Quite a number of people are getting married and remarried. They have loved and lost, be it through the death of a spouse, or a divorce, and they are seriously considering taking the step of commitment again. Some are actually getting married for the first time to someone who has been married before. For both parties, it’s a new beginning. I have put down some thoughts on some things to consider:
Look inside: While it’s easy for us to blame our former spouses for the mishap of the first relationship (if it is a divorce), it is essential that you examine yourself realistically to identify ways in which you also contributed to the failings of the first relationship. No matter how ‘bad’ our spouse was, the healthiest thing to do is to identify where you have also contributed to the first relationship, face it, and repent. It may take some time, but this is the best thing you can do for yourself and your future spouse. Failure to take responsibility for your own part in the relationship will end with the issues repeating themselves.
Let it Go: No matter how bad (or good) your first marriage was, you need to let go of the past. The only things you take from the past are lessons. Just like one cannot put new wine in an old wineskin, you cannot enter into a new relationship on the strength of an old one. There are things you need to let go- and truly let go. For some, the past may have been a painful and messy one, you need to put it behind you and move on to what God has in sort for you in the future. This means that it will not be the center-point of your new relationship. And you will bring it up only when it is necessary.
Have realistic expectations: Some people have been so let down in the past that they expect too much from their spouses. Or too little. One thing we need to realize is that as long as we live on this part of eternity, we human beings are characterized by imperfections. These imperfections will be magnified and amplified when you start living together as man and wife. Your spouse is your spouse, not your healer, not your deliverer and not anything else. We need to put that into perspective and not have expectations of them that only God can fulfill. They are as much of a human being as we are, and they have as many issues as we do to. They also have things they expect from us. Be ready to meet your spouse halfway (you may want to check out my comprehensive blog post on expectations while you’re at it).
Be flexible and ready to deal with unexpected realities: While I am not asking you to compromise your core values, you must learn to be flexible and accommodating to new realities. These new realities may mean a new definition of family for you and your spouse. If either or both of you have had children from the past, this will also mean new realities for them too. You both must discuss your parenting styles, decide how to manage the dynamics of a blended family, and your position to your children as a couple. This is a very important element in a blended relationship and must not be assumed or glossed over. Having these discussions up front and reaching a compromise is a great way of strengthening your relationship with your spouse and building trust with their children.
Now, more than ever, seek counseling and invest in your marriage- don’t make assumptions that things will just work out- ‘Old, natural patterns will persist unless serious effort is made to change them’. Just as you have invested in your education or business or career, you need to make a greater investment in your marriage- especially if it is the second time around- invest resources, time and prayers together as a couple. Consistently seek godly counsel. This is the bedrock of a good marriage. If you don’t invest in your marriage, the weeds of the past have the tendency of growing and choking the new things that God is building. Investing also means spiritual investment on yourself- spend more time with God and let His Spirit rub off on you. Now, more than ever, the Fruit of the Spirit- love joy, peace long-suffering, gentleness meekness are needed. These are elements essential for any marriage. This is an investment we all need to make.
New beginnings are beautiful, but are not always easy. In a second marriage, there are some things you need to un-learn , re-learn, and learn . There are some mindsets you need to renew, and some issues you need to let go. Daunting as it may seem, it is worth it. No marriage is ever easy, no spouse is perfect. Determine in your heart that you will be happy no matter what.
Believe that you will have a great marriage and be ready to commit yourself to it- As a man thinks in His heart, so is he. Believe the best of your marriage; believe the best of your future. As you believe that you will have a great marriage, the God will command the forces to heaven to move on the wings of your faith to give you the wisdom, strength, and resources to make it the best marriage ever. Many people have made beautiful marriages the second time around. And you will be an example of one of them. Put your hands in God’s hand and let Him lead you in the path of peace in this marriage. You will receive the joy of the Lord which will strengthen you to live the life that God intended.
Remember, God is your Help. Trust Him, and let Him build your home.
A group of kids came over my house to spend the afternoon with us this past Easter break. They snacked, had their lunch, watched television and played as expected that they would.
After I made and served about seven of them lunch, they all (including my kids) dropped the plates in the sink, said thank you and went about their business. By that time I had started feeling overwhelmed after making lunch for an army of seven kids – used pots, dirty dishes and all, and wondering how I would make it through that afternoon in one piece.
Just as I stood there alone in the kitchen wondering what to do, one of the young girls came to me and said ‘Aunty, can I help you with the dishes?’ She was the only one of seven kids that came back to help me. I said ‘Sure you can’. And she went on to wash the dishes and pots, and cleaned up the kitchen.
I was very touched and impressed by the fact that Moji, the name of this child came back and volunteered to help, and more impressed that she actually did it without supervision on my part. This has made me to not only admire her Mom, but have a deep respect for her.
You see, Moji is the child of a single parent. Her Dad left her Mom shortly after she was born without a trace of his whereabouts. Her Mom, a teacher, fends for her alone. In spite of the tough and challenging economical terrain, she has had to make sure that the standard and quality of life of Moji remained intact. She has had to build the character of this child to be a responsible and considerate child, who looks out for the interest of others, with no external motivation.
Today, I am making a tribute to all single parents- Moms and Dads. I do not just celebrate you, but I stand up in salute as a mark of the highest honor. In the ranks and file of parenting, you are Five Star Generals.
Many times, you have had to make hard decisions with the consciousness that no one else but you would bear the consequences, but you took the risk anyway. You have been misunderstood and even stigmatized by family and society, but in spite of that you put your head up and chest out. You bore your external challenges and internal pain with the resilience of a soldier, and you carried your cross with strength and resolve, in spite of the curve ball life threw at you.
We your children, sometimes resent you and rebel against you, blaming you for some of our own problems, but you have taken it all and you have not let that deter you from your duty and your love for us. In the face of all that, many of us have turned out like Moji, an exemplary child with strength and compassion.
I salute you today, all our single Moms (and Dads) who shed tears and bore pain that no one knows about, who have played the role of Dad and Mom, providing, yet nurturing, the tough task of discipline and the gentle art of loving. Many times you have been unsure of yourselves and your decisions, not knowing who to bounce it on but God has honored them. You still landed on your feet.
Some of you are single Moms in a married situation, married on paper but living the life of a single parent- I salute you more. Thank you, for not letting us go. Thank you, for not allowing your present circumstance to determine your love for us. The love you have for us can only be given by Christ Himself. Thank you, for sacrificing your own stability and emotional well being for ours. Many times, we don’t know what it costs you and the secret scars that you bear, but God sees, He hears, and He knows.
As a child of a single parent myself, I now better understand. I don’t get along with my Mom all the time, but I give her the honor worth Generals today. She went through trauma that I am not sure anyone can fully recover from without the help of God, and in spite of the pain, the tears, and the battles, she never let us know that we were missing out on anything.
We know you are not always right, you have not always made the best choices, but that one decision that you took, that you would give us your best no matter what, demonstrates the love that only God can give.
We also want to thank you for not giving up on yourself. In doing that, you have demonstrated to us that there is no challenge that life throws at us that we will not overcome, and by that we have dominion - there can be no dominion without conquest. By not giving up on yourself, you have made us champions. More importantly, we want to thank you for not giving up on us- for believing that we deserve the best enough to sacrifice yourself for it. Our heart blesses you today, and God’s blessings will always be on you.
It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.
I had an interesting experience in the hands of the Nigerian police a few days ago which left me a bit rattled to say the least, and very reflective.
I have actually been thinking and getting inspiration on a few things to write concerning this era of change that we are currently in when this incident came up, and of course the whole thing has given me serious food for thought about change and change agents.
I had a brush with a shop assistant at a pharmacy shop over some change. I bought some medication and she told me to come back the next day after she did not have the change to give me, and I agreed. Upon getting there the next day, she told me to come back again for the change after a few rude words. Losing my temper and thinking I would teach her a thing or two about customer service, I took some of their drugs and told them that I will come back when they have my change. After about 15 minutes, my conscience got the better of me and I returned them. As I was driving off, the lady held on to my side mirror of my moving car, and I had to swerve to stop the car.
She fell on the road, and thankfully she was OK, but as the usual Nigerian way, there was quite a mob gathered. We then went to a nearby hospital after escaping from the mob to ensure that everything was OK, and by the time we were rounding up, a policewoman appeared from nowhere and insisted that I was being ''arrested'' and taken to the police station. Apparently, some men purporting to be ''eye witnesses'' had gone to the police to have me arrested. I followed her, after ascertaining her identity.
Upon getting to the station, within 10 minutes I was detained. I was asked to tell '‘my side of the story’', but it seemed as if the deal had been signed, sealed and delivered. The head of office said they had called him to inform him of the incident before my arrival, so there was no need for a hearing.
I had never been behind bars before, even to visit someone, and it was a shocking experience for me: the process and the outcome. I was the only woman, and I met about seven young men, all in the prime of their youth. A number of them like me found themselves there because someone had paid for the police to put them behind bars.
As I stood waiting for what would happen next, I could not but listen to the boys share stories about how they got here. One or two were arrested lawfully, but the majority said they were lured in or coerced in for crimes they did not commit. They were also not given access to legal counsel. I was denied access to a lawyer and there was pressure to 'settle the matter' by paying them off.
I was eventually released after a few hours as the perpetrators ''dropped charges’' but there was still the constant pressure to ''settle the matter'' which by the grace of God we did not succumb. I am still in shock and totally confused with the whole process and what I was being charged for.
This has made me reflect on the things I experienced over the past few hours I was in police custody:
1.Corruption: From practice to culture: Corruption is not an issue just for our leaders; it has become a culture among our people: from passersby, to the 'eye witnesses' to the law enforcement agents. It's easy to point fingers at the government, but corruption is something we all have to deal with everyday: from the man on the streets to the man in the office, from the pulpit to the pews, young and old. Unfortunately it has eaten so much into our society that it is gradually becoming a culture. This is a dangerous trend.
2. True Justice: A nation built on righteousness and justice, especially to the voiceless will thrive: We have a situation where people pay money to have you arrested over crimes you know nothing about, or just to settle personal scores. What about those that do not have the money? What about those that do not have access to the ‘big wigs’ in the society? Who speaks for them? A number of the boys said that 'if only they had money' or 'knew someone in the Senate’ or a ‘big man’ they would not be there: is this true? Does this means that I can commit hideous crimes as long as I know a decision maker or can pay them off?
3: Agents of Change? The lady that purportedly charged me is in her mid 20s. I realized that the young men in the prison cells too are in their mid 20s to mid 30s. These young people know no better way than the way of corruption and nepotism to get what they want. Unfortunately, it is being fueled by those that are supposed to protect them and hand over good values and ethics to them. The era they are born into seems to give them no other alternative than that way. In a few years, hoping the older ones will give them the chance, they will be running the nations affairs in different sectors. For us to entrust the nation into the hands of these people, there has to be a re- orientation of our value system. It will not be an easy task, and it will not take four years.
4. There are prisoners on both sides of the prison bars: The atmosphere on the prison cells was of despondency and for some, quiet resignation. Some of the boys would sing choruses, encourage themselves or just nap. Ironically this was unlike on the other side of the prison bar where the law enforcement agents were: noisy and tense. This was quite interesting as it shows that we are all prisoners of some sorts: prisoner to greed, pride, anger, internal and external fears, name it. A lot of our prisons are mental and emotional rather than physical. The only difference is that the prison bars can be seen while for the majority, it is invisible. Some of us are prisoners of our successes and wealth.
Corruption is everybody’s cross: from what I saw in a few hours, I am not sure if we would act differently from the leaders we are accusing, or putting our hopes upon.
Do your part: The recent elections demonstrated a very powerful message: Nigerians can collectively achieve what they will to do. My prayer is that we use the same passion and resolve to fight corruption and consider the greater good in our daily decision making.
While it is easy to hail and celebrate our political and religious leaders, and even blindly follow some of them it is more important is to help them to make their job of leadership easier: If we fight corruption as individuals the institutional challenges will be easier to tackle
Don’t have unrealistic expectations of our leaders: past and current: We cannot expect them to complete in four years what took decades to build. Some of these solutions to the problems of corruption will not come to fruition until years later. We have to learn to be patient, yet persistent. I believe they will work to achieve to get quick gains and tackle long term issues.
On that note:
I pledge to Nigeria my country;
To be faithful, loyal and honest;
To serve Nigeria with all my strength;
To defend her unity;
And uphold her honor and glory;
So help me God.
I hope you do too.
Like most parents, I consider myself a pretty good Mom, I could go as far as Timbuktu, if I have the means and the opportunity to get my kids what I believe is good for them and help them achieve their potential. In the past week, I have done the ‘supermom’ runs twice, and a profound thought came to me during this time.
I picked up my kids from school last week Friday, and as our usual routine we went shopping at a local superstore. As I was minding my business, entering the store, I saw a Coca-Cola company truck with people lined up at various points. As we drew closer, we saw that they were queuing up to put their names on the Coca-Cola cans and bottles in the ‘share a Coke’ campaign.
In these parts, the ‘share a coke campaign is a really big deal and everyone wants their name on a bottle or can of Coca-cola. My daughters begged and pleaded for me to have their names on a can, and I reluctantly conceded. Little did I know what I was going in for. It took over two hours of staying on the queues in the hot sun to get four cans of Coca Cola out- not to mention the haggling and the harassments from queue jumpers and the like.
Interestingly, people on the queue were mothers like me (and some fathers) who would rather be somewhere else doing something else but sweating it out on a hot Friday afternoon for a 35cl can of Coke that the child would finish in a few minutes and throw the can away. I recall meeting a woman there that had stayed for much longer than me and was getting really cranky, but the joy on her children’s faces when she gave them the cans; one could tell that putting those smiles on her children’s faces was worth it.
Just recently, my last daughter requested that she wanted something from a particular place. There were many other places that I could have gotten what she wanted, but I guess there was something about the product from this particular outlet that she liked. The problem was the traffic getting to and from the place. I braved the hot weather and the bad traffic to get exactly what she wanted, even though there were easier options, and nothing could compare to the sincere and heartfelt thank you got from my daughter.
I am sure that all of us can identify with what I am talking about, especially parents, guardians, aunties and uncles amongst us, which we all are. Most, if not all of us can go to any length to bring a smile on the faces of our children, especially if it is something they really and sincerely desire.
Moreover, a lot of us are making such big sacrifices because of our children, to send them to Ivy league schools locally and abroad, to ensure that they have the basics and more, we go through a lot of stress to not only meet their basic needs, but to satisfy their whims and desires.
As I was driving out of the terrible traffic after I had gotten what she wanted, I am reminded of this scripture: ‘If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him’ Matt 7:11
Jesus is saying here that if we, as fickle as we are can go to any length to get our children their wants (beyond their needs) and selflessly and sacrificially provide for them, God is willing and able to do much more.
A lot of us though, because we have not seen what we want come to pass are beginning to doubt if God is willing and able to give us what we want. We are even afraid to ask anymore.
God is a good God; He will grant us our heart’s desire. He will do beyond what any supermom or super-dad would do. He created Fatherhood and Motherhood, and the attributes of Parenting are His. He gives good things to His children, not what will harm them. Selfless ad sacrificial giving comes from Him.
He’s your Father. He loves you, He wants the best for you, and just as you give your best to your children, God will do much more for you, His child. Keep faith in Him that He God loves you. The Bible says that ‘even if a mother forgets her suckling child, God will not forget you' (Isa. 49:15-16) . Now for a nursing mother to forget her suckling child will be pretty hard, emotional and biologically, but God says that even if that is the case, He will never forget you.
Children ask parents what they want and what they need without asking them how they will get it, because it is not their responsibility to think about that, it is the responsibility of the parent. It also shows absolute confidence in the ability and the willingness of the parent to get what the child wants. That is the kind of faith God wants you to have in Him. Don’t think about how He will get it for you, just ask for it. Let Him do the thinking!
If I can brave the hot sun for over two hours for a 35cl of Coke, God can, and will brave eternity for you to give you your heart’s desire. ‘…Casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you’
Enjoy your day
Yemi Falayajo writes from Abuja, Nigeria.
During our recent wedding anniversary, and at my wife’s request, I have tried to list out some things that I have learned from the word of God, and experience (mine and others) over the last 15 years of marriage. It is by no means exhaustive, and not necessarily in any particular order. I have also tried not to teach what I think marriage should be, but share what I have learned, and what I am doing or trying to do with His help.
1. The foundation is important – God’s leading, not human / fleshly leading should be beginning. God does not choose for you, but He leads you to the place of recognition and leaves the choice to you. It was God who brought Adam and Eve together, but it was Adam that said now this is flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone, she shall be called… (Adam choose what she was to be called). How you arrived at this woman, how you arrived at this man that you want to spend the rest of your life with is very very important, this is the foundation.
2. You are never home and dry – We met a couple in our early days in Abuja (when we were under 5 years of marriage), this couple, at that time, had been married for 12 years, but they were planning to divorce. This changed my thinking about being home and dry if you can survive the first 3 years as I initially thought. You have to keep “working” your marriage, fanning the flame of love to keep it burning.
3. Seek to understand your wife - Seek to understand women generally, but seek to understand YOUR woman particularly. Every woman is a project (a good one), I therefore believe that marrying more than one will require extraterrestrial project management skills of advanced degree. Women are very simple, at the same time they can be very complex. Every man therefore needs to make a deliberate effort to understand his woman. You cannot love someone that you do not know. Getting and understanding of your woman, will empower you to speak her love “language” and not the generic love language for women. Also know that this learning project is lifelong.
4. Love your wife – If you ask a man if he loves his wife, his response will most likely be “Yes of course”. Loving our wife is not just a recommendation, but actually a commandment from God. We all claim to love our wives, but in reality, you cannot love someone you do not know. The feeling you express at the beginning of marriage is good, but it will be tested as you get to know her more through the experiences of life. Love is not a feeling, even though feelings come with love, it is more than just a feeling. Love is a commitment to give (albeit sacrificially) to someone. There will be times when you do not feel like it, but you have to do what you need to do in her best interest, even if there is nothing in it for you (this is tough). Love is selfless and not selfishness. Love does not end (love never fails / ends).
6. Marriage is good – Marriage is God’s idea, and God’s creation. By default all that God makes is good. Whoever finds a wife, the Bible says, finds a good thing. If we are not experiencing the good that God designed marriage to be, may be the issue is that we are not doing it the way He designed, not that we are married to the wrong person.
5. Marriage requires hard work – You get up every day and go to work, because you hope to get paid at the end of the period for the work you have done. We also need to get up every day and go to work on our marriage. What you will get paid for working on your marriage can not be quantified in monetary terms, and it has effects on your life, the life of your children now, and in eternity.
6. Marriage is a big deal with God - Marriage is a representation of the union between Christ and the Church. Every marriage therefore has the awesome privilege of mimicking this divine union. How well we are able to do this, helps to better understand this union. No matter what the church does, Christ will always remain faithful to her, and not leave nor forsake her, this is why divorce should not be an option. Imagine if Christ divorces the Church because of what we do, where would we be???
7. Communication is very important – This is not new, however, how well we communicate is very important. Communication is simply listening first, and then speaking in clear terms, not just speaking, and then waiting to speak again. Breakdown in marriage begins when there is a breakdown in communication. Often times men complain that women talk too much, I usually say that if your woman is still talking, even though you say it is nagging, you are still in good shape. The day she stops talking (or nagging), that marriage has hit the rocks. Keep the communication line open, and respect each other’s opinion, do not treat it is as trivial.
8. It takes two to make it work – If a marriage is to do well and thrive, it will take both parties sharing the same vision for their marriage, and both parties being committed to themselves and the marriage. Even if the whole church or the world wants your marriage to work and the man and his wife, are not ready to give what it takes to make it work, it will never work. I have seen this over and over again.
9. Fight, but don’t run away – Anyone that says there won’t be fights (quarrels) is self-deluded. Here you have two different people coming to live together for the rest of their lives, there will have to be some adjustments. Before the adjustments take place, there will be some fights. Having disagreements is not wrong, however, not resolving the disagreements is wrong. The disagreements actually are part of the leaning process, they reveal more of your partner to you, you know what ticks him off, and what ticks her off, if you are not too engrossed in your own side of the argument.
10. You are not alone – The issues that occur in marriages are common. Do not feel like you have an issue that has never been seen before, and cannot be understood by others. It is therefore important to share, and get godly counsel from godly people (not just pastors). The only difference in our marriages is how the issues play out, but essentially they are the same, and we can learn from others that may have walked that road before, and that are committed to making marriages work. Prayerfully share your struggles with others, and seek counsel.
11. Leverage the strengths – God is such a perfect match maker that when you look at couples, you see that He has balanced out the weakness in one partner, with the strengths in the other partner and vice versa. It is important to realize this, and allow the strengths of both partners to come to the fore and strengthen the relationship. I think a lot of men make the mistake of thinking they have to be strong in all areas because they are the leader / head of the relationship. Being the head does not mean you have all the ideas, if you listen to your wife, you will be better off. Listening to her does not mean you will do what she says, but that you value her thoughts as a major stakeholder in the relationship.
12. Work on your intimacy – Intimacy is on three level, spirit, soul and body. Some of my male colleagues will be content with just physical intimacy. But the truth is, it starts from the spirit. When you pray together and share scriptures (not necessarily in a formal way) with each other, this helps to create spiritual intimacy. When you discuss feelings, thoughts, ideas, and plans with each other, this helps to create, mental intimacy. Physical intimacy should follow intimacy in these two areas. Physical intimacy without spiritual and mental intimacy is basically a gratification of lust, and not a communication of love. And when you are physically intimate, please be as sexy as you dare!!!
13. Give your wife a hand – Helping your wife around the house does not reduce you as a man, it actually makes you very “macho” in her eyes. Jesus taught us that the greatest / leader amongst us should be the servant of all. Our culture makes helping woman at home seem like a taboo, but the Bible encourages it. Help your wife take care of the children, clean the house, take out the trash, and whatever else she needs help with. Women tend to take on a lot, not ask for help, and get overwhelmed at the end of the day, so as the head of the home, once you see this happening, step in and give a helping hand, even if you are tired, remember that you are the stronger vessel.
14. Honor each other – Just as the God commands husbands to love their wives, He also commands wives to honor their husbands. Honor and respect is a heart issue, and it is a big deal for men, especially when they do not feel honorable. There are moments when men are not able to do all that they want to do, due to certain constraints (howbeit it temporary) this is the time for the wife to show the greatest honor and let him know she is his number one supporter. Do not trivialize or dismiss his plan when shared with you (however stupid you think they are), he is still struggling with these issues on the inside. At the same time, women need to be honor and respected by the men also. The Bible teaches that we should submit to each other as joint heirs of the grace of God.
15. Your words are important – It is very difficult to take words that have been spoken back, even if you say so. Even if you are able to take the words back, you cannot erase the feelings and emotions those words have created in the minds of your partner. It is therefore very very important that you are slow to speak, do not speak in the heat of your emotions. What you say may be used, or stand against you later on.
I apologize if I did not provide scriptural references for these points, I had to get the article out quickly, and I just wanted to share my heart. I say again, these may not be all the lessons learned in the past 15 years, and they may not be the most important ones, but they are the ones that came to my mind as I wrote this article.
In conclusion, I must say that writing this article has helped me to thinking more about the things I have written and learn more in the process. Also writing this article is a demonstration of love to my wife, because when she asked me to write, I was not ready to write, and it would easily have taken me a month to do the write up. However, to show her that I value her thoughts and ideas, I have written this speedily. I hope I get a reward on earth for this J. May God bless and keep you, let’s work to make our marriages a message to the world of the beauty of the union between Christ and His Church. - Kolawole Falayajo
My husband and I very recently celebrated out fifteenth wedding anniversary. It's a big deal to me. When I was younger (even in marriage), I would look at people that celebrated similar milestones as if they had extraordinary powers for two human beings to live together for that long and not kill each other.
Having crossed the same Rubicon, I have learnt. A lot. I put together 15 of the lessons I have learnt (not in any particular order) as I was reflecting over how I got here. Read on and enjoy:
1. Attraction and falling in love are not enough. You have to learn to love your spouse, and to be committed to him. It is a humbling process but it has great rewards.
2. Don't ever take each other for granted: Don't assume that because you are married, etiquette, good manners and being civil does not apply to your spouse. How you manage these three things speak a lot about you, not him
3. Jesus is the center. This is not a rhetoric or an in statement, but if It had not been for the help of the Lord teaching me and helping me, I may have just been another divorce statistic.
4. Honoring and respecting my husband in front of my family, kids and in laws, colleagues, church folk, etc demonstrates my love and esteem for him. It also sets the order in my house.
5. Bad mouthing my spouse unjustly to friends and family, no matter how close they are does make you look better. It destroys your marriage
6. Don't repeatedly talk about your spouse or 'report' them to their parents or members of their family. It speaks more about your upbringing than theirs.
5. Fights will happen. Yep. It definitely will. You will disagree and you will hurt each other. Register your willingness to forgive, even if your emotions are speaking otherwise. God will help you if you are willing to be helped.
6. Fight fair: Deal with the issue and not the person. Bad words have a way of lingering and springing up at the wrong time
7. The day I discovered that my husband and I were different parts of the same coin was the day I gained my freedom to love him without restraint. We are different, and we will always be. Understanding that and accepting it creates the space to love him better.
8. Your spouse, like any other person, will see things from a perspective different from yours on many things. Don't take it personal. Learn to accept, and even celebrate it. It teaches patience and increases intelligence.
9. Copy 1 Corinthians 13 and paste it somewhere you can always see it. Repeat it to yourself everyday
10. Having a healthy perspective about sex in marriage helps to enjoy each other and the sexual act.
11. Be loyal to each other. Be loyal to your wife. Be loyal to your husband. Be loyal.
12. Trust is earned and built. You don't have to have an affair to show infidelity. Once your spouse cannot trust you, you cannot go very far in your relationship. And vice versa.
13. A good marriage is hard work and sacrifice. Invest in your marriage as you invest in your business or career. Marriage is ministry. Don't take people and resources that invest in your marriage for granted.
14. Don't place your expectations of happiness, and peace and fulfillment on your spouse. Doing that is setting yourself up for a lifetime of heartache. Don't place what only God can do in the hands of a human being. Man was not made to be the source of joy for another man. God is.
15. I have learnt that I still have a lot to learn. To stop learning is to stop growing and what does not grow, withers.
Here is to another 15 years...
As I sit on my computer this morning looking at the stories behind the Ferguson case, and the judgment, I sit with an array of emotions. I believe these emotions have been aptly captured by an American football player, Benjamin Watson on his Facebook posts.
I looked through several press reports, and comments emanating from people of all races, creed and color. I feel some of the emotions their family members may be going through: Pain, of losing a son with his life ahead of him; or in the mind of the family of officer Ferguson: fear for their son to be protected in the line of duty. People will be angry, people will mourn, and people will protest. Stores will be looted and vandalized by people who will take advantage of the situations like this; and sadly, stereotypes that we have against each other will be confirmed and entrenched.
A few thoughts on this:
We are all people of purpose: Nobody chose his or her skin color before birth, and I am pretty sure that if we had a choice we would still choose to stay in the state that we are. This is because God created us this way for a purpose. We all have a mandate to fulfill and it is in the race and creed that we are that we can effectively function and fulfill purpose.
Racism is learnt: Nobody was born with stereotypes and mindsets of one race being superior of inferior to another. We learn it. It is passed on from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, hostility, hatred, racism is passed on in the walls of religious society; it is even seen as an act of piety to abhor the unknown and cherish the ‘old traditions’. What we learn can be challenged.
Violence will not solve problems: Some of the greatest heroes of black and colored history, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, delivered their people from the position of non violence. They knew first hand, what it was to live in a society where segregation was the watchword. They lived what they propagated, and they paid for the freedom most now enjoy with their own blood. Violence will only entrench stereotypes and breed more violence. Where are the values they left behind? Where are our leaders today? What are we propagating?
True Justice is from the Lord: We are sinful people in a sinful world. No matter the systems we have put in place to ensure justice: be it in the courtroom or on the streets, be it with the power of the law or the power of the pen, we can only judge from our standpoint. God is the true Judge and it is an awesome responsibility. There are things we need to let go and allow the God of Justice to effect. He will sit as judge and jury over our hearts and our motives, and judge each and every one of them. Believe me, He will.
We are all Migrants in this world: A lot of us will fight tooth and nail to defend the values and traditions that have been handed by our families and our larger society, but this is the bottom line: we are all migrants in this world. We come, do our time and leave. While we have a responsibility to till it and keep it, the earth does not belong to any one of us. We will one day leave it behind. No matter who we are. Some, like the young man that was shot left early, some have even left earlier, and some, will leave later. We will all leave. Let’s be careful on how we leave it, and what we leave behind. We will all be judged one day.
As the world is watches America, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, on how it handles this complex issue threatening to destabilize its society and values, we must remember that above all, Someone is watching us all: our motives, intent and actions. And He will judge. Let’s break out of our stereotypes mindsets and fears, and learn to accept each other as we are.
I was at a parenting seminar recently where we watched a story of a teenage boy from a supposed cosmopolitan city, who influenced another one from the suburbs to steal his uncle’s brand new motorbike. As expected, the boys drove the bike beyond limits, destroyed it, and injured themselves in the process. They also incurred the wrath of their uncle and faced the consequences of the law.
This brought about a lot of thought provoking questions and an interesting discussion among the parents that attended the seminar. One feedback a parent gave was that she would limit contact and make sure that the child with the bad influence does not come to the house. Another parent then asked, ‘What if they never come to the house and they meet in school?’ This is the reality of the times we are in.
In a previous post I wrote on Your Child and Pornography, I made a set of recommendations on internet filters, and putting the computer where everyone could see it, etc, but beyond these are more important issues. A lot of our kids at some point in their lives will leave home and the direct influence of their parents. However, they will still be confronted with the same temptations, issues and challenges.
Some of these temptations and challenges will be at a larger scale, and some, different dimensions. It leads me to the conclusion that there are heart issues and core values to instill in our children which are beyond putting checks and balances on their activities. There will come a time where we will not be around to put them in place and to monitor them. Beyond checks and balances, we need to equip our children to make right choices based on the right principles and values when confronted with temptations. Having the right, perspective and values will help your child to determine what is right, even when you are not there.
The challenges and pressures young people are facing in the times we are in are complex and multifaceted: It seems as if the blessing of technology and advancement is slowly becoming a curse: Internet pornography, sexting, school shootings, suicide bombings, teenage suicide, anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders, addictions, and a whole lot more. This can be overwhelming to young people to handle, with even we, as parents not being fully equipped to help them to make decisions that will make them thrive in their time.
A lot of us parents substitute the gift of quality constructive instructions with more and more material things and privileges, without equipping our children with the core values to manage them. We are also living in a time of moral depravation and starvation, even among Christians, such that everything that was black and white is slowly becoming gray. Some of us give the excuse that we were ‘deprived’ when growing up, and we don’t want our children to be deprived of what others have. But I pose to you this question: If we were able, in spite of our supposed deprivation to make the best of our lives to be the responsible, God fearing leaders we are today, is overindulging our children then, not in essence the real deprivation? With our overindulgence, are we not depriving them the privilege of taking responsibility for their own lives, of earning things and not having a sense of entitlement, of trusting and believing God for things, and not expecting them to just fall on their laps, of learning how to ‘abase and abound’, and contentment? of knowing that their lives will not end of they don’t have the things they want on their terms and conditions?
We cannot pray temptations and challenges from the lives of our children; neither can we protect them all the time. At a point in their lives they will have to face it. The Bible says that ‘In this world (not another one) we will have tribulations, and distress and trials and frustrations, but we should be of good cheer, as Jesus has deprived the world of its power to harm us and He has conquered it for us. We can therefore not escape the reality of our children being tempted, being tried and frustrated, just like we have been and we still are. Without these temptations and trials, they will not grow into matured and balanced men and women. Their potential of making an impact to the world will be limited. The best we can do for them, apart from praying is to equip them to be able to make sound choices, not just to resist temptations, but to bounce back from setbacks, and to have a winning attitude.
We cannot raise a generation of bright, intelligent, and academically sound men and women who are not equipped to make right moral choices and stand by them. No matter how much we invest in their academic or social pursuits, not building their character and helping them to make sound biblical choices will be the Achilles heel to our effort.
In the next series of parenting posts, we will be talking about equipping our children to make right choices. These posts will help us to look deeper into the how to help our children make decisions with the right intent and motive.
May the Lord help you as we train up our children in the way they should go.
My brother was 19 years older than me. Maybe because of this age gap and the fact that he loved me greatly, I used to think he was my father and everyone was probably lying to me that he wasn’t. He was only my brother but loved me as if I was his first child.
The Fateful Day: Fast-forward a few years, and its 22 October, 2005.
I went to bed that night not knowing my brother's plane had crashed three minutes after takeoff. I had tried his number to tell him I arrived safely in Ibadan, but it was continuously engaged. That was normal in Nigeria, where the telephone lines may not get through on time. I left him at home tidying things up and he told me he might travel to Abuja if he gets a seat. To be honest, I wasn't listening well. My brother travels a lot so it was not a big deal. But I didn't know it would be our last conversation.
He was not meant to be on that plane. As we were informed, he went to the airport twice trying to get a seat. ‘If you get a free seat call me’, he told the airline customer service person.
I woke up hearing the news that a plane had crashed. ‘How sad’ I thought ‘the world is always full of bad news; no news is good news except the Gospel’. A few hours later his driver called me saying he thinks that was the flight he took. I called his number, still engaged. Then I called his friend who told me the bad news, his plane crashed. I cannot remember what he said. I fainted into my husband, Dare’s hands.
When I came to, I was still confident that my brother would survive, after all there were news reports that the plane had been located. ‘My brother is a survivor, he is our cat with nine lives’, I kept saying, while trying to follow the news about plane’s whereabouts. ‘He will make it even if there was only one survivor!’ So I thought. I had watched too many movies. It took almost 24 hours before the Nigerian Government located the plane, previous news were just lies. I realized no one could have survived when I watched the news.
No one survived. The plane buried itself in a swamp in Ifako, Lagos State. There were body parts everywhere. But I didn't even get a fingernail!
When we could finally visit the site five days later, the plane was still burning. How could this happen to us? Why should God allow this to happen? It was one thing for my brother to die; it was another for him to die like this.
Anger and Pain: I thought God owed me an explanation. I knew he was dead but why did he have to die like this? How can I explain this pain of a sudden gruesome death of a young successful man who had started from nothing; of not having a body to bury; of not having a good farewell for such a fabulous loved man? That hurt so much and still does.
Choices and the Battle for my mind: In my pain I was faced with two choices: break down completely because that was the only logical way to express my pain, or keep fighting God. I know no one can fight God and live. And I wanted to live sanely.
I was expected to breakdown because I had been too close to him. Besides no one would have been surprised if I did, the pain was too much for even those that were not that close to him. But I made up my mind to stay strong. There was no use falling apart when I had to take strong decisions. Besides I told myself if the devil takes my brother, he won't take my mind.
I thought to myself: ‘I will win this; the Devil won't have the final laugh’. I have been prepared to be a strong woman for a time like this by this man. I must pull myself together and not fail him now.
The next few days saw me draw strength I didn't know I could muster. The next few months saw me take decisions I never knew I could take. I kept saying what will my brother have asked me to do and I did it. I stood by what he had taught me to be true, to the values he held dearly.
Moving On: Over the years, I have learnt to know God owes no one any explanation. How dare I question God? He is sovereign. He asked Job ‘where were you when I formed the earth?’
I don't want to lose his memory, but there is no way I can remember him without thinking of his death, the shock, and the pain. He was not ill before the gruesome death. The fact that we got no body to bury didn't help me find a closure on time. I always dreamt that I keep searching for him, in real life, since appears as if he just disappeared so that explains my dreams. But when you count your blessing you give thanks
I don't hurt everyday. Most times I think of the good memories of my brother and how he would advise me. I sometimes feel frustrated that he isn't here to give me advice on things that I know he was so good at, but I must say God has surrounded me with great people. I always find the counsel I need from others somehow.
Please don't think I truly understand why God allowed this. I don't. But I know God is a good God. I know He is good because He gave me strength, a good husband to help with the loss, keeps opening great doors for me, gives me ease with what others struggle with. All these can only happen because God is good. I cannot save myself talk less of anyone, our lives are in His hands; we can do nothing to keep ourselves.
My brother touched lives, he was a very good man to everyone, and nobody can say a single negative thing about him; though I know he could have a temper but I think that was because he was too passionate about what he believed in. He only gave his life to Christ few days before so that gives me great comfort that we will see again. There is always a reason to give thanks.
I know God is good all the time and my being a Christian does not stop bad things from happening. It doesn't shield me from pain or hurt, but my faith in Christ gives me hope. Hope gives me a future to believe that He makes all things good. The lesson I have learnt is that there is always a reason to give thanks. I thank God for being loved the way I was and I thank God for still being loved now. I don't know how to say it better.
Busola Adeniji writes from Liverpool, United Kingdom.