Peace in the Promise

I’m not even going to bother with the apologies again..no point. I nearly decided to leave off with this blog. I just got tired. Like when I finish working, the last thing I want to do is pick up my lappie and start another work…this was becoming work. Which is a problem.

I’m not joking I have like 5 titles to write on, but no energy, no motivation. So I decided to give it a break until today.

And today I am here because…I am grateful…

This time last year, in response to a situation, God told me “No matter how it looks, it will turn out for good”. I got a bit alarmed by the way Abba phrased it, I mean what did He mean by no matter how it looks…I was worried o.

The second half of last year was hard. I’ve blogged about it before I think. It wasn’t fun o. You know when you’re dealing with something undefinable. It’s not – Oh this person said this, or that person did that, or this thing I need is unavailable. It is just life becoming struggle on every single front. I was tired! Spent so many nights questioning God and hearing “You are perfectly in my will” and “Stop trying to escape this process. You must go through it” All those sturvs.  Ah!

I’m sitting here in my house and I am so grateful. Did the situation change? No, not really. But guess what? Somewhere, somehow, without knowing how exactly, God arranged my perspective to see my situation through new eyes. Through frustration and despair, He took away fear and anxiety. You know how you hit rock bottom and you’re like – This is it, I’m done. And then you find, most unexpectedly, peace in the giving up? I found it. Because I found out that the results were not up to me, the answers were not up to me. When I stopped trying so hard to hold on, and I let go, guess what I found? I found out that He was holding onto me, that He wouldn’t let me go.

I had a bit of an accommodation situation this year, needed to move out of a place within a certain period of time, hunted, searched, and then quite randomly got led to a place that is 10 times better than the former place. I wake up each day peaceful, content and excited. This is what He has done, showed me how precisely He governs each detail. How precisely I am led.

Today I was asking Him – All these seeds I’m sowing, will they ever pay off? And I got an assurance in my Spirit – Of course they will. This is a process, just like the past one was. My life is a daily giving, a daily pouring of myself for Him, through my service to other people. And though I am coming to a place where it is becoming less like “doing” and more like a regular way of life, it still made me smile when I said to Him, “I’m ok if You never give me any of the things You say You will, it’s about You, not them” and He sends me to a Scripture that says…let me find it first I’m coming

Aha..Ruth 2:12. In the CEB – May the Lord reward you for your deed. May you receive a rich reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you’ve come to seek refuge

He intends to reward, all that one I was speaking was just grammar.

I’m blessed with daily miracles, big and small. And now I hunger to be a miracle too. To be the vessel through which someone goes back to God to say “Thank You for coming through for me”

I used to wonder why people never gave to me the same way other people testified of receiving. You know how people say “I was just scratching my foot and someone came to me and gave me a new car”. I used to wonder why I never was the recipient of unrequested and unexpected gifts, and then Abba did something –  He took that feeling, and then turned it into a hunger to be the giver instead, of unexpected blessings. I want to be the reason someone testifies, I want to be the channel by which people are blessed.

His hands on earth and that sort of thing.

Anyway…I’m grateful. The situation I was in hasn’t changed, but being in a place where you are totally out of control and the ability to predict what comes next…well it does something to you. It gives you peace. It teaches you faith and trust. Because you are no longer able to influence or push or manipulate. And all you can do is lie there and wait.

There is promise in the waiting. There is peace in the promise.

 

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MIDNIGHT INSECURITIES

I don’t like my body very much these days. Am I allowed to say that? Am I allowed to be skinny and feel ungainly? I don’t know. Everytime I have tried to complain about this body, I am shut down – my well meaning friends and family gather their bodies, pinch flesh, grab bellies, and then they say to me – you have nothing to complain about. So I keep quiet, and stop talking about the fact that sometimes, I feel fat.

Ironic I know. I’m a size 2 abi 4 abi 6 – I don’t even know what size I am anymore. I think that’s the problem, I don’t know this body anymore. The body I used to have was tiny and lithe and responded eagerly to my most basic attempts at exercise. I got carefree with that body, got used to that body.

These days the body is not so sensitive, it’s a lot more deliberate, a lot less obedient. So I have folds where no folds used to be and to be honest I have no idea what to do about it. This new me. This thicker me.

This me with an accordion like tummy and jiggly thighs. I don’t like my jiggly thighs.

Can I tell you another secret? I’m scared of exercising. Because, what if, just what if, I start working out…and nothing happens? Does that mean I have to live with this body for the rest of my life?

Today I met a designer with a tight lean body and a sense of fashion that celebrates that body – she looked at me and said “Great! You’re skinny, you can wear my smaller clothes” She grabbed my middle and I wanted to shrink – I wanted to say “I’m not skinny, I am a fraud. I have fat under my skin and I am much thicker than I look” I didn’t though, I came back home and looked at my chubby-ish belly and I growled at it – this body part that is falling out of line. Grrrrr.

Please don’t laugh at me when you read this. Please don’t tell me how minor my issues are. They are MY issues. I’m allowed to have them. And like my dreams, they are perfectly valid.

I’m doing something about it though, I’m starting workouts and working myself into making fitness a part of my life. Its not my diet – I like vegetables, sugar makes me nauseous, as does grease. I love salads, raw food makes me happy. It’s just my body, changing, telling me time is passing.

Maybe I panic because it feels like a metaphor of my life – I am growing older, time is passing, I don’t have the same chances I used to have.

Flip that coin and look on the bright side – I might not have the same chances, but I have new chances now, like I have a new body. It’s time to stop looking at the body I used to have, time to stop growling at the mirror. It’s time to build the body…and life, that I have. Work on it, fine tune it, sweat over it, till this new one becomes the best one.

I saw this beautiful picture of Beverly Osu, in her underwear, and an afro. I like it. I’ll make it my inspiration, not to look like her, but to look like my best me. Just like I need to take a picture of the life I want, and work on it, to live the best life…for me. I want to be able to stand and look at my body, and my life…and love them just the way they are. Look at them and smile in the mirror. And when another person comes up to me and says “You’re perfect for what I need”, I can say “You bet I am, I worked damn hard to make sure of it”

That’s the plan.

 

 

4 YEAR OLD WISDOM

My nephew and I co-own my tab. He downloads the games he likes and spends many happy hours playing everything he can. When he’s bored, we delete the ones he’s done with and head back to the Google play store.

Now I also have my own games – (Awon Candy Crushers halla!) and every so often I have to remind Lil dude that he can’t play my games so there is no point opening them. But of course kids will be kids and so, after cautioning him a few times and being questioned to distraction, I kukuma left the games for him to enjoy himself with.

One day, he claimed the tab as usual and then opened one of my games. He didn’t really understand it, and so barely got any points (He is 4 years old and it was a word game). However, at the end, I was surprised by a cheer! “I won! I won!” I looked over – *No more moves*. Well I wasn’t going to be the Grinch who told him that he hadn’t actually won, so I clapped for him and congratulated him.

Today, I was playing one of my games and ran out of moves. The game did its usual end of game flourish and he looked over

Him: “Auntie Didi did you win?”

Me:  “No darling, I ran out of moves”

Him: No you must have won, because the lady is happy (the little flower fairy who flew up to twirl her baton on the screen)

It caught me though, how easy it is to get caught up in standard definitions of success. My little nephew had been “winning” all his (my) games, simply because, as far as he was concerned, the sound effects at the end signalled a victory. There was nothing I would say to make that different to him. He took it one step further by reminding me that no matter what my definition of winning is, there is always another way to look at it to make a victory for me out of that situation.

Now I’m not saying that we should delude ourselves that we are doing well when we are obviously doing badly. I’m not talking about an escape from reality, but this gorgeous little boy reminded me to broaden my definitions of what a win is. He reminded me that it’s more than what I think it is; that it is possible for it to be so much broader than I think.

Truly, a little child shall lead them. He led me

HELP! MY BOSS IS TRYING TO KILL ME

Your name is David and you are the most popular man in Israel. You have fought so many wars that you’ve forgotten half of them. Young men want to be you and women throng the streets to sing about your prowess. It’s a heady life but for you it means one major thing, you love your job and you’re good at it.

One day you walk into your boss’s house. As you turn down the corridor, Michal, your wife and the daughter of the King, rushes to you with a slightly panicked look in her eyes. Your hand goes to your sword as you scan the space behind her. She clutches you “He has started again”. You relax…you know what that mean;, everyone knows what that means.

“Bring me…” the increased panic in her eyes stops you… “send me my harp, I’ll play him something. Don’t worry, it will be over in no time” You take a minute to kiss her, deep enough to take her mind off her father and on to other things, and then you release her with a smile.

As you head to the King’s anteroom, you already know what you are going to play, you had composed a new psalm the night before; it is a song of awe and worship…perfect for a troubled king.

You walk into chaos; the king is pacing, screaming obscenities and throwing things at any courtier close enough to earn his disfavour. Servants, guards and ministers are huddled in frightened clusters. An audible wave of relief goes up as you walk in, followed almost immediately by your harp.

You start to play and almost immediately feel the presence of God. The King is still in a fit, but you know that it is only a matter of time before the music soothes him. You are getting lost in the music, sinking into rhythm; the King turns to look at you playing and then…a warning at the base of your spine…you glance up just in time to see the spear leave his hand, directed at you. You fling the harp to one side and throw yourself to the other. The spear passes through the space your body inhabited before. The shocked silence is louder than anything you have never heard. In that moment when time stops, you look into the king’s eyes and everyone else disappears as you realise that the rage and hatred in those eyes is directed solely at you.

As you scramble to your feet, you know that things will never be the same again.

This passage for me is the perfect one for anyone dealing with a terrible boss – employee situation. Yes your boss shouts at you, yes o, the other day she tried to slap you, ehn…he cut your salary, but has s/he ever tried to kill you? If the answer is no, you’re still in good standing. Lol!

Seriously sha, how do you deal with a boss that is actively trying to kill you? Like for real wants to see you dead? Mean bosses just entered another level.

For me, the most remarkable thing was how David kept his head in the middle of all this. Kept his respect, kept the value he had always had for the king, no snide comments, no yimu-ing behind his back. He was still as obedient, as respectful and as dedicated to the King as he had always been, right until God told him to leave.

I believe that 3 things caused this.

First, God had bred within David an understanding of honour. It is not easy when the person over you displays ogbanje behaviour, but David understood honour, and he knew that, no matter how anointed you are, you will never be bigger than your designated authority. There is no blessing in rebellion.

Second, he had an endpoint in mind. David knew he was going to be King. He had known it for quite a bit, knowing God’s plan for him made it easier to deal with all the wahala, he knew that it was temporary. He understood that what was happening was just an aspect of the full story. He didn’t take it personal (which is a big deal considering that Saul was literally running around the place trying to skewer David like a recalcitrant rat). He was able to separate the events from his work and his purpose, and he dealt.

When I read this story, I remembered a former employer I used to have. It was one of the most unhappy work periods in my life. She was verbally abusive and I was always afraid because I had no clue where the next tirade would come from. I would stand there, unable to speak, as she screamed at me until she was tired. And yet, every time I wanted to leave, I got a clear “Stay” order from God (till date He hasn’t told me why). Finally, one night I wrote my resignation letter, I was going to submit it the next day. The next morning, as I was editing it, I got a call – she wanted to see me. I went upstairs to be told that the company could no longer afford to keep me on fulltime. I was given a choice between leaving or staying on in a project based capacity. I (of course) chose to leave. As I walked out, I cannot explain the utter lightness that I felt in my spirit. I smiled at her and thanked her (sincerely!) for the job and the opportunity. I walked to my desk to meet a ringing phone. I picked it up and heard an offer for another job.

I know there are lots of people in really bad work situations, and many people don’t have the option to stand up and walk away. If this blogpost is for you – pray about it, wait till you have a word before you act. It gets better, you will get through it, there is a plan, you will be fine.

ps1: The Story of David was primarily taken from 1 Samuel 18.

ps2: If I overcome my laziness, I’ll share some tips from David on how to deal

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.

 

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