Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Digging deep into my faith

Growing up, attending Sunday school and bible study groups in the neighbourhood, I was sure that God cared about us, little children, and we would have these fun bible studies and play games. We also watched Christian videos with children singing at the Colby clubhouse, Kids praise and others. These made Chrsitianity so much fun. We learnt and recited bible verses and even had a dance group.

In secondary school, God was righteous and was to be revered and worshipped. But he was also cool, we had what I could call praise parties, then intense worship. Sometimes some of my school mates went overboard with the righteousness thing but I preferred the cool part so I stuck with it.

As I got older, God was portrayed as holy, in whose presence there was meant to be no sin. God would not shy away from judging whoever was found wanting. For me that judgment was done through his agents in church as examplified by people who worked in church. It was also the time when I saw that one or two girls who were slightly older had gotten pregnant. There was so much talking amongst mothers that it felt like the girls had committed the most unpardonable sin. God was somehow mirrored in that way to me at that stage of my life.

By the time I got to university, I knew God was all these and more. I enjoyed going to christian concerts, where there would be lots of dancing from different groups, rap, singing, the joy in these venues always filled the air. We genuinely loved being in Gods presence and having fun. But I was also exposed to the new crop of pentecostal churches that were becoming popular. The one things I found most strange was how people would pray so loudly to everyones hearing. I was raised in a conservative church and many times in my head, I liked to believe that the church I was raised in was an orthodox one but eventually, I was content with just saying I am a protestant for people who probed to know which faction of Christianity I belonged to.

After university, I started living on my own and I tried to find out more of who this God really was. The more I searched, the more I found that God was a loving father beyond everything else I had found. I started to relate with God the way I would relate with my father. I know my father loves me unconditionally and I have never had any reason to doubt his love for me. He is also willing to do what is within his power to ensure that I be all I can be. However, my parents raised us with choices, they woud spell things out then let us choose with the realisation that there were consequences to deal with for every action. So naturally, I have always had an inquisitive mind. The more I read the scriptures, the more I found that God was like a parent, like my parents. He is patient and would allow us to choose. He is loving but would discipline as needed. I merged all these aspects of who God was from the different stages of my life. People told me that I was not to question God, but I would ask my father questions when I had doubts and did not see why I could not do the same with God. If he chooses not to respond, that would not stop me from asking.

On many occasions, I have found myself wondering if God actually exists, I have asked him why he could be mean sometimes, why he allows some of the things that happen to happen. For these questions, I guess when I finally get to heaven, he may be able to respond to me then. I do not consider myself to be religious, but I prefer to see myself as someone who searches to have a personal relationship with God. At different points, I have volunteered in church and I have always had people who treated me (and said as much) like I was not holy or spiritual enough. Some people have not necessariy approved of my being inquisitive or how I won't just jump on any band wagon if I do not have a conviction. But peoples feelings have not stopped me from staying true to what I believe. 

I worked with young adults the last time I volunteered in church and I saw how many of them battled with who they were, what people thought about them, their parents approval, self awareness etc. Many of them just needed people who would speak to them in real terms and not from a spiritual high ground. I was misunderstood on many occasions, but my approach was to get them to do the thinking and find the solutions which they had in them. Some just needed a little nudging or simply needed to have conversations with their parents. However, the fear they had of speaking to their parents held them back, and this broke my heart so many times. Many of these parents stood tall in church as leaders but could hardly spare time or a kind word for their own children.
I was raised differently and a lot more exposed at their age. I questioned a lot and was fearless, hahahaahaha. I would like to think I still am! If I didn't agree with something, I wouldn't be forced to accept it.

I see people who volunteer or work in church get so carried away and worn out by church activities that there ceases to be real depth to their relationship with the actual person they claim to be working for. I got to points where I was drained and I walked away and took time to recover and recharge before going back. The people I served under did not necessarily approve of it but I was also accountable to myself, so I did what was right for me. I remember one time a few people tried to force me to serve in a unit I didn't feel like I connected with, being the person I am, it was dead on arrival. Of course I said no, after trying a few times to persuade, coerce then eventually force me, I told them that even if they called the senior pastor of the church to ask me, I woud give the same answer.

I've got to a point where I think I have a good sense of my relationship with my heavenly father. I've gone for long periods away from home or been in places where I've been unable to set foot in a church. It is amazing to physically be around people to bounce ideas around with, and to be encouraged. But my relationship with God has remained because I speak to him and feel him with me, I also read his word and get insights on situations.

There are a lot of things I see and do not agree with that people do in the name Christianity: church as a money making venture, divisions based on factions, people turning other human beings like them into idols, being so judgmental, the list could go on. Then there is this 'spiritual' way of speaking that used to get me confused...you could see someone visibly unwell and ask how they were but they would reply 'I am strong' or in the face of such misfortune, you would hear 'it is well'. Or someone would say 'I am who he says I am'. Concretely, what did all this mean? New converts hearing such talk would only be left with more questions. Eventually, I got to understand that people were affirming themselves or  reassuring themselves in the face of difficulties. 

God lives in us but is all the way up in heaven. We are his agents and are to be him to the world, we need each other. I prefer to show the loving God to people as I continue to discover him. I make loads of mistakes and I fall out of line more times than I can count. But like my father would nudge me to go on, I know God is doing the same so I keep trying. If you doubt, it's ok. if you ask questions, it's ok too. God loves you regardless and will continue rooting for you.

Who is God to you?

36 comments:

  1. Ene, I saw this topic and I connected with it immediately! I read every word you wrote here and oh girl!! Your experiences resonates so deeply!!!

    I think we were born 'rebels'....hahahahahaha.....challenging the norms, asking questions...trying to make the younger ones around see from the lens society does not want them to see from, challenging them to be better and not to even make some mistakes we had made. One of which is.........the feeling of being righteous! Abeg, who is righteous? Who can even be? I do not want any teenager around me to have this feeling........Why? It limits their ability to challenge the norms...to ask questions. I challenge Pastors whom others felt were too high and mighty to even be questioned, I refused to call their wives 'Mummy'......Mummy? Why? I was even older than some of them!! Some I never called 'Daddy'...:Why? Kilode?? Whose Daddy ke!!! I am an Accountant, I chose to be one. You are a Pastor, you chose to be one...Its all a career....do they call me Mummy because I'm an Accountant??? You see, the world does not like us thinking like this.

    Knowing God for yourself is the only Christianity I know. Being the last born in my home, my over spiritual older ones wants me to pray like them, talk like them....I used to try... but I discovered it was not working for me so I resorted to being me. They were frustrated for some time...they still try....send me prayers to pray on my birthday or to pray for my daughter because in their mind....Bukola does not pray enough......Me and God know how we dey connect, make una free me jor! I no need to shout or anything but we converse!

    I know whom I believe is a powerful scripture and I do know my God to be a loving father......so whatever it is, I need to love God and to love my neighbor as myself. This is the only commandment and true essence of Christianity.

    Thank you Ene for this great piece

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    1. Awwwwww Bukky. And to think that I hesitated before publishing this?!
      I am so glad I'm not alone in all of this. Indeed, we should practice Christianity in its true form and put away doctrines and cultural beliefs that find their way into the church.

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  2. God is my father. A time will come when He will be judge but for now, I see him as a loving father. Thank you Ene for this. Absolutely true!

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  3. I questioned my faith and belief in God when what I choose to do with my life after university stood contrary to what my dad believed in even though in my understanding it seemed right. For the first time I challenged a few of the practices that I had grown up with my entire life.
    I learned to see God beyond being a judge to a loving father and friend who needed me to extend the same courtesy to the people around me. Now I see him interested in me beyond just the spiritual.
    I've gone through a few stages in my faith which mirrors what you have captured in this piece.

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    1. I'm pleased for you. It is key to find out who God is for ourselves, so we do not see him through the eyes of someone else.
      We all are learning about him, even our parents do not know God entirely.

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  4. Ene, I just want to give you a hug! This is such a "meaningful" piece! Thank you for sharing your personal experience, many (myself included) feel the same, and also for letting the world know we can know God for ourselves! That, I believe, is the ultimate! And that is how true christianity will be practiced. We all need to know and feel God's love, and be assured that we'll make mistakes, probably be disciplined, but His love never ever goes away. This brings to mind the Bible verse that talks about a mother (earthly being) forgetting her suckling child, how much more God in all His divinity! I could go on and on, but I thank you for sharing this. For the reminder, the faith-check. Blessings my girl!!!

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    1. I'd absolutely love a hug right now, seeing that covid-19 has imposed restrictions on hugging. You are welcome and I'm sending blessings your way also.

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  5. We are cut from the same tree. Not much to say as we grew up together and believe the same things but I love that you wrote this piece.

    Many people need to see God as father in the real sense of the word. He's not the scary being He is painted to be. I imagine having proper conversations with Him like we do with daddy. Those will be amazing convos 😊

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    1. Yes yes yes! Let's continue having our epic conversations ;)

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  6. Thank you Ene. I have found that the greatest revelation one can have is that of the Fatherhood of God.
    His love is unending; never failin and unwavering.
    Unfortunately, God has been misinterpreted and misrepresented by people who think they I know. Truth be told,it's very difficult to understand the Fatherhood of God when you've lived around self righteousness and judgemental people. It is said that you see life not the way it is but the way you are. So an unforgiving and judgemental person believes that God is equally that way.
    Thank Ene for being true to what you believe. I am what I am today by the grace of God. And that grace is all I want to share with the world.

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    1. Fair enough, I acknowledge that not everyones relationship with their parents might be like mine.
      Keep sharing with the world, that's what we are called to do.

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  7. Thank you for this piece. I could relate a lot with what was written hear. I too am striving to know God in a more deeper and intimate way without the shackles of 'religion'. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

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    1. Thank you for reading and may he continue to reveal himself to you.

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  8. This week I asked myself how does God see me and why is my one request left unanswered. I concluded that God is God and he will continue to be God whether I worship him or not and He will answer when He sees fit. So for me now God is just God

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    1. Sometimes we may not understand the way he works, but I've learnt to trust him regardless.

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  9. Ene il n 'y a que toi pour me forcer à lire l'anglais, mais cela me prendra trop de temps pour repondre en anglais ��

    J'aime beaucoup le thème de ton article. Ces questionnements sont le commun de tout chrétien je crois. Je suis convertie il y a peu, mais je sais que le plus important c'est l'amour effectivement. Réussir à montrer Christ qui est en nous à travers son amour, c'est exceptionnel !
    Continuons de demander au Saint Esprit de nous guider et de nous révéler qui est Dieu en nous accrochant à sa parole

    Bisou
    Christelle.

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    1. Merci ma belle, nous continuons à le suivre. Il se revelera dans ses differentes formes.
      Et oui, il faut que tu lises beaucoup plus en anglais! Hehehehehehe

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  10. Well spoken, my dear it's easier for you to relate with God the way you relate with your earthly parents because of the relationship you all have built, it is not some people's reality.

    Knowing God for yourself and relating with him the way He wants is the best thing that can ever happen to you.
    Otherwise you will loose focus. There are lots of churches,lots of Christians and LOTS OF WICKEDNESS in the house of God.

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    1. Fair enough, I acknowledge that not everyones relationship with their parents might be like mine.

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  11. Beautiful piece! Truthfully written!

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  12. God is my hope and the essence of my existence.

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    1. May he continue to be this and more to you.

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  13. Ene, you are really your father's daughter you know. Christianity is in the mind. Those who carry it on there forehead are allowed to do so. You know your relationship with your God so please continue and leave the SU ones to continue with what please them. On the last day when the trumpet sound all of us will know where we belong. Thanks so much for the write up and God bless.

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    1. Yes, I am my fathers' daughter :-) I agree, it is a state of the mind that comes through with who we are.
      God bless you too.

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  14. This was so beautiful to read! I connected with this on so many levels ,discovering God for oneself and building a relationship with God is the best thing that could happen to anyone.

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  15. My journey with God is simple. My religious journey is a complicated, because people around always want to push to you how to be with God. There are things that had happened in my life that a lot of religious people did not approve of, but personally, I don't validation from anyone.
    This is a powerful write up. ENE, you were great with the young adults,maybe they will get to understand everything one day.
    Please do a part two of this topic.
    Cheers.

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    1. Thank you Emeka. You were equally great with them.

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  16. Don't mind the typo errors. As you are reading add, "one" and "need" appropriately. Hahaha
    .

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  17. Good Read 💃 I could relate to Colby and other parts of your article 👏

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