On 12th February, 2017, I woke up hoping that we wouldn’t go to Church. It was a Sunday and I was spending some time with my relatives in Lagos. I love Lagos and particularly love Sundays in Lagos because I enjoy the services at The Presbyterian Church, Yaba. I always look forward to Sundays in Lagos but that particular Sunday I dreaded going to Church. I had been struggling with shame and regret for days prior to that Sunday. But that Sunday morning, the guilt and shame was overwhelming that I felt unworthy to go to God’s house.
I woke up that morning hoping my Uncle and Aunt will be too tired to go to Church because I felt they had a busy Saturday. I set an alarm just in case we would go so that I wouldn’t be late. I woke up around past 7am and had my bath. I walked to my cousin’s room to find out if we were actually going to Church. But my hopes were shattered as she was indeed preparing for service. She even asked if I was ready and I said yes although I wasn’t fully ready. I had just worn my cloth and was yet to comb my hair.
I went to have breakfast but realized that I didn’t have appetite. I forced myself to eat two balls of bean cake (akara). Then I went to my room to finish my preparations for Church. “What was even there to prepare for?” I thought to myself. “I’m mourning and grieving so I’m not going to pay attention to my appearance today.” I combed my hair and that was all I bothered to do. I didn’t care to apply make-up, not even powder. I didn’t care how oily my face was.
I finished preparing earlier than others and spent a few minutes trying to look for remedies to my guilt and shame. I quickly read a few verses from Romans 8 and pondered on it for a few minutes before leaving for Church.
We left for Church, with my Uncle driving. It was a boring ride to me. I wished there would be some music in the car but instead my Uncle kept on changing from one radio station to another. Haba! In this my bad mood, I’ll then be listening to radio stations (I don’t like radio even on a normal day so you can imagine my annoyance). Normally, gospel music relieves me when I’m feeling down so I felt that’s what I needed that morning.
Few minutes before we reached the Church, my Uncle settled for one radio station. They were preaching in the station. What a relief I thought. At least it’s better than all those dry gist and music on radio. I wasn’t even paying attention to the sermon but I got just one line before I got down from the car in the Church compound.
I don’t know what the preacher on the radio station was referring to because I wasn’t paying attention but I caught that phrase and it stuck on my mind all through the service. As I pondered on that phrase, I thought it would be nice to write a series of blog posts with this title. And for me, writing helps me; so writing about walking out of shame will first of all help me, then others as well. I spent most of my time in Church writing this story in my head.
Service was unusually boring to me that day. My spirit wasn’t moved at all unlike other days where I used to feel like “dwelling in the house of the Lord forever,” in the literal sense. That day, I wasn’t just flowing with the service; I didn’t feel like dwelling in the house of the Lord forever like previous Sundays. Unlike other Sundays where I would pay attention to the first and second Bible readings and even form blog posts from them, that day I was just distracted. I could barely concentrate. My mind was busy wandering and writing stories in my mind.
And then came the message with the topic, “Where are the John Knox of 21st Century?” preached by Rev. Dr. Ikwuagwu Bassey. I didn’t write much but he kept on emphasising that God needs people that He will send, people that will be passionate about saving dying and lost souls; people that will say “Give me the world or I die.” John Knox brought revival in his time, same with Mary Slessor.
He told us of Mary Slessor who had to choose between her fiancé and her ministry. According to him, her fiancé told her to choose between him and her ministry and she chose ministry, a choice that brought revival in her time. He kept on asking where the John Knox of the 21st Century are; where are those who are ready to go as servants for the Lord, those that will cry out that it’s either God gives them nations or they die.
I refused to accept that the message was for me, an unworthy, guilty and shameful Uduak. How can God call me and send me? I was walking in shame and I felt I could never walk out, I felt I could never fulfil God’s purpose. I knew God was talking to me but I wasn’t ready to accept it. I wasn’t ready to walk out of shame and guilt. I had already condemned myself; I had already stoned myself to death in my heart.
Well, I managed to resist God all through the service. After service, I had to travel back to Abeokuta, where I am doing my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). In the bus I began to type this book on my phone. I wanted to tell different stories depicting real life situations where we walk in shame relating it to Biblical characters that fell into sin and walked out of shame. Initially, I intended to make this a fictional blog post series but ended up deciding to make it a fiction and non-fiction book.