DOING BETTER

I was at dinner this evening, and noticed this waiter bustling about. He had on that funny accent Nigerian staff use in areas with lots of expats, was bustling about and making comments and asking “inane” questions. I clocked him and ignored him.

Heading to the buffet table to get my meal, I noticed him hovering around me. First he asked when I checked in, then he asked about something else and then something else. I found it all a bit too much so I was abrupt in my answer.

Again when he came to deliver me a bottle of water, there were questions and comments and again I was barely present. I just didn’t want to deal with the over familiar behaviour.

As we exited the restaurant, he was walking past us, I noticed he glanced at me and then quickly away, and I started to feel bad at how obviously unfriendly I had been. This persisted all the way up to my room until finally, I decided to go back down under the guise of something totally random, and just be friendlier.

I got back in and asked for some fruit. He offered to get me a takeaway pack and I asked why I couldn’t just use a regular plate…all of this in the friendliest voice possible without being weird.

To my shock and slight shame, this young man, the same chattering one, started to stammer as he explained that the dinner plates were not expected to go up. Make that huge shame…because I knew I had done that to him, dented his confidence in that way.

I know how it is when people and their random carelessness hurt me much larger than even they would have thought.

It’s so easy to see people only from our eyes…how they annoy or irritate or disturb us. We only see their annoying qualities or the things they do that irk us. It’s easy to forget to ask Why…to ask to see through a different set of eyes.

This is the second time today God pushed me to see through someone’s eyes. The first time ended up pretty nicely…this second left a bad taste in my mouth.

I’m not going to don the sackcloth and ashes…just make an effort to do better, to be better.

NB: I’m holding myself accountable. The reason why I haven’t posted is because of a bad laptop. It’s fixed now, and I’m back on track. Fingers crossed.

 

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CONVERSATIONS WITH ONE – RE-LEARNING TO HOPE

You have always thought of yourself as a hope filled person – someone who always believes and encourages others to do the same. That’s why you disagree when One points out the emptiness of your Hope jar. You don’t believe it, it doesn’t sound like you.

But the post phone call autopsy shows different. In that uncomfortable but increasingly familiar sequence of events, One shows you your body language through a phone call that is pretty much the biggest possible deal ever. Even as you share and pace and plan, your spirit stands, separate and disengaged, hands folded, heart determinedly closed. You still don’t agree… you’re being cautious, realistic, planning and waiting.

So One asks you to pray… and you see Spirit…struggling to put faith to words, struggling even to find the words. You realise that you do not want to pray. And One asks, “Why?”

You look at yourself more closely, at the hunched shoulders. You think of the storms, not fiery raging ones that force fight and fire from you, but steady slow drizzles that soak and soak until all you can do is hunch your shoulders…and wait

The answers are compelled out of you…You have asked too many things and watched them go unanswered…you have been hurt and denied too many times…you do not have the testimonies you asked for…you are scared to ask because you don’t want to become resentful when the answer is no…you don’t want the hurt of asking and investing in an answer that doesn’t come…you don’t want the pain of refusal.

With your response comes a painful sort of freedom, but One isn’t done. Again the nudge “Pray”

As you go to pray, you note your posture, not a child asking a loving Father, but a supplicant beseeching a distant ruler. This is not the King you have come to know, how has this become the King that you see?

One pauses your prayer, and gently rearranges you. Your rigidly held out hands soften as they clutch the arms of the Father who is always ready to hold you. Your pleas for mercy become an assurance that you have been heard. You find yourself asking “Restore me to hope…remind me of hope”

You still didn’t pray like you expected to…for this thing that is so big that you are scared to hold on to it, lest like a bubble in the heat, it vanishes, leaving you with a memory…and sticky empty fingers.

But you pray for hope to believe, for the hope that will both anchor this thing to your soil and raise it, waving, in the skies of your spirit.

You pray for the ability to open your heart…yes, to pain, but also to possibility.

You realise that the lesson is not asking for the thing, but the ability to believe that all things are possible.

You raise your Hope jar; this tarnished, bruised thing, this barely burning flame. With hands that have almost forgotten the motions, you begin to polish…with lips that have almost forgotten how, you reach into you…and begin to blow

THANK YOU 2015, HELLO 2016

2015 is practically out the window and we’re all looking back and reflecting. So I’m going to do the same, share some things about this year abi last year.

First, 2015 was the year that showed me inexplicable grace. I was called to moderate a seminar, 2 other international journalists had been contacted and unavailable, a chance conversation led to my name being mentioned, but that’s only part of the story. Grace was being applauded by a table of people for being so excellent in moderating. Grace was Nigerian delegates coming to tell me that I made them proud to be Nigerian, in requests for my picture, all for standing in one place and announcing the schedule. I learnt this year that God is a multiplier God; that He excels in taking your little and making it much, much bigger than you can ever imagine.

It was the year of absurdities, in a business trip that threw me for a loop when I was informed that the last 2 days of the trip were expected to see me move to the organiser’s hotel room. An assumption made not only without my input, but in clear opposition to a discussion we had where I categorically stated that my interests were purely business. I never hesperred it.

This was the year of exploring; 5 countries I visited this year. I sulked a bit because I asked for 6. Abba has sha reminded me that I went on 6 trips so I should shut it. I am asking for 10 in 2016, or should I be reasonable and say 8? Sod reasonable, shooting for the moon.

This was the year of asking God why, as things that were “supposed” to happen didn’t happen. It was in planning carefully and then moving into my new house to find that my plans hadn’t come through, and so I couldn’t even afford to furnish my house. I lay on my rug in the dark trying to understand what I had done wrong, and received the baffling answer that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It was the year of answers like “I wanted to see if you would be as quick to praise when your expectations were not met” of questions like “When you don’t get what you expect, am I still your loving, giving Father?” It was the shock of realising that my instinctive answer was sometimes No. This was the year of lying in the dark and asking questions I had no answers to, of realising that I was expected to be ok with no answers, that faith sometimes is a walk in the dark holding onto a hand you can feel but not see.

This year was the year of letting go. Of realising that I no longer had the energy or desire to swim against the current. I am a fighter, I am the type that puts my head down and breaks walls and pushes until I get what I want. 2 conversations stopped me this year, well…2 conversations and 1 experience. I stopped fighting, realised that I needed to learn when to let the current carry me. Realised that there was too much fighting going on, and that sometimes you need to stop fighting so hard to hold things together, lose the fear of letting things fall apart.

This was the year that I realised that I needed to let go and discover grace. Allow grace do the work…stop fighting so hard

This year was the year I confessed to God that the only reason I was accepting one outcome was because I had stopped believing that the outcome I was dreaming of was possible. I looked up and confessed that I had stopped believing. I asked for help and it came, a rope to hold on to till faith was restored and I was standing on sure ground again.

This was the year of hard decisions – some born in fire and torn from my heart, expressed in text and in words. Others were quieter, born in the moment of a silent decision to…or not to.

This was the year of letting go of burdens I didn’t even know I carried, of a single conversation ending with a physical lightness in my chest, a feeling of freedom and space that told me that I had been carrying anger I didn’t even realise. And following an apology I had decided was never coming, something left, left me free.

This year…it was fun, but it was confusing. At the beginning of this year, my phrase was “Your eyes will see God”, it was followed by “You know Me as Lover and Friend, it is time to know me as King” I expected magnificent miracles that would leave the world speechless. Instead I encountered requests to trust without understanding, to praise regardless, to hold on when there was nothing left to hold on with. I realised that Kings are Sovereign, and they owe us no answers, irrespective of our desire or expectation of the same. My faith stuttered and flamed to life and sputtered to near death in floods of tears. I didn’t always feel Him, but He was always there, in resolution and inconclusive answers; in plenty and not enough, in unexpected blessings and “unanswered” prayers.

I already know what 2016 will require of me. It’s the year I bring sexy back. There will be laughing and taking time to love on me. There will be slowing down to smell the roses. There will be self care and self love. There will be rediscovering the softer edges, the quirky edges. There will be a calling forth of the parts that needed to take a backseat for 2015 to happen.

I will continue on my journey of a more childlike, simpler faith. A faith that asks no more than that I am doing what my Father desires, that I am loving Him with all my heart, that I am pleasing Him with every breath.

Beyond that, I have no idea, but I know that every lesson this year is preparation for next. Some things are hanging too strategically, cliffhangers so carefully positioned that all I can do is hold on and wait for the unveiling of the promised.

2015 was an interesting year. That I think, is the best way to put it. Am I excited about 2016, very oddly for me, no. I am very blasé about it, sitting down here, sipping a bottle of lukewarm water, typing to Sinach and thankful that medication has dulled the pain in my throat.

I’m not excited, but I am ready.

Happy New Year Everyone, May this year be all you dream of, and then more