Monthly Archives: January 2014

Judging ‘men of the cloth’

men of cloth

Everytime I’m dealing with other people, I always remind myself, that just like me, they’re also human. It doesn’t matter if one’s a priest or a renowned celebrity; we’re all human. And to be human is to err. A few years ago, when I was in my last year of high school, I came across a friend’s prayer book. While perusing through the pages I saw an interesting piece. It wasn’t exactly a prayer, but the words changed my entire perspective on how I deal with religious people.

It was written that everytime one sees/hears a priest doing/saying wrong things, one shouldn’t go about discussing them but they should pray for them. At the time, I remembered all the weird things I’d heard about priests… Just because they’re ordained to lead God’s flock doesn’t stop them from being human. I remembered all the rumours I’d heard about some priests having affairs with women when they were sworn to celibacy; I remembered of a particular priest, who always came to celebrate mass with his eyes red as cherries because he’d been drinking. I remembered of a certain priest, who was alleged to have fathered a girl I schooled with.

Before that day I had freely taken part in talking about those ordained men of God; criticizing them for their misdemeanours. Normally, when we see/hear wrong things about others, even when we can’t quite do anything about it, we discuss it with others. That piece opened my eyes though. Priests and other men of God are representatives of Christ, but at the end of the day, it still doesn’t change the fact that these same people are only human. They are prone to temptations just like any person.

It’s like teachers; they fall in love with their students even when they know it’s against school policy. We don’t will for these things to happen; they just happen. As I read that book I realized we also had a responsibility to pray for our shepherds. It takes more than enough will to walk on a straight path. I know it’s not as easy.

A few months ago, I was following three telenovelas. Naturally a large part of the Spanish population is Catholic. As I watched the three soaps at different times, something happened; in all the three soaps, three priests had been made privy to life-changing confessions, and none of them could reveal any of the information as they had received it under the secrecy of confession. I couldn’t help pitying them.

Priests know so many things but they can’t reveal any of it as they’re bound by the confession oath-the seal of the confessional-which prohibits them from repeating anything revealed to them during the sacrament of penance. I imagined what strength it took walking around, carrying such heavy loads on their shoulders and I came to one conclusion; it’s not easy being a man of God-the real anointed ones, not the fake ones. It takes strength to defy all temptations, especially knowing that they are under public scrutiny, and that above all they made a solemn vow to God; to be priests forever.

In some unfortunate instances, unscrupulous men hide behind the cloth and commit preposterous obscenities, but there are those genuine men/women of God, who in their human weaknesses falter and make wrong choices. The best thing to do is not to sit and judge, but to pray for them.

In my opinion, being an anointed servant of God shouldn’t stop one from being subjected to the law of man; don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time… but I believe prayers help put things into perspective. In the wake of all the atrocities committed by the servants of God, who we put so much faith in but who many detest now, I feel that it’s our duty as their flock to pray for them.

In Colossians 4: 2-4, Paul says, “Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. At the same time, pray also for us, so that God will give us a good opportunity to preach His message about the secret of Christ…”

We may not be able to help the choices they make, but we can intercede for them, so that God guides them as they spread His word.

 

 

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Of sugar and old memories

make someone happy2

Yesterday I served mom a cup of hot tea. It wasn’t exactly oversweet, but it had more sugar than she usually takes.

“You’ve put too much sugar,” she told me, in between sips.

“I know,” I smiled. “Just thought today you should have a sweet cup of tea.” I didn’t tell her, but I didn’t do it intentionally. Sometimes she craves lots of sugar and sometimes she could take her tea sugarless; I just put what I thought was her preferred amount. Turns out I was wrong.

“You do know I don’t take much sugar, don’t you?” She looked at me, setting the cup back on the table.

“Yeah, I know. I don’t either.” She didn’t say anything, but she  focused her gaze on me, urging me to continue. “Nowadays I don’t like my tea with too much sugar.” I didn’t believe I was the one uttering those words. It took me years back; when I was a kid, sugar was my best sin. If I had to confess to something, it would be for taking spoonfuls of sugar without mom’s permission. If I found myself alone in the kitchen, without any adult supervision, I would indulge in my forbidden pastime-eating sugar.

Once, mom and dad took my small sister for a dentist’s appointment. I was left in the house alone with my big sister. With the cats away, I decided to do what I did best in my parent’s absence; eating sugar or whatever sweet thing I could get my hands on. That Saturday I was still seated at the table having my breakfast. Without a second thought I reached for the honey jar, helping myself to a generous amount.

The next day I woke up with very painful tonsillitis. That was the last day I ate plain honey.

“People start craving sweet things when they start aging,” mom said, pulling me out of my musings. “Don’t you remember how my mom used to like sweet things?”

“I do remember.”

“She always wanted to have lots of sugar in her tea.” I looked at her. There was a forlorn look on her face; her mind had drifted off to the past; back to when her mom was still with us. It has been a few months since grams passed away and mom is still trying to come to terms with it. It hasn’t been the easiest thing for her. “I wish I’d let her take all the sugar she wanted.”

I realized she was saying that in remorse. At the time she wouldn’t let grams eat anything unhealthy, but now that she was gone, she regretted not allowing her to indulge in the things she craved, however minute; things that would have made her happy. It’s like in a way she felt that would have made grams’ life better during the time she was alive; it would have made her days pleasant.

“That wouldn’t have worked,” I comforted her, “because then she would have contracted some other illness and that would have killed her still.” She only nodded in agreement.

That short conversation gave me lots to think about. Mom felt guilty for not letting grams have the small things she desired-sugar to be precise. Now that grams was already gone, she imagined allowing her to satiate some of her cravings would have made her happier.

That’s how it is with us humans; we regret things we did/n’t do for the people we love when they aren’t with us anymore; a person realizes they could have treated their partner better when the relationship is no more…

It reminded me of one thing; to cherish those people in our lives. To remember they will not always be with us; because if we keep that in mind we will know what to do to make them happy. It may be something silly or unimportant, but whatever it is, if it makes them happy, give it to them, provided it doesn’t send them to an early grave.

Why My Wife’s Job Is Harder Than Mine

This post is an honour to all stay-at-home-moms; our uncelebrated heroes. AMAZING, AMAZING post!

bowlingwithed

I work at a large, top-200 law firm in one of the ten most populous cities in the country. The hours can be grueling, there are constant deadlines, and the work is mentally demanding.  Any partner in my particular practice area can assign me work, which means I have more than 30 potential bosses.  At any given time, I am working on projects for three to five partners, all of whom believe that their assignment should take priority over any other work.  As a result, there have been many long days (and long nights).

Moreover, being a lawyer at a large firm is a high-stress endeavor.  Even small mistakes can have significant implications and, as a result, tensions can run high.  And of course, because excellence is expected, partners are unlikely to give much positive feedback for a job well done; instead, the reward for good work is more work.

It…

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The Fourth Commandment

the fourth commandment

Back in the day, when God used to communicate with His people through prophets, He gave Moses the laws inscribed on stone, commonly known as the Ten Commandments. On the top of Mount Sinai, He came down on a cloud of smoke in fire and spoke in thunder as He gave the laws. In my own understanding, the commandments are subject to people’s varying interpretations and as a result, people decipher them differently.

The commandment I particularly want to delve into at this point is the fourth commandment: Respect your father and mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you (Exodus 20:12). Notice He didn’t ask parents to respect their children? That’s how many people interpret it. But then, based on my own understanding, that brings me to another verse in the Bible: (Colossians 3: 21) Parents, do not irritate your children, or they will become discouraged.

That’s the thing about respect; it’s a two way thing. One can’t expect to disrespect someone and still expect that same person to respect them. As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, I am not a mother yet, so most of my posts are written from a daughter’s perspective. Growing up, I had some dreadful moments where I just felt small; not by size, but because I felt my opinion on some issues wasn’t taken seriously. I often felt it was the, ‘I’m big, you’re small; I’m right you’re wrong’ patronizing attitude parents have towards their kids at times.

Maybe I’ll understand it when I get my own children, but until now I still don’t get it. In my opinion, everyone deserves respect. It doesn’t matter if it’s a homeless person, or a small baby. And being older doesn’t automatically mean one’s right. Sometimes parents feel like they’ve been around longer and for that they know how things work, but truth is sometimes children see things clearly, better than adults and for that they should also be heard. They may not always be right, but giving them a chance to share their opinion makes them feel valued and respected.

During one of my dark pubescent phases, I argued with my parents about everything; at some point I even contemplated running away from home, until a quick look into the future showed me I would screw up the rest of my life if I carried on with my plan. I decided that would be a foolish move so I scratched it. However, the misunderstandings didn’t stop there; they continued because the root cause hadn’t been addressed. It’s during that time that I suffered from some stress-related illnesses; depression and all.

At some point I got tired of all the fighting, and just decided to stop arguing, even if every part of me was itching to say something. I don’t feel my parents changed at all; they still look at things the same way they did back then. Sometimes I feel I grew up; that’s why I lost the urge to always fight back.

The other day my big sister was having a tête-à tête with dad. She asked him to look back and picture himself at the age she is now, and to remember how he wanted to be treated at the time. That, she told him, would help him know how to treat us. It would stop him from treating us like kids, just because he’s older than us.

When all’s said and done, I believe parents should also respect their children. Just because they’re younger than them doesn’t mean they’re indisputably wrong. And if a parent wants their child (ren) to respect them, the best thing would be to show them how; by respecting them back. Foster mutual parent-child (ren) respect because if it’s one-sided it won’t last long; it won’t be long before the child gets tired of always being the one to give.

Something I learnt when I was still a kid was that one doesn’t ask for respect, they earn it. It just happens that sometimes grown- ups do some shoddy things yet expect kids to still accord them the respect they deserve as adults. It doesn’t work like that. If parents or adults want children to respect them, they must carry themselves in a respectable manner.

However one chooses to look at it, God did ask children to respect their parents, but the same parents have a duty to help their kids live by that fourth commandment.

Fatherless

fatherless

One of my nieces, now aged four, is asking about her dad’s whereabouts. She was asking her grandmother, my aunt, “Do I have a dad?”

Her grandmother replied, “Yes, he came to see you when you were slightly younger. Don’t you remember?”

Obstinately she asked, “That far back? I don’t remember him.” I understand her. She’s only four; how much could she possibly remember from her past?

A few months after she was born I met her dad. He’d accompanied me and her mom to the clinic for her monthly post-natal check-up. At the time he seemed like just a teenager, and judging by the daughter’s queries, I’m assuming he’s joined the league of absentee dads.

My niece is currently in kindergarten. She’s starting to ask questions that all kids in her situation are bound to ask at some point. Sometimes single parents hope their kids will skip that phase because it poses many challenges in terms of what answers should be given and it’s difficult to ascertain if the answers given are age-appropriate. With my niece for instance, how does one begin to tell her that her parents conceived her when they were themselves very young so it would have been almost impossible for them to end up together then?

When I saw the guy who was said to have fathered her, I couldn’t believe it. He was so young; one could tell he wasn’t fully grown yet. I didn’t ask, but I presumed he was still in his teens. I commended him at the time for standing by his baby mama because many guys his age would just have ‘hit and run’. I don’t know when he started drifting away but nowadays it turns out he’s a complete no-show.

Now the girl is at that stage where she’s starting to realize that children should have a father and a mother and unfortunately her dad’s missing in the picture. Plus there’s that awful possibility that sometimes kids make fun of each other and she might not be an exception to the ridicule. Those little people could be nasty at times… but we love them still. One could hope that their kids wouldn’t have to ask those questions, but how does someone hope for such when in school one of the primary things children learn is about the family.

When I was still a small child, in my first year of primary school, I remember being asked by my teacher to draw and name the members of my family. I had an amazing time drawing and colouring them. With that in mind, I find myself lost when I try to think what a child in my niece’s situation would do. She would probably draw herself, her mom, her grandmother and her nanny; because those are the people she’s grown around. And I’m assuming there would atleast be one of her classmates who, in her innocence, would ask, “Where is your dad?”

I empathize with my niece; she’s only four. At what age will her mother or grandmother feel confident she’s old enough to learn the truth? And until that time comes, what is she supposed to tell other kids her age? Those kids who don’t understand that sometimes it’s impossible to have both parents around. How will she handle the vicious remarks other kids utter sometimes? I don’t know really if it’s possible to tell children not to worry or give much thought to such brutality, all I know is that for them, before it gets better, it will get worse.

 

Kids have never failed to imitate.

Kids have never failed to imitate

Kids might not be so good at following instructions, but they have- for ages- been good at copy pasting what they hear or see. The other day, some kids were discussing one of their friends’ houses that they had recently visited, and one asked, “Have you been to their house? It’s so empty; you could play football in it”. Now any adult will tell you that not even the darkest kid will independently conceive such a statement in their minds; and if they did, it would mostly be based on something they had previously overheard.

One might try to argue that nowadays kids are so ‘digital’; they seem to know everything, thanks to technology.  That to some extent would be correct, but of importance here is the fact that when a baby is growing up, one of the major factors that shape them into who/what they grow into would be the environment they’re brought up in. The age of the kids on focus here would also be of massive importance; based on my sheer knowledge, none of them was above six.

With that in mind, how would one expect a kid to grow up if s/he often hears his parents/grownups around  him criticizing other people, what they have and what not…? To some, this concept might seem alien, but not to me. I’ve been un/lucky enough (depending on how you choose to look at it) to be caught in an extremely uncomfortable moment where I, or my family rather, was the topic of such a distasteful conversation…

A few years ago, my family was to meet up with my extended (paternal) kin at one of my uncles’ place since we all lived in different parts of the city so we could travel together to the countryside to visit my paternal grandma. At the time there was some sought of tension between my mom and her in-laws; the beef runs way back, before I was even conceived but I don’t wanna delve into that at the moment. It’s for that precise reason that my mom had opted to sit out of any family get-togethers, to avoid any altercations that could inflict more wounds on the already existing ones.

My dad, the gentleman he is (when he wants to be…) couldn’t leave mom alone; he also chose to remain behind, to keep her company when my sisters and I were gone. Ergo, we made arrangements to have our uncle (the host) pick us up because we were not so familiar with the place; we had only been there once before.

My uncle, whom we’re not so close with, came to pick us up. He was alone. He came into our house, which he’d never been into before, to help us carry our luggage. In case you’re wondering, we have a very strained relationship with our paternal relatives. I’ve mentioned that in some previous posts. In my own understanding, I have over time attributed it to the fact that dad married mom against his family’s wishes; apparently dad’s family is affluent, whereas mom’s family isn’t so endowed.

In all honesty I thought that kind of prejudice only happens in telenovelas: rich hunk falls head over heels in love with a beautiful girl from a very humble background; his family objects vehemently, branding the innocent girl a social climber, and subsequently they all conspire to make the girl’s life a living nightmare…Smh!

A few minutes later we were on the road, headed to my uncle’s. On the way we stopped at a mall, where his wife had been shopping, to pick her up. Under different circumstances, we would have jumped at the idea of meeting our aunt especially after such a long time, but at that moment it only meant we would have a pretty hellish ride.

As we had envisaged, the ride was quite unpleasant; and it had nothing to do with the car’s upholstery or bumpy roads. It was all my aunt’s doing. See, in a nutshell, she’s very outspoken and if you ask me, she doesn’t really give a rat’s ass whose toes she steps on. I remember her asking my uncle in hushed murmurs, how our house looked. That didn’t catch me off guard because I knew she was capable of that and more but I was disappointed because I thought she would have the decency to ask that discretely, preferably in our absence. Then again, maybe she thought we didn’t hear.

“It’s big,” my uncle replied reluctantly. I bet he too felt uneasy about his wife’s indiscretion.

Hungry for information, she went ahead to ask- in her own words- what the house was ‘filled’ with since it was really big. The blatant derision in her voice irked me. At that time, I didn’t know how to react; I was torn between bursting into a fit of laughter at such barbarism, and cutting in the conversation just to express my outrage; but I knew better. I don’t recall my uncle answering her; I guessed he didn’t want to partake in such unmitigated savagery. I respected him for that.

Now in reference to James A. Baldwin’s quote, I try to imagine what would have happened had my sisters and I been at an impressionable age? If we weren’t the ones on the receiving end. We would have possibly repeated my aunt’s scathing words later, when mingling with other kids, just like my neighbours’ kids had.

In my opinion, if you want to know how people refer to others behind closed doors, just listen to their kids or see how they act while in the midst of other kids… They’ve never failed to imitate. My take here may be deemed uninformed, but if my cousins (my aunt’s children) are anything to go by, then I know I’m right…

Effective communication saves relationships

effective communication2

Communication is key. I already wrote a post emphasizing on the same but for the sake of all my readers, I’ll just write some more. Communication…communication…communication…that is the answer to many problems being faced by so many people:

“My husband might be cheating on me,” a lady cries.

“Have you talked about it with him?” A concerned friend asks.

“No, I heard it on the grapevine. And I think it’s true,” the aggrieved wife replies.

“I think my thirteen year old daughter is having sex,” another woman tells her friend.

“Why do you say that? The friend asks.

“Because the other day she left her purse in the car and as I picked it up condoms fell out.”

“Have you asked her about it?” The friend argues. “Maybe they’re not hers.”

“I don’t know. Maybe,” the woman replies, clearly stressed out.

There are just so many scenarios I could think of where people are not happy because so many things-the important ones especially-go unsaid. Sometimes there are misunderstandings between me and my sisters, who I consider my confidants, and at times I see my parents arguing only because they haven’t discussed some seemingly petty issues, which when left unaddressed morph into gargantuan problems.

For relationships to thrive, there must be tonnes of trust, and communication should be as vital as breathing. I’m not a shrink, but I feel those are the two ingredients for a successful relationship. In my opinion, there can’t be love without trust, and without proper communication there can be no trust. Even two people in love could break up for the most trivial of issues, just because they didn’t talk it out.

There’s this Indian drama that has me so captivated. I’m not so sure why I watch it; I can’t even say it’s the plot I like because I always feel it has so many loopholes, but at the same time, I just can’t stop watching it…I guess it’s my sheer curiosity to see how things turn out. It revolves around themes like love and trust-which in my opinion is usually misplaced; deception, betrayal, revenge… One of the main protagonists found herself separated from her husband because a few issues went misunderstood. Aggrieved, she went to seek her platonic childhood friend’s advice. Oblivious to her and her husband, who was now best buddies with this friend, was the fact that it was this same friend who had created the rift between them as he wanted the woman all for himself. In his defence, he had loved the woman since they were kids and couldn’t bear seeing her sharing her life with another man other than him.

The friend asked one of his minions to pretend he and the wife had an affair and somehow it worked out so perfectly. They made it so convincing that the wife was indeed cheating on her husband. The plan was to make the husband suspicious of his wife so he would get so infuriated and subsequently break up with her. The plan worked out perfectly. Within no time the wife had left her palatial home and moved back to her parent’s house.

The platonic friend would meet up with the wife, trying to convince her why it was in her best interest to divorce her husband, and later he would advise the husband to do the same. The husband, who was convinced his wife was cheating on him, didn’t want anything to do with his her; he wouldn’t pick her calls. The small misunderstanding graduated into a big mess, only because they wouldn’t sit down and discuss it civilly.

effective communication

As I watched them I couldn’t help thinking, can’t they just get over their anger and pride and talk it out? I just got so bugged; I decided I wouldn’t watch it again. Unfortunately I-like many humans-am weak; I couldn’t resist watching it the next time day. Eventually, the minion confessed everything to the couple after realizing they didn’t deserve such cruelty from someone who masqueraded as a friend, when he was the principle cause of their woes.

Sometimes when we’re hurt or angry we refuse to see beyond what lies in front of us. The conflicting emotions make us myopic; sometimes it’s just pride hindering us from confronting those we’re at loggerheads with. We refuse to seek the truth. When we ignore communication, that’s when everything spirals out of control and sometimes the situation becomes irreparable.

Before you believe your partner is cheating on you, talk. Before you presume to judge your child is out there doing God-knows what, talk. In my opinion, situations feel unbearable because we refuse to communicate. Slowly, from my experiences and other people’s, I’m learning that if people communicate enough, many relationships will be saved from collapsing.