5 Compliments That Are Actually Sexist.

Firstly, this ‘compliment’ assumes that once a man ejaculates, his sperm is good enough and the burden of pregnancy and child birth is on the woman. If you grew up watching Nollywood (Nigeria’s movie industry) movies, you will know why this is a loaded problematic statement.

The Oxford dictionary defines a compliment as ‘A polite expression of praise of admiration’. So, a compliment is supposed to highlight your great qualities or admire you for who you or what you do.

So, can a compliment be bad? Yes. You probably know about backhanded compliments which are comments that blur the line between an insult and a compliment. But going beyond that, do you know that there are compliments that go beyond being insulting to actually being sexist.

To be fair, many of these ‘compliments’ are very commonplace and are usually used with a genuine intention to compliment a woman. I think it is pretty rare that people use these compliments intentionally to be sexist but ignorance still does not make it right.

So let’s get into it.

Beauty is nothing without brains.
  1. Beauty with brains: Funny how this one is used so popularly and it makes me itch every single time I see it. We all use it on our friend’s birthdays, graduation ceremony, friendship posts, weddings etc..

    Generally, it is done to highlight that our friend, who is really beautiful, is not just a ‘slay queen’ but is also pretty intelligent. Just in case, you have not realized the issue yet, emphasizing that a woman has brains to go along with her beauty inadvertently implies that beautiful woman often do not come with smarts or that smart women will generally not be beautiful.

    The next time you want to use this compliment, think about why you think this is the right description for your friend. Sometimes we do it subconsciously to place ourselves above other women or to present ourselves as well rounded for the onlooking men. Personally, I have never heard anyone compliment a man with ‘handsome with brains’ or ‘strength with brains’ so I wonder why it’s okay for women.

  2. You are beautiful for a ….: No matter what comes after the ‘a’, this is a statement that spells trouble. Most of the time, the word will be fat or black or short or dark skinned.

    The person ‘complimenting’ has some sort of beauty standard in their head that they expect you to fit and when they realize that you are beautiful outside their beauty box, they resort to giving compliments that actually are insulting.

  3. You are not sensitive/emotional like other girls: At this point, I don’t have to tell you that any compliment that compares you to other girls is already trouble. But let’s talk about the sensitivity that men often complain about.

    When it comes down to it, everyone is sensitive. It does not matter if you are sensitive about food, people, family, sports or music. In fact, anyone who is not sensitive about anything should probably get themselves checked.

  4. Women are nurturers/better cooks: Sounds good, might make you blush but it’s not true, sorry. lol. It is simply a ploy to make you cook and be a nurturer. I guess I should say, in my opinion. The truth though is that both men and women have equal potential and need to learn how to cook.

    In fact, if we were to speak on need, men generally have a greater need to learn considering that they tend to eat more than women. You see, when I came to Canada, the only meal I could prepare was instant noodles. I could not even boil a pot of rice properly.

    For the first year, I was in boarding school and so all our meals were prepared for us. The second year, I stayed with my cousin’s family and again had all my meals prepared. The third year, however, I moved to live by myself and boy did I eat a lot of pizza and chips.

    After a few months, I started with frying plantain, making Jollof rice (famous Nigerian rice dish) and eventually I could put a decent meal together for myself. Nothing about me being a woman inspired my cooking ability. It was entirely because I did not want to starve to death. So, seen as everyone needs to eat, I am sure you can see why everyone needs to cook, or clean their personal spaces.

  5. Women are multipliers: Again, feel good on the surface, burden of sexist responsibility on the bottom. They say ‘give a woman a sperm, she gives you a baby, give her food stuff, she makes you food, give her a house, she makes it a home’ Lol.

    Firstly, this ‘compliment’ assumes that once a man ejaculates, his sperm is good enough and the burden of pregnancy and child birth is on the woman. If you grew up watching Nollywood (Nigeria’s movie industry) movies, you will know why this is a loaded problematic statement.

    Every time a couple had issues conceiving, the husband’s mum would come into the house and frustrate the woman for not giving her son a child and making her a grandmother. Never would they look at the man as the potential culprit of their infertility because their son ejaculated.

    Quite frankly, there is nothing multiplying about pregnancy and childbirth. If we are so desperate to be mathematical, I would call it an addition. A man with a viable sperm and woman with a viable egg that join together to form a baby. So you see, there’s really no compliment in that. It’s just a sweet sexist catchphrase.

    In the same vein, today women work to also bring in the food stuff and buy the house. Women don’t just sit on their butts waiting to be handed foodstuff or houses so that they could work some multiplication wonders.

Looking for a multiplier? Try Jesus!

Heart to Heart: Are there any other statements I left out that you hear often? What are your thoughts on this as a man or woman? I’ll love to hear it.

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?

Nine Years Later…

Getting home for the first time after almost a year was both exciting and nerve racking. Exciting, because I had never been away from home this long and I was happy to see my family again but nerve-racking because I felt like I had grown apart from my family.

Me, on my birthday in 2011.

Before going to school, I was in boarding school with my younger brother and we would go home to our siblings relatively often. But with me abroad and them in boarding school, we barely communicated for the entire period I was away.

Our communication didn’t improve much during their holidays either because my parents were not very good at making international calls and keeping track of the time difference yet.

So, while I enjoyed being with my family, it was mostly an awkward period of trying to relearn how to relate and communicate with everyone. The three months at home went by like a breeze.

Where it got interesting was coming back to school towards the end of August. In my mind, I was ready to take on the world and excel in everything but I had no idea I was in for a rude awakening.

First shocker, finding out that I had to take Statistics and Calculus after running away from it my whole life. I thought I had finally conquered it and survived after high school so you can imagine my displeasure.

Second, was realizing that participating in class discussions was integral to my academic success. Being very shy and reserved, asking me to speak publicly was like asking me to hang myself and I promise I am not exaggerating.

Third, and probably the biggest was self accountability. There were no more teachers, caretakers or supervisors making sure I attended classes, completed assignments or participated in other school activities. My success was entirely in my hands, save for a few mentors and my dear cousin and his wife who routinely checked in with me.

Thankfully, these things are now a distant memory and have become victory stories for me.

On the flip side, I learned confidence and grew not just as an individual but as a woman. I successfully finished my undergraduate degree, graduate degree and started working.

One of the best things that have also happened to me in this country is my local church family. It’s been 9 years since I first visited the church and 8 since I have been a member and I can that it’s been one of my life’s greatest blessings.

Frankly, with the pandemic raging, this has been one of my most trying periods so far. Since leaving my job in June, there have been some really down days but I know it’s only upward from here.

I am certain of that because life always looks up and besides, I have probably faced other trying times. I just don’t remember them because I have a short memory span when it comes to difficult times.

God has blessed me so much that the trying moments are just moments and quickly fade into a haze. When I look at my life over the past 9 years, it’s gotten better year after year and I know that this is only the beginning.

Cheers to the next 9 years. I can’t wait to actually see what’s coming.

Heart to Heart: I hope you enjoyed my little journey. Tell me what you liked best or what you can relate to. ❤️❤️

9 Years Later…

It was today, exactly 9 years ago on September 15th, 2011 just about 4:30pm that I got off the Lufthansa plane at Toronto Pearson International Airport as an Unaccompanied Minor.

Coming from a country that was always bustling with noise and movement, this new environment was so serene you could almost hear a pin drop.

My parents particularly my dad had always told us growing up that we were either going to Canada, America or Germany. He would call us after the country we liked and we would dance and get excited for the future.

But I had only ever left Nigeria once; to the United Kingdom on a short two week trip organized by my high school with a few classmates. It was during the summer break so I had never been exposed to the chilly weather that defined the fall season in North America and other colder regions.

As soon as I got to the bottom of the stairs with my other classmate who traveled with me as a minor too, the first thing I did was exhale. Watching western movies, I learnt that in the fall or winter, when people exhaled, the air was cloudy and fog-like. I wanted to experience this for myself and it was almost like some sort of confirmation that I had really arrived the land that was famed to be one of the coldest countries in the world.

We walked through the airport checks keeping an eye out for the agent who had sorted out our visa and travel itinerary. The agent was waiting to receive us at the arrival terminal and after we saw our names on his placard, we walk towards him with our luggage. He took my friend and I into town to open bank accounts and then we waited a while in Toronto before heading to the city where our school was located.

While waiting, it dawned on me that I was thousands of miles away from home and then came the waterworks. I felt miserable because I couldn’t just go home when I wanted. It was especially funny because my dad never let us leave the house even to the next street and here I was in another continent all by myself. My mum actually kept questioning his decision to send me to Canada because she had always teased him for being overprotective of my siblings and I and treating us like eggs.

My first Sunday in Canada, September 18th 2020.

It didn’t matter now that I was here and focused on settling in. Things got better as we arrived at my school hostel in Waterloo. A few other of my high school friends were also at my school so I had a few familiar faces.

The next 9 months went by pretty fast. Fun days, sad days, emotional days, birthdays, heartbreak etc

The next summer came and I headed home to see my siblings….. Who knew so much could change in less than a year?

Want to know how the story continues? Check back on Sunday…. This September is dedicated to reflecting on my past 9 years in this awesome country.

Heart to Heart: Are you loving the story so far?

Someone Should Do It

It is one thing to identify an issue and it is a whole different thing to fix it. The problem solver will always be more valuable than the problem identifier.

How many times have you started a sentence with “someone needs to…” or “someone should…” And how many of those times has it been something that you could do yourself especially after identifying that someone needed to do the said thing.

We all know how easy it is to identify what needs to be done but doing what needs to be done is what takes effort. It could be a little bit of effort or it could be a whole lot but what matters is that it can be done by us.

Two ‘someone’s’ hoping the other someone would do something…

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in this exact position. On my way to church with my husband, we drove past the highway and noticed a couch right in the middle of the road. Of course, naturally it drew our attention and we wondered how it got there.

I would assume that many other people who drove by had taken note of it as well but were also expecting someone to act on rectifying the problem. How am I certain of this? Because I also expected someone else to fix it.

Shortly after noticing the couch, I pointed out to my husband how dangerous that was especially considering that people were driving speedily down the road and could crash into it before realizing. At this time, it was also about 6:30 pm so the night was around the corner and we highlighted the fact that it would be even more dangerous once it was night time.

Here’s how we ended our conversation: I hope someone calls the city.

Few minutes after we ended our conversation, I had a rethink. I am someone and my husband is someone. So what other someone did we need to call the city when we could very well make the call.

Now you see why I believe many people had driven past that couch and assumed that someone would call? When everyone hopes for someone to do something, no one ends up doing it.

It is one thing to identify an issue and it is a whole different thing to fix it. The problem solver will always be more valuable than the problem identifier.

After my Aha! moment, I called the city and even though I had to wait on the line for a few minutes, I was able to speak with someone and describe what the issue was.

Truly, it was teachable moment for me and it was also very fulfilling that I could do that. I couldn’t imagine how I would have felt if I had left the task to someone and then heard on the news later that the couch resulted in an accident.

I know I am not alone in waiting for someone to do things that we can do. It could be at home, in your marriage, at church, school, work or in your community. I would really love to hear from you.

Heart to Heart: What is one task you can complete today that you have waited for someone to do?

…And the Oil Stayed.

An Igbo proverbs goes like this ‘Otu aka ruta mmanu, O zu Oha. That means, when one finger touches oil, it is bound to rub off on the other fingers.

Oil

Like most native adages, I have seen this to be true. I don’t think there is something that rubs off or leaves a residue more than oil (Vegetable, palm, coconut etc). Oil easily stains its surrounding or flows out if it is in a larger quantity.

Why is this relevant? I’m talking about the power of influence.

I read a story yesterday about a lady who had a very outgoing husband and would always bring guests home. As a result, she was always cooking or hosting people and she wasn’t always happy with it. Then she encountered another friend who narrated her excitement about always hosting people because, in her mind, she was simply using the resources available to her to bless others.

In the story of the widow with oil, Elisha instructed her to gather vessels and pour oil into them and as long as there were empty vessels, the oil continued to flow. His instruction was that she gathered more than a few. As soon as the last vessel was filled, the oil ‘stayed’.

Essentially, there was no longer capacity to absorb the flowing oil. But as long as there were vessels in need of oil, the oil kept running.

Oil could represent our money, time, humor, knowledge, talent or wisdom in our lives. But everyone has oil and our oil should ‘stain’ those around us at the least but the goal should really be to fill others up.

Often, we want to keep our knowledge or wealth to ourselves so that we can be the best but over time, that oil even goes bad. When you use the same oil to fry stuff, you eventually have to throw it out. When you put oil in your car’s engine, it also will need to be changed at some point.

You can’t hoard your way to the top but when you flow unto others, others flow into you as well and we can all make progress.

There’s a popular saying that success is measured by the number of successors we create. Imagine keeping all your oil or resources and dying without influencing or impacting one life.

I must add that there’s no big or small resource. Canola oil is not more important that coconut nor olive oil. They all have their roles. Do not despise your smile because you would rather dance. Give the gift of your smile, or your time or your touch so that your neighbor and hopefully the world would be better for it.

Some of the ways we can give are through mentorship or volunteering or monetary donations. I recently learnt in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s death that part of his tuition was paid for by Denzel Washington through a scholarship fund. That shows you how great things can happen when you pour out your oil.

Don’t be like the stagnant dead sea. Be like oil that stains. But I encourage you today to aspire to flow.

Heart to Heart: What resource(s) can you give?

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?

Crushing Candy and Crushing Failure.

If you never try because you do not want to fail, you will never win either.

You are probably wondering what this topic is about or you already figured out from the title that this post is related to Candy Crush. I know everyone played Candy Crush like 3 or 4 years ago but I really just got back to it after I had no internet at home for almost a week.

With everything being connected to the internet; music, TV, Netflix, even messaging, I had nothing to do. Besides reading my book and chatting with my husband, I started to play Candy Crush which I had downloaded on my phone but rarely played. I should also mention that some perks of the game were not accessible without internet. Lol, what would we do without the internet?

Playing Candy Crush through that period and afterwards taught me a few lessons about life and failure. Who knew that swiping up and down crushing candy could teach such a valuable lesson?

Since Candy Crush was pretty much the only fun we had at home, My husband (Charles) and I took turns playing the game. Whenever we got stuck at a hard level, we kept playing in turns hoping to be the one to advance to the next level.

Whenever it was his turn, I peeked at the screen in order to get pointers on how to win my turn and so, he turned the phone screen away.

Lets talk about the lessons I learnt. Shall we?

1. Learn from other people’s experiences.

There are many things we experience in life that other people even in our close circle have experienced. Why not learn from them how to navigate those roadblocks?

Looking into Charles’ game gave me an idea of what the challenges were with the level. I was also able to tell what sort of moves he made and which he avoided.

In life too, when we take cues from mentors, friends, siblings, we can learn what to do and what not to do when it comes to overcoming certain challenges.

2. Learn from your previous experiences.

There were Candy Crush levels that were so difficult that I wanted to give up. But the more I played the level, the better I got at it. After playing multiple times, I figured out what I could have done better and I eventually won and moved on to the next level.

Although we should not dwell on the past, it tends to hold useful information, memories and skills that make us navigate our future easier. Any wise person knows the benefit of learning from previous experiences.

If you discard everything you ever learnt each new day, then you won’t make much progress as a human being. Life is essentially a journey of accumulated lessons and experiences.

3. Tackle failures head-on.

One of the most frustrating things about Candy Crush was not being able to advance to the next level without succeeding in the current one. After I had lost a level so many times, my only option was to play the earlier levels or keep playing that level and win it in order to advance.

How many times have we taken the easy way out in life? Ignoring a challenge or road block does not make it go away. In fact, if its a roadblock to your next level, no matter how many times you circle it, you will have to clear it before you move forward.

Unlike Candy Crush, it is up to you to hold yourself accountable not to run away from roadblocks and face them with all the resources you’ve got at your disposal.

If you never try because you do not want to fail, you will never win either.

4. Use the tools around you to your advantage.

This was one of my more recent discoveries while playing the game. Some levels were tagged ‘hard level’ and truly, those levels were hard and almost impossible to win.

Unbeknownst to me, I had accumulated lots of ‘boosters’ that could give me an added advantage in the game. I never knew this so I kept trying to win these hard levels the same way I had tackled easier levels.

Imagine my joy when I finally looked at something on the screen other than the ‘hard level’ tag. After I used the boosters, I won the game and even though I still meet hard levels where the booster is not sufficient, It makes the game a whole lot easier than it used to be.

Focusing solely on the challenge can often be very overwhelming. Instead, look around you for the tools, knowledge and resources that can help you win. Sometimes, its people, or a connection or a book. But if you are always focused on tackling the challenge without any skill or advantage, you end up wearing yourself out or going back to smaller challenges.

I hope you have learnt a thing or two from my Candy Crush experience. The next time you crush candies, I want you to remember that you can equally crush failure.

Heart to Heart: What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt regarding failure and overcoming it?