Faith in God: What it means

So instead of actually learning about faith to grow yours, you get the ‘Christianese’ on lockdown that everyone believes you are a mini Abraham. Sadly, you can’t fool God nor can you fool yourself.

If you are a Christian attending a bible believing church, you have definitely heard of faith and most likely have some level of faith in God. More ordinarily, every individual has some kind of faith, albeit not in Jesus.

At the basic level, faith in Jesus is believing that He is (exists) and that the things we desire of him will come to fruition. Faith is one of the most talked about subjects in the bible and in christianity but that does not translate to increasing faith amongst christians.

Quite frankly, it often gets tough to believe against evidence which is what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 says ‘it is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen’.

Faith in God

Generally, I consider myself to be a person of faith but recently, I had an encounter that challenged that and brought to the fore some issues that we have as ‘faith filled’ christians.

Have you ever listened to a sermon and the preacher starts talking about a mighty miracle that happened and then you just roll your eyes to the back of your skull because of unbelief? Yes, that was me a few weeks ago.

We put up defenses to some testimonies because we believe this is just an exaggerated story and we are way too educated to fall for this concocted story. After that service, I went home and started reading a book which interestingly gave me even more reason to roll my eyes and ‘yimu’ as the Nigerian that I am.

However, a day or two later, I was reading my bible and I was so receptive to all these miracles which humanly speaking were much more ridiculous than the ones from church and the book.

And then the Holy Spirit taught me a lesson that challenged my faith. I am going to share five things that will let you check your faith to see if you truly are a faith filled Christian.

Faith connects us to what we need

You never see results– The purpose of having faith is for it to produce results in the given area. Sometimes, the results may not come at the time we want or in the form we want but effective faith MUST produce results.

As a Christian, saying you have faith, praying for something and never seeing results is not enough. It means that there is a need to reevaluate your understanding of faith or grow your faith. You can’t just go on your whole life claiming to have faith and never seeing any result.

You are a doubter at heart– You have a natural inclination to disbelief. You are always critical and never thankful or receptive. Sometimes, even after praying for something and seeing the result, you begin to wonder if it was God or it was just the ‘universe’. You wonder if that blessing was not a coincidence and if it would not have come anyway.

How can you believe that Jesus rose from death? and the sun stood still, and that Enoch never saw death but you struggle to believe God can heal your illness? It means you actually do not believe the bible as much as you think you do.

You have faith in words but never act on it– You are always so quick to ‘believe’ in God not because you actually believe but because it is the Christian thing to do. You definitely do not want to be the outcast in your Christian circle who has doubts.

So instead of actually learning about faith to grow yours, you get the ‘Christianese’ on lockdown that everyone believes you are a mini Abraham. Sadly, you can’t fool God nor can you fool yourself.

You always have faith for others but never for yourself – In the same vein as the earlier point, when people have worries or doubts, you are quick yo ask them to pray and have faith because it is what a good Christian would say. Or because that’s what you heard in the sermon last week.

But when you get away with fooling others, you still have to face the truth when you need to apply faith. You realise that you lack faith. Faith is not theoretical but practical.

You use it as a filler word or tool of encouragement– People often make sentences like ‘I have faith that…’ or ‘I believe that…’ without knowing the implications.

Talking about faith is so easy but it is not meant to be a tool of encourgement or motivation. Faith is claiming the promises of God based on his word and so anything that is not based on God’s word cannot be faith.

The next time you believe or have faith that something will happen, ask yourself what God says about that issue?

Finally, and on a slightly related note, one evidence of having faith in God is giving thanks for the miracles we did not ask for. There are blessings that God gives to us before we ask and it is only when we are conscious of them that we can show appreciation.

In my observation, the norm is that people will only testify about victories that they prayed and waited on God for. But we need to testify of the blessings he freely gives us as well.

These lessons have been a true eye opener for me. Faith and doubt cannot co-exist and its funny to claim to believe the mighty miracles in the bible and then doubt when you hear them happen today. It might just mean that you’re not as faith filled as you think. Maybe you do not even believe Jesus rose from death.

Please share your thoughts.

Heart to Heart: Has this challenged your faith? Are there any other areas that were not mentioned?

The Gospel in the Face of Adversity

Prayer is a spiritual booster to your action rather than a magic wand.

I had to take a break because the past two weeks have been soooooo much to handle for me personally. Being Nigerian, it has been a tough time emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

About two weeks ago, thousands of young Nigerians took to the streets demanding an end to a rogue police unit that had become popularly known for brutal violence, torture, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings. This unit known as the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) which was set up to fight armed robbery as the name obviously implies, became the armed robbers.

These protests garnered international attention, trended online for days and eventually brought some states to a standstill. The Nigerian government ‘disbanded’ SARS swiftly and this would have been a historic victory, had this not been the fourth ‘disbandment’ of this rogue unit over the past four years. Knowing the nature of dishonesty and lip service that the Nigerian government is accustomed to, the youth were not going to back down without the enforcement of this new disbandment and an open prosecution of officers found guilty.

Unfortunately, on the 20th of October 2020, the protests turned deadly as the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful protesters who were sitting, waving the Nigerian flag and singing the national anthem at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State. As I mentioned earlier, honesty is not one of the traits the Nigerian Government is known for and so it was no surprise that various government agencies moved to discredit evidence of the Lekki massacre that surfaced online.

So where does the gospel come in in all of this? How can we be Christian and live the gospel in the face of adversity?

From the beginning of the protests, I saw several Christian ‘takes’ on how the protests were good or not good for various reasons. I will summarize all that I saw into two types of gospel.

  1. The Proud Gospel: Why do I call these people proud? It is simple because they lacked empathy. A key component of Christ’s ministry on earth was showing compassion and you cannot have compassion without empathy.

These people felt that the protesters were wasting their time or perhaps they were jobless and that it was not going to bring results. These people also judged people for expressing their anger towards the government or challenging church leaders to speak up for justice.

To be clear, I am not endorsing being rude to leaders but leaders must be open to criticism from those they lead. A leader who does not want to be questioned needs to step down and be led. Whether in the secular or Christian world, leaders must be accountable.

When people discovered warehouses where palliatives for Covid-19 were stocked up and these poor and hungry citizens flocked in to take food, some Christians used the gospel as a tool to judge them for taking what was not theirs. Again, I am not condoning stealing but empathy is key. And quite frankly, I am glad that many families will now be able to eat a decent meal for the next couple months rather that those food items going bad in the warehouses. So, make of that what you will.

In Matthew 15:32, the bible says “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

It is the living that can receive salvation and we know that many people in Nigeria are barely alive and many more have died from hunger and starvation. Never assume a position that is so self-centered that you fail to extend some empathy and grace.

I do not support people who broke into private property or were looting other items . However, I think if you had four kids at home with nothing to feed them and you came across a warehouse where the government was hoarding food items meant for you, you would get some to feed your kids. Or maybe not.

2. The Lazy Gospel: This group judged the protesters for protesting because what we need to do is pray more. Of course prayer is key but prayer does not absolve you of any other action.

Prayer is a spiritual booster to your action rather than a magic wand.

In the book of Esther, when news got to her that Haman wanted to kill the Jews, Esther told Mordecai to gather the Jews for a period of fasting and prayer. And what was she going to do? She would approach the king.

Esther 4:16-17: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Esther knew that prayer and fasting were needed not as a replacement for action but as a spiritual cover, source of strength and as a booster. Noteworthy also, is the fact that she was willing to give her life for the Jews if both prayer and action failed. Thankfully, they didn’t.

So, the excuse of not protesting or acting because you are praying is in clear contradiction of what scripture upholds. This post is certainly not exhaustive but the bible will shed more light on prayer and accompanying action.

One thing to note, is that you cannot be more christian than Christ.

In times of adversity, Jesus never chose pride. He told the men who wanted to stone the adulterous woman to cast a stone if they were without sin.

He also didn’t pray without action. He could have sent the hungry 5,000 away without food. After all, I am certain he shared a word from God’s throne and that should have been more than enough. But he fed them.

Proverbs 24:10 says “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”

I encourage us, as individuals and especially as Christians to stand up for what is right, particularly in the face of adversity and injustice. Speak up, defend the poor. And do not just do it in the secret place. Do it in the open. Refuse pride and reject laziness.

I pray for God’s strength and direction for us.

Heart to Heart: How do you deal with adversity?

My Plan or God’s Plan

Essentially, do not put off for tomorrow what you can do today. How are you certain you will be alive tomorrow? Psalm 90:12 says “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Like most people in our socially connected world today, I tend to share some personal milestones on my social media. We like to share pictures and videos from our birthdays, vacation, graduation, wedding etc

But a lot of the time, we just don’t share real candid moments from those events but the well curated moments that we think the viewers will appreciate. Most people already agree that social media is very artificial and filtered to show you the highlights. We struggle to have the best photo feed with carefully thought out color schemes, pretty meals, quotes etc

So, like any other person, after I got married, I shared some of my wedding photos. And, If you’ve gotten married in the past few years too, you’ll know that wedding videographers now have an option where they make you a ‘social media length’ video because why not? Why go through the stress of chopping your wedding video yourself when you can get it made perfect for you by the professionals?

By the time I got my video, it was already a couple of months passed my wedding and I did not want to randomly post the video.

So, this morning, I woke up with the video on my mind. I thought for a second about whether to post it and then I figured it would still be too random. While still thinking, I decided I would wait till my 1 year anniversary to post this ‘never before seen’ video. And then it was like I heard a voice clearly in my head, ‘who told you that you would be alive then’?

Now, as a Christian (especially being African lol), I know how to rebuke the lies of the devil over my life. I said to my self, “I will be alive” and I will post my video then. But then, after the initial shock had passed, I stayed quiet and pondered on this thought a little more.

Yes, the devil may lie to us to derail our destinies and keep us in fear but what if God was the one speaking? Remember, the voice didn’t say I would not be alive. It simply asked who told me I would be? If you’re fluent in ‘Christianese’, you’ll simply say God of course, the bible tells us so.

But, as I kept thinking, the Holy Spirit made it clear to me that there is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Everyone tells you to have a 5 year plan, 10 year plan, 20 year plan which is all good but we forget that there’s a big caveat when planning. That is; being alive to see those plans through.

Yes, the bible tells us that Christ came to give us life in abundance and we can be really confident in that. God wants us on earth living for him and bringing glory to his name. He wants us to plan our lives and to prepare for tomorrow. Luke 14:28 says ‘For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?’

God is definitely not against us planning for the next 5 years but the question is why are we planning? Are we planning because we have some grand ambition that will bring us great wealth, fame and honor? Are we planning because we want to feel good about ourselves and tell the world that we achieved everything by our sweat? Or are we planning because God commands us to ‘occupy till he comes’? Because He commands us to be fruitful and multiply?

Do we ask for his direction and join him on the ride? Or do we plan our lives and then ask him to come along if interested? Answering these will reveal either confidence in God or arrogance.

How about the times God asks us to do something? Do we act right way or put it off for next week or next year? A Chinese proverb I love is “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Essentially, do not put off for tomorrow what you can do today. How are you certain you will be alive tomorrow? Psalm 90:12 says “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

So many times we think ‘I can’t wait to have money so that I can spoil my parents’. That’s a great idea! But its a plan that is entirely contingent on the existence of both us and our parents at some future date when we would have acquired what we consider enough to spoil them.

We should never put off blessing people, saying thank you, showing care and love. Start where you are and with what you have.

As my thoughts came to an end, I decided to look at that question with humility rather than fear or intimidation. I was humbled by the fact that I had planned a year ahead and yet, only God could guarantee I would be on earth.

In the end, as Christians, what does it matter if we live or die? In Phillipians 1:20-21, Paul says, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’

The truth is this: Live each day fully and with a consciousness that it is the day the lord has made. Do what needs to be done without hesitation.

At the same time, focus on things that are eternal rather than temporal. In the grand scheme of things, my social media feed or what you have for dinner or your latest vacation spot does not matter.

Although God wants us to enjoy those things, we should never forget what matters. I still plan to share my wedding video on my 1 year anniversary lol because I am confident that He will keep me in abundant life. But, I would be arrogant not to acknowledge that He is the one that preserves.

Heart to Heart: Are you guilty of unconscious arrogance? How do you reconcile future plans with trusting God? Do you struggle with procrastination?

Limitless

Sit back, think on what you would do if you stopped limiting yourself. Stop thinking about ‘reality’ for a minute and dream. It costs nothing but it can reveal how much you are limiting yourself.

Imagine riding a bicycle for so long that when you get a car, you start pedaling. Far fetched? Maybe! Then try imagining always having your toothbrush on the right side of your bathroom vanity and then switching it to the left. How many times do you still reach to the right before getting used to the idea that it is no longer there? More relatable?

Whichever one you can relate with, the common theme is limitation that often stems from what we are used to. Most of the things that actually limit us are intangible and come from our mind.

When Charles and I got our house, I always found myself confined to the room, wrapped in a blanket and using my laptop to indulge in my Netflix shows. This continued for a while even though there was a sitting room and a big TV to watch my shows on.

On one of my random thought days, I started reflecting on why I preferred being in the room, lying on the bed and squinting to watch my show on a tiny laptop screen and then it hit me. For about 7 years since I left home, I had lived in student housing where I rented a room and never had a sitting room furnished with comfortable furniture or a TV. So, through all that time, I became comfortable living in my bedroom and streaming my shows on my 12 inch laptop screen.

After coming to that realization, I had to work on coming out of my ‘shell’ or room and exploring the world of my house.

This might seem trivial, but it really exposed to me one way which we can limit ourselves. Another conversation I had with a close family member reinforced that limitation is not natural. It always stems from something and I’ll be talking about some of those.

1. Background

Much like my background of being able to manage one room and a tiny laptop screen, we are often limited by our previous history of struggle, poverty or disease.

The first step to breaking free is the realization that struggle is not natural. It’s okay to make do with what you have in times of scarcity but what you must never do is allow it become your end zone. There is better on the other side of limitation.

2. People

Like I mentioned, I was sharing a dream I had with a trusted family member and he said to me “Which Nigerian have you seen doing that in Canada?”

My first reaction was hurt but I knew that he was coming from a genuine place of ignorance and self doubt. Why should other people’s failure to do something limit me from doing it?

Also, people can intentionally or unintentionally limit you through their actions or words. If you know the story of Jonah in the bible, he had to be thrown overboard for the rest of the travellers on the ship to travel smoothly.

Never be afraid to let go off people who clash with your life’s purpose. Not everyone will accompany you to your destination. Besides, its better to travel light. Don’t use people and discard them of course; but know when a relationship no longer works for your life’s goal.

3. Ourselves.

*Snaps Fingers*

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend and we talked about all the things we wanted to be when we were children. As children, we have dreams that are larger than life but as we grow up, we trim our dreams until they are cute and small enough to match our reality.

Sit back, think on what you would do if you stopped limiting yourself. Stop thinking about ‘reality’ for a minute and dream. It costs nothing but it can reveal how much you are limiting yourself.

4. Fear

Is it the fear of failure? Fear of quitting? Fear of competition?

There’s always a fear and it is impossible to conquer fear without facing it. Today, you might give up on your dreams because of fear but what will you be giving up tomorrow?

As people say, do it afraid! Take fear on the journey and it will get tired of riding with you when it sees that you are unstoppable.

Think of the fear of heights and how you never want to get off the ground. Some will stay afraid never try but some get on the roller coaster and have fun. Be one of those who get on the roller coaster.

5. Funds

This is one of the biggest limitations many of us face; sometimes solely or often in addition to one or more of the others listed above. It seems like a good enough reason to abandon your dreams but believe me, it is not.

People often say, “where there’s a will, there’s a way” and I definitely agree. It may take longer but you can still overcome. Again, think about what you would do if funds were not an issue. Then go for it or plan towards it. Just don’t let it limit you.

Heart to Heart: Are there any other things that limit us? What experience have you had with limitation in your mind or otherwise?

Do Not Use If Seal Is Broken.

So, the next time you prioritize a list over love, remember that Christ loved you without requirements. Remember too, that people are not products and many of us are imperfect with broken seals.

Within the last three weeks, I have committed to walking an hour every morning and yet today is the third time I have taken that walk for a plethora of reasons.

I had caught just two hours of sleep before my 6:15am alarm went off and I was displeased to say the least. I rolled over and dismissed the alarm to catch a bit more snooze and it seemed like I had just rolled over and it was now 7:02am.

I tiredly opened my eyes, tapped my husband to remind him we had to walk and then I went out to see what the weather was like. I can’t say a little part of me was not excited when I saw that it was drizzling as it would make for a good reason not to walk today. But I had to remind myself that I committed to the walk this week and so off we went.

An hour thirty minutes later, I am home now from the walk, waiting on my breakfast to be ready and the rain outside has put me into a thinking mood. What am I thinking of today?

Grace! Amazing Grace!

We are not strangers to the line that accompanies most sealed products; “Do not use if seal is broken”. Why? because someone could have tampered with it or perhaps it was never sealed properly and it has now been contaminated.

Surely, I am not saying to extend grace to those products but as humans, we tend to apply the same mindset to our relationships with people.

Thinking about it though, which one of us isn’t broken? Broken by pain, hurt, shame, betrayal, feelings of unworthiness, low self esteem and so much more? In fact, it almost seems like the same things that broke us are the same reasons we put up walls and refuse to associate with people bearing the same brokenness.

I don’t expect anyone to take on the burden of everyone’s pain but we can extend grace.

As a single lady, I remember writing a list for what I wanted in my husband and I know many of us have lists for various things. Sometimes, it is a list for what we want in a friend, a house, an employee or a church and we are so committed to the list that grace becomes foreign.

No one could ever extend grace as Christ does. We could not even fathom God’s grace. Dying for people who didn’t even check one box on his list? Dying for people who spat on and abused him?

We put up walls because someone told us that someone hurt them in the bid to ‘protect our peace’ or ‘protect our space’. But what we are really doing is making ourselves judge, jury and executioner. I am worthy and you are not.

Actually, the world encourages us to be ‘wise’ and avoid broken people. We chant things like ‘hurt people hurt people’ that justify the behaviour. Many times, people are broken through no fault of their own and the least we can do is point them to Christ who heals rather than avoid them.

Imagine if Christ only mingled with us when we were whole enough and good enough for his love. The same people who ask you to avoid broken people would have been the same people criticizing Jesus for dining in Zacchaeus’ house

God has loved us so perfectly even in our deepest brokenness. You know what? He tells us in Psalms 51:17 that he will not despise a broken and a contrite heart.

Even more exciting, he encourages us to bring our burdens and cast them on him in exchange for rest in Matthew 11:28.

We could never extend the same grace that Christ gives but we can emulate him as he encourages us to.

So, the next time you prioritize a list over love, remember that Christ loved you without requirements. Remember too, that people are not products and many of us are imperfect with broken seals.

It is okay to have lists but they should be motivated by love (for Christ and people) and not pride.

Heart to Heart: I’ll love to hear your thoughts. Have you been critical of brokenness?

Beauty Marks and Battle Scars.

Who is the boy with the millipede on the head? She said.

There was no boy and there surely was no millipede. My English teacher was referring to me and the said Millipede was the birthmark on the side of my head. I never forgot that day.

For the first twelve years of my life, I was never conscious of my birth mark or the fact that I hated its appearance. To me, it was just a mark and I paid it no special attention.

My mum had told me that it might have been an injury during my birth because it seemed too big of a scar to belong on my baby head. It didn’t really matter if I had the mark while in her belly or got it on the way out. All that mattered was that it had always been a part of me from birth.

As puberty crept in, self awareness and the idea of perfection were at the fore front of my mind and it was in adolescence that I first battled with self esteem based on physical appearance.

Back then in highschool, we began to notice who was pretty or ugly, tall or short slim or fat. We also awaited the promise by our science teachers that for the guys, shoulders would get broad and that the girls would have slimmer waists and wider hips.

Lol, I wonder how much this affected the self worth of many of my class mates and I who waited earnestly for the broad shoulders and wider hips and still continue to wait.

For many of us, appearance has been a large part of how we define and accept ourselves. We have an image of what we ought to look like influenced either by what we learnt at school or what we saw on TV. Instead of accepting ourselves, we fawn at images of people we believe have the template body or appearance.

Like I said, I never forgot my teacher’s description of me. What made it worse was that in my boarding school, the girls were not allowed to grow their hair, so I had to walk around school with my birth mark sticking out like a sore thumb.

When I would have conversations with people, they stared straight at my head like my eyes were at the side of my head. And so, as soon as I finished highschool, all my hair styles were ‘protective’ hairstyles. Lol, it wasn’t my hair getting protected though; it was my birth mark and what was left of my self confidence.

I had to shield my birthmark because I was tired of the undue attention. For you, it could be a mole, a crooked eye, or something else that just makes you feel less than perfect. With all the self love messages that abound today, we are all gradually working out some of the self-worth issues we have struggled with.

It was only two years ago that I decided to start wearing my natural hair and although I still care about the mark, I no longer feel compelled to explain it when people stare at it.

Recently, I was talking with my 6 year old niece and she was surprised to see the mark on my head because I was wearing my natural hair. What’s that on your head she said? I replied saying that it was my birthmark to which she said ‘eww, I hope you’ll cover it for your wedding’. I laughed and asked her why? And then she giggled and said ‘cos it’s disgusting’. Oh dear, it was really hilarious but also showed that she had already began learning what ‘pretty’ or ‘perfection’ should be.

I occasionally still consider removing it surgically but when I think of other things I could spend my money on, I have to encourage myself from within. I still think it gives my hair line an awkward shape but who cares? Just kidding, I actually do. Just not as much as before. And when I take pictures, I have to take it showing my ‘good’ side which is the other side of my face.

Our identities should not be tied so much to blemishes or scars and even when they are, they tell a story of the life we’ve lived and we should not feel less because of them.

How did we decide that one body or face shape was the ideal one? Can we go back to that place of childhood innocence where everyone just had a face and none was judged prettier than the other.

I understand that we are all at different stages in our journey to self acceptance but I hope we all get there some day. Your scar makes you YOU. I have yet to see anyone with the same birth mark as me and even though sometimes I hate it, I have to embrace it.

Remember, we are all made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) and all things He created are beautiful

Heart to Heart: What appearance issue have you struggled with and overcome or are still struggling with?

Content versus Container

A couple of years ago, I was getting ready to leave my house for an evening event and I was supposed to get to my location by bus. As usual, I tried to reach for one of my earphones on the reading table in my room.

Because I was already cutting it close to the time of the scheduled bus arrival, I picked up a random earphone and hurriedly dashed out of the house. After settling down on the bus, it was time to plug in the earphones and enjoy some music on my hour-long bus ride.

I took one glance at the earplugs and immediately noticed that one of the ear-plugs looked damaged. It seemed like the part that covered the wiring was trying to come off. This was obviously annoying because one functional ear plug would not be sufficient to block out the external disturbance on the journey.

Anyway, I proceeded to plug my ears and to my surprise, the sound seemed to be coming from the damaged side. I wanted to make sure I was hearing right so I did the earphone sound test lol. Took them out one after the other to verify which of them was working.

My test confirmed my earlier assumption that the ‘damaged’ earphone was the functional one. The one that seemed to be in right shape actually did not have any sound coming out of it.

For the rest of my bus ride, which was probably 45 minutes, I just pondered on the significance of the contrast between perception and reality. Content versus container. Book versus Cover, Ingredients versus packaging.

Out of just sitting there with this realization, there were two things that stood out to me

  1. Do not judge a book by only its cover.

I am sure we can all agree that sometimes the cover tells us all we need to know about the content but in many instances, judging someone or something by the cover can often mislead us to wrong conclusions.

We live in a world that teaches us to fake it till you make it or package yourself in a way that sells you to the viewers but there are many times when the packaging does not tell a true story of the product.

If you ever watched Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den, there were times when the investors would tell the entrepreneurs to change the packaging of the product either because it did not really show what the product was or because it would not stand out on a retail shelf with hundred other similar products.

So, essentially, there are times when a person might look like one thing and actually be an entirely different thing. It requires patience on our part to discover the content and not just shut the door once a present comes to us in an unfamiliar package.

1st Samuel 16:7 says But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or height, for I have rejected him; the LORD does not see as man does. For man sees the outward appearance, but the LORD sees the heart.”

2. Develop your Content or Character.

No matter how much a package is admired, it can only remain for so long in the package. The value is not necessarily in the package but in what is packaged. How many times have you seen what looked like a nice drink and after you opened the bottle and had a sip, you almost wanted to throw up?

Sometimes, people might erroneously judge you as empty but when they get to know you, they realize that there is a lot of value within.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you got something based on appearance rather than value, nothing stops you from going ahead to develop yourself to become worthy of what you’ve earned.

If you got a job position, school admission, or scholarship because you were stellar on paper, you can develop your skills to become of equal or greater quality than what you presented.

2nd Timothy 2:15 says Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

After a good 30 minutes of thinking, I had learnt a lot just sitting in silence and not listening to any music. The sound of my thoughts was enough to drown out the outside distraction which I was initially worried about.

Heart to Heart: I want to hear what you think. Have you ever misjudged someone or something positively or negatively and how did that impact you?

Numb to Injustice

If you live on earth, you know this week was a tense heavy one. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, protests were organized in all 50 states in America and in many cities across the world. As Martin Luther King said, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It was beautiful to see the world come together in unity against a common enemy.

At the same time, issues of rape against women were amplified in Nigeria. A 22-year-old girl was raped and murdered and then a 12-year-old girl was serially raped by 11 men. To say that this is disheartening is a gross understatement. I have been so upset, hurt, disappointed, and afraid as a Black Woman.

While rape and racism have been at the forefront this week, they are certainly not new issues and so some people have developed an apathy and numbness to them. Over the past decade of living in North America, there have been more than a dozen hashtags of black men brutally murdered by police; and those are just the ones that got caught on camera and eventually made it online.

You see, when a global pandemic that has locked down cities and nations becomes a non-issue and people leave the comfort of their homes to protest in proximity with hundred others, it is clear that they have had enough. Racism is a virus that has eaten deep and is hurting non-white communities especially Black Men and Women. To be honest, this protest was long overdue. It was about time we stood up to racism and the systems that have enabled it to grow unchallenged in America and beyond.

Interestingly, even though it seemed like Floyd’s murder was the one that pushed the world over the edge, and awakened a desire for change in many people, a large chunk of people have become non-believers of change because it is pretty much rinse repeat at this point.

Murder, Hashtag, Online Protest…..

Murder, Hashtag, ….. you get the gist

For some reason though, I really believe that this time, it is more than a hashtag. I believe real change is coming. However, I can sympathize with those who have become desensitized to the injustice because they feel discouraged, depressed, or defeated. Perhaps, they have seen this cycle repeat itself one too many times and have decided to play the peace-loving, law-abiding Black Man or Woman who never has to have a run-in with the police. These same people will raise their Black sons and daughters not just to respect the police but to fear them.

They have created what they believe to be a survival tactic that makes them worthy of living if and when they encounter the police. But I can assure you this is no way to live. Nevertheless, I sympathize with numbness.

What I have no tolerance for though, are some other statements people have made over the past week.

  • I cannot do anything.

Doing nothing is almost as bad as being an oppressor. Staying neutral during oppression and injustice is dangerous because if the light does not shine, darkness will naturally dominate. Now, what does it mean to do something? You do not HAVE to post online if you do not want to, and you must not go to a protest, but you can create awareness through other means, or you can contribute monetarily. That way, even though you might not be physically doing anything, you can empower dedicated organizations to do more.

               Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

  • It will still happen again. Blacks and Whites are not equal.

This is one of the worst things you can say as a Black Man or Woman. Imagine what the world would have been like for you if MLK or Nelson Mandela resolved to do nothing. Perhaps today, you would have been walking long miles because you were not worthy of sitting on the bus or even worse, you could have remained educated because you were not eligible to attend the same college as whites due to the color of your skin.

They fought and we gained freedom that moved us further from where we were. It remains our duty to our children and their children to move the goal post even further and hand over the baton when our time is done. Besides, who cares if it changes in our time? We fight today so that our children will not fight and that they can have a better.

               Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.

  • I am a Christian.

As Christians, we are called to Peace and Love but at the same time we ought to stand against injustice and be a voice to the oppressed.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good: seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

Psalms 82:3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

I understand that some of the protests have been violent or people have taken the opportunity to loot and accomplish their selfish desires but that should not hinder us from peacefully advocating for the rights of those who are at a disadvantage in our society. As I said earlier, there are multiple ways to defend the rights of the afflicted. If you are too uncomfortable with publicly doing something, go ahead and open your purse. Make a silent donation. I promise you will be making a world of difference.

To conclude, injustice is an everybody problem. Challenge yourself, friends, affiliate organizations and family members to do more.

I have learnt that courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to act regardless and not let the fear cripple you. Sometimes, all you need to do is take the first step.

As a Black person, remember that you are black anywhere and that is a fact that cannot change. Today, it is Floyd and tomorrow, it could be you.

If you are a member of another minority group, stand in solidarity because many of these issues affect you as well.

If you are white, use your privilege to speak up against injustice. If you choose to stay silent and enjoy the benefits of a system that has been designed to favor you, then you are no better than the active oppressors.

Navigating Life Through Uncertainty

Hello Guys,

I hope everyone has had a great week. I was thinking this week about how plans have changed for so many people due to the ongoing pandemic. Besides people being sick and dying, I find that the greatest issue with the pandemic is the uncertainty.

If you are a control freak, like many of us can be, then you want to plan your next hour, day, month or year. But how can you plan when those plans can be changed in an instant due to an ever evolving health crisis.

Guess what though? Uncertainty is not new. It did not start with this pandemic and will not vanish forever afterwards. Some people have put their lives on hold waiting for this to pass while some others are making the most out of the situation.

Are you making lemonade out of your lemons or complaining bitterly about how sour lemons are? How are you dealing with the uncertainty of today and how can you deal with uncertainty when it arises in the future?

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Personally, I have learnt a few ways that help me handle it.

  1. Stick With the Big Picture

When you know your life’s purpose, you know your destination and even though we would like to control every single move and everything that happens, it does not always work out that way.

When challenges happen, you are allowed to take detours but focus on the destination. If you’ve ever watched the wacky races like I did growing up, you will know that even though all the contestants had to reach the same finish line, they had different vehicles, they took different turns or detours and met their obstacles at different stages in the race.

The journey was entirely different for all but the destination was the same. In the same manner, focus on your destination (the big picture) and don’t alter your destiny or life’s purpose because of a few rough or uncertain patches but be kind enough on yourself to know that some unexpected turns and detours are often needed to make it through.

2. Adapt

In the midst of uncertainty, those who adapt are more likely to excel. Even old dog can be taught new tricks. Is it tougher? Perhaps! But it is surely not impossible. When things are changing rapidly, holding on to rigid ideas of what we have always done is not always the best strategy.

If you have always been a morning person, you might need to be a night person. If you’ve never liked to travel or relocate, relocation might just be the best course of action.

Keeping an open mind and tackling uncertainty with new information and ways of doing things is bound to help you navigate an uncertain turn in life. Old and stuck up ways of doing things will probably leave you frustrated.

3. Secure your peace.

When uncertain situations arise, it is natural as humans to have fears of what could happen and how things could turn out. Many times, uncertainty throws a wrench in our plans and makes us feel like we are not living the life we planned.

The uncertainty is compounded when it is not exclusive to you and you begin to get influenced by the way other people are dealing with theirs. If you are lucky, the people around you will inspire hope and courage in you but otherwise, it could end up becoming a fear mongering situation.

At such times, it is very important to secure your inner peace and not compound the uncertainty with fear because it will only dig you deeper down the pit of despair and discouragement.

4. Focus on the things that are certain

When everything around you is uncertain, the only thing you can be sure of is that only the fate of the dead has been sealed.

If you are alive, then there is a measure of hope you should have from some of the things that you are still sure of. Focus on those things and let the other things be.

No one ever changed their situation by worrying the most but when you consciously live in an appreciation of the things that are still working out, it might be all you need to hang in there until the storm passes.

5. Live in the moment and take each day as it comes.

Similar to the last point, you have to seize the moment. Live in the beauty of each day.

Do not live in denial but choose to magnify what matters. If you are too focused on what is going wrong, you may never notice what has gone right.

Ditch the idea of picture perfect. Life is not a story book where you get to control what all of your fictional characters do. You have to accept that some things will be beyond your control in life but it is part of your journey.

You might get to the finish line with a dirty shirt or a broken leg or maybe you get there unscathed. What matters is that you got there.

Water your lawn and forget about how green the neighbour’s lawn is. Different lives, different journeys and yours is not any less beautiful or authentic because you had times when you were not in absolute control.

Heart to Heart: How do you deal with uncertainty? I’ll love to hear from you in the comments xo