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

And Grace Found Me


And grace found me at the foot of the steps where I stumbled
He led me into a reverie of affections
And taught me how to make love with my emotions

And Grace found me picking doubt from my rag toothed skeleton
He asked me how I’d survived without the love of Christ
In the oxygen depleted pond of atheism

And Grace found me remunerating inside the tunnel of avarice
For the love of money is the stem that upholds deception
Broken dry Reed called Egypt that can’t be any souls trust

And Grace found me lingering about the field of blood
Waiting to retrieve the thirty pieces of silver
Instead of shouting maranatha with the 120 in the upper room

And Grace found me in the valley of mundane things
Brazilian hair, iPhone 6x, faultless make up, designer dresses
And all those cravings that sounds strange to Holy Mary

And Grace found me yet he wasn’t judgmental
He asked me why I was still babbling in unknown tongues
Instead of fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit

And Grace found me with the gift of a clean shave
Got rid of my eagle-feathered hair and bird claw nails
It’s been seven millennia wandering in the field of unbelief
I’d never imagined going through such quick transformation
Like Joseph’s speedy status change
Until I was discovered by Grace

Rebekah E.
© 2020

Who Am I?

I have sought a definition
A sentence that could give me full expression of who I actually am

Am I a girl?
Is my life best expressed in the gender
In the XX of my genotype
Or in the comely form of my phenotype?

Am I a youth?
The leader of tomorrow; the pillar of today,
Am I one of the millions of jolly fresh faced persons
Brewing with passion but lacking in knowledge,
Just hustling to make it?

Am I a Nigerian?
Do I get my identity from my southern roots
Trying to fit into the mold of societal stereotypes?

Am I a graduate?
Is that laminated certificate in my box my identity card
Such that I am quick to shove my titles in peoples faces
Using that as a basis for unhealthy comparison…
But deep down I know
I am not my profession and my profession is not me
So help me answer this question who am I?

Guys, it took a long time to realize who I was
To understand that I couldn’t find myself by looking inward
but looking outward
that I would only see my true reflection
when I look in His mirror
that my true life is wrapped in his death and glorious ascension
that my life is not about the external but the eternal

but that my real identity is in JESUS
not in gender or status or nationality or age or education or skill
so who am I?
I am a child of God, a joint heir with Christ
I am a spiritual, supernatural, extraordinary human being
Trust me,
I am not just a girl, I am not just a youth,
I am not just a Nigerian, I am not just a graduate, I am not just a poet…
I AM A CHILD OF GOD!

Damaris
© 2020

THE GAY MISCONCEPTION

It is routine for the ‘boys’ to take turns in getting the bill after each hang out. Today, Ugonna got the bill and after the jabs and hearty humorous perks, it was time to go home. As they got up to leave, Arinze with a smirk placed his hands on Ugonna’s shoulder and said, ‘Thanks dear’.
‘God punish you there’, said Ugonna violently shrugging off his hand.
The rest of the group exploded in hysterical laughter including Arinze. Ugonna joined in almost immediately. There was a silent understanding of what just transpired.

Something similar happened some time ago at work. My colleague and I noticed two guys holding hands. We fixated on their hands waiting for them to unlock their grip in time for us to conclude it is usual but they didn’t indulge our expectation.

‘I thought guys don’t hold hands for too long’, my colleague whispered. ‘Perhaps they are gay’. On another thought, I added ‘it may
be a normal thing’
. We went about our business and forgot all about it.

And yes! I should mention a particular encounter that I am still mad at myself over. Women hardly give me lifts (no, that’s not what I am mad at). I may be wrong to presume men give women lifts more than women give women lifts but that has been my experience. On this particular day however, a pretty lady gave me a lift. She seemed a bit older so when she asked if I was going her way, I said ‘yes ma’ and hopped in. ‘Please use your seat belt’. I fastened it instantly. ‘Are we supposed to wear these leg chains on the right or left leg? I noticed you are wearing yours on the right. I usually wear mine on the left leg’. I then relaxed, I giggled and told
her I didn’t think there are any rules to how it should be worn. We got into discussion on people’s perception of it as a trend and her perception of people’s perception. We talked about self-consciousness. By the time I got to where I was going to drop, I had already decided I like her and wanted her to be my friend. What do I do? Collect her number? I thought that may be
weird or overstepping of boundaries. I knew I should collect it but before I made up my mind on how to go about it, I had already said ‘thank you and have a nice day’. I watched her drive away wishing she asked for my number and only then realising we didn’t even ask each other’s names.

I wonder if this way of thought we have is as a result of societal conditioning. I bet it would have been easier to ask a guy for his number. Ugonna would have thought it cool if a girl called him ‘dear’ with a hand on his shoulder and there shouldn’t be anything gay about two guys holding hands or lingering in a hug. At a point in life however, there is usually a self-awakening for the open minded when he decides to live in accordance to his convictions irrespective of how unconventional it is.

The beauty of our individuality is masked by societal construct. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the damaging effects of living in accordance to societal expectation. Today let’s focus on not letting its rigidity infiltrate our minds with perversion.

– ChyD
(c) 2020

From This Moment


I have made up my mind not to lie
I will not quarrel with anybody till I die
I will restrain my tongue from speaking evil
and any word rooted in the devil
I will not despise anybody at any level

I will sing a new song to the Lord
I will make memories with no sword
I will keep my heart stayed on him
and my love will flow beyond the stream
I will crest his word on the tablet of my heart

I will preach the gospel with all boldness
I will proclaim that I have His life in fullness
I will listen to the still small voice in me
and I will put all of my trust in thee
I will shine my light for the whole world to see

Lady Nancy
©2020

Drive Past It

I stopped driving at 16 when I had my first accident. The cost of it all made me decide to let the keys go, like lovers on some bridge in Paris, after adding their locks to the teeming number that will cripple the bridge.

This is not a poem. And it is not about lucks or keys
or a kiss or about spoon feeding emotions
or trying to have a relationship
or driving a career worthy of a Fast and Furious adaptation or a Shakespeare narration.

This is to the one who has felt heartbreak close up but, like one of the blind asked to describe the structure of the elephant, will take my words with a pinch of salt. Add it to that part of your wound that a heartbreak caused, cover your cracks with it, do an Nsibidi inscription on your sensitivity.

Heartbreaks are bad for your Health.

Remember when I said I stopped driving, well, I will drive again, and again and again and again. That is how hearts get broken…and heal.

You love or trust or have certain expectations for/from people, their inability to meet up or match your expectations leaves you hurt, and now I have been summoned from Frankenstein’s grave to tell you this;

Don’t stop loving, don’t stop being optimistic, don’t stop expecting the best from people.

Don’t stop believing…
Don’t stop loving…
That is how hearts get broken…and heal enough to heal other broken hearts.


Ice Nwa Ǹkwọ
©2020

The Fig-Leaves Issue

And as they ate it, suddenly they became aware of their nakedness, and were embarrassed. So they strung fig leaves together to cover themselves around the hips.

Genesis 3:7 (TLB)

As a creative, I get to “over-think” many otherwise simple things. Maybe it is a curse in another’s eyes but in mine, it is clarity. The innate ability to really analyse events that are as heavy as world crises to lightweight issues like the response I wish I said two minutes earlier, has really helped me see what is underplaying our everyday experiences. It doesn’t make me right, I guess it just helps me to build stronger structures around what it is I believe.

As I grow older and experience more interesting versions of reality and life as we know it, I am ever more convinced on the authority and the authenticity of the bible and its teachings. One that really stands out for me it the way we tend to try and fail constantly at providing solutions to seemingly every problem that has ever occurred to the human race. Bogus claim? Yeah, I get it sounds as such but this is a conclusion I have come to through almost every thought excavation I have set my mind on. You can try it too. Ask “why” enough times and you will almost surely find yourself at a helpless human with a problem and solutions that only create more problems. This is so perfectly represented in the verse quoted initially but before we talk about that, let’s bite a little deeper into this.

Psychoanalysts, philosophers and sociologists have come to a dismal conclusion that all philosophy and modes of agreed upon human existence has its flaws. The highest medical research has provided us with solutions that are not 100% and drugs with side-effects. Engineers agree that every solution provided comes with a new problem in its suitcase. So we hold in high esteem the concept of maintenance and constant innovation. I would argue that this is growth in a sense but if you dig deeper you find, this is all a melting pot of ideas by humans trying to save themselves and failing terribly at it. Socialism and communism failed, capitalism exposed our wickedness and democracy is a hot mess. We are killing the planet by “developing” it and humanity grows dumber by consuming more and more information.

Obviously we are running ourselves to the ground and that is not a surprise at least for us Christians. The bible does prophecy it. Basically the day man thought he could decide between right and wrong, he doomed himself to death. So we are all just living a self-fulfilling prophecy but God provided us an out and that is what that verse in Genesis serves as a prequel to.

Adam and Eve had just made the dumbest decision ever (much like we do daily) and the implications of their choice showed up almost immediately. A problem. With the ability to decide for themselves, they did what we all do and tried to solve the problem. The hilarious thing is with all the “knowledge” to be like God according to what the devil promised, these two humans could figure out that there was a problem of nakedness but “they strung fig leaves together to cover themselves around the hips.” Now in retrospect, that was really dumb because even though you are not naked, you are not covered either. Only one winter breeze would show that “fig leaves” are not a sustainable clothing option. Funny thing is, Adam knew this because after adorning original “eden brand” fig leaves, he still had to hide behind bushes and here was his reason…

That evening they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden; and they hid themselves among the trees.  The Lord God called to Adam, “Why are you hiding?” And Adam replied, “I heard you coming and didn’t want you to see me naked. So I hid.”

Genesis 3:8-10 (TLB)

But this story is not all bad news at least at that point in the story. Look at verse 21 with me…

and the Lord God clothed Adam and his wife with garments made from skins of animals.

Genesis 3:21

God stepped in and provided Adam with a better solution. One that solved this problem for literally generations. I like this part of the story because it doesn’t leave man hopeless. Even more glorious is that before this verse, God had addressed the main problem with the promise of a solution. Right there in that garden, Jesus was promised; but that is a story for another day. In this article we realise quite clear as day, that even though man can choose from right and wrong, that knowledge does not guarantee him wisdom and his only hope is to give that baton to God where it rightly belongs in the first place.

What does that look like in the 21st century? Quite simple. Listen, trust and obey. We need to know what God is saying about every problem and every decision. Then we need to trust that he has our best interest at heart and then give in by obeying his instructions. Now if you want to know why we should do this, here is a reason for you; he created it all! Too obvious? Okay what about him choosing to be like us, feel what we feel and die worse than we could die just so we could have an opportunity to get back what we intentionally lost at Eden. He loves us as a whole and individually too. So maybe we might want to listen to him more.

Let’s get practical.

Before you choose to hold on to a grudge because you are genuinely hurt (fig leaves) maybe you might want to try forgiveness and give yourself peace. Instead of making yourself into a sex junkie in a bid to satisfy your cravings (fig leaves) you could let the one who gave you those cravings tell you how he intended for them to be used. PRAY! Pray as much as you can. Especially to know what to do per time and with the little and big stuff the bible doesn’t mention. Most importantly, let God lead your life by accepting the life he laid down for you at the cross. That way you get access to God in man: The Holy Spirit!

I will end with an interesting story that is not so much in the past. The film, Selma, chronicles one of the most pivotal moments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s story. One of the scenes shows MLK leading a huge multitude in a peaceful protest and for a moment it seemed as though their enemies would let them carry on but MLK stopped and took a knee. This made everyone in the protest do the same, and after a moment he stood up and went back and the crowd followed. The leaders at the time were so furious with MLK. From the perspective of the film we were able to see what transpired behind closed doors that MLK and his comrades were not privy to. This was meant to be an ambush but a lot of lives were saved because MLK stopped and prayed.

I guess I have expressed this point as much as I can for now. I hope you realise that the fig-leaves solutions you have cannot stand the test of time so you need to let God help you. I hope our leaders learn to pray and truly listen to God and then trust and obey him. In the end, this world will definitely come to ruin but at least most of us can be saved if we do differently, let God heal us and provide us with better solutions.

– Ezeonyeka Godswill
(c) 2020