Tag Archives: childhood memories

Why do you believe?

Why do you believe in God? If you heard, say through social media, that your religious leader/spiritual guide was involved in some very shady dealings, would you stop believing in God? Would you stop going to your place of worship? I know it is very easy for people to get discouraged, when they are made privy to unsettling stories about their religious leaders. Question is, should that cripple our faith in God?

A couple of years ago, I shared a post about a priest in my church who got involved in some very murky affairs, and all in the quest to have the parish priest removed from office, so he could be the parish priest.

At the time the story caught me by surprise because the parish priest at the time was a very jovial and kind man of God. He was humble and even in his interaction with people, it was difficult to fault him for any malice, hypocrisy, or anything of the sort. His kind personality notwithstanding, some devious congregants conspired with the assistant priest and came up with very serious allegations that had our parish priest suspended.

The cardinal set up a team, which set out to investigate these defamatory allegations; which included womanising and practising black magic. A couple of months later, a report was sent to our church revealing the findings of the investigation. By then, neither of the two priests was in our church.

Worse still, the entire missionary society had pulled out from our church so now we had new priests. The parish priest read the report to us and just as I had thought, the former parish priest had been found innocent. None of the sixteen allegations against him were confirmed.

On the other hand, we were informed that the conniving assistant priest had been dismissed from priesthood by the Pope. Reason being, he was found guilty of various offences, which were a violation of the sanctity of priesthood, in the strict sense; since ideally a priest is meant to be a representative of Christ on earth.

That announcement made me question many things about the church. I knew there were priests out there who molested children, or even sired children with women, yet a Catholic priest is required to be celibate…Now to add to the list, there was a priest practising black magic.

I thought about my personal interactions, with that assistant priest –for instance during confession- and I felt scared, because I wondered where he drew the line between serving God and practising black magic.

I questioned the effect of him celebrating mass, and worst of all consecrating the bread and wine to turn them into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Had any of that been real given his already tainted soul? To some extent I felt duped.

There I was, dedicating my whole soul to God, yet the person who was meant to be loosely put, ‘holier than me’ was there invoking powers from the underworld. Speaking from experience, it can be really disheartening.

Now fast-forward to the present, I have read online about this disturbing story of a priest who was found dead and it is alleged he was killed by a fellow priest. How do we trust murderers to guide us to heaven? It really is disheartening.

Then following further investigations, there’s been a twist…it is alleged, this priest was in a gay relationship and his supposed lover is the one who killed him. Technically, a priest should not even be getting involved in romantic relationships with women, leave alone men; which part of society still frowns upon. So that raises a lot of concerns, especially where believers imagine, priests are very holy people.

From where I’m sitted, I feel it is very easy to lose faith in God, if it’s premised on the holiness – or lack of it thereof- of our spiritual shepherds. I remember when I was in boarding school, there was this priest who used to come to church with blood-shot eyes, courtesy of alcoholism, and in my infantile mind I found everything wrong with that. As I was growing up however, I realised alcoholism was only the least of a priest’s shortcomings.

So with all these occurrences, how does one still ignore everything and continue attending mass, with the nagging thought at the back of the mind that the priest celebrating mass could be getting apprehended for murder, rape…etc. sooner than later?

In my humble opinion, one should nurture their faith in God, in a way that it won’t come crumbling down the minute news of a priest’s/religious leader’s flaws start spreading on social media. Normally, I discourage those around me from ‘getting prayed for’ by others. This is because, I believe praying is a gift God has given us all for free, so we don’t need ‘middle men’.

Attending mass, from a Catholic’s perspective is highly encouraged. However, one should not just be attending mass for the sake of it. One’s faith should be so strong, such that even when we hear our beloved priests committed a felony, we won’t get easily discouraged. I like to remind myself that all these spiritual shepherds are also human.

The implication of this is that, they are prone to sin like the rest of us. Therefore, one shouldn’t base all their faith in them, but in God, who has commissioned them to spread His Holy word. That way, it won’t matter what our religious guides do backstage when they are not ministering. We should always remember that when all this is over, we will stand before God, individually. It won’t matter if our spiritual guides were murderers, paedophiles, home wreckers…etc.; of importance will be, what we did with our lives…

Take me as I am: Part 2

For the last five years or so, I’ve been on a social media hiatus. Reason being, being a person who struggles with anxiety, I noticed social media is a constant trigger. So for health purposes, I made a conscious decision to just take a break; and I must say, it does feel calming not having to worry about things people are sharing or not sharing.

Since ours is a formal setup, we agreed we would share all important documents and information on Googlegroups. That way, no one would feel inconvenienced. Needless to say, not everyone would understand an odd situation like mine. One of our members seemed hostile towards me from the onset. When discussing issues she would always shoot me down, until it became so obvious to other members.

Growing up, I learnt that confrontations aggravate strained situations, so incensed as I was, I tried to be patient with her. One time, another one of our group members commended me for being so mature about it. This went on for a while, until one Sunday when she called all members for a Monday meeting on WhatsApp. Everyone else assumed she had notified me about it, so they didn’t inform me.

That Monday I got to school early as usual, oblivious to the fact that there was a firm meeting. I went on to do my morning studies before class started. Later after the first session, I ran into her in the washrooms and that’s when she told me the group had met up. I didn’t want to seem agitated so I told her it was ok. Since not all members had been present, we had another meeting in the afternoon to be briefed on what guys had discussed in the morning.

It was to discuss some assignment, but as I later figured out, some basic requirements on how to undertake it had been flouted. Subsequently, I brought the matter up to everyone’s attention. She argued that I should join WhatsApp as that was convenient for everyone. I felt she was being insensitive towards me and I told her it was unfair for her to treat me that way simply because I was not on WhatsApp like everyone else.

Her behaviour made me realise how most of the time we’re insensitive towards other people, just because they are different. In my case for instance, I seem like an outlier because I’m not conforming to the norm of being on social media. For someone else, it will be something different. That begs the question; must we all be the same for us to be considered ‘normal’? I think not.

I always like to think we’re all different, and those differences make us unique. It would be so boring if we all behaved and thought the same way. Taking this into consideration, I think we should endeavour to take people as they are. We might not always like or agree with what some people do, but chances are, if we cared enough to ask, we would find they have some compelling reason for being/behaving the way they do.

Take me as I am: Part 1

Three months ago I joined bar school. Even though things are anything but easy, I would say so far the going’s ok. When I got there, the first perceptible difference was the huge number of new faces. That was expected though, because it was an entirely different institution from the one I’d been in for the last four years during my undergrad. Thankfully, in that sea of foreign faces, there were some former colleagues of mine and that was a huge relief, taking my introverted nature into consideration.

Ordinarily, I’m those people who could walk into a room full of people, and after the end of the session, walk out without having spoken to anyone. Depending on the mood I’m in, sometimes it feels ok, but sometimes it makes me feel lonely. Since I was a child, I have always had trouble socializing because it does feel like a task, for the most part at least.

Nonetheless, when I meet someone and I get to know them over time, I could be the chattiest person. In such cases I consider myself an extroverted introvert. My closest friends could attest to this. Sometimes they think I’m just crazy, but in a fun way. In some previous posts I have talked about my introversion.

Therefore, when I saw familiar faces from campus, I felt relieved because I didn’t have to worry about making new friends and all… However, this being a new institution, some things were bound to be different. For instance, in campus I was my class’ president for four years; but when we got to elect our class president in bar school, I did not vie because I felt I needed to take a breather. Being in a position of leadership puts one in the spotlight and I was craving some sense of quiet and invisibility.

The other different thing is that in campus we had the autonomy of forming our own discussion groups. However, in bar school, we were divided into firms long before we even started classes. The effect of this is that in my case for instance, majority of my group members were foreign faces; and, given the bulk of work that is required to be carried out in groups, it meant I would have to familiarise myself with them all.

After our first class, my group members and I met briefly to introduce ourselves and we agreed I would be the firm leader. Given that I had been the president of a class of about one hundred and fifty students, being the firm leader of a group of twelve felt pretty manageable. But as it would turn out, that was a wrong assumption I made.

See, in my former class, my colleagues got to know me and they figured what kind of a person I was, and thankfully, they accepted me for who I was. They did not try to change me. In my firm on the other hand, my colleagues don’t know me and half of the times I feel they treat me with suspicion.

The genesis of this is I told them that currently I’m not on WhatsApp, or any other social media platform for that matter. Given that we’re currently living in an era where almost all social conversations and business negotiations take place on social media, they found it strange. One of my group members asked if it’s because I was trolled, and I told her I wasn’t.

 

Emotional Scars: Part 1

How do you tell someone who’s been through hell in their life? Do they always have open scars to show for it, and does it mean if someone doesn’t have physical scars to show for the misery they might have gone through in life they haven’t suffered at all? In my very humble opinion, only a myopic person would expect to see physical scars as proof of suffering.

See Saturday night, dad was on the phone with one of his sister-in-laws, and while I can’t say if they have a solid friendship or it’s just one of the ‘fair-weather’ kind, he has this penchant for revealing our ‘family secrets’ to her when he’s drunk. Interestingly, they never talk when he’s sober; but when he’s in a drunken stupor, he’ll call her, even past midnight just to ‘check on her’.

When they talked, dad seemed to insinuate my sisters and I were ungrateful to her for all the assistance she’s allegedly given us so we could finish school because we never call her. To be honest, I found everything wrong with that statement.

For starters, unless there’s any assistance she’s ever given dad, financial or otherwise, behind our backs, I am not privy to such arrangements. In any case, over the years, my sisters and I tried remaining in good terms with her, even granting her the honour of being our ‘favourite aunt, until we realised she might not be very happy about our personal milestones.

When we’re not too concerned about interpreting her actions and reading between the lines, she actually comes off as sweet. It’s only when someone looks at things with unprejudiced eyes that one sees the malice behind her every ‘kind’ gesture. I’ll have to dedicate a whole post for that for it to all make sense…

Anyhu, dad called her Saturday night, complaining about how he had not seen my sisters and I since he came home a few hours before then. In our defence, he had come home so drunk and over time we’ve learned to avoid him because he says really nasty stuff. I cannot sum up the number of times I’ve contemplated hitting him…God-forbid! Or even throwing a bucket of ice cold water on him so he can sober up…God-forbid! That’s how infuriated he gets me…

His complaints ended with, “But you know kids, when they’re in trouble they’ll always come back to the parents”. I couldn’t agree with him more. Children will always need their parents; no matter how old they are. My only problem with that sentiment is, that’s the logic dad has always used to punish us.

Ever since I can remember, he’s always had this habit where he hurts us, physically and mostly emotionally. Then my sisters and I will resolve to never talk to him again…but given that he’s our sole breadwinner, after a while we’ll swallow our pride (if that’s what it is), and we’ll go back to talking to him. So yeah, he’s right…problems will always make children go back to their parents.

However, he fails to understand that such relations are like the houses built by a riverside; eventually they get washed away. I have mentioned it in earlier posts, that our relationship with dad is just purely financial. We have absolutely no emotional ties. Due to this, I usually fear once my sisters and I are financially stable, we won’t want anything to do with him.

After that part of his rumblings, he started talking about mom, telling our aunt that since he married her, he had never inflicted any scars on her. He meant physical ones, and he even sounded very pleased with himself. That’s when it occurred to me how narrow-minded that type of thinking is. True to his words, mom’s body could attest to his words because she doesn’t have any scars per se, that could be attributed to him.

Nonetheless, I know if emotional scars could manifest themselves on someone’s body, mom’s would give Michael Scofield’s tattooed body (Played by Wentworth Miller in TV series Prison Break) a run for its money. She has emotional scars that run deep. It’s only her love for us and for him, strangely, that makes her forget them, albeit pro tem. Sadly, dad seems oblivious to that glaring fact.

Prized possessions

What is your most prized possession? Is it some earthly possession, or God? Whatever it is, if you lost it would you also lose your faith in God because the loss would really take a toll on you? In church, about two weeks ago, the priest said, “If God is not your most prized possession, then you need to pray hard.

The basis of this was a reading we had that Sunday. It was from the Gospel of Mark, where a man approached Jesus and asked Him what he needed to do to attain eternal life.

“You know the commandments”, Jesus answered him. “Do not commit adultery; do not kill; do not lie; honour your father and mother; do not covet your neighbour’s wife or property…”

“I have been following all those commandments since I was a child”, the man replied.

Jesus looked at him happily, “That is very good. Now go give out all your possessions and come follow me”.

At that, the man seemed suddenly downcast. He was a very wealthy man. The Bible doesn’t expressly indicate whether the man agreed to give out his wealth, but his expression could give someone a hint.

“It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven”, Jesus told His disciples. Furthermore, he told them that anyone who gave up his family and possessions to follow Him would attain eternal life.

That reading might be very discouraging to many people, especially those who are so attached to their material possessions…and most of us are. Pretence aside, I would love to be so wealthy, therefore personally I find the thought of being poor awfully discouraging. It’s even worse for someone who is already wealthy to lose their wealth because being poor really sucks.

Growing up, my family and I have found ourselves in situations where food was barely available, so we’d go hungry for long periods. Funny thing about that is, it was never for lack of money that we slept hungry; but it was because for reasons I’ll never be able to comprehend, dad never prioritized our food.

He’d uncaringly spend his money on beer and his own food, which he ate out. So while we were crying because of how hungry we felt, dad was coming home full, drunk and in a foul mood that had him raising hell on us the entire night.

I have never doubted mom’s love for my sisters and I. She’s the one person I know who has single-handedly sacrificed so much so we could be where we are today. When we were starving and she couldn’t feed us because she wasn’t working at the time, I saw how dejected she was. So while I’m all for going to heaven, I also know it’s very difficult to function on an empty stomach… or to just survive without basic needs. It is hard!

Hunger and poverty are the primary reasons some people from very humble backgrounds get into all sorts of unimaginable evils, because man’s inherent instinct is that of survival. While in reality there are people who commit crimes purely for the basis of satisfying their own selfish interests, I also know there are some people, with good intentions, who do wrong things out of desperation for themselves or their loved ones; for instance, a jobless parent who steals money to take their sick child to hospital. While this is still wrong, it is also not hard to understand what drove them to commit such transgressions.

In light of this, I wouldn’t imagine Jesus was condemning possession of wealth. The way I see it, He was condemning the acquisition and hoarding of so much wealth when there are others suffering. I usually imagine how beautiful the world would be if the haves would benevolently donate just a small percentage of their wealth to those who don’t have.

Every time I come across a child or person living on the streets, my heart breaks. It feels especially distressing when there’s nothing I can do to alleviate their suffering. I imagine this is what Jesus was trying to address.

Given how the world works, there will always be people who have, and those who don’t have. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that all affluent people will go to hell while the pecuniary ones happily walk through heaven’s golden gates.

It’s all about our intentions, which God is already privy to. All we need to do is follow the precepts of Christ, and be humble and kind. This is the surest way to go to heaven. After all, the two greatest commandments are to love God above all else, and to love one another. That’s how we go to heaven. It’s not simple, but it’s not impossible to accomplish either.

Of birthdays and milestones: Part 2

Where I’m at now, it feels like the sky is not the limit anymore…sad as that may sound… As it is, I’m all grown up so my dreams do not begin with, “When I grow up…” Nowadays, most of them start with, “God willing, when I get money…” In addition to that, even as I dream, I’ve slowly learned that not all dreams are viable; so again, unlike when I was a child, I try to be a bit pragmatic when I’m setting my own goals.

Now as I turn a year older, every birthday becomes a point of reflection, where I analyse the milestones I’ve made so far, and the dreams, which like my childhood sweetheart, have fallen by the way side. Anxiety sets in, when I feel like I’m growing older and I haven’t gotten where I want to be yet.

One interesting thing I’m starting to note about matters age is that where someone has achieved so many things… climbed great heights and all, they’re mostly termed, ‘young’. However, where one hasn’t achieved much, society perceives them as ‘old’. For instance, where one becomes a company’s CEO, say at 26, society views them as very young. On the other hand, where a person of the same age is working but hasn’t moved out of their parents’ house, they’re said to be ‘too old’.

The long and short of this is that, once a person leaves high school, everything they do will in one way or another be weighed on the ‘too old for…’ or ‘too young for…’ scale by society. And that’s just how it is, in my humble opinion.

Some of the very depressing movies I’ve watched in relation to age are ‘Ass Backwards’ and ‘Lifeguard’, starring Kristen Bell. For a young person growing up, these movies remind one that dreams might just be that, dreams! But God-forbid!

Looking back at the far I’ve come, I’m not sure what I would do differently if I could move back the hands of time… and this is not to mean that I have achieved everything I would have wanted so far. It’s just because, most things in my past were shaped by people who at the time wielded authority over me, say my parents… so it wasn’t about me making choices.

However, if I met my younger self, I would tell her not to worry too much because God’s always in control; and when you give Him time and room to work, He’ll take you, right where you need to be. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a very long time, and this is the one part of me I would wish was different. Nonetheless, I believe God doesn’t err. He made me this way for a reason.

For all the experiences that have caused me so much pain and anguish, I celebrate them. Because as they say, ‘We can’t have a rainbow without a little rain’… So as I turn a year older, I’ll continue to dream, because one thing I’ve learned these past few years is that God answers prayers. Furthermore, when you seek His guidance, He’ll align your will with His, so all dreams will be like great visions of what is to come.

Of birthdays and milestones: Part 1

In slightly over a week I turn a year older. Yaaay! Funny thing is I’m feeling excited, but mostly anxious about it. Excited, because birthdays are that one day in our lives, when we annually celebrate the anniversary of our births and for most people it’s a day that’s arguably characterised by festivities, big or small; and anxious because nowadays birthdays to me, don’t just mean cake and fun.

When I was growing up, I waited for my birthdays eagerly. All I had to worry about was whether I’d get a new dress or not; mom had made it a tradition to buy my sisters and I dresses to celebrate our birthdays. I remember this one time I fell and sprained my ankle on the eve of my birthday… just hours to my big day. Thankfully, the special treatment I received for being the ‘birthday girl’ far outshined every ounce of pain I felt.

As birthdays come and go, I feel I’ve reached a point where, each year sort of signals an evaluation point. See, thing is, when I was a child, I had dreams…so many dreams, which were always introduced by the phrase, “When I grow up I want to/I will… and to be honest, it was fun. The sky, as they say, was the limit. All I had to do was dream it… the rest I would leave to God, and only time would tell whether those dreams would materialize.

Some dreams as I’m realizing, fell by the way side; for one reason or another, they are unattainable. My childhood sweetheart for instance; this far I’ve come, I don’t quite remember loving a guy as much as I did him. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in a relationship I would term ‘serious’ per se. For an entire decade, he’s the only guy my heart beat for…even on a dull day, thoughts of him would give me that warm, fuzzy feeling and the dark clouds would scud away.

His mom adored me, and she was hopeful I’d be married to her son someday. That’s the beauty of childhood. All dreams are valid. At the time we were around eight years old since he’s only one week older than me. As we grew up though, we started forging out our own different paths and a year after we finished high school, my sister invited him for lunch one afternoon when she bumped into him on her way to school.

At the time we had moved to a different neighbourhood so we didn’t see each other much; not to mention all the adventurous spirits brought to life by teenage hood. It’s usually a time of trying out new things…actually come to think of it, it’s like shopping; trying out all things to see which fit better. It’s all about self-discovery. Therefore, we had not gotten an opportunity to sort of synchronise our dreams.

That afternoon, when he came over for lunch we talked a lot, and somehow it felt we were going to rekindle things. The chemistry between us was intense. However, the next time he came over it was unannounced; and after spending some time together that day it dawned on me, we were never going to be an item again. He had changed, and I had changed as well. Simply put, we were incompatible.

That evening as I saw him off, all the fire that had burned in my heart for years died abruptly. It was then I realized I needed to move on. Interestingly, we have never ended our relationship formally. So just like that, a dream I had held onto for ten whole years went up in smoke. That, is just one of the many beautiful dreams I had as a child that with time proved unfeasible.