Sit back and take a deep breath. Let go of all the stress and worries that have plagued your heart and mind. Do not proceed until you’ve done that. This may sound like a joke but I am serious.

Okay… Let’s get started!

We know a lot of things about life but understand very little about it. Certain cliches ring here and there about life but we just hear and use them without trying to unravel the meanings they are pregnant with. Three of these cliches come to mind as I write this: life is a battle, life is a journey and life is a race. I’d dwell on the last one.

Truly, life is a race, but many of us have not taken time to really uncover what kind of race it is. We’ve been running so blindly that at the point we are right now, some of us know next to nothing about this race. We keep running and are already exhausted when we’ve not even reached a quarter of the race. How sad!

I’ve come to understand that this race called life is unique in itself. Trust me, it’s like no other. Speaking of the conventional types of races you know, they’re sure not like this one. I’d like to share with you four things I discovered about this race. And when you chew on these, you’ll uncover a lot more. Let’s go!

First is that it’s customized. We’re competing with no one. The physical race usually involves trying to outrun someone for a prize. But see, there’s nobody whose speed in running this race hampers your winning. You have a customised pace and if you work with that, you’ll be just fine. There’s a Yoruba adage that says not to run with another man’s clock. You get that?

Another truth is that everyone can win. The reason you’re all worked up is because you probably don’t know this and if you do, you’ve not come to terms with it. It’s not about who began the race before who. As long as you can run the race well and get to the finish line, you’re a winner. Never should you think that the fact that some people seem to be far ahead of you reduces your chances of winning. Heaven no!

Notable also is the fact that injuries don’t stop you from getting to the finish line except you allow them. You see, in a conventional race, people who get injured hardly have the hope of winning that race. But in this race called life, you can get up, clean up, let your wounds heal, get back on track again and still become a winner.

Finally, you can take a break. Yes, you can. And in fact, you need to. As you run this race, there are points you’ll need to pause on your track to look back, see where you’re coming from, where you are and where you’re going to (which is a crazy thing to do in a conventional sprint or marathon).

You need to check whether you’re on track. You need to refresh yourself, check your strategies and if need be, do a remapping for the rest of the race ahead. Just be careful not to take the ‘forever’ kind of breaks. It’s true you have a customised clock but it doesn’t stop. It keeps ticking.

What I shared above constitute what I would call a tip of the iceberg with regards to the typicalities of this race called life. Now, I hope you can see that it’s unique as blue diamond. I hope I didn’t waste your time and even if you had thought about these things earlier, a reminder doesn’t hurt, does it?

So, what do you need to do today? Take a break? Wake up from sleep? Trash the comparison mentality? Whatever it is, just do it.

In all of these, please don’t forget that we did not come here on our own volition. We were sent here and so we must run this race as the Creator designed from the beginning of time. The goal is to please Him.

Now, think about the other cliches about life. What do they really mean? What should you be doing with the light that flashes in your heart from the understanding of their true meaning?

# midweekmeditations
# runningpurposefully
# runningwithunderstanding

©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

ADVANCED SEARCH

I had been looking for a particular receipt so that I could collect my departmental package but I couldn’t find it. Every morning, I remembered that I had a package to collect, I would hurriedly check through my file folders but I did not see it.

I was so sure the receipt was in my folder but I got confused at some point. I let it lie and discarded the thought of collecting my package for over three months.

I got back to school and the desire welled up in me again, not just to collect my package but also to find my receipt simply because I had to find it.

So one weekend, I looked at the place where I kept my files and said to myself, “Today, I must look for this receipt and find it. It is not missing. It is here.”

I brought out all the folders and began my search with the folder I believed I had put it, the same folder I had been checking almost every morning about three months before.

This time, instead of checking hurriedly, I took time check through the documents carefully. They were arranged in groups so I would pick one group and search through thoroughly.

I had only lifted a bound pile of documents when my receipt smiled at me. It was there all the while but I didn’t see it. I couldn’t have seen it.

The mistake I repeatedly made was searching in a hurry every morning when I was almost late or when I was under pressure. I was never intentional about looking for it.

I was thinking about the experience as I stared at the receipt and God made me understand that we often do a lot of scanty search in our sojourn through life.

We don’t tarry. We want to get instructions urgently. We want situations settled at the snap of our fingers. We want to be the best without going through the pain of becoming. We want working relationships without wanting to take responsibility. We want to scratch the surface and get the best but, things don’t work that way.

Have you ever used the google advanced search option? Ahah! You know it’s not the general kind of search. It is specific. It is streamlined. In fact, I would say it is deeper than the general search.

We have to tarry, to stand on the watch tower, to dwell in the secret place, stay in the refinery, undergo adequate training, cultivate depths and build full capacity to live quality lives.

We are not called to pity depths or dread them, we are called to dig into them and excavate the treasures that lie in them.

Have an awesome week ahead!

LACED WITH GRACE (FREE BIRTHDAY E-BOOK)

Yippeeee! It’s my birthday! Happy birthday to my twin brother and me. Oh, yeah! I am a twin. I have an amazing twin brother and I’m grateful for us.

I’ve been preparing for my birthday for a long time because it’s a special one. I was thinking of how I’d love to receive gifts when it struck me that instead of expecting any gift this year, I should give something, especially to my younger friends.

Every time I’ve thought about my life in the past few months, my conclusion is that my life is laced with God’s grace.

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Outwardly, you may see someone who is all smiles and wish you had life all figured out and smooth like he/she does not knowing that this happy soul has had his/her fair share of life’s challenges and struggles.

I’ve not always been the best of humans and I’m still not. I’ve not always experienced the best of life’s weather. But I make bold to say that I am one who is greatly helped by the Lord.

It’s not just me. There are several others like me who who rose from the mire by God’s grace and are making impacts for the Kingdom in diverse ways.

In this book, some of these people have shared their stories to strengthen your heart and to make you know that with whatever you’ve been through or whatever weaknesses or flaws you have, you can still become all that God wants you to be.

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This book is a gift from me to you. I do pray that it blesses you greatly and that after you read it, you’ll rise from the dust and sit on your throne ’cause it was custom made for you.

You can download a copy here Laced with Grace(E-book)

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Please keep me in your prayers and feel free to drop your comments in the comment box.

I cherish you.

Oluwatoosin

SAPPHIRE (The Final Episode)

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The new week was uneventful for Sapphire. Pain was boldly written on her face. She tried hard but she was in the doldrums.  As she sat in her office, she remembered one of her encounters with a prophet some months back. Very unusually of her, she had decided to go see a prophet. The thought came out of the blues and without thinking she gave in to it. Till date, she didn’t understand why she took that step.

She got to know about Pastor Ben through one of her colleagues in the office who attended his church. Chinyere and Sapphire were not close pals but each time they had the chance to talk, it was always Pastor Ben this, Pastor Ben that. What made Sapphire consider the prophet was that Chinyere had mentioned how the man was a professional at helping people who had delay in getting hooked and how he was the one who God used to change her own story.

The day she visited Pastor Ben was one that would never be erased from her memory. She was uneasy about it but she ignored it.

“Feelings ehn, they try to draw you away from your blessings. That was how I did not want to go to church last week Sunday. See what I would have missed. After all, I’m not going to a herbalist’s place.” Sapphire had convinced herself.

She had waited for over five hours in Pastor Ben’s visitors’ room before he finally attended to her. She was exhausted and famished but her quest wouldn’t let her move an inch from the place she sat. She was desperate!

“I’m so sorry for keeping you waiting sister…” He looked at her face like he was going to see the name written on it.

“Sapphire.” She helped him out.

“Sapphire! What a fantastic name for a ravishing beauty like you!” He said, sitting on the magnificent red sofa in the room. The sofa was built in such a way that it could accommodate at least five people conveniently but she remembered that Chinyere, during one of her blabbing sessions had told her that no one else could sit on the chair apart from Pastor Ben himself. She wondered why one person would have a special seat as large as that. The colour also nauseated her but she cast her mind off everything she saw.

Pastor Ben’s voice interrupted her thoughts.

“Yes! So, you need a husband urgently, right?”

“Yes, I do sir.” The words struggled to make their way out of her throat.

“You’re in the right place my sister. You see, the will of God is that you should be married.”

Her eyes were glued to him.

“But the problem of you people nowadays is that you don’t know how to take what rightfully belongs to you.” He said, beating the back of one hand on the other palm.

Sapphire nodded.

“See, if you like a man, you can claim him. Didn’t the scriptures tell you to ask and it shall be given to you? The word of God says you should decree a thing and it shall be established. Are you following me sister?”

“Yes sir.”

“Wait. Let me ask you. Is there somebody in view?”

Ermm… Yes sir. We broke up some time back and I think he is seeing someone else.”

“My father, my father! Sister, you are sleeping o.” He thrust his head forward and continued.  “There are so many godly ways to claim him back. You cannot just sit and be waiting for the will of God and expect it to come. The Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force. Ji! Ma sun.” He roared.

“Hmm…”

“Faith without works is dead my sister, dead! Rabashanda!”

“Amen!”

“I’m sure you’ve been delighting yourself in the Lord and He’s ready to grant the desires of your heart.”

“Amen!”

“By the way, you must be over 27 now.”

“How did you know sir?”

“Daughter of Zion, I am a servant of God. The Spirit of God cannot lie.” He said, chortling.

“Indeed sir.” She affirmed, nodding like an agama lizard.

“So, you waited this long to possess your possession? Chai! Rebohanda! The Spirit is even telling me that there is a brother in view.”

“That is very true sir. You asked me earlier.” She said, scratching her head.

“Uhm… Yes. This is a confirmation. Get up sister!” Sapphire sprung up from her seat. “This case is simpler than you can imagine.”

“Alright sir.”

“All you need is the anointing for attraction.”

She was getting uncomfortable. She knew that witchcraft had saturated the atmosphere but she kept her cool. She had slotted in the movie. She was going to watch it till the end.

He went inside and brought out a bottle of oil. It was well packaged with his name boldly printed on it.

“I’ve prayed over it, sister! Go and possess your possession.”

“Thank you very much sir.” She opened her purse and ran her hands through the compartments.

“Oh. No…no… It’s when you see the miracle that you should come back to thank God. You will definitely pay my sister, but not now.”  He said, smiling.

Something about the smile made her miss her steps as she made her way out of the house.

“Thank you very much sir. I will definitely come and testify to God’s goodness.”

As she got into the car, her heart skipped a bit. She looked at the bottle and knew immediately that she didn’t have the liver  to keep it. She trashed it as she drove home. It was after some time she discovered that if she had used the oil, her story would have changed drastically. She would have become an eternal slave to the man as she leant that those who he helped could never go out of his reach. That included Chinyere.

Sapphire almost died when she finally got to know what the so called man of God had up his sleeves. She would have become one of his victims too.

She shook her head and sighed.

“What exactly is wrong with me? I’m not normal o. Why am I this desperate? I need deliverance bajebaje.” Her phone rang. It was an unfamiliar number.

“Good morning, Sapphire.”

“Good morning, sir. Please may I know who I’m speaking with?” She muttered.

“My name is Jude Ayoade, Mercy’s brother.”

“Oh! Mr. Jude. How are you doing?”

“Very well. Thank you. Are you fine? You sound cold?”

“Yes, I am.” Why does he think I sound cold? All these brothers dem. Shey I should start jumping because he called ni?

 

“Anyways, when would you be free this weekend? I would like us to hang out.” Sapphire’s head sparked. This man does not even know the right time to call? Abi what is this now?

“Are you still there?”

“Yes sir. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” She said, lifting her nose.

“Alright. I’ll be expecting your call.” He said and hung up.

“Who is this one again now? What exactly does he want? These brothers should just leave me nah abi  what is it?”

She was still ranting when she heard a knock on her door. She wasn’t expecting anybody.

“Come in.”

Sapphire froze at the sight of her august visitor.

“Can I sit?”

“Sure sir! Good morning sir.” She greeted, quivering.

“Sapphire, Silverberry is in distress.” The CEO began.

Sapphire pinched herself.

“Sir, I don’t seem to get that, I mean…”

“Sapphire, I mean Silverberry is under serious threat.”

She still didn’t understand what he was saying.

“But sir, what is wrong with Silverberry? We don’t have any issues. We’re financially stable, we don’t owe anyone and we deliver on time.” She said, looking lost.

“Sapphire.”

“Sir.”

“You’re the reason Silverberry is in trouble.”

She pointed at herself. He nodded. Sapphire thought her ears were in tune with another universe that morning. How would the CEO say that she, Sapphire, the winner of the most dependable staff of the year award for three years running was a threat to a company to which she had given her best?

“What is wrong with you?”

“Nothing sir.”

“The last report you gave me was terribly prepared. The one you gave me this morning too had several missing digits. If you keep missing out details like this, there’ll be trouble one day.”

Sapphire held her chest.

“You have been a very detailed and efficient staff so I want to know what is wrong. I am like a father to every member of staff in this company you and so I insist on knowing, else…”

Sapphire did not know when tears began to roll down her face. Like someone under a spell, she let everything out.

“Sapphire, aren’t you a Christian?”

“I am sir.”

“So why are you giving yourself so much stress on such a flimsy thing as this. Let me tell you my dear, whatever is yours is yours and what is not yours is not. Can you repeat what I just said to yourself?”

“Whatever is mine is mine and whatever is not mine is not mine.”

“God’s will for you is very important. Have you even taken time to seek what His will concerning this matter is? Have you asked Him to give you a clear word? Did He say it’s this Jerry or why the fuss?”

She bent her head and sighed.

“I think you should give yourself a break and keep your eyes on God.” He said as he stood up to leave.

“Thank you sir. I’m grateful.”

“You’re most welcome. Meanwhile, you should work on those files again. I’ll send someone to bring them.” He said, shutting the door behind him.

She remembered her encounter with Mrs. Wilson two years earlier and was disappointed in herself. She should have learnt. She wanted to pray but felt this sharp pang of guilt.

She decided to drown her emotions so she turned on her data and began to scan through her Whatsapp messages. She saw a message from her mum. Strange, she thought. They had been trying to convince her to use social media platforms for ages but she always gave the excuse that social media could be enslaving.  She was eager to see her mum’s first message.

Sapphire, always remember that you’ve got worth;

Great worth

Even when you mess up

It doesn’t reduce that worth

Carry yourself like a queen

Because that is who you are

And the King loves you no matter what.

 

Sapphire read the message three more times. It became crystal clear. Mothers are witches. She turned off her data connection and picked a pen and paper.

Sweet Father,

I know I’m messing up so badly right now. I don’t even know what words to say to you. There’s so much clutter littering the heart of your little girl right now. But, I’m grateful that you love me despite this. I know I keep repeating this matter in your ears I keep saying the same things over and again. Please don’t be tired of me. I can’t lie to you. I want a bobo. I feel like time is not on my side. I feel bad that it’s like Jerry is getting another person. Father see o, I have not even confirmed. I’m just assuming. You can imagine!

 

But whatever it is Lord, honestly, like seriously, all I want is your will. You know sometimes this thing can just be so hard. But shebi you sha understand me? Please, help me. See, I will wait but just make everything clear. Let me know what exactly you want for me. It has nothing to do with Jerry or anyone right now, though really there’s this silent nudge in one corner of my heart o.

 

See, I don’t understand the whole thing again. But I’ll let him go if that is what you want.  Please, let your light shine. And right now, help me keep my gaze on you. Help me to be totally lost in you. I know that when it’s time, you’ll work everything out. Thank you loving Father. Thank you sweet Holy Spirit.

 

A cool breeze blew over Sapphire as she dropped her pen. She reclined in her chair. A thought crossed her mind. Staying at home during the weekend would not be a good idea. The temptation of slipping into another round of self pity and depressing moods could be difficult to resist. Accepting Jude’s offer would be just fine. But she decided that she would go only if he would allow Lolade to come along. Lolade, only God knows what will happen when both of us finally get married. She picked up her phone.

“Hello Sapphire. So are we game?”

This man’s gragra is too much. Sapphire, your own wahala too is too much jare. Give the man a break.

 

“Yes sir. But if you don’t mind, I would like to come with a friend.”

“Are you afraid or something?”

 

“No sir, it’s just…”

“Don’t worry. I’m just kidding.” He said, chuckling. “You’re free my sweetheart.”

Sapphire shook her head. She was not comfortable with strangers using endearing words for her. Dear was still okay but a personalized sweetheart, haba. She bit her finger.

“We will go and nothing will happen.” She burst out.

The next thing she needed to do was call Lolade. She was reluctant. She scrolled to her number in her contacts list and stared at it. As she was about to dial it, a call came in. Talk of the devil!

“Hello girl, you can’t believe what just happened.” Lolade’s voice was trembling. Sapphire was scared to death.

“Calm down girl. What is it now?”

“He has come! He has come!”

“Who?”

“Him. He has come.”

“Where are you?”

“At work. He just came now.”

“Lolade, don’t scatter my head nah who is he?”

“I’ll be in your office very soon.”

“OK. But be fine o. Take it easy.”

****

Before Sapphire could say Jack, Lolade was in her office. Her eyes were red and swollen.

“Did you fly? What happened nah?”

“Chei! It is too wonderful to believe!” Lolade said, rotating about a spot.

“Talk now.” Sapphire pressed.”

“Greg asked me to marry him.”

“Lolade, I have work to do. I don’t have time for child’s play.” She said and hissed.

“Why do you find it hard to believe things that seem impossible?”

“OK. I’m sorry. So what are you going to do now? You were screaming he has come as if you’re already sure he’s the one.”

“Sis, I’m super duper sure. I knew beforehand. I told you nah.”

“That…”

“God had been pointing my attention towards one brother like that. I didn’t like it at first. Then all of a sudden I began to like him.”

“But you didn’t reveal his identity.”

“I’m sorry nah. I couldn’t mention his name when the vision was still shaky.”

“And how did it become unshaky?”

“You know I told you that I had asked God to show me very clearly if he was the one through his proposal.”

“Yes…You said you asked God to make him know the right words to say.””

“Sis, it may sound strange. But believe me, he said the very words I told God I wanted him to say. He said them simply, steadily and convincingly.” She said, hitting the table.”

Impossicant””

“This one is possican o. He said it live and direct. It was like God showed him my heart.”

“Awesome!” Sapphire said, clapping. “So what did you do?”

“I said yes.”

Sapphire held her and shook her. “On the spot?”

“Yes…”

Ahnahn. You should have taken some time to pray and be sure about it. You don’t jump at men like that now.” Sapphire protested.

Lolade cut her eye at her.

“Are you joking? Madam, I knew and was very sure before he came so why did I have to delay him?”

“Normal ladies’ shakara.”

Na lie. Some people will go and never come back again.”

“It’s not true. If he’s sure, he’ll wait.”

“OK. I hear you. But leave that aside sef. What is the essence of the shakara, Aunty Sapphire?”

“It is simply to show him you have some worth and that you’re not desperate.” She said twisting her neck.

Shuooo… The person that God has already given your password. Biko, which one is playing hard to get again? He will just sit down, flenjo, and be laughing at you with the side of his cheeks. If you’re not sure, it’s a different case. It’s like you’re forgetful self.”

“Why did you say so?”

“Were you not the one who told me that God gave you a word for us?”

“Yes. He said this is our year. I remember.”

“OK… And then?”

“He particularly said the people we’re waiting for are closer than we can imagine. But I didn’t tell you He said it was Greg.” Sapphire argued.

“Sis, would you just leave this and be happy for me. I give you the permission to go and pray about it when you get home, you hear?”

“OK. I surrender.” Sapphire said, covering her face. “I was only pulling your legs. I knew it was him all along but I was not sure he was the same person you were talking about so I didn’t want to create any troubles.” Sapphire admitted.

Lolade’s eyes widened.

“Are you serious?”

. “Yes. O ya come here. Congratulations, babe!”

“Thank you darling. And you were behaving like what I don’t know at first. Don’t worry, you’re next and it’s gonna happen faster than you think”

Sapphire withdrew to her seat.

Abeg leave that side jare, at least for now.” She said, tapping the table with a pen. Sapphire had decided to thoroughly flush out anything that had to do with marriage and relationship for the time being. She was going to enjoy herself with God and that was it!

“You want to be doing shakara upandan abi?. Continue nah.” Lolade grumbled.

“No… I want to love up on God, you know that kind of a thing.” She said, lifting her brows. See, let’s leave that first. There’s this hangout  I want you to follow me to.”

“OK. With who?”

“One of my client’s brothers.”

“A brother… Hmm.”

“Don’t even go there. There are no strings attached o babe. In fact I’m taking you along so that even if he has any strings in mind, they will just cut off piam.

“Sapphire.”

“My sister, that’s the way it is at the moment.”

“So, what time tomorrow?”

“It would be in the evening jare.” She said scrolling through her phone planner. “My goodness!”

“What is the matter?”

“I  completely forgot. Let me call the man back. Tomorrow won’t work”

“I’m sorry sir. I won’t be able to make it. I had thought that tomorrow would be free but I suddenly remembered my family would like to be together tomorrow and we rarely have these times together. I do hope you understand. I’m sorry for any inconveniences.”

“Well, I do. No problems at all. I love the way you value your family. Keep it up.”

“Thank you, sir.”

She turned to Lolade as she dropped the call.

“I’m sorry babe. We’ll do this some other time. Junior is coming home tomorrow and Mum insists I should pick him from the park. I really don’t understand why. We’re having family time tomorrow or so she said.”

“You still call him Junior? Abeg call the boy better name jare.

 

“Na you sabi.

“No wahala now. I’m at your service always. At least till I go to my husband’s house. Let me be on my way.”

“My regards to Chef Mama. Tell her I would check on her very soon.”

“Alright dear.”

****

“Naughty boy.” Sapphire said, smacking her brother on the head. “Is it that you don’t know how to board a bus again abi why did mum have to force me to come and pick you up when you’re not a baby.” She queried.

“Sis, I don’t understand o. I was surprised myself. I told her not to bother but she insisted and I did not argue. You know how she can be at times.”  He said, rubbing his head.

“Hmm… Your mother.”

“Sister, our mother.”

She hit him playfully.

“So, how has school been?” She asked, turning down the volume of the car radio.

“Fine sister.  The thing don dey tire me sef.

“Lazy boy.”

“It’s not like that sis. All these courses we do in Nigerian universities, na wash o.”

“Junior, you and this pidgin ehn.”

“Sister, my name is not Junior. I don’t like it”

Sapphire chuckled.

“When did you start protesting against the name we’ve been calling you since only the heavens know when? Even Lolade was supporting your cause only yesterday.”

“Sis, the eyes of my understanding are open now. Junior is not a good name.”

Sapphire was startled. ”

“Says who?”

“See, sister, I can’t argue. Kelvin is fine.”

Sapphire shook her head. For the next five minutes, one could hear a pin drop in the car.

“Sis, how is the bro?”

“Which bro?”

“The bro now. Sis, you for don marry o.”

“Jun… Kelvin not from you too.” She said, shaking her head.”

“How have mum and dad been taking it?”

“Nobody talks about it. I’m not under any form of pressure from either of them. But Junior, I’m not that old now, am I?”

“Sister, I didn’t her you well o.”

“OK Kevin. What about you?”

“Forget sis. This relationship thing isn’t my thing. I think I made a big mistake going into it in the first place. We thought it would work. We struggled to work it out but I don’t know, it just looked like God was not in it. I’ll be sincere, we were not sure. We just liked each other and thought being in a relationship would make us more of friends but sis, it brought out the worst in us.” He said with a chortle.

“Eeyah…”

“We’re still friends though. But I’m not sure I have the capacity to be in a relationship or to love again. It was so messy.”

“I think you would find love again. Don’t give up because you failed at it once. You would need to learn what true love is by building a cordial relationship with God. Trust me, you would be given another chance at it. Don’t worry.” She sounded so confident.”

“Hmm……Two can Tango mama. Alright. But like you’ve said, my relationship with God comes first. I need to work on that and get a life!”

“That’s my little brother!”

They were soon home. Their mother came out as soon as she heard them drive in.

“Welcome my darlings.” She said, hugging them one after the other. Sapphire looked around with suspicion. The hug was an unusual one.

She began to examine Kelvin all over. His neck bones seemed to be more conspicuous than normal.

“Kelvin, you’ve not been feeding well. Why do you always do this to yourself?” She asked, looking at him with a frown.

“Mum, I try. Beside there’s no time.”

“Ah! Anyway, I am prepared for you. Things must change now that you’re home.”

“So mum, let’s get this straight.  Why the fuss about me going to pick Junior up?”

“Sapphire, o baje. Emi ni fuss abi?”

“I’m sorry mum. I didn’t mean to insult you.”

Mo ti gbo. The truth is Tope Lawson is in Nigeria.”

Sapphire remembered the name but it made no sense to her.

“OK…”

“We invited him over but we didn’t tell him it was so that you could connect but that was the reason.”

“Oh mum! But what did that have to do with me going to pick…? Wait, you wanted it to be a surprise or what?”

“Something like that.”

She was irate but managed to contain her emotions.

“But why?”

“We were only trying to help out but I guess we failed. See, it’s not like we’re comfortable with you still being here with us. But we’ve been trying not to pressure you that was why we kept quiet all the while.”

Sapphire and her brother exchanged knowing looks.

“Really?”

“Yes. You and Tope were childhood friends so we felt something could happen. I don’t even know what I was thinking because I  don’t support such arrangements on a normal day.” Her mum admitted.

“I was just going to say that mum. So what happened?” She asked, arms akimbo.

“He called to say he won’t be able to make it again because he needed to take his wife to a programme and her car suddenly developed a fault.”

“C’est Fini! He’s even married!” Sapphire exclaimed.

“Yes o. Na so we see am.

Sapphire burst into an endless bout of laughter. She finally calmed down and held her mother’s hands.

“Mum, you people should relax. If you arrange a hundred people for me, this is how you’ll keep getting disappointed.”

“It is very obvious my daughter. In fact, the whole thing poured cold water on my heart.”

“Thank God it was cold water not hot water.” She teased.

“What do you mean?”

“Mama Sapph!” She hailed. “But you allowed me to miss a great hangout o. Who knows, this one would have birthed what you desired.” She said, murmuring. Her mum stared at her blankly. As she made for her room, she couldn’t fix what gave her the impression that Jude was interested in her. She perished the thought in a jiffy. There was a resolution on ground.

****

Three weeks after the initially planned hangout, Sapphire and Lolade finally got to meet with Jude in his house. As the gateman flung the gates open, Sapphire’s jaw dropped. Flowers of different shapes, colours and sizes set themselves in an artistic sequence around the main building. There was a fountain that had water gushing from a Bible carving unto a kneeling woman. Deep concept, she thought. Asides her parents’ house, she had never been to any other house that was as devoured by nature as Jude’s.

Wooooooosh! We die here!” Sapphire burst out. Lolade and Jude laughed.

They sat in front of the house because of Sapphire. She craved for the natural sights badly.  A young lady of about nineteen came out with some snacks and drinks. She curtseyed as she served them.

“We finally get to hang out with the almighty Sapphire.” Jude quipped. “It’s a pleasure to have you in my space, ladies.”

“Thank you Mr. Jude.”

“Jude is fine. Thank you.” He said, smiling.

Sapphire cast a furtive glance at Lolade.

“And what’s the name of the pretty damsel we have here?”

“Lolade.”

“It’s nice meeting you Miss Lolade.”

“It’s my pleasure too, sir.”

“You’re welcome to my house.” He fixed his attention on Sapphire. “I’m not sure you know the exact purpose of this meeting.”

“Well, I don’t know. I can only guess.”

“I’m not going to stress a queen like you. There’s a miracle that will unfold in a few minutes. Just keep your fingers crossed.”

Lolade pinched Sapphire. She smiled sheepishly. I just hope it’s not what I’m thinking.

“Meanwhile,  there’s a friend of mine coming over. I would like you to help counsel him as much as you can. He sure needs it. He’s the main reason we’re here.”

Sapphire was confused.

“But I didn’t come here as the relationship coach. I came as Sapphire Olaoti, the ordinary, everyday Sapphire.” She said, spreading her hands out.

“Oh. Really? Well, we may need to stretch you beyond that today.” He said, winking at her. She felt uncomfortable. She smacked herself. Sapphire, don’t be too quick to jump into conclusions. This man has not said or done anything bad.

“Seems like your friend doesn’t talk much.” Jude continued.

Sapphire gave Lolade a knowing look.

“Well, I do. I just do not want to interrupt you.”

“Hmm… Nice. So what do you do?”

Jude and Lolade were soon lost in their conversation. Sapphire was getting uncomfortable, not because of how Jude had found it interesting chatting with Lolade but because she still didn’t understand the purpose their being on a date with him. Yes! She hated to use that word but that was what she was seeing.

“I would like to take a walk.” She excused herself.

“I hope somebody is not jealous here.”

“No. I just want to stretch my legs.”

Jude gave her thumbs up.

She went around his garden. She fell in love with the pink roses especially. She released herself to the fantasy of living in a house like that one day.

A sound of a car horn sent Jude’s gate-man jolting from the chair on which he had dosed off. Jude had been watching him from afar but unusually, he decided to let him be. The way the man jumped from the chair made him and Lolade reel with laughter. A blue Toyota highlander drove in. As the lady and man in the vehicle stepped out, Lolade could only watch in amazement.

“It’s good to see you again, the lady greeted.”

Sapphire came back from her nature adventure almost at the same time the two newcomers arrived. She stared at them for a moment and smiled.

“Hello Jerry. Hello Debbie. Congratulations! I see you guys are doing quite well. The Lord will prosper your home and make you all that he wants you to be.”

The four looked at each other in amazement.

“Are you surprised?” Sapphire asked.

“I’m really confused here.” Jerry interrupted.

“Wait, guys, there seems to be a mix up somewhere. Let’s help madam Sapphire. She seems to be the only one from Jupiter here.” Jude proposed. The four of them laughed. Sapphire frowned.

“I don’t get you.”

“Well… Sapphire, Debbie and I are the ones getting married.” Jude explained.

Sapphire opened her mouth. That was the name that began with the letter ‘J’-Jude. She had not raised the issue of the invitation card again and Lolade had not bothered.

“And this is Jerry, my very good friend, the one you’re going to be counseling.” Everyone laughed again.

Sapphire looked at each one of them in turn. The place seemed to be spinning.

“Since everybody here is hooked, I came here for my own bride.” Jerry declared. A heavy applause filled the air. Sapphire looked at Lolade. She winked. She instantly suspected that she had a hand in all that was happening but she didn’t know how. That was a discussion for later.

He held Sapphire’s hands.

“Sapphire, I know we’ve been through a lot but I know we were meant to be. I have learnt my lessons. I’m ready to allow you be the woman that you should be. I’m ready to set you free as long as you’re going nowhere outside the leading of the Holy Spirit. I’m going to be your number one fan all the way, no bossing, no autocracy. Sapphire, I love you and I would like us to begin our journey again. What do you say?”

Sapphire screamed, running towards the gate and back like a confused chicken.

THE END

P.S: Sapphire is a work of fiction spiced with the writer’s personal and shared experiences about relationships. Any absolute similarities with any real life cases are only coincidental.

 

Thank you for following this story. I earnestly desire to get feedback from you. Watch out for another intriguing series very soon. While you wait, keep your spirit and soul refreshed with divinely inspired articles from the lips and lives blog.

And don’t forget that all of life is worship to the Creator.

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