Looking on the outward appearance
We all make our judgements
We assume people should know better
People should be able to do better
We see a handsome young man from a good home
We tell ourselves he had been properly brought up
He will not depart from the training of his parents
We see a beautiful young lady, from a decent background
We tell ourselves she was well groomed
Her parents have done the best they could
She has paid attention and learnt!
We assume that the fruits of a good tree should be good
We also assume that the fruits of a bad tree would be bad
But sometimes the fruit is fundamentally flawed
By itself, somehow...
Didn't Jesus say such happened while man was sleeping?
The vineyard of good seeds was suddenly infested with tares
Was it anybody's fault that it did?
I grew up in a good Christian home, a family of seven
Not the fanatic type, the moderate type
I had five siblings
I was the first child and a girl
We had a good social life and balanced upbringing
My Father worked as a Banker and my mother was a teacher
I was one of those children who loved the Lord early
I participated in Memory verse competitions, junior choir,
mock preaching drills, sword drills and so on
I was the poster girl for good upbringing
My siblings are equally well behaved
We were that family that was a few inches away from perfection
When I gained admission into secondary school
I had a school in mind which i wanted to attend
But my parents called me and told me they couldn't
afford the school
All my friends were going to that school, especially
my best friend
I really wanted to go to that school
But when the academic session resumed, i
found myself enrolled in another school
I hated that school and all its teachers
But I had no option but to go where my parents could afford
And then it dawned on me!
If my parents didn't have all the other children, they would be
able to afford the school I desired
Why did they have five of us?
Why didn't they stop at only me?
The question gnawed at me for many days
Suddenly I was very unhappy
I just found myself always in a terrible mood
My parents lost their clothes of many colours in my sight
I just couldn't find myself loving or obeying them again
They couldn't provide me with the best
They had too many children and I was paying the price
Why didn't my mother get a better paying
job so that she can earn more?
Why was my father contented with the little he
Why didn't they have a drive, an ambition that could
match my own and meet my needs
My utopia was shattered entirely
I wanted to run away from home but couldn't
As a consequence, I became what they termed
a "troubled" teen
I did poorly in school (Not because I was a moron but
because I hated the school)
I stopped having friends (Because my friend, the one
I wanted to go to the same school with had moved on
and left me behind! SHe betrayed me!)
I hated church and God! (The former because my parents
and siblings seemed to derive joy in it and live in delusion,
the latter because I prayed several times that He would
change my parent's heart and He didn't! I also
pleaded for provision so that my parents can change my
school and it didn't happen)
I repeated JSS2 twice, the second time, my father
He wondered what he did wrong and how I veered off course
I took great pleasure in his tears!
But I didn't expect the consequence!
The next time I was bundled off to a boarding school
Just like that!
The failure of the family, the reproach of the family
thrown far away from home!
The boarding school helped me a little
I was able to reinvent myself
I picked up academically because I don't like addressing
my agemates as "senior this", "senior that"
I equally hated those I was older than calling me by
my name as if we were mates because we were in
the same class!
As at that time, I realised that something had
changed within me!
Even if I wanted to forgive my parents, I couldn't
I had forgotten how to behave properly and they had
not forgotten how I had hurt them in words and in deeds
over the years!
I find God very puzzling and absolutely unreal
I think God is a problem and we need to do without him
I have read several books and listened to several thinkers
especially the atheists
They made a lot of sense to me
By the time I left secondary school, I was "wise"
In my first year of University, I buried my head in philosophy
I was sure i could find a way to clean out God from people's DNA
My anger towards my parents had evolved
It had become a wave of anger against God
for his double standards
All the stories I once read and loved in the Bible
Suddenly made no sense to me!
David couldn't have killed Goliath with a stone
And Samuel couldn't have heard the voice of any God
And John the Baptist was just a raving loon
Jesus was the greatest fraudster of all time!
I wrote a lot of thesis on this
I did my researches and I advanced in my career
I eventually settled down in Oxford
I owned a bookstore and had friends i discuss with
every evening over cups of tea
We were all Africans who had found our way to the UK
We usually talk about the diseases rampaging Africa
From Ignorance to religion to politics
From Mugabe, to Buhari to Zuma
We have a WhatsApp group and we share stories
We criticise overfed and overprivileged pastors,
We criticise the Bible, we say all sorts!
In all this, I had a sore in my heart
A big gulf of misery and pain
I had assumed it was the same for everybody
Some fill the gulf with religion, others with one form of
addiction or the other, some fill it with hobbies and habits!
I had read on it extensively and had adjusted myself
to coping with it!
The Gulf of "meaninglessness" was what I call it
I try very much to avoid it
I do meaningful things like reading, listening to music
visiting art galleries, following professional work out routines,
having sex when needed with healthy partners that will not
cause me to worry over STD's or jealous partners
Sometimes the misery would just swallow me up
I would fall into depression and wander through this
arid maze of the soul endlessly
Several times I tried to silence it with music
The cacophony of many voices
I go clubbing!
I was particularly attracted to live shows!
I do some drugs too
Nothing to the point of addiction
Just for social purposes
Angel Dust, Cannabis, roofies, prescription pills
All i wanted was to be stirred away from that abyss
But sometimes it would engulf me in the middle of the night
After I had done everything to escape its claws during the day
It would come when I was at my most vulnerable
I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched
My sweat and my tears mingling to devastating effect
Sometimes I wouldn't even feel like leaving my bed
I tried committing suicide twice
I took a lot of pills once and found it to be the most painful experience
Apart from the fact that it failed
I couldn't eat properly for a very long time
The second time I was drunk
I got behind the wheels of my car and started driving
Suddenly it occurred to me that I could end it that way
But the car refused to speed up
I was too conscious and too fearful
I cried myself sober in that car that day
In the preacher's voice, it is all vanity, all is vanity
I got my PhD at the age of 42
My mother died a week later
I had not spoken with my parents or siblings since
I left home at the age of 24
There was nothing to talk about!
Perhaps because it was something new
Something i had never experienced before
Perhaps it was because I wanted to experience
being bereaved and all it's attendant consequences
I booked a flight and returned home
The burial took place on a Thursday
It was anti-climatic
For starters, I was a stranger to everybody
I could as well be an impostor and my family members
wouldn't know the difference
Of course, I look like me or like one of them
But I feel no sense of kinship with any one of them
I made a mental note never to succumb to sentiment and
return for my Father's burial when he dies
All my siblings are married with children
I couldn't even tell their children apart
I wonder what was good about our country
Why they reproduced like bad news
I was just irritable throughout
I went back to my hotel immediately after the burial
I didn't have any business at the funeral party
I brought no crowd with me and I didn't plan to waste my time hanging
I found a club later in the evening
I took some cannabis for relaxation and danced until my bones ached
I slept around 6 AM
I woke up around 4 pm on Friday
It was a pattern I developed to beat the night
Especially when I know I was going to be bored because
of lack of activity
I had made the mistake of booking a return ticket
I couldn't just up and leave without some stiff financial consequences
I had to see out the nine days I had planned to spend
By 7 pm on Friday, i saw activity around the poolside of my hotel
The front desk officers said it was Karaoke night
I took my time to bathe and dress up
I really needed somebody sharp and smart to see that I needed some company
Nothing permanent, just someone for the night!
That was when my phone rang
My immediate younger brother
he said he was waiting at the reception of the hotel
I was already taking the elevator to the reception
I met him there
He introduced me to someone
He called his name "brother So and So"
The person extended his hand for a handshake
I naturally hated guys to be so forward
I should be the one to extend my hand if i wanted him to shake me
But I didn't want to cause a fuss
I shook his hand!
And that was that!
Something happened to me in my spirit
I am sorry I said "Spirit", I never believed in such before but I had to believe
I almost jumped out of my skin
I just sat there, silently beside my brother and I began to cry
It was as it a force was closing that abyss or filling it up with something else
I cried right there for two hours
I told myself it was delayed grief for my mother's passing,
I said it was the pain I had felt since I was young
I knew something was being turned around inside of me
By 8 pm, I realised the pain in my heart
The tautness in my tummy
That cringing nameless sting that has kept me on edge for many years
had been totally removed
By then the Brother had left
My younger brother told me he was holding a vigil somewhere later that
night and had to go
I needed to understand what he did and how he did it
I told my brother to take me to the vigil
We got there an hour early
It was a small church!
My brother filled my ears with stories about Jesus and the meeting
He showed me the apps and the website
I couldn't believe it
I actually started reading the stories and liked them
Then the service started
I just sat there at the back
Expecting him to ask us for seed or money or see
a spiritual vision that will paralyse us and keep us his perpetual milk cows
It didn't happen!
The sermon was good
In fact, the vigil finished at a few minutes past two
I gave my life to Jesus that night
No altar calls, nothing! Just me speaking to Jesus and saying
I am sorry I didn't know you are real!
The peace and the joy was overwhelming
My fingers and toes tingled for hours
I had never felt like that ever before in my life
It was as if I was as light as air and floating all about
I got to my room around 4 AM
I couldn't sleep, I knelt down and prayed and cried
And then I started speaking in tongues
I cried and laughed and spoke and spoke and danced
Goodness flooded my soul!
I returned to the United Kingdom the following week
My relationship with my family had been reestablished
i was so happy
I joined a small church and got baptised
A brother, the keyboardist who also works with an insurance firm took to me
He proposed and we got married
As I write this I am a few months pregnant!
I cannot describe the difference between my life then and now
I am in no way religious but I am alive
The God of Theories died with my past
The living God became real to me
I forgave all and was forgiven all
I am so happy in Jesus
Thank you, Jesus!
PS: I had to take some time to rest today
I really didn't want to write a story
But when this mail came in, I decided we all needed to read it
I have read it several times
If you are still of the opinion that God is one "Idea"
I don't blame or condemn you
I am only praying that you will meet the real deal soon
Once you meet him
All arguments will fade