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.

Featured post

EXPECTATIONS

When a person tells you they’re going to give you something, what do you expect- less, more or exactly what they have promised?

Some weeks ago, I decided to appreciate a set of people I had worked with. They were about nine and my budget was limited so I began to rack my brain to find something beautiful to buy that would fit perfectly into my budget.

Remembering a Yoruba adage that infers that if you keep quiet, you would stay helpless, I decided to seek the advice of my roommate who was also one of the beneficiaries of my gift.

We decided what to buy for the gentlemen on the team and then it was time to make a choice for the ladies. She suggested that I got a particular type of portable mirror for each lady. I bought the idea because it was something beautiful and handy and I knew they would love it.

I got to the supermarket and went straight to the shelf where the mirrors were usually stacked. I was a regular customer there so it wasn’t difficult to locate. I knew what I wanted but when I got there, the story changed.

I looked around but couldn’t find the kind of mirror I was looking for. I was glued to a spot, looking back and forth when I noticed something very catchy. It was on that same portion of the shelf where the mirrors were usually stacked. I couldn’t figure out what it was so I took it to one of the attendants and guess what, he told me it was a mirror. I was dazed!

It was more fanciful and eye-catching than my target mirror. In fact, I was tempted to get one for myself because things like that tickle my fancy. I noticed it was a bit more expensive than the other mirror but since it wasn’t going to stretch my budget beyond what I could balance out, I gladly picked five.

I picked other things I wanted around that same shelf and as I turned to go to the payment point, my eyes caught something else- three pieces of the kind of mirror I was looking for earlier. I shook my head.

They were usually stacked to the top but that day, there were just three left. That was why I had been oblivious of their presence. I quickly picked the three and removed three of the newly found mirror. There’s no harm in saving some naira when you can. I made the necessary payment and left the supermarket.

When it was time to give out the mirrors, I had to map out a strategy to rule out any iota of favouritism or bias. The best way to achieve that was to ask each person to pick ‘blindly’.

So, I put all the mirrors in a polythene bag and asked each of them to pick one without looking in the bag. No one knew what was in the bag except my roommate, with whom I had decided what to buy, and me.

When it was her turn, she put her hand in the bag and picked the exact mirror she had asked me to buy. She thought I was only playing games with my ‘pick blindly’ instruction until she saw that two other people had picked different mirrors from hers and they were more fanciful. She was shocked. In fact, she almost snatched one from a friend of hers.

When we were together later on, she shared the lesson she learnt from that experience with me.

She said she was not expecting any other kind of mirror asides the one we had agreed on. So, when she put her hand in the polythene, she did it confidently, without thinking there could be any other kind of mirror.

Despite the fact that her expectation was not cut short, she believed that if she had had an open mind to think that I could have bought something else, maybe not even a mirror, she probably would have at the point of picking, tried to sample what was in the bag with her hands and picked the other type (although I would not have allowed that happen).

Pondering on that incident, we both agreed that it is good to be expectant of good things but that our expectations could be limiting because we usually do not see beyond our noses. We often paint rigid pictures in our minds about our desires but many times, they are not always the best that we can get.

A person may think that a job in Chevron, a spouse that’s a money bag or a trip overseas is the best that can happen to them. Another may think a job of #50 000 or a second hand vehicle is the best they can get from God. Of course, one category looks positive and the other negative but in God’s plan, the fantastic one is not necessarily the best that God has in store for His beloved.

Therefore, it is important to be expectant that God would do what we ask concerning the different phases and facets of our lives, not just as we desire but according to His good, pleasing and perfect will.

We need to leave our hearts wide open for pleasant surprises; to leave room for Him to work out the very best, knowing that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

# midweekmeditations
©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

THE SOLOIST

As I stepped into the rehearsal room, I was shocked to see only Sam, the choirmaster and a young lady whose face was strange.

I looked at my wristwatch and shook my head.

“Aren’t you having rehearsals today?” I asked, looking from one end of the room to the other.

It used to be the pastor’s office but was converted to a rehearsal room when a new administrative building was erected.

It was initially partitioned to house the offices of the pastor, his secretary and the assistant pastor. But when they moved, the partition was removed to enable the choir to use the room for rehearsals instead of the main auditorium.

“Well, we are but Jane is the only one singing.” He said, pointing at the lady.

“Oh! OK! That’s a beautiful one.” I moved close to where they sat.

“I’m just wondering if this solo thing would be as good as everyone singing, you know, having the tenor, alto and all that.” I said as I steadied my weight on one of the chairs in the room. I crossed my legs and looked from one person to the other.

“Well, Aunty, it’s already 5.30 pm. Choir rules say if a chorister comes any later than 5.15 pm, they automatically forfeit ministering on Sunday.” Sam explained.

“Oh! Wow! What a high level of discipline that is!” I exclaimed, nodding.

“Thank you, Aunty.” Sam responded.

I noticed that the lady was feeling left out of the conversation and was probably being careful not to interrupt rudely so I helped her.

“Hello, I’m Julie.” I said with a smile.

She curtseyed.

“Good evening, ma. My name is Jane.”

“Sweet name you have. You’re new here, right?”

“Yes, ma.”

“I thought as much. You’re welcome.” I said, giving her a side hug.

“Thank you, ma.”

I extended my phone to her. She dialed her number and saved it. I beeped her. She pointed at her phone and looked in my direction. I nodded.

“Welcome to Julie’s world. Feel free with me anytime.” She looked at Sam. He nodded and she smiled.

“I think I need to talk to you. I need your candid advice. These choir people are rebels!” Sam blurted out as I stood up to leave.

“Ahnahn! Choirmaster! Don’t say that about your members.” I cautioned, giving him a disapproving look.

“But it’s the truth now. And just like you said, I’m only trusting God that this song will come out fine tomorrow o. I have to be on the keyboard and Jane is a newbie. In fact, her probation ends today that’s why she can sing tomorrow. We have to sing tomorrow. I’ll show them that we can do without them.” He raved, beating the air.

“Hmm… I can feel your pain. But we’ll talk about this later. I have a meeting with someone. I told her I’d be here. She’s probably somewhere around already.” I said, peeping out of the window. I saw Sarah at a distance.

“She’s here. So, I’ll see you after service tomorrow.” I promised, winking at him.

I turned towards the door and began to make my way out of the room.

“Aunty Julie.” Sam called. I turned back.

“Thank you for always being there for the youth in this church. You really inspire us.”

I smiled faintly, waved at him and continued my exit from the room.

“The door opened and I came face to face with Sarah. She looked forlorn. Her eyes were blood red. I placed my hands on her shoulders.

“Aunty Julie, I’m tired.” I could barely hear what she said.

“Of what?” I asked, as I held her hand and led her out of the rehearsal room.

I spotted some chairs under a mango tree beside the main auditorium. It was obvious that some people had held a meeting there and didn’t return the chairs to where they ought to be.

I positioned two chairs to face each other and had her sit on one. I took my seat on the other. We had barely sat when she burst into tears.

“I want to get it right. I’m struggling. I’m lost. I always mess up. I always miss it. I’m just stupid.” She spat the words spontaneously, hitting her head with her hands and stamping her feet on the ground.

I covered her mouth with one hand and hugged her with the other. There were people around in the church premises who had come for the Sunday School Preparatory class and Children’s Teachers’ meeting and I didn’t want her to create a scene.

“Calm down, Sarah. Whatever it is, you’ll be alright. But I need you to pull yourself together and tell me all about it.” I whispered into her ears.

I prayed in tongues beneath my breath for a few minutes. The intensity of her wailing reduced as I did. When she finally got a hold of herself she removed my hand from her mouth.

“I want to love God. I don’t know how. I’m just confused. I’m up today and down tomorrow. I want to be consistent but I don’t know how to go about it.”

I took a deep breath and prayed for a few seconds again. I held her face in my hands.

“Sarah”

“Yes, Aunty.”

“Do your really want to build a fantastic relationship with God?”

She looked at me straight in the eyes.

“Ah! Yes now, Aunty.” She replied with a frown.

“The Holy Spirit laid it upon my heart to tell you that you are the problem.”

Her face fell.

“You have to take responsibility. You need to be intentional about it. Don’t leave in God’s hands what you should do because if you do, it will remain undone.”

One could have heard a pin drop in the following minutes. She sighed.

“Thank you, Aunty. I really do understand what you have said. I’ll do the needful.”

I prayed with her and watched her join her colleagues at the rehearsals for the teens class which was to begin at 6.00 pm.

As I drove home, I thought about the many people God had used me to help in various ways- spiritually, financially, academically, name it! Reflecting, I was grateful to God for making me such a huge blessing to my world.

“Lord, thank You!” I said over and again.

————————-

As I looked around to check out who I needed to see after service on Sunday, I felt someone tug at my blouse. I looked around and saw Sam.

“Aunty Julie, you promised.” He grinned, flashing his white set of teeth at me.

I knew that if I didn’t attend to him immediately, I was going to break my promise. I forgot about any other person, locked his hands in mine and dragged him to my car. I pressed the remote control and we were soon settled in the front seats.

“Sam, Sam” I teased, “the new lady tried with the solo. But trust me, it would have been splufic if we had all the parts.” I commented.

He looked out of the window.

“I know Aunty, but what could I have done?”

I pushed him playfully and he moved his face in my direction. I could see the hurt in his eyes.

“Sam. I’m sorry if I spoke insensitively.”

“It’s alright, Aunty. If not for the choristers that have chosen to be sons of Belial, we won’t be having this conversation.”

“Hmm… It is well.” I muttered.

“That reminds me. Aunty Julie, do you ever have any worries or struggles?” He asked, supporting his chin with his right hand.

“I opened my mouth and stared at him for a moment. I was expecting him to talk about the choir not me.”

“Yes I do but I talk to God about them.”

“OK. I was just wondering if you talk to people about the things you go through the way people disturb you with their issues.” He said, shrugging his shoulders.
I pursed my lips and held the steering wheel.

“Well, I talk to God. I don’t like bothering people with my problems.”

“But you allow people bother you?” He gave me a querying look.

“Well, that’s what love does. You know, I’m doing all I do for the Lord and I don’t expect anything in return. I’m fulfilled being a blessing to others.”

I seemed to have words in season for the intelligent discussion Sam was trying to build.

“Hmm…”

“Yeah. So to your talk…” I was going to continue when I saw Sam’s hand on the door handle.

“Aunty Julie, I don’t want to burden you. I’ll talk to God about the choir. He’ll help me fix it.”

My stomach became bubbly and I couldn’t help but release the river of laughter that had welled up within. I shook my head and cast a glance at him.

“But Sam, you would do with some adult advice and experience here. Let’s talk about it.” I persuaded, but his mind was made up.

Before I could blink, he was already out of my car.

“Aunty, I’ll fix it.”He said, slamming the door.

I thought I was dreaming. I was so shocked by what had happened that I couldn’t wait to see anyone. As I turned on the ignition, my hands were shaking. I had to wait for some moments to get my act together before I could drive.

I got home and flung my bag and keys on my bed. My shoes found their way to one extreme of the room. I began to pace around the room.

“Lord, what did I say? What did I do? Is it a big deal to want to help people without demanding anything in return.”

All I heard was silence. I began to get impatient.

“Lord, speak to me. What is happening?” I hit my palm with my fist time and again. I was already sweating.

“Call Jane. I already sent her to you.” I heard in my spirit.

“I rebuke you Devil. Jane ke? What can the little girl say. I bind every spirit of confusion in this place today.”

“There you go again. I said, ‘Call Jane’.”

After struggling with the voice for almost half an hour, I picked up my phone and scrolled through my phonebook while I kept muttering the name ‘Jane’. The line rang thrice but there was no response. I hissed.

“Lord, I said it. The Devil is just…”

“Good afternoon, Aunty Julie.”

It was Jane’s voice. I didn’t know that the third series of ringing had not ended.

“Jane, how are you?”

“I’m doing very well, Aunty. Your call was the last I expected o. I guess you want to talk about the song.” She said, chuckling from the other end.

“No, dear. It was actually fine the way you sang it. I just called to…”

“Aunty, like you said yesterday, it’s sweeter to sing with all the parts. At least for the song I sang today, it would have been better if all the parts came in.” Jane admitted.

“You’re right, dear, but it was still fine though. At least, it was because other members of the choir were not around that it had to happen that way.”

“It’s true sha o.” Jane agreed.

“Welldone.”

“Thank you, ma.”

I didn’t know what else to say and was about to bid Jane goodbye when she spoke.

“Aunty, wait o. I have learnt today that in life, there are some songs that come out fine as solos, but we need a blend of soprano, alto, tenor and bass when singing some others.”

The words went straight through my marrow. I sensed that there was depth in what she said, but I didn’t understand.

“Hmm… Very true, dear. But I was blessed by the ministration. Keep the fire burning.”

“Thank you, ma. I’m grateful for your call.”

“It’s my pleasure. Enjoy your week.”

As I dropped the call, I hit the floor like Humpty Dumpty.

“Some songs are good as solos but some come out well when they are sung with a blend of all the parts.” I couldn’t remember the exact way Jane had put those words but I knew that was the summary. The words kept ringing in my head.

I tried to pray but as I opened my mouth, no words came. Every attempt to say ‘Father’ came with the reminder of the words Jane had said.

After a number of failed attempts to pray, I stood up from the floor and sat on the stool in front of my dressing mirror.

“Julie, it’s time to seek help. You’ve been a soloist for too long.” The voice reverberated in my spirit loudly and clearly. It was then I understood.

I had been struggling with something for some years and I had not told anybody about it. I was hoping I would beat it but all my efforts were futile.

The name that came up instantly on my mind was Mrs Phillips. I let out a long hiss and pulled my hair so hard.

Her name had been coming up in my heart for about three years but I couldn’t imagine myself talking to her.

She was just an ordinary cleaner in the church. Yes, she was a committed member, a fervent Christian at that. But why not my pastor’s wife? Why not my team head?

I closed my eyes and pulled my jaws together. I was going to shun the voice but thinking about all the encounters I had in that one day, I put on my shoes and picked up my car keys. I was at Mrs. Phillips’ place in an hour.

I knocked on her door and the first thing she said was “Praise the Lord!” I scratched my head. All these over spiritual people ehn. What kind of greeting was that?

“Julie, how are you?”

“I’m fine, ma. Good afternoon.” I greeted, bowing.

I looked around the house. It was quite better than what I imagined. I had only given her a lift and dropped her in front of the house once or twice but never stepped into the place.

The old shelve in the sitting room had books and magazines arranged according to their types and sizes.

The sitting room which could only accommodate a three-seater and two single sofas was properly arranged. Looking at the dining room.which was a part of the sitting room, everything was in its place.

She offered me a cup of water. The only reason I could drink it was because the glass was sparkling. I gulped down the contents of the cup and dropped it on the table.

I cleared my throat and took a deep breath.

“Ma, I need help, and badly at that.” I began to spill. “I’m afraid of getting married. You see, I’ve been praying but my fear won’t even let me keep any close relationship with any brother.”

“Hmm…”

I paused and wondered how I started telling the woman about myself without any preambles or introduction. It was as if I was under a spell. Everything was happening so fast. It was weird.

She seemed to know what I was thinking.

“Daughter, you’re in safe hands. Speak on.” She assured. At that point, my confidence level was boosted, so I continued.

“I cut them off as soon as I notice they’re saying anything that has to do with relationship or marriage.”

Mrs Phillips smiled and nodded as I spoke.

“Ma, I really want to get married but I don’t understand what is happening to me.” I was shaking my legs as I spoke.

“Julie, I’m grateful you finally came around. In fact, you would have put me in trouble with God.”

I jerked my head forward in surprise.

“How, ma?”

“He laid it upon my heart that you were going through something. But each time I saw you in church, you were so cheerful and lively. ”

“Ah! It’s all a scam, a mask.” I confessed, placing my hands on my head.

“Hmm… I would hear from one person about how you walked them through their valleys and another about how you helped them climb their mountains. So, I thought I was not hearing God well.”

“Ma, there was fire on the mountain all along,” I said, beating my thighs.

“I know I should have asked but I was confused. And you know you these big big people ehn… Hmm…”

“Ah! Ma, I just felt I could handle things on my own. I felt it was okay to love and help and not receive any of those from people. I thought I could fight on my own.”

“Julie, it’s okay not to expect anything from anyone, but it’s a different ballgame when you need to ask for help. If you could thrive all by yourself, it would have been just fine for God to place you in a desert.”

“Ma, that is true o.” I was biting my finger and shaking my head.

“Daughter, in life, there are rivers we can cross on our own but there are oceans we cannot cross alone. We need people, of course trusted ones, in such instances.”

“You’re right, ma.” The room that had been cool earlier suddenly became unbearably hot. I began to fan myself with my hands.

“I’ll tell you why God sent you to me. It’s because I went through exactly what you are going through when I was about your age.” She said, pointing at me.

My eyes widened. I stood up from the chair on which I sat and moved over to where she was sitting. I held her hands and squeezed them. She smiled.

“I had to cry to Him then and He gave me some keys that made me get out of the captivity of the fear of marriage faster than I could imagine.”

“Wow!”I exclaimed shaking the woman.

I sat with her for more than three hours, listening to her story with hot tears pouring out of my eyes like a stream. Our stories were dead similar. The fear of marriage was borne out of our parents’ failed marriages and other failed marriages we saw around us.

My ego popped up again as soon as she finished sharing her story with me.

“But why didn’t God tell me all of these by Himself?” I said, standing with arms akimbo.

Mrs Phillips stood up and held my face with both hands.

“Julie, you have the tendency to be self-sufficient. God wanted to teach you that you need people and above all, that you need Him.”

“But I always called on Him.” I argued.

“And He always answered you and told you what to do and who to talk to but you were stubborn. You didn’t want to be vulnerable. You never wanted to be seen as a weakling. You always wanted to have a reputation of being strong in the sight of men.”

I could feel the energy and authority in Mrs Phillips’ voice .

My eyes were flooded again. My heart was pierced because I knew that if I had obeyed when God had told me to talk Mrs Phillips earlier, I would have defeated that enemy called fear a long time before then. But I was at least grateful for mercy.

I did all that Mrs Phillips told me to and kept in touch with her as I journeyed through fighting the fear of marriage. She was such an indispensable support system. In six months, I was beaming with testimonies. I was no longer afraid of men. In fact, I had a number of them as good friends and confidants.

God gave me a man of my own too, one of the ones I had chased away earlier. He was the sweetest man I’d ever known all my life. With Him, my hopes of a blissful marriage skyrocketed. I was grateful for a second chance.

It was a hard lesson I had to learn, going solo when I could co-opt other people who could sing in parts and make the song fantastic.

Each time I look back, I’m grateful I had the chance to sing that song again, not as a soloist but with other parts that made it come out beautifully.

# fiction
©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

WHAT IS YOUR REALITY?

Some years back, two tiny gods ran my life. They were the scales with which I measured who I was and who I would be. Whatever air these two breathed at any point in time was my oxygen. I believed them and clinged to them badly. They were my bosses!

The first was people’s opinions about me and the second, my grades in school. These two drove me so hard that whenever any of them was negative, it was like my whole world had come to a halt. My worth was anchored on them.

I knew God, but I knew little about what He thought of me. In fact, I felt that whatever the two gods said was equivalent to God’s perception of me. How wrong I was! I didn’t know that my significance could only be found in God. I didn’t understand that my reality had nothing to do with external interferences.

I didn’t know that my reality was something on the inside; something that was wired in me at creation; something that was spoken and breathed over and into me by my Creator; something I needed to dig out by sitting with my Maker to hear Him tell me all about it.

Cruising through life’s road with those two little gods was quite frustrating. It drew me from zero to the negative side on the self-identity number line. I was a slave to them.

I cannot tell all I went through to break loose from the grip of those gods. But I’m indeed grateful that I finally came to this point where I know that the final and absolute definition of who I am is deeper and weightier than what I thought then.

I do not totally ignore what people say or think about me because I know I have weaknesses and sometimes God speaks through men to help us see what we need to work on. I’m pursuing excellence in my academics because it’s important to me and my future. But you know what? I’m super conscious that these two do not and will never define who I am.

Now, I understand that there’s more to life than grades. Many young people out there still tie their worth to academic performance. It is good to pursue excellence and have awesome grades but do not let that define who you are. There’s much more to life than ‘school’.

And what people say? Oftentimes, people just look at you from afar and make their conclusions about you without really getting to know you. The only reason their opinions would raise your blood pressure is because you don’t know who you are. However, sometimes, their opinions help to call your attention to the things you need to deal with. Simply take note, do the needful and move on.

I do not know who or what you’ve allowed to define who you are. It is time to ditch the wrong definitions and let the One who knows you draw you into your reality. All you need do is give Him your hands.

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation!”
(Psalms 139:13-14-MSG)

“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.”
(Jeremiah 1:5a-MSG)

# midweekmeditations

©Oluwatoosin Oladejo 2019

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

________
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

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: