Tag Archives: making choices

What do you want?

Half of the time we walk around…going through life, fumbling…uncertain of what we want. Do I want to go to law school? Do I want to write? Sometimes we have everything we want…but we don’t realize it…so we go through life, searching… and searching for that perfect thing…perfect job…perfect partner…perfect house… perfect family…

Question is, what d’you want? Second question is, is there such a thing as ‘Perfect’? Earlier today, my small sis and I were talking about happiness and success… which of the two would you pick? She picked happiness…then, being the ‘devil’s’ advocate, I told her it’s hard to be happy when you’re hungry… I mean, we should know that better…hunger has been the one constant thing in our life. Smh!

So agreeing with me, she rephrased her earlier statement. “I’d want just enough, to enable me to be happy”. I couldn’t agree with her more. Sometimes we get derailed by thoughts of grandeur… so much, that we become blind to the beautiful things happening around us.

A short while ago we were watching the movie ‘Permission’, starring Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis… It’s about a man (Will), who wants to propose to his college girlfriend (Anna), but on the night he intends to propose, he is discouraged from doing so by Annna’s brother and his partner. They suggest that Anna should try dating other men before she finally agrees to be tied to Will in nuptials.

Will seems reluctant because he is sure he loves Anna. She, on the other hand, is open to trying out new relations. The movie focuses primarily on these two trying to date different people, while they are still together. Sometimes, the focus shifts to Anna’s brother (Hale), who desperately wants to have a child but his partner (Reece) is opposed to the idea.

Towards the end of the movie, Will realizes he loves Anna and does not want to lose her. Therefore mastering enough courage, which he did not have at the start of the movie, he goes down on one knee and pops the question. Unlike the first time when they were in Hale and Reece’s company, this time they’re alone. Anna says yes, but later in the night, she changes her mind and retracts her acceptance.

Hale on the other hand, realises that while he loves Reece, he cannot continue being in a relationship with him because they clearly have different desires. He wants a child but his life partner won’t support him. Eventually he packs his clothes and leaves.

At the end of the movie a dejected Will is left alone in the house he had personally constructed for himself and Anna, as she sets out on her quest to find her happiness. Hale and Reece go their separate ways. I did not like the movie’s ending because it did not have the proverbial ‘happily ever after’…

However, it is a reminder that such is life. We do not always have everything figured out, and even when we do, we don’t always get it. As I watched the movie, one thing stood out: sometimes we spend so much time, trying to find that perfect thing… that perfect moment… those perfect words… For instance, at the start of the movie, Will knew what he wanted; to propose to Anna, but he was too nervous.

I’m thinking, if he had followed his gut then, and made that proposal, he would have known then, if she wanted to be with him or not. Furthermore, his woes began when their friends suggested they try dating other people before settling down.

In my humble opinion, the company we keep is crucial. Sometimes our friends/family mislead us unknowingly, therefore we have to be strong enough to stand by what we want, even if they do not agree with it. If one knows what they want, they should be ready to fight for it even if means they will swim against the tide.

Furthermore, we need to appreciate the things we have and the people in our lives, so we can treat them with the love and care they deserve. Sometimes we take them for granted, waiting for the ‘perfect’ ones to come along, until we find ourselves at the verge of losing them.

That’s when we realize just how much they mean to us, and ‘perfect’ is pretty much a figment of our imagination. In essence, what we need to do is to figure out what we want… and once we identify it, we should fight for it, no matter the odds.

Seventy times seven

Cold wars are a serious problem in my family and lately they are becoming annoyingly common; for instance, for the most part of last week and the previous week, my big sister and I were not talking to each other. What’s funny is that we’d fought over something so trivial – splitting house chores. At first the conversation had been going ok, but after a while we started disagreeing and before we knew things escalated…next thing we were going our separate ways.

A day later, I’d already gotten over the anger and I was ready to reconcile. My sister, on the other hand, seemed grumpy. I tried talking to her a couple of times but she blatantly ignored me. At some point I started panicking when I realized she was so bent on keeping to herself, that she would use alternative doors, so we wouldn’t bump into each other.

After a careful examination of my conscience, I realized that even though the things I’d told her were true, they were hurtful. Furthermore, the situation had been worsened by the fact that I’d said them with my voice raised. Possibly if I had said the same things calmly under different circumstances, they would not have stung as much as they did. Granted, I had said them in response to what she had told me and that’s why I had gotten angry in the first place. Since I knew she wouldn’t talk to me, I sent her a text apologising.

Still, she did not talk to me. I gave up trying and asked God to soften her heart because I could not understand how she could carry anger around for that long. I missed talking to her, but I did not know how else to reach out. Eventually, she started talking to me after a week. Of utter silence.

Over time I have realised that when I hold grudges, they consume me from within, so if I stay angry for long I end up hurting. That’s why I try not to stay angry for longer than necessary. Furthermore, there’s that reading about not letting the sun go down when still angry; meaning, even if it is alright to get angry sometimes, we should not drag it out.

“If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day… Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you…

Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God as has forgiven you through Christ”. (Ephesians 4:26-31).

Those words keep ringing in my head whenever I’m angry…and I thank God for them because they keep me from holding grudges, even when I feel someone has really hurt me. Coincidentally, the Sunday readings in church the last two Sundays focused so much on forgiveness.

One thing I got from this past Sunday’s reading is that if you want God to forgive you, you must forgive others as well. That is a prerequisite we must fulfil before seeking God’s forgiveness. That got me thinking, most of the time we walk around holding grudges against people, yet when we sin, we ask God for forgiveness, forgetting we haven’t forgiven others ourselves.

Jesus’ parable about the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18: 21-35) teaches on that. In a nutshell, it is about a servant who owed his king millions of dollars, so the king ordered that he be sold as a slave, together with his wife and children. The servant dropped on his knees, imploring the king to be patient with him because in time he would pay everything. The King felt sorry for him and forgave him his debt and let him go.

When this servant was on his way, he met up a fellow servant who owed him only a few dollars. Enraged, he grabbed him by the collar, asking him to pay all he owed him. The poor man fell on his knees asking for more time, just like the servant had begged the king, but he wouldn’t hear any of it. Instead he had him thrown in jail until he cleared his debt.

Other servants saw what had happened and they reported it to the king. Incensed, the king ordered that the unforgiving servant be brought to him. He castigated the servant for not showing mercy to his fellow servant. Subsequently, he had the unforgiving servant thrown behind bars, where he’d be punished until he repaid all the millions he owed the king.

As Jesus told His disciples, that is how God the Father will treat all those who do not forgive others. We should forgive each other seventy times seven times. This is just figurative. What Jesus was trying to say is that we should forgive as many times as possible because our human nature makes us prone to sin. That way, even God will forgive us.

On that same note, we are highly discouraged from avenging ourselves. In Romans 12:17-19 we’re told, “If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good. Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody. Never take revenge my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it”.

One of the lessons I’ve learnt during this covid period is that being cooped up indoors with your loved ones could easily make them seem like foes, because everyone starts focusing on the small, insignificant things… We need to overlook those trivialities, because it’s in so doing that we can live in peace and harmony…and when fights inevitably break out, forgiveness is key. That way, our humanness doesn’t pull us away from God’s grace.

 

Let’s talk about sex

How much is too much when it comes to children’s knowledge about sex? I’m under the impression some parents/guardians avoid this topic at all costs, but when you look at the happenings around us, the situation needs to be addressed. As the world is battling coronavirus, and all the untold hardships it has brought upon us, one of the glaring cons is that children have stayed out of school for longer than they should have.

You know some of those old sayings we so often take for granted? Some are proving hard to ignore; for instance, ‘An idle mind is the devils’ workshop’. Children are at home, and as it is, statistics show the number of underage pregnancies have rapidly increased.

These, have been attributed to gender-based violence, where girls are being defiled by male relatives; in some instances some naïve girls are being lured by wealthy men, who are promising them the things their parents/guardians cannot afford…then there’s the larger majority, who are just experimenting, of their own volition because they have so much time on their hands.

The latter is my bone of contention. Thousands of underage girls are getting pregnant…Question is, what are we not doing right? Something had me thinking…majority of guardians/parents are afraid of having the ‘birds and the bees’ conversation with their children; either because they are too reticent, or because in some cultures sex is one of those taboo topics everyone should avoid, except when discussing it with peers.

I’ve watched several movies on various local channels, where basic kisses are censored. Ever watched a Hallmark movie? They are the most family-friendly…they have a very intriguing storyline, which has relatively harmless love scenes. Methinks, the amount of kissing and nudity in these movies is too minimal to be censored.

Thinking of it from a child’s perspective, it feels like one of those instances where I’m watching my parents kiss…and as one would expect, it’s not one of those raunchy moments which scream, “Get a room!’ It’s the subtle type, which doesn’t focus on the physical aspect, but the intense love behind that kiss.

So, begs the question, should we bury our heads in the sand, pretend kids know nothing about sex and let things continue spiralling out of control? Should we let our innocent children get derailed by all the misleading information from their fellow friends, or the misleading pornographic content that’s easily available online?

When looking at a child, it is easy to dismiss them off as naïve, but I beg to differ. Just think of how old you were when you found out about sex. The difference between adults and children is, the former have a good amount of information to help them make informed choices, whereas the latter are still in a stage where they’ve got relatively little information that’s relevant, and ballooning curiosity.

I’ve interacted with children a lot, and one of the things I’ve picked up from my interaction with them is that a kid as young as five, has heard about sex from some older kids…problem is, the information they have is skewed…and that is where, in my humble opinion, parents/guardians should step in.

As a lawyer, one of my areas of expertise is children and the law, and as such, I could use pages expounding on the legal aspect of this conundrum. For starters, anyone found engaging in coitus with a minor should be charged with statutory rape…

However, the greatest challenge is that most of the teens are having sex with their fellow teens. In most jurisdictions, a child is anyone below the age of eighteen. So if both are minors, engaging in consensual sex, who should bear the criminal liability?

In the few years I’ve studied law, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt is that law does not solve all problems. The implication of this is that we need to find non-legal solutions and nip the problem in the bud. When I was a child, the one thing parents and teachers kept repeating was, ‘True love waits’.

From what I gather, most teens engage in coitus due to peer pressure. A kid who wants to appear cool needs to have sexual experience, because this is all kids are talking about nowadays…and the internet isn’t helping either. The way I see it, it’s about time we grabbed that bull by the horns.

Let’s have this conversation with kids…let’s tell them point blank of all the repercussions of teen sex…let’s not wait for them to collect misleading information from the internet, from peers… Let that vital, life-changing information come from a place of love…let’s teach them, that true love waits!

Alternatively, there’s the issue about safe sex education. If they cannot wait, there are safe ways of doing it. I know for most parents/guardians this might be unnerving, because children are angels, whose innocence should be protected. However, avoiding this topic is only worsening things.

The only way a parent/guardian can know the options available to them is by talking to their kids and gauging their position with regards to matters sex. What’s obvious, is that silence is not a viable option; because while we’re busy ignoring this, hoping our kids are still little angels, they are busy having sex…

 

Here’s to… my first legal job: Part 3

Toast to 2

As I read through the letter, I figured my friend and I had been dismissed for absconding work. Interestingly, it had only come barely four hours after us failing to show up at work. Even the legal provision cited did not hold any water. After getting over my shock, I wrote down a 9-paged letter in response, detailing my miserable experience at the office.

I also told him I had noticed his partner’s flawed perception of my friend and I, had ruined our previously good work relation; subsequently leading to our ill-timed dismissal.  By the time I was done, I could breathe easy. Writing had been therapeutic.

At first, I had contemplated not replying, but then I thought, I would not want anyone else to be treated the way I was. It was callous, to say the least. After everything, I told my boss I had accepted the dismissal because I had prayed for that job a lot, asking for guidance on the way forward. I believed this was God guiding me, and I wouldn’t fight Him.

A day after receiving the dismissal letter, I sent my reply to my boss and I copied his partner. That same evening, he sent me a very moving text, apologising for everything I’d gone through. I did not reply. The next day in the evening, he texted me again, asking if he could call me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk to him yet, so I did not text him back.

Thursday at around noon, I texted him telling him he could call. About an hour later, he called. At that point I was anxious because I did not know what to expect. I had already made peace with the dismissal and I was afraid he would tell me things that would agitate me all over again. Unexpectedly, during his call, he made admissions, subsequent to the recommendations I had made in my letter.

He admitted that he regretted sending the dismissal letter. Furthermore, he also admitted that it took my letter for him to realize how much influence his partner had on him. I did not want to think too much, whether his apology was genuine or not.

All I knew is that prior to the dismissal, I had made a decision to quit, so either way I would have left. Moreover, given that he was my senior, the fact that he lowered himself to a level where he was admitting he had greatly wronged me, is what made all the difference. I know how hard it is to say sorry, so the mere thought that he apologized was enough for me.

As I had mentioned, I had prayed a lot, asking God for guidance on the way forward because I had gotten to a point where I felt the job was taking a toll on me, physically and mentally. Therefore, much as I had not expected to receive a dismissal letter, I chose to think of it as Joseph’s predicament that landed him in Egypt. God used it as a way to uplift him.

If you’re wondering whether I forgave my boss, I did. He told me he’d had sleepless nights since I sent him my letter because the picture I had portrayed of him was not who he really was. He asked what I wanted him to do for me as a way of atonement, but I did not want anything. His apology was enough.

However, we both agreed I could not go back to the law firm because his partner was still working there and clearly we were not getting along. That said, he told me his partner would be sending an apology letter as well, but it is yet to pop up in my mail. Not that I’m expecting it though. It’s enough that she knows I condemn how she treated my friend and I.

I had made recommendations with regard to the changes I hoped my boss would make, for the sake of his staff, and he assured me he would. That was all I needed, because I knew, there would be people joining his law firm after my untimely departure, and I would not wish upon them, the treatment I had received. So as I contemplate my next move, I toast to my first legal job. It did not last as long as intended, but it taught me many things.

My lessons learned are: firstly, if you do not like the treatment you’re receiving at work or on any other forum, by all means speak out. Not for the sake of being argumentative or insubordinate, but because by doing so, you could be saving someone else; secondly, do whatever work you’re assigned in the best way possible, so that if you’re faulted for anything, you will confidently speak out against it; and, lastly, forgiveness heals. I am now at peace because I’m not holding a grudge against my boss and his partner. I did my part and left everything else to God.

Turn the other cheek

If someone hits you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek as well…this is what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:38-48. I don’t know if it’s just me, but every time I hear that statement I usually wonder how many people actually comply with it; reason being, the average person is ordinarily very quick to retaliate when hurt.

I have heard this biblical statement more times than I would care to count, but there is one thing I’ve invariably overlooked… “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek”. I never thought much about it, until the priest in church last Sunday asked what circumstances would lead to one being slapped on the right cheek first.

Practically, for that to happen it would be a left-handed person slapping, or a right-handed person slapping with the back of their hand. Arguably, most people are right-handed, ergo, for someone to get to a point where they are using the back of their hand, it would mean they were so angry.

In light of this, going by our priest’s rationale, Jesus’ reasoning was that if someone is that angry, we should just let them vent by turning the other cheek instead of retaliating. Ordinarily, most of us feel the overpowering urge to attack, when attacked. However, the Lord Jesus, asks us to do the complete opposite.

The million dollar question is, how many of us are capable of turning the other cheek? In the Old Testament, the Law of Moses teaches us about an eye for eye…However, it’s a trite fact that an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind. Therefore, what we’re being asked by Jesus to do is to exercise restraint, and forgiveness. From experience I know it is very difficult, but it’s still within our capabilities.

On an entirely different note, I realize today (29th February), only comes every four years. In light of that, I wish you a very happy Leap Year day!

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…

Humble yourself and God will lift you up

Imagine you got invited to a high-end party…and when you arrive at the venue, you find seats are organized in such a way that all the VIPs have their own special area reserved, as it usually is in most cases. Therefore when you get there, you quietly (without any drama) take a seat at some table meant for the rest of the hoi polloi.

However, when the host sees you, they happily walk over to you and tell you that you’re sitted at a wrong table. Furthermore, they respectfully walk you to a seat reserved just for you at the VIP section. How amazing would that feel? I know I would be stoked.

Then, consider a contrary situation where you’re already sitted at the VIP section, then some ‘big shot’ makes their way to your table, in the company of their entourage. Judging by their flashy clothes and accessories, you surmise they are very, very important persons. In their presence you feel very small.

When almost everyone is in attendance, the host walks to the ‘big shot’ sitted at your table, and whispers something in their ear. You just watch as they rise to their feet, their face awash with palpable rage and shame. Albeit you didn’t overhear what the host whispered to them, you gather from the rest of the VIPs at your table that the person was sitted at the wrong table and should have been at the ‘commoner’s’ area; moreover, the particular seat is reserved for some other VIP.

This hypothetical scenario is based on this past Sunday’s readings in church (Luke 14: 1 – 14). Jesus was invited to the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees. There, on noting the sitting arrangements, He told a parable to the guests in attendance. “When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honour, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him.

And he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man’, and then you will begin with shame, to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’. Then, you will be honoured in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”.

Jesus also went ahead to caution the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite friends or your brothers, or your kinsmen or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just”.

Jesus’ teachings encourage us to be humble. If we don’t go around blowing our own trumpets and seeking praise from others, God will Himself uplift us. In the parable, He would be the host who invites the humble guest to sit at the high table.

Most of us thrive on publicity, and as result we end up doing things that might be deemed despicable. Case in point is Farrah Abraham’s recent ‘wardrobe malfunction’ at the Venice Film Festival. While the jury is still out on whether the ‘malfunction’ was accidental or choreographed, I’m of the humble opinion her reaction was too blasé for it to be considered inadvertent. Methinks it’s just another case of ‘Bad publicity is better than no publicity’.

Based on what I’ve gathered over time, some people gain popularity without even trying. I know some people who are so successful in life, but you wouldn’t know unless you deliberately set out on a quest to find information about them.

There are these verses of the Bible I love:

Matthew 6: 3-4: “When you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father who sees what you do will reward you”.

Matthew 6:6: “But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen. And your Father who sees what you do in private will reward you openly”.

These verses encourage us to carry on with our affairs in confidence. Looking at it from Jesus’ perspective, one needs to be very humble for them not to go telling every one of their achievements. It really takes so much strength to keep good things to ourselves.

Sometimes we go ‘rubbing’ our achievements in people’s faces, partly out of excitement, and partly as a way of showing off. I suppose what Jesus is discouraging is pride. As the saying goes, “Pride comes before a fall”. Logically, one cannot be proud and humble at the same time. So it’s always a matter of personal choice.

 

 

 

The Narrow Door: Part 2

The thought of dying feels scary to most of us…and I imagine it’s because the afterlife would best be described as ‘unchartered waters’. Yes, there are some people who’ve come so close to following the proverbial ‘light’, when they get to that Near Death Experience (NDE); and when they regain consciousness they try to explain what they saw on the other side.

I’ve heard some chilling stories about what some people purport to have seen. In this case I’m deliberately using the word ‘purport’ because sometimes it’s hard to draw the line between what one actually experienced, and the part of it that’s just a hyperbole. One of the stories I’ve heard is about a man who died (almost died) but came back to life.

He claimed to have seen heaven and hell and interestingly, he says most of the people he saw in perdition were people who while alive were renowned servants of God; simply put, priests and pastors. Now one may ask, assuming this man was telling the truth, and that indeed the souls keeping the devil company are those of former religious leaders, then where does that leave the rest of us, who may not be that religious (in the eyes of our fellow men at least)?

In church yesterday, the priest’s sermon reminded me of that man’s NDE. The sermon was premised on the gospel about the ‘Narrow door’. In a nutshell, what this reading says is that the road to perdition is broad, and laden with flowers and all manner of good things. On the contrary, the road to Heaven is very narrow and thorny.

The basic explanation is that it’s very easy for someone to go to hell; because when one is in a moral dilemma, it’s always easy to choose the easy way out. For instance, if one is almost getting kicked out of their house because they have outstanding rent arrears, then while they’re walking on the street they come across a wallet on the ground, the financial crisis they’re in will prompt them to pick it up and use the money inside.

In essence, the right thing, in my opinion, would be to pick it up and figure out how to have it returned to the owner; say by contacting any numbers available in there. However, it is also understandable why someone would opt to use the money in it. It may not be right, but at that time it would be feeling like a tremendous blessing.

From a lawyer’s perspective, some of the cases I’ve interacted with have helped me realise that sometimes people commit grave offences, not because they have a penchant for crimes, but because difficult circumstances pushed them between a rock and a very hard place.

There’s this prayer/reflection about why saints became saints: they forgave when it was hard to forgive; they were patient when it was difficult to be patient; they were agreeable when they wanted to be disagreeable; they remained silent when they wanted to talk; and, they pushed on, even when they felt like calling it quits. What this reflection does, is that it makes one realise how hard it is to be a saint.

One of the recently canonized saints is St. Teresa of Calcutta, popularly known as ‘Mother Theresa’. The life she led, one would have to turn their back on all worldly pleasures to attain that level of holiness. She lived a very simple life serving others. Question is, how many of us are capable of that?

In the era we’re currently in, the people we celebrate as servants of God are giving us more questions than answers with regard to our quest to attaining salvation. This is because churches have been turned into money-making businesses. These ‘servants of God’ are preying on gullible people, minting money from them in the guise of ‘saying special prayers for them; or cleansing them…’

Our priest in church was saying, “Don’t be surprised if you get to heaven and find the local drunk was allowed in through the pearly golden gates, yet I’m still outside the gate begging to be allowed in. Going to church everyday, tithing, singing in the choir and joining all manner of prayer groups while commendable, are not enough to guarantee someone salvation.”

He continued, “Professing and proclaiming the name of the Lord is not enough. The life you live, must speak for itself. Because even if you dedicate most of your time to church activities, yet you don’t live a holy life, Jesus will tell you, ‘I don’t know you’. Aspire to live a life that pleases God. A life free of hypocrisy”.

His words gave me a lot to ponder on; sometimes we think because we’re always involved in church matters and always attending services/mass, we’re already guaranteed a place in heaven; and that those we perceive to be wayward will automatically go to hell? That is a huge misconception. Only God knows each person’s heart. The only thing we can do for ourselves is try to live holy lives, by following His precepts.

 

Who’s my neighbour?

As a lawyer, I know my neighbour is the person who is close to me, in terms of proximity, that my actions or omissions would cause them harm. This neighbour principle is intended to caution a person to be careful of what they do, or don’t do because they will be held liable for their actions/omissions.

About a fortnight ago, the readings in church were about a conniving lawyer who was trying to test Jesus’ wits, asking Him what he needed to do to attain eternal life. Jesus told him to be good to his neighbour. The rationale is, someone cannot love God, who they have never seen if they cannot love their own neighbour.

In this lawyer’s attempt to outshine Jesus, he asked Jesus who his neighbour is…and Jesus went ahead to tell him the parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was done, He asked him who of the three people was a good neighbour.

In a nutshell, the moral of the parable is to be kind, even to those people we don’t know. The neighbour principle discourages us from doing things that might harm others. It teaches us not to do to others, what we wouldn’t want done to us.

That Sunday morning after mass, mom and I were at a petrol station checking tyre pressure, when we heard the distinct sound of shattering glass. On reflex, I looked over my shoulder thinking a driver had rammed into something.

But lo and behold! I saw a relatively young man, possibly in his early twenties, bending forward. He was trying to pick something from the ground, but his centre of gravity seemed very wobbly. His back and forth rocking motion bespoke early morning inebriation.

Then, I also realised, his pants had pooled at his ankles and he seemed to have such great difficulty yanking them up. He would bend, and his entire tall frame would tip forward, then he would attempt to stand.

I bet he was so drunk because he took like three steps forward, trying to find his balance, then he took a few steps forward. It was sad really. I would have been tempted to laugh, but the situation was just heart breaking.

When he was still trying to fasten his pants, which thankfully he had managed to pull up, he dropped his phone; and at that point he let go off his pants then bent forward again to pick the phone. Next to him was a broken window of a fast food restaurant, and shards of glass were scattered on the ground. That had mom and I thinking he had something to do with the breakage.

A waiter from the restaurant got hold of him and directed him inside. Then he locked the double glass doors from inside, I guess to prevent him from disappearing before they settled the damages. Though I doubt he would have, given his uncoordinated movement.

I could not help but wonder why such a young man would get himself into such unnecessary trouble on a beautiful Sunday morning. After seeing dad drink for all these years, and knowing the problems this has brought him and us, I am of the humble opinion people should just try to avoid the habit, difficult as it is.

Funny thing is, during mass the priest had said a good neighbour is one who doesn’t do things they wouldn’t want other people around them to do. Interestingly, he gave an example of a drunk man/woman, who comes home after three days. When asked where they’ve been, they turn hostile.

The priest asked, “If you wouldn’t want your partner or children coming home that drunk, why would you think it’s ok to do that to them?” Being a good neighbour means sparing a thought for those around us.

pressure to get married

I’m staring out at the sky, praying that he will walk in my life…

Where is the man of my dreams…I’ll wait forever how silly it seems

How does he laugh how does he cry, what’s the colour of his eyes;

Does he even realize I’m here…where is he…where is this beautiful guy…

Who is he…who’s gonna take me so high…”

These are the lyrics to Justin Roman and Natalie Soluna’s song, ‘Where is she’. When I was younger I used to sing it word for word, because I loved it (still do). Now it pops randomly as a reminder of what’s going on in my life.

See, when my two sisters and I turned 13 (at different times), dad automatically assumed we would give in to the raging hormones teenagers are usually said to suffer from at the onset of puberty. Therefore he always treated us like we were just sleeping around with boys. “I know they’ve done it…either in that bedroom, or that bedroom…”This, he would say during his drunken ramblings, pointing at the bedrooms while standing at the hallway.

As a result, we always avoided inviting guys over because we didn’t want to be judged. Even the ones who came over did so without our consent. Like this one evening my childhood sweetheart popped by on his way home from work. Needless to say, I had not invited him over. When mom got back from work, she found him there but since she knew him since he was a child, and was friends with his mom, she was generally happy to see him.

Only thing she was not privy to was that a couple of years ago he and I had been in a relationship. At the time we had already gone our separate ways and he had visited, hoping we would get back together. However, I had already moved on so that chapter had long been closed.

Then, 25 came and suddenly dating was the implied requirement…if one was not dating and introducing their partner to the family, people thought that person was slacking off. The pressure to get married started. Mom light-heartedly started saying she wanted to see her grandchildren before she turned 50.

One of my cousins got a baby at twenty and the entire family ganged up against her. No one wanted to be associated with her, and I couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. I mean, at the least, she was above 18, if age was the issue. She stayed with us for a while and a couple of years later, everyone was doting on her little girl. Nowadays, in family get-togethers, the same people who had ostracised her refer to her daughter as her second degree, her first being her bachelor’s degree.

So question is, is it just in my family or that’s the norm? Where before one turns 25, dating is almost a felony…then after 25, there’s pressure piling from all corners for one to get hitched. Nowadays, all my dad’s drunken ramblings start and end with marriage; but in all honesty, I sort of understand why. Most of our cousins are getting married and having babies.

Dad yearns to be called a grandfather, like his elder brothers. However, he fails to realise marriage is an almost permanent situation, given that it’s usually intended to be, “Till death…” So the way I see it, it’s not a matter of having attained the suitable age for marriage, but about being prepared emotionally, financially…

I really do not want to end up in nuptials because I’m ‘ripe for marriage’. If marriage was merely about age, right now I’d be nursing my own children, and taking care of my husband. Nonetheless, I want to find a man I truly love…someone who completes me in every sense of the word; someone who understands me in all my ‘damagedness’…and that, in my opinion, should not be rushed. It’s not about whether dad and mom are ready to be grandparents, but whether I’m ready to start a family.