Letter to Ola #5

Dear Olaedo,

On Prayers

I wish I could write ‘PRAYER WORKS‘, drop the mic and hope you would understand enough to appreciate the depth of that truth.

Perhaps, after I tell you the story of my friend, Onuegbu, you would understand better. To protect his identity, we’ll call him Onuegbu. He and I became friends in 2013. He calls me his best friend although I don’t feel worthy of the title. His life is devoid of true friendship which perhaps is why he considers the little I offer the best he has ever had.

Onuegbu has a beautiful heart and sees only the good in people. I have never heard him talk ill of anybody even when people constantly leave his back fiercely itching after he has done a thorough job scratching their backs.

Nobody wants to drown with a drowning person.

Life is not as fair to him as he is to life’s benefactors.

Onuegbu has sickle cell anemia and ordinarily, he may have been able to cope comfortably if well treated but his financial state is so unstable, he could barely eat, let alone afford medications.

His health got so bad that his family abandoned him and he was left alone to cater for himself. Being his friend has its dark side. He always needs company. It helps in distracting him from the pains of stiffening bones and excruciating pains.

I think talking about his problems is a form of therapy for him so even when my own life is crashing, I would stay on the phone for hours and listen to him complain.

The difficulty in feeding is the most heartbreaking part. He would call and ask for as little as a transfer of N500 to eat as he had not eaten all day.
I prayed first in 2015 for his healing. Oh well, it continued. I prayed again in August 2020. This time, I fasted for 3 days.

He wanted to give up. He was ready to commit suicide. His hustle has been fruitless. The lack of capital wasn’t helping matters. Each time he got a little money to put into something, his health would knock him down and he would use the money to pay hospital bills.

He was in so much anguish and I couldn’t take it. I prayed and fasted for a way; for something to work for him. I kept asking how he felt from time to time as I prayed but nothing changed. (Ha. I was tired oh. What’s all this nah?)

It can be frustrating when you can do little to alleviate such pain from a friend’s life. The darkness is contagious. (You don’t contact the sickle cell silly. You just drown in misery alongside him).

This was us until we got a glimmer of hope yesterday.

I replied to a tweet by Ozzy Etomi on Twitter yesterday and talked about my anemic friend and his ordeal in a brief yet explicit manner.

It got a lot of reactions and comments from people sending their love and light, and other anemic people saying that sickle cell anemia can easily be lived with but with medications and good food which involves money.
One particular man replied and asked me to give his international number to my friend to contact him as he would like to be of assistance!
Glory!

We’ll be calling our man ‘Godsent’.
Onuegbu chatted up Godsent on WhatsApp and after a long talk, GodSent said he will set up a business fully for him.

Did I cry? Yes. The pieces of my thankfulness were all over the place and I wished I could mould it into a clay medal of thankfulness and present it wholly to God.

Instead, I sang ‘Great is thy faithfulness’, then muttered words in tongues, then exploded in laughter after which crying followed.
The crying and laughter started happening so concurrently that I couldn’t differentiate my laughter from my cry.

Long pause.

Tongues again.

Plain words of gratitude.

Blast of memories.

Feelings of inadequacy because I could not mould a perfect ‘thank you’.

I curled up and breathed softly knowing that even my breath was drawing invisible strokes of thankfulness in the air.

Your Mama


ChyD

©2020

Letter to Ola #4

Dear Olaedo,

On Friends with Benefits

When my therapist said the life of every relationship is dependent on benefits, I thought it was a selfish thing to say but a critical examination showed it was true.

Ever wondered why your best friend is your best friend? My guess is that she understands you. This is because you have the same values, so talking to her is easy and soothing. Your conversations are mostly warm because when you discuss fundamental issues, you vibe on the same frequency.

When you learn something new, you can’t wait to share it with her. You’ll literally blow up with information hoarding if you don’t share it.

One of the hardest things you’ll ever face is when your best friend is going through pain. Any kind of pain. It hurts like it’s a personal pain because it is.

On occasion, where distance reduces the frequency of your communication, the heart still knows where its loyalty lies and every reunion feels like no time has been lost.

Healthy friendships are beautiful and are the most important institution humanity has ever seen. Marriages and family relationships are shams without friendship.

I lost my dad at a period when I didn’t care about the size of a mustard seed. The mustard seed that could challenge me had not mustered any courage. I prayed for his healing and believed but he still died. I had a journal where I called God all sorts of vile names. My favourite was ‘scam’. I considered him my best friend and he did me dirty. I still believed in his sovereignty but the relationship seemed like a master-slave relationship since he could just let my dad die just like that. Ah!

I think those prayers ‘we’ made far back in the days to not be able to breathe nor live without Christ came through for me because I could only last three months of not speaking with God before I ran back to ask him why he did me like that. That was not how friends acted. He showed me things happening around me I took for granted and we made up.

At another time, I had issues with my best friend and we both knew we were suffering but couldn’t resolve our issues and I prayed fervently that God should heal our friendship. It seemed like a flippant thing to pray about but I knew that no matter how flippant it was, if it affected me, then it was important enough to God. She came to me and we talked. The mountain of a problem we had became a levelled ground and I gave her a letter I wrote to her at the exact time she came to meet me.

Sometime later, I had an issue that stole my peace and I tried all I could to be of sound mind including going for therapy but my efforts were futile until I turned to God. Yes! You guessed right!

I got my peace back.

Most times, we get it all wrong. My friend would say you should test and see if your Lord is good. Don’t just hear it and carry it about when you can’t boast strongly without a doubt of one thing he has done for you aside from the cross you’ve heard of and believed or things you can cross off as coincidences.

What reinforces the cross are your experiences today. Maybe that’s why you struggle with consistency in ministry. You may be doing it because it’s a command and I don’t think that is a sustainable reason.

I became so dependent on God that I wanted to give back too; so I started asking him how I can go about doing things for him also. I wanted to reciprocate.

What we think we owe God, what He requires of us and what we think our blessings are dependent on are wrong notions we’ll address in the future.

For today, what benefits have you gotten from your relationship with God?

Do you have a relationship at all? Life is easier with such a beneficial friendship.


With Love,
Mama

ChyD

©2020

Letter to Ola #3

Dear Olaedo,


Your greatest fear

What’s your greatest fear in life? If you are anything like me, it would be a failure.

Failure to measure up. Failure to prove to everyone that you are not basic. Failure to achieve everything you’ve set out to achieve. Failure to pepper dem. Or just failure!

Living with this fear is maddening. It is stressful! You keep trying to measure up for all the wrong reasons.

Fear is no respecter of any reason so even if it is for the right reasons, it would still mess you up.

I used to think the fear of failure is a good thing and that it would make you stay on your toes and put more effort into whatever it is you are doing to succeed.

It does the opposite.

When you have pushed all the boundaries you can push and things don’t go your way, you hate yourself. You slowly go into depression. You think you are incomplete.

Putting too much value on things that can perish is not a good idea because as much as you think you have what it takes to get and keep what you want, life still happens.
People still die!

Otedola, Dangote, and few other successful Nigerians you know weren’t the only people with access to capital, wit, hard work, and smart work in their generation.

Time and chance happen to everyone.

This is not to say you should not aspire to be great! I am a hustler! So hustle ooooooo so that…(complete it with what is likely to happen to you. Lol.)

At the end of the day we all die; the rich and the poor, the young and the old.

I don’t know my grandfather. A couple of his direct children are dead. In a few years, every other person who knew him would be dead. Would it be insensitive to say I don’t even care about him?

I hope he enjoyed the short life he lived. I hope he didn’t try to please everybody. I hope he did only what he could and what he was ready for at every point in his life.

I have the same hopes for you.

Relax!

With Love,
Mama

-ChyD
© 2020

Letter to Ola #2

Dear Olaedo,


On wokeness


As you know, there are two sets of people on social media: the woke and the unwoke. I think you consider yourself woke which is beautiful. Examining cultural beliefs and societal inclinations is the only way to discover the truth and live by it. Considering that the world is constantly changing, being current with trends may even determine your relevance in the society.


The unwoke will likely want to shame you with empty words that suggest you are copying westerners and you should stay true to your roots. Imagine if Jesus stuck to culture, obliged the Pharisees and denied grace for works. However, you shouldn’t follow trends. The trend already set for us is forever relevant. Apply it and see.


I got carried away some time ago with worldly philosophies. When I found myself in difficult situations, I thought about what someone I respect on social media would do, not what Christ would do. When those philosophies drowned me instead of saving me, I ran back to Christ.


I prayed for a thorough purge; that the worldly wisdom I had unconsciously imbibed and the old, false knowledge I grew up with be wiped from my heart. I asked for light to flood my heart and make me new.


I don’t think you must have an opinion on every trending issue. If you do, then you must have enough information on the issue to back up your opinion. Be empathetic enough to consider perspectives. There are things you don’t understand. Say little or nothing on those things.


The only time you should speak boldly is when it concerns the gospel and when the matter borders on love.


Love can never go wrong.


The baseline solution to all trending matters from politics and economy to racism and feminism is love.


Self-awareness makes you more empathetic and less judgmental so don’t use it as an excuse to be self-absorbed. There is a thin line between the two. Pray for discernment to act accordingly.


Whether you use labels or not is not important. It’s your choice. For instance, you don’t hate being addressed as a Christian because some Christians believe it’s works that save while others believe it’s a mix of works and grace. I feel ownership of identity is important whether there is a label or not.


However, you are first a Christian, every other thing is secondary.


You’ll make mistakes and that’s fine. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Sometimes your understanding is limited by experience, exposure, and just the mere fact that you are human. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your path.

With Love,
Mama

– ChyD
© 2020

Letter to Ola #1

Dear Olaedo,


In my previous letter, I asked you to evolve and leave behind things you have outgrown. Let me tell you about what I outgrew recently.


I constantly try to understand myself, why I do the things I do, and why I think the way I do which most times are different from how others think.


I read a story of a self-sufficient man. He wants just enough to feed himself and his family. He doesn’t care about being a global figure or being on the Forbes list. I guess we can call him a family enthusiast. He would rather spend every day at home with his family than leave them to make money he doesn’t need.


I’m not that man. I am a few years away from thirty and it worries me that I am not anything near the Forbes’ under 30 CEOs or any recognition close to that. I try though. I search for opportunities and utilize the ones I can. Ola, I want to make money, travel, live the good life, and above all, make an impact. I felt money is necessary for the kind of impact I want to make. But apart from the cliche of living an impactful life, I just like shiny things and luxury.


The way life ought to be was pretty obvious to me. I would get married of course. I love Love. I would have perhaps a kid or two because let us be honest, taking care of kids require time. My husband and I would build an empire because we are goal-driven and ambitious. And we’ll live happily ever after.


It turns out life doesn’t always go as planned and I was wrong about what life is all about. As you would expect, I am financially intelligent. I am shrewd in spending and I’ve learnt investment strategies so when I lost millions to a bad investment just a year after my NYSC, I had to start all over again. It was hard but not disastrous. I still had a job.


The disastrous event was my parents’ divorce. They loved each other or they seemed to be in love. After fifteen years of marriage, they split. It tore my idea of a perfect life. I was depressed and confused. I hated the feeling. It was easy to decide to see a shrink because I am a logical person and it seemed psychotherapy was what was going to fix my mind.


I read a post on Twitter that said ‘The Holy Spirit is my therapist’ and I scoffed. ‘As if I don’t pray too. The occupation is there for a reason’. Therapy is expensive but I hated feeling shitty so it passed for a good investment for my mental health. After one month of therapy, nothing changed. My therapist used phrases like ‘you religious people would say…’ and I had to sift his advice to see which isn’t deviant from my Christain faith.


I intentionally didn’t seek a Christain shrink because I didn’t want a religious person. The effect of a religious shrink is as bad as a secular shrink. One seeks to put you in bondage while the other seeks to make you use your freedom as an occasion to satisfy the flesh.


My friend said I hadn’t healed because I hadn’t prayed enough and I wondered what amount of prayer would be ‘enough’. I had prayed. I like a good challenge so I decided to pray ‘enough’. I never understood fasting as a means of receiving from God because I felt if God is my father, I could ask with faith and receive.

However, I decided to turn up fully gauged for this praying ‘enough’.


I started fasting without a stop date in mind. I planned to stop was whenever I got healed. I had exhausted all my options and the only option left was praying ‘enough’. I had nothing to live for and I wished I could die. I prayed earnestly with all that was in me. I lost weight but that wasn’t important. I told God I would go for months and years if need be and I meant it.


I surrendered everything because I was really tired of handling the affairs of my life. Life lost its taste. In the place of prayer, I learnt that I could ask God for direction and trust him to direct my path. Nothing in the world is constant. You could have a perfect husband, house, kids, money, and lose it all in a heartbeat.


A man’s heart is where his treasure is.’

I saw myself in the rich man that got angry and turned away when Jesus told him the way for him to enter the kingdom of God was by giving away all he had. I placed the essence of life on physical things – marriage, money, fame.


Ola, ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ is not a cliche. He healed my mind and gave me a new purpose that I thought I always had. The same purpose.


By the time I lost my job to the COVID-19 retrenchment, I was already fortified with blind trust in God. I have handed over the wheels of my life to him. It turns out I don’t quite enjoy driving so I am occupying the back seat now.


The peace I have is beautiful and it beats any luxury I could ever have.


Don’t misunderstand me. I still like luxury and the good life. I still seek and grab opportunities. I am still working to be on the Forbes list but without any of these things, I will be as good as I am with them. Like Paul, all things that were gain to me I counted loss for Christ.


Christ is the only constant in a world where every other thing is inconsistent.

The assurance of salvation I have in Christ is all that matters; which is why I wonder how people who believe they can lose their salvation cope.

The struggle they must be going through!!! We should teach them, Ola.

With Love,
Mama.

-ChyD
© 2020

BOOK REVIEW: REVERSED

Author: The Christ A Poet Team
Publisher: Christ A Poet Concepts
Reviewer: Olufunke Ajegbomogun

When I began the review of this book, I made a decision to use a few days to go through the poems but as I started reading, I was gripped and couldn’t let go of this anthology. That is exactly the experience you are likely to get when you open Reversed to read!


Reversed is a collection of poems that takes us on a journey reminiscent of the times of Jesus and other biblical characters. The messages are woven around biblical stories which help us relate to scriptures in the most simplified way we could ever imagine. We see the experiences of ordinary men like us play out right before us as if we were there. Even animals and inanimate objects echo their stories, leaving them entrenched in our minds.


Through the pages of Reversed, we see Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Most of the poems are short and freestyled although some use traditional rhyme schemes and poetic sound effects. Each poem’s unique style plays a role in relaying its message. Some poems also contain graphic images that paint a picture in the reader’s mind. “Cock Coo Roo Coo” reminds us of how God can use an animal to remind us that none of His words that come forth from His mouth dies without fulfilling its purpose. The poet alludes to the experience of Peter to remind us of the importance of having a voice even if it’s that of an animal to caution us when we derail from the path of life.


We also see beyond the agony and pain that took place on the cross when Christ died as we read “I Saw Evil”. This poem helps us to see that there is more to the death of a sinless man by revealing to us what took place on the cross that had otherwise been invisible to the eyes of an ordinary man. “Evil died when Jesus was crucified! That line is explosive. Time and space will not permit me to talk about the other poems’ deep and inspiring messages that words alone may not be able to capture.


If you are the kind of person who reads scriptures with a sense of detachment, get hold of Reversed and see how you’ll get a new perspective from reading scriptures.


So, let me leave you with this: Reversed is an anthology you got to read yourself, let no man tell you the stories, go get a copy and be part of the journey.

You can download a free copy of Reversed here.

INFLUENCERS OF POSITIVE CONFESSIONS

Then he took up his oracle and said: “The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor, The utterance of the man whose eyes are opened, The utterance of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down, with eyes wide open

Numbers 24:3-4

My heart has been burning with a prayer point from this text. Everything Balaam said concerning the Israelites when he was asked by Balak the king to curse them were heavily influenced by two things: what he saw (or should I say he was allowed to see) and what he heard.

Our utterances are a functions of our perspectives and hearing. May God open your eyes to see exactly how He sees, regardless of the situation. When we see things like normal men, things common to the normal man will become our reality because that’s what your mouth will confess (things are hard, life is unfair).

Kai! Help us oh Lord to see like things you do.

He didn’t hear the words of men but of God, so his utterances replicated the very words he heard. No wonder the psalmist said he heard twice what God said once (Psalm 62:11) because he knew the impact those words would have on his spirit.

Father! Open my eyes to see men and situations from your perspective.
Let your words sound so loud to my ears until my spirit align with it. Let my lips can’t help but utter it.

I pray that this scripture will draw you to the place of prayers until your mouth begins to echo the pictures of your eyes and the whispers to your ears. May God help us in Jesus name. Amen.


EZEKIEL, C. PRISCILLA
YIELDED BONES INT’L
© 2020

YOUR UNCOUTH TONGUE AND NARCISSIST MIND

I spoke at length with Nelson on the phone and listened to him narrate some things he was going through. At the end of our conversation, he asked if I had any advice for him and I said no.

I take your pieces of advice to heart you know. I remember when you said my sandals were ugly and that I had a bad sense of fashion. I never wore sandals again till date and I gave away those set of clothes you complained about. My mother was angry because those clothes were designers and she bought them from the United States.”


Father Lord,” I screamed, “when did I say that one? Please limit this fabrication“.


The day we went from Shoprite to Celebrities to see Ezinne.”

A flashback came to my mind and I vaguely remembered saying that.


To be sure, I asked again, “did you say you stopped wearing sandals on account of what I said seven years ago?” He nodded.


I slouched and heaved quietly while I entertained fifty shades of conflicting emotions. I apologized for saying what I said and the effect it had on him. He said I shouldn’t apologize because it made him mindful of what he now wears but I saw it damaged him rather than helped. It wasn’t about finding out the worth of the clothes but the insensitivity behind my actions of condemning his choice of clothes was mean.


In an angry but casual feat, my close friend, Mark, said I was self-centered two days after a conversation we had and he later ghosted me. I asked our mutual friend, Cynthia, and she revealed she used to see me as self-centered but stopped focusing on that because it was ultimately who I was.

I had an amplified emotional breakdown but most importantly, I did a self-reflection to see what about me was selfish. I didn’t see a thing but I believed them because my two best friends could not be wrong about me.

On a quest to be a better person, I told my mentor who made me narrate the situation that warranted such accusation. When I did, he said there are always two reasons for criticism; one is to put a person down and the other is for correction. He said in the context of my situation, it was to put me down and it tells more about the person than of me. I asked Cynthia to tell me specific acts that portrayed my selfishness and she couldn’t recall any.

The thing is, that an aura of not letting people walk all over you can easily be perceived as different negative things including selfishness. Sometimes, people call people they can manipulate, “kind and nice”.
We are too eager to speak without reservation and too ready to accept condemnation from others without reflection.


I should have asked Nelson, “don’t you think sandals go better with shorts or striped shirts better with plain trousers?”.

As a matter of fact, I should have resisted the urge to “shalaye” because of my snobby fashion sense and I may have been wrong. What do I know about fashion?

Mark should have said he felt I didn’t care about his welfare when we spoke a few days ago. He should have told me he was sick and I didn’t care to check up on him. Cynthia should have said, “I once thought you were selfish but I don’t think so anymore; perhaps, it’s because I understand you better now or I got close enough to know you better“.


Whose report do you believe?

ChyD
(C) 2020