“My Life is More”

Love is more, it is much more.

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I am a total fan of the TV Series, One Tree Hill. I know it’s completely 2007, juvenile, and for teenage girls, but you can’t blame me. I was a teenage girl when I first saw it. Yes, first, and yes, I have seen it more than twice. In fact, I am currently watching it again. Ha! I like to watch movies with perspective, which is why I watch it more than once. That way, I can look out for what I missed the first time when I was too emotionally involved to be objective about anything that was going on.

Anyway, I am watching One Tree Hill all over again, and paying more attention than I did the last time, trying to see and hear beyond the opinions that my clique of friends expressed when we all saw it together. I am at a certain point in my life, so it seemed only natural that I would be looking to draw something meaningful even from such a drama filled series.

Season 3 has the Naley Reunion (Nathan Scott and his wife, Haley). They need a reunion because Haley left on tour in Season 2 after an ultimatum issued her by Nathan, and she eventually came back after a long time but they have been separated ever since. Trying to get back together is one of Haley’s major goals. So I am watching this scene and Haley has won Nathan in a game called “Fantasy Boy Draft” where girls pick guys they like and/or want and take them out. Haley, in hopes of reminding Nathan about the early buddings of their love in order to help him decide against an annulment and stay together, organizes a date. Of course, interruptions from the aggravating Chris Keller and an irritated Brooke Davis crash some of her plans, but she isn’t to be deterred. At some point during the date, however, Nathan says that he wishes they never got married because it feels he forced her into something she didn’t want. Naturally, Haley is taken aback. When she questions him about it, his response is that he feels Haley would’ve had so much more in her life if he weren’t there to keep her restricted. Then she looks at him with those expressive eyes that are full of love for the man Nathan is (even though he is still 17), and she tells him how she broke down on tour, in front of a crowd of 3,000 people, to the sound of “Missing You”, because she realized that it all meant nothing without Nathan. And then she says to him, “You’re right, Nathan. Maybe this wasn’t the life I would’ve had. It is so much more…with you.” Or something like that. Haha. It is a total “Naley” moment, and it has the desired effect on me (I am a true romantic!). Her reply takes me somewhere that is entirely off the set of One Tree Hill. It made me think about sometimes when we meet certain people who eventually become a major part of our lives; people who are anything but safe. They have a bold existence, and by being in your life, they make you really live. Your normal safe life becomes a spectacle, and a beautiful one at that. They make you scream, cry, and get mad, but most of all, they make you love. You become vulnerable, too. Your safe spaces are finally invaded, and nothing is the same. Do you yet understand how elastic your life becomes after love? You cannot be the same person. No, not with actual love. You are stretched beyond the limits of your comfort and your own selfishness into the world of another. Oh, wow. It is the most amazing and humbling thing (albeit scary at times).

Haley did a song at Tric in Season Two of One Tree Hill, and in it she said, “…but if I cry a little, die a little, at least I know I lived…” and this was after she married Nathan. I completely understand her saying her life was more. She wasn’t just thinking of getting by like every other 17 year old at Tree Hill High. Her life was full. Her life was more.

neksissss

So. Here’s my question: Have you let anyone make your life full in recent times? My dear, you need it. When you look past the ups and downs, the inconveniences, the possible pain (‘cause I can’t lie about that though), the rigour, and even the joy of love, you will experience its power. I haven’t known or heard of anything that could change a life like love. This human heart, it was made for love. We can’t resist it. People who do, they have a hard time of it. The configuration of our humanity is set in love. Love is the singular thing that can reset the factory settings of any human here on earth. LOVE IS FULLNESS. LOVE IS MUCH, MUCH MORE.

Now, if you have loved and lost, that’s a story for another day. However, I would love to give you some perspective on love and loss, so maybe you should look out for when I write about that. I promise you, it’s great perspective, straight from the heart of Love Himself.

Oh, and by the way, you were right. Nathan and Haley are my favourite couple on the show! Haha!

Learning and living love,

Ele.

 

Life is an Interruption

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Growing up is a wonder. It is so little of all the things you thought you wanted, so much of all the things that never crossed your mind to desire, and even worse, much more of interruptions to the things you thought would go smoothly.

I came to this conclusion some months ago, that life is largely the interruptions in our lifetime. We love to make plans and think big and strategize, and we really dislike being interrupted on the road to the life we thought we really wanted. But do we really hate the interruption that much?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I find that so much of my plans get interrupted by people. Then, I am at an impasse. Should I simply ignore this interruption and fight for my right to continue with my life or should I stop and check on this guy bleeding by the road? Do I really want to go to the Straight Road and meet with this Ananias guy, or do I want to continue on to Damascus because I won’t be deterred from my goal? Do I want to help this bleeding guy carry his cross a while or will I slither surreptitiously through the crowds and quietly sneak into my house?

For all those who think I have no desire to make progress in life (I don’t even know what that means anymore), I have made lists and plans. I have thought and envisioned how to really live that “me” life that will be so shiny and impressive it either blinds you or nauseates you. I have envisioned doing one or two “generous” things to ease any inner turmoil I might feel at living selfishly. I have looked through that telescope of a minuscule life that ends with a few million naira and pounds that will probably, at best, see my kids through tertiary education (maybe not in Harvard, and definitely not if I have more than three kids). I think these things too.

But I have also stayed up nights, restless, struggling against the nudging in my heart. I have lain awake arguing with the voice in my heart that insists on interrupting the perfect life I want to make for myself. I have looked where that whisper is pointing, I have seen the interruption. I have seen the storms, I have seen the pain, I have seen the misunderstanding, I have seen the hardness involved. But I have also seen the impact. I have seen the love. I have seen a better and deeper and more fruitful me. I have seen the change that little me can precipitate. I have seen the strength. I have seen the victory. I have seen the adventure. I have seen a difference. So I took the interruption.

It costs me. Oh, man, it costs me plenty. It costs me my precious time. It costs me my money. It costs me my convenience. It costs me my heart. It costs me my rights. It costs me me. And I realize that that may be the point. To shred every vestige of “me” and insert in its place a person who is no longer so fixated on herself and her life that she can love, share and be Jesus to others. And then it becomes less and less a path that costs me, and more and more the life I have chosen.

I love this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to the whisper which is heard by him alone. And Lisa Bevere adds to that: Learn to listen to and for yourself. Don’t ask others to tell you what you alone can hear. Press into God’s whisper deep within your heart and live from that place.

Let me tell you, that whisper isn’t hard to come by. If you read your Bible daily or often, you will always hear that whisper. It will say things like, Hold your tongue. Or, give this or that away. Or, text so and so. Or, correct this sister now. Or, don’t say no. Or, (and this is really hard) don’t say yes. These whispers are barely audible, but they have the power to change us, to change our world, and to cause the kind of change that we may only ever dream about, in us and in others.

If we must grow, if we must live, really live, we have to learn to let the whispers interrupt us.

Courage for Honesty 

I really admire the way some people talk about honesty and vulnerability as though it is the easiest thing in the world. It is truly admirable. “Just say it”, they say, not realizing the mental and physical difficulties involved in “just saying”. And I think, Why don’t you just say it if it’s so easy? I, for one, have a bit of a difficulty being honest many times. Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I go about lying to people or cowering in fear when I need to speak. It just means that important moments that require that painful (yet freeing) kind of honesty leave me wildly ruffled and frightened. 

Now, for example, every time I have to write a blog post, I think about it so hard one would wonder if this was really a decision about world peace and not a blog post. I go over my sentences word by word, analysing and wondering if I shouldn’t change this expression or delete that joke. I wonder if I am funny enough or if I sound sophisticated enough. I mean, there are lots of other bloggers and writers who do this probably even better than I do and reach even more people than I do. What is the point?

My thoughts jam at this question: WHAT IS THE POINT? 

The answer began to come together for me in bits and pieces. One word here. A memory there. A picture from Pinterest. A comment on an article of mine. And little by little, I began to see the point. 

I began to see that my honesty could cost someone something precious. I don’t just need to be honest; I am needed for my honesty. My gift will thrive in honesty and openness; when I am able to bring out words as they should be because they will answer the questions in the heart of another. The world will be a better place by degrees when I am honest. I don’t mean just to say what I think people imagine is the truth they want, but to say those things that God would use me to say. True, I was worried that I had nothing new to say. After all, there have been so many writers before me, more eloquent and graceful; faithful and accurate communicators. Why me? And then I realized that it may have truly all been said, but never by me. And there are people waiting who will only ever respond to the words that come out of my mouth. How do I know this? 

I was listening to an audio message and heard this pastor talk about a little research he did. Thinking about the phrase “one in a million”, he did a bit of Googling and realized that if each of us is truly one in a million, then at least 7,000 other people in this world get you – because there are approximately 7 billion people in this world…on this earth. Is that amazing or what? So I got thinking that if I am one in a million (and duh!), then there are 7,000 people scattered all over the world who will a) get me, b) get what I’m about, and/or c) be affected by something I do or say. This knowledge is infinitely comforting and encouraging because I can go about doing the things I know and love to do and not be choked by pressure to be someone I’m not or fear of failure because I know that there is someone (multiply that by 7,000) who is bound to be blessed, impacted, affected, made happy or changed by an ordinary act of mine. 

I don’t know about you, but it even makes me feel a lot better about my otherwise ordinary existence. I now walk with the sense that I CAN DO THIS, and it gives me such hope and confidence! I am not afraid to be my regular self any longer because I am learning what is packed on my inside and I know that if I can just bring it out for the sun to shine upon it, the reflection will hit someone else in the eyes and bless their life as well. The thought that I can be used to cause someone’s “Road to Damascus” encounter in a most normal but deeply significant way just blows me away. And that’s one reason I desire honesty – to use my extraordinary gift in the most spectacularly ordinary way. 

It would surprise you to know that I only recently acknowledged this gift in me. Many others have done so before now, and more will do so in time to come. However, the acknowledgment that counts most is that of the gifted about his gift (Philemon 1:6). With this acknowledgment has come the desire to brave the fright and be truly honest. To speak about the wildness of life and love when God is in it. To tell about the darkness that plagues a soul unable to see Him. To tell of the greatness that is divine love and its effect on the human heart. To pour out and share with you times that will change your mind, your perception, your vision and if I dare it, your future.

So now I’m not just praying for the courage to be honest; I am standing up in the boat to put my feet out there on the water, in the storm. It’s exhilarating. It’s me, Ele! I’m actually doing this! My heart is beating wildly. I know I will make a few honest mistakes, but at least I won’t do it hiding. I anticipate the journey, the pain, the joy, the satisfaction, the victory that is to be found in letting go. 

Join me. 

(Oh, and have you noticed how much I’m using the word “wild”? Gets me WILDLY excited. Haha!) 

Courage to Change 

Everyday, or so, I pray for the courage to change. If it is a constant in life, then I must be some variable that submits to it. But it is so hard sometimes. Change. 

I used to be so sensitive as a child; too many words and events had rubbed me up wrong and I was always so scared to be open and vulnerable. That human hesitation. Anyway, I came up with a shield to help me survive: I made sure to attempt perfection in every endeavour, and if I couldn’t see it being perfect, I hated to attempt it. Failure was destruction to me. I couldn’t understand and handle failing at anything. Oh, I gave the outward appearance that it was no big deal, but inside, I turned it around over and over and over until the matter was shredded and I still had no answers. 

See, I grew up this way. Until I realized that I simply couldn’t live like this anymore. Life is full of “failing” because nobody is perfect and there is this tiny obstruction of about 6 billion other humans on the same planet as you. So, I had to change…from within… It is the hardest thing you can imagine. 

But it wasn’t just hard. It was necessary and important for me to change. If I really wanted progress in my life, I had to do this. I had to learn to start changing my perspectives, my actions and my reactions. That in itself is scary, because let’s be honest, everyone still likes the way they are. It’s comfortable and gets you nowhere. Having to deal with external responses to your change is also scary, but that’s why it requires courage. 

So I pray, and I ask the Lord to help me handle change. Not to run from it. Not to hide behind it. But to face it, give myself to it, and wait for the results of it. 

Maybe you need some courage for change today, too. Ask Him; He’s always happy to help! 

Tribute to People I Love

This 👆👆is my older sister, my mother’s first born child. She’s president of the Eagles Toastmaster’s Club in Lagos, Nigeria. She has an adorable son, and I love her too much. 

This is my long time friend… Sekyen Temang… 

Another adorable pumpkin in my life. Can’t help her loyalty… 💓❤❤

My brother, who calls me his girlfriend. Lol. Always in my corner. I couldn’t appreciate you enough, boo!!! 

Just because I don’t have a regular picture. Lol… She’s a special, special friend. ❤❤❤

Finishing Strong

Faithful, Fruitful and Effective

Hi, friends! I apologize for the gulley in transmission (because I know it’s worse than a break!). Please forgive me. 

I have something for you today that isn’t like my usual prosaic renditions, but it’s a desire of mine. An eternal desire, if you will. I pray it sparks up a longing for more within you.

Enjoy! 

At the end of time

One thing I hope to find

Is the satisfaction and joy

That comes from a life well lived
At the end of time

I desire to stand

In the sands of time

And be happy with what my feet have imprinted
At the end of time

I want to smile

In spite of my mistakes and errors

And be glad I stood up after each fall
At the end of time

I want men to sigh, shake heads,

And say,

We’re glad we met Ele
At the end of time

I want to be a tree

Deeply rooted, always blooming

And leaving fruit behind
At the end of time

I want to be that tiny change

That caused the mighty one

That makes the world better
At the end of time

I want evil to gnash its teeth

At the sound of my name

Because of how much I harmed it
At the end of time

If I have a tombstone

I want these words on it:

Faithful, Fruitful, and Effective 

25: Girl On Fire

It’s pretty obvious what today is, isn’t it? And I can feel my silliness climbing rapidly. Oh well.

I’d always attempted to imagine what it’d feel like when I turned 25. Definitely not like this. For me, it’s a dawning. The past couple of years have been crazier than words can describe, and I had thought that I need to get my act together before I step on this threshold of 25. You see, it’s like a line that I’m crossing. I wanted to cross the line without my plethora of mistakes and at least the semblance of a presentable life.

The past few years leading up to this one have been trying, to say the least. However, they have also been the building blocks that led me here. There were days when I longed to be someplace else but where I was, with someone else other than the people I was with, and even someone else than who I am. I longed to escape the discomfort, the pain, the troubles, the uncertainties and the pressures. But I’m glad I didn’t. 

Arriving at this threshold made me realize a number of things. I’ll share.

  • Perspective means everything. God’s perspective is everything.
  • While a lot comes with age, even more comes with humility and obedience. 
  • There is nothing as important as my heart. It is what makes me who I am and what defines the continuity of my existence. 
  • There’s no point trying to prove a point. 
  • Contentment is a worthy companion. She comes along with peace, tomorrow’s promise, and the steadiness that protects faith from wreckage.
  • There will never come a day when anyone is 100% satisfied with me, and vice versa. Righteousness is simply good for me. 
  • God is truly not angry with me.
  • I’ll always be imperfect, but there’s not another of me anywhere on the planet, so I’d better give my best to those I am with and be happy with this me. 

My heart is full, and my narrative lacks coherence, but I can’t seem to coordinate properly thinking about God’s grace. Suddenly, His corrections and instructions are full of life to me. Suddenly, He is more precious to me than I ever esteemed. Suddenly, I really panic at the thought of doing without Him. And suddenly, in my seeming moment of great defeat and “non spirituality”, His Words are becoming life to me. Everything God says has taken on a new and deeper meaning. And it is getting easier to see me the way He always did.

Now I know what I want to look like in 25 years: A tree planted by the rivers of living waters; oak of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; flourishing in the courts of God

I want to be a steady, fruitful, wise, insightful woman who dispenses wealth and whose life is deeply impactful in all the ways that matter. And as long as I keep my heart on my precious Lord whose strength is mine, you’ll be reckoning with a fiery force in another quarter of a century! 

I’m planted; ready to flourish. I’m lit; ready to glow. I’m here; ready to stay. Ready to live, to love and to conquer! 

I’m on fire. 

Brave: Live The Whisper 

Hi! 

I’d intended to put up this post 2 months ago, but I got busy and I resumed second-guessing whether I was being honest enough with myself and with you who take the time to read this. 

I’m taking a little diversion, but I’m still within the circle of Bravery I’ve been on for some time now. 

So, over a month ago, I collected my NYSC certificate. It was uneventful. There was less ceremony than at the take off point last June. It was just me, walking into the Secretariat in Lafia town, submitting my ID card and signing for the certificate. No fuss. And when I looked at the certificate, a seemingly flimsy piece of paper that represents my energy and resource exertion for the past year, tears formed in my eyes. Memories that transcended even the past year flooded my mind. And a happiness that I’m not even going to attempt to describe.

I was deployed to Yobe State, and I had plans to redeploy to Makurdi, Benue State. Those plans didn’t pan out, but I got close – Nasarawa. I was posted to Keffi LG at first, and it took me two to three months to get rezoned to Lafia.

Many people asked me, Ele, what’s the fuss? It’s NYSC, you can do it anywhere. In fact, you should do it far from home. But I had decided on this path before I even received a message from NYSC. I wanted to serve in Makurdi because of my church. I know, I know. If it’s meant to be, when you get back after a year, it will be. Well, the thing is, the church isn’t a boy who is wondering if he can wait a year for me. The church is me and other believers, and it is as much a part of me as my hands or my intestines are. And I didn’t go away for a year and leave my hands behind. 

It was hard, all round. I was on the road more times than I was OK with. I was fatigued a lot because of the commuting. I wanted to be in church in Makurdi and I wanted to really serve the country, so getting rezoned to Lafia served both purposes for me. Many days, transport fare was all I could think about. I had to take up eating more than usual, quite necessarily. 

There were days when I woke up in the morning with thoughts telling me to just explain how difficult this was to my pastor, and wheedle my way into moving to Nasarawa. After all, it was what I was supposed to be doing. And then I wouldn’t have to “embarrass” myself all the time looking and praying for transport fare. But just as soon as the thought arose, I would remember -not necessarily something the Holy Ghost said- that I had made this choice long before the present moment, and that God had strengthened me already. It took more courage than I imagined I had, but I wouldn’t back down.

Days passed. I went and came every week. Sweet Lord, I was a good French teacher, too! I participated in my CDS and in a short space of time, I became a person even the leaders could talk to. In the end, I was glad I did what I did because I had changed so dramatically as a person I almost couldn’t believe it. 

I am telling this story because in times like the present, it is almost always so much easier to do what will bring you personal gain. We see no reason to simply do things that have no direct profit coming to us, and it shows. I was advised severally (until now, I might add) to focus on doing things that will “up my game”, make me more “valuable” and give me more money. But like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, you shouldn’t expect everyone else to live by the whisper you alone heard. And none of that is the whisper I heard. 

I alone hear the whispers in my heart. I know where God is calling me. So often, it feels like a dark and lonely road, and I wonder, why isn’t anyone else walking with me? Why aren’t You calling anyone else here? But no matter how scared I feel, how risky it seems or how dead the path looks, I decided to go where the whisper leads…on that road where He calls me. 

Live by the whispers in your heart, the ones that have been there since you considered yourself innocent. The ones that scare you and make your heart pump wildly. The ones that you know are crazy because no one else can hear this madness that God is insisting upon in your tender heart. The ones that spoke words that you still long for… And if you can’t hear the whispers anymore, then go to the Whisperer, and tell Him your emptiness and your longing. Wait in His presence as long as it takes. And then, when you hear it… 

Live boldly. Live loudly. Live you. Live true. Live the whisper inside. 

Psalm 23:3

He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name sake…

Brave, Courage & Bold III

I’ll be turning 25 in less than a month. It’s been quite a reflective time for me. Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’ve been reading Yours Truly, Ele Momoh. And I am seeing myself through new eyes. 

In reading, I’m realizing that I have been a certain way, with certain thoughts, certain perspectives and a certain way of interpreting life for a long time. I realize that the same things have been important to me for a long time too. 

The one thing that I find I need to address as I approach this quarter of my life (I mean, I may just decide to live to be a hundred!) is the need to be courageous, brave and bold. 

Someone once said, Don’t tell a child to be creative. Insert them in a situation or an environment where they would be hard pressed not to be creative. I feel God is doing the same thing to me. He has told me for so long to be strong and courageous. Every time, I have managed to compromise and withdraw into a comfortable shell of just OK and timidity. However, He seems to be forcing me into situations that warrant boldness and courage. I am hard pressed to remain unmoved. I am hard pressed to stay hidden. I am hard pressed to bank the fire on my inside. I am hard pressed not to want to break out of this place of small and weak, not just for myself, but for a generation that will be here long after I’m gone.

I was at a meeting (what we call church programmes here) sometime ago, and words were spoken over me. The power of God enveloped me so tightly I almost couldn’t breathe. And while I was there, thinking about the words and seeing the resonance in my own spirit, it dawned on me that being impactful takes a bold that many an average person wouldn’t dare. I remembered the prayers I’d been making, telling God to help me be more impactful and more deliberate and more of a person with meaning, depth, and substance to pass on to my here and now generation and also to posterity.

He was answering me. And I could hear Him loud and clear.

It may not be right now, but I sense it is drawing near, the time when what is within me will be blended together into a fine mix and I will be bold to bring it forth. Do I sense a struggle? Yes! Because I still sometimes like to be part of polite society. And there’s always a risk of closing that door when you step out on the path less traveled. 

So, boldness and courage to believe. Courage with my convictions. Boldness to stay, in difficult places, until the true me is developed. Courage to be broken, remaining in the purifying fire of trial until beauty and strength is brought forth. Courage to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 

Ephesians 3:16 (KJVA)

“…to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man… “

Brave, Courage & Bold II

I’ll be turning 25 in less than a month. It’s been quite a reflective time for me. Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’ve been reading Yours Truly, Ele Momoh. And I am seeing myself through new eyes. 

In reading, I’m realizing that I have been a certain way, with certain thoughts, certain perspectives and a certain way of interpreting life for a long time. I realize that the same things have been important to me for a long time too. 

The one thing that I find I need to address as I approach this quarter of my life (I mean, I may just decide to live to be a hundred!) is the need to be courageous, brave and bold. 

Someone once said, Don’t tell a child to be creative. Insert them in a situation or an environment where they would be hard pressed not to be creative. I feel God is doing the same thing to me. He has told me for so long to be strong and courageous. Every time, I have managed to compromise and withdraw into a comfortable shell of just OK and timidity. However, He seems to be forcing me into situations that warrant boldness and courage. I am hard pressed to remain unmoved. I am hard pressed to stay hidden. I am hard pressed to bank the fire on my inside. I am hard pressed not to want to break out of this place of small and weak, not just for myself, but for a generation that will be here long after I’m gone.

I was at a meeting (what we call church programmes here) sometime ago, and words were spoken over me. The power of God enveloped me so tightly I almost couldn’t breathe. And while I was there, thinking about the words and seeing the resonance in my own spirit, it dawned on me that being impactful takes a bold that many an average person wouldn’t dare. I remembered the prayers I’d been making, telling God to help me be more impactful and more deliberate and more of a person with meaning, depth, and substance to pass on to my here and now generation and also to posterity.

He was answering me. And I could hear Him loud and clear.

It may not be right now, but I sense it is drawing near, the time when what is within me will be blended together into a fine mix and I will be bold to bring it forth. Do I sense a struggle? Yes! Because I still sometimes like to be part of polite society. And there’s always a risk of closing that door when you step out on the path less traveled. 

So, boldness and courage to believe. Courage with my convictions. Boldness to stay, in difficult places, until the true me is developed. Courage to be broken, remaining in the purifying fire of trial until beauty and strength is brought forth. Courage to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 

Ephesians 3:16 (KJVA)

“…to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man… “