I woke up on the morning of my 18th birthday sad. Well, maybe not sad. Just bland. It was a Saturday. There was nothing to look forward to. Yes, mum and dad would call pray for me for ten minutes or more. Yes, my roommates, especially Sandra, had started wishing me a happy birthday since yesterday.
But something was missing.
Something only a lover could give. I missed Ifeanyi. I tried to think of what he would have done for me today if I had accepted his offer of a relationship.
He would have sent me some sizzling messages that could keep me re-reading for the next few months. He would have probably called me by 12am on dot, so he could be the first person.
He would have taken me out. Coldstone would have been my choice. I’m a sucker for good ice-cream on a table of love. And then the cinema. We would have then had the evening to ourselves. We would probably cuddle and share a few kisses. Even if he wanted to, I would not allow him go past that.
I smiled to myself. I was enjoying my thoughts, even if they were just fantasies.
My thoughts were soon interjected by the reality of where I was–on my bed, and there was neither Ifeanyi nor anyone like him.
I remembered Akin. Akin was also a member of TBCF, but not a very committed one. Maybe what he wasn’t a very commuted Christian too. I wasn’t sure.
He has been quite friendly to me in the past few weeks. Every time he looks at me, there was something in his eyes that makes me know he adores me.
He would probably offer to take me out. Even if he doesn’t, I could make him do that. A girl always knows what to do, to get a boy that likes her to do what she wants.
But what would God think? I don’t think He would want me in relationship right now. I do not even think I know the first thing about how relationships are supposed to be conducted in His kingdom. Well, except the “Don’t defile the marriage bed” rhetorics that I have grown up with.
I was still lying on my bed. I wanted to turn towards the room and pick my Bible but remembered I didn’t want my roommates to know I was awake yet. Also, I really wasn’t feeling like reading the bible or anything like that.
When I eventually sat up, I prayed and thank God for adding another year to me. That was the right thing to do, else I would be an ingrate. That was what my mum would have said.
In my prayers, I didn’t say anything about the fact that I thought God was holding back from happiness. That would mean that I was complaining. I shouldn’t complain. I should be grateful that He saved me.
I literally endured the calls from my parents, and a few extended family members like Grandma. Rachel, my sister, also called. It was perfunctory. We have never been really close. Actually, I never really considered we should be, until I saw the way my friend Ayobami related with her sister, and family as a whole.
The first day I witnessed her speaking with her dad on phone, I thought she was talking to one of her male friends. I was shocked when I found out it was her dad. The day she told me she usually tells her mum most things that happened to her, I tried imagining telling my mum about all the things that has happened to me.
Her shock was palpable in my head, right where I was seated on Ayobami’s bed that day. Her daughter, the pastor’s daughter having lost count of her sexual experiences? I was certain she wouldn’t be able to handle the shame that would come with the knowledge. It was better I left her with the thoughts that she raised a godly daughter.
Just in the same way I do not think I would love to know the possible dirty details of Rachel’s life.
I wish I could have said more to Rachel when she called but there was nothing to say. The years of my living alone in my head, even while we were living together with my parents, plus her few years of being a boarding student, have raised the wall between us so high that I didn’t even know where to start breaking it down from.
My phone beeped. A message from Akin.
Happy birthday beautiful. May you ever be radiant as you have always been. What do you want for your birthday?
Love. The answer swam into my thoughts before I could stop myself. I also caught myself blushing. I thought of asking him for an outing. Then I remembered I had a TFC meeting later in the evening. Should I even go?
I was going to ask him for an outing. God should allow this one thing. Shouldn’t I be happy on my birthday? It was sealed. I was asking him for an outing. If God isn’t happy with that, I and Him would settle later. I didn’t even want to know what He thought about it right now.
After working myself up with a lot of calculated smiles and ‘Thank You’, I was glad it was time for TFC meeting. I didn’t reply Akin until he called in the afternoon. We agreed to meet around 8pm after TFC program. He said he wasn’t coming for the program.
I arrived at the meeting about 15 minutes late. The worship session had begun. When I entered into hall of the meeting, I felt myself having goose pimples. Every hair strand on my body was on its foot.
When I got to a comfortable seat at the right corner, I went on my knees and joined in singing. I was crying before I knew it.
For You are glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders, who is like unto Thee.
It was as if I had never heard the song before. There was a weight to it, a freshness to each word, that brought God quite close. So close for sweet worship, yet too close for comfort.
All of a sudden, my scheduled meeting with Akin was on my mind, and it brought with it so much uneasiness. It stuck out like a sore thumb of all the things on my heart as I worshiped.
I didn’t know how I knew. But I just became certain God would not like me to go. I tried not to examine my own thoughts about the new development.
When the TFC President came up to preach, He didn’t stop the worship session. We ended up worshipping through the meeting. During the announcement session, the General Secretary announced my name as the birthday celebrant of the day. Every one clapped and some people around me hugged me, while the GS requested that the birthday song should be sung for me. Every sound of clap and every hug felt like soothing balms. The harmony of voices send warm chills down my body.
At the end of the service, there was a cake for the celebrants of the month. I was allowed to have a private time with the cake first, because I was the celebrant of the day.
I had to hold back tears after I had so many hugs after the cake-cutting session. People whom I do not even talk with came to wish me a happy birthday. Without realizing the weight of their actions, every single person in the hall that night showed me I already had what I had been looking for all day: love.
Like someone just waking of from a deep sleep, I suddenly realized the love in the Christian family was unbeatable and it was way richer that the one I was trying to get.
When I eventually found some minutes to myself at my corner while the cake was being shared, I took my phone from my bag. I smiled as I looked around at the hall again. Different people from different families, chatting and laughing together as if they had always known themselves.
I punched the message icon, and searched for Akin’s
Akin, I won’t be coming again. Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks again for the offer.
I punched the se
As I walked back to my hall alone, having decided not to go with the fellowship bus, I was in awe of the God who did not only treat my desires to be shown love as important, but also knew how exactly to do that without having me walk the way of guilt.
This certainly was not the kind of God I had thought He was.
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