Do Not Feed The Trolls!

It is almost the last day of January and I have had an amazing 2018 so far…except for about two weeks ago. In the midst of basking in the glow of all the goals we conquered in 2017 and all the amazing things that lay ahead of us in 2018, I took some time to notice how tired, spent, and over-worked I felt and to pinpoint the cause of all my negative feelings.

For the past almost five years that we have been married, my husband has been the primary bread-winner of our family and I have been the primary caretaker of our children. I manage our home, household finances, appointments, meals, chores, you name it. Hubby’s schedule has gone through several changes in our years together but one thing has remained the same – he works 12-15 hour shifts daily, his weekends are unpredictable and his days start/ends hours before/after mine. I took on the challenge of being the wife and mother our home needed to function while giving my husband the opportunity to earn the income that was necessary for us to thrive. It worked. The system was not perfect but we re-calibrate and re-adjusted as often as life demands. The understanding remained the same – we are one team. Whatever we do as individuals was for our collective good. I do not make decisions that benefit me but causes harm to my husband or children and the same goes for them.

When I realized that for the past two years of my life, I have spent essentially 20 hours per day caring for our children while attempting to keep my career afloat – all without the presence or input of my husband (he was either at work or asleep before work), I bristled. Surely, this could not be a fair division of labor. I did not address my concerns with my husband but I noted how exhausted I am; I remembered the fact that our children still wake up in the middle of night crying for me; I thought about how many times I sacrificed sleep just so I could stay ahead of all the house work that had piled up. Going to bed at 2am only to be woken up between three and five in the morning by a crying toddler dealing with the pain of eczema or a wet diaper or just having a restless night. I thought about the fact that I was the default parent in 99.9% of our daily life and I got angry.  Not annoyed. Not concerned. I was spitting mad.

As I was online bristling from the unfairness of it all, I ran into some women who were sharing their own thoughts about how much of a crappy hand married women are dealt because nine times ten, we are the default parent; we never get to vacation on our own and we cannot plan anything outside our families; meanwhile husbands get to go through life blissfully oblivious to how much they are not carrying their weight around the house. Husbands can travel for work for weeks at a time and they will have an actual vacation. Wives with children cannot. These women either cannot go at all or they must develop a fail-safe system of check-ins, check-ups, house-help, babysitters and grandparents who can fully support their household in their absence. It was absolutely out of the question to expect their husbands to be able to handle the children as seamlessly as their wives do. If you as a wife and mom must travel for work, you have to keep it short and get back as soon as possible. More often than not, you spend every non-work hour calling home and checking to ensure all is well or worrying yourself about the thousands of little things your husband does not know when it comes to keeping the household running.

I believe the word for it these days is “mental load.” And without a doubt, wives carry more of it.

Surprisingly enough, finding other women who co-signed on my frustrations and the reality of my workload at home did not make me feel better. I did not feel understood or justified. In fact, it only made me more angry. So this was not just my husband; it was a collective of men worldwide who had bought into this system of patriarchy that would send us, the women they claimed to love and cherish, to an an early grave because of stress, worry and anxiety.

Why would they not help us?!

I realized that what I needed was not to feel understood by others. After all, they were not going to ease my load. The only person that needed to understand me was my husband; but what  I wanted was an actual solution.

I have not always felt this way. So what changed? I went back to the things I wrote in the very early days of our marriage and compared. A few months into marriage, I was still blissfully sharing about the joys of living life with my husband. Even the mundane things were an adventure because I was doing them with (and for) my best friend who loved me best in all the world. After pregnancy and parenthood, I still considered my husband the best friend and the best provider I could have asked for. So what changed?

Me. I changed. Although there is nothing wrong with accepting my limitations and realizing that I am overworked and in desperate need of help, my mindset about how to get what I needed had changed, and not for the better.

For the entirety of my marriage, I have been convinced that my husband is my partner and he absolutely has my best interests at heart. Overall, his demeanor towards me has not changed. His efforts at home are on par with what they have always been and he still demonstrates his affection and love for me and our family on an on-going basis. But over the past almost five years of pregnancy, life with a new born, life with a toddler, pregnancy, life with a newborn and toddler and now life with two toddlers, my needs have changed. I need more support at home than I have ever needed before. Not just physical support but emotional assurance that I am not messing this whole thing up.

Not having the physical support I need because of my husband’s unforgiving work schedule started making me question whether or not he had my best interest at heart.

(He gets up for work at 3 A.M. and he gets back around 6 P.M., eats dinner and goes to bed around 9pm to start the day all over again)

“If he loved me, he would help me.” The lie was so subtle I almost believed it.

That lie was what was feeding the growing resentment in my heart about the state of our household. When we were first married, I absolutely knew my husband would do anything for me even as much as I realized that he did not have the ability to fulfill all of my needs.

He is human, not God.

Five years of being constantly tired had me believing that my husband was purposefully withholding his help from me.

Why would he do that?

“Because he does not love or value you!” The lie had an answer for each question.

Going online and finding a plethora of other women who felt my frustrations did not help me because it actually fed the trolls (negative emotions) inside my head. My concerns were genuine but letting resentment poison my love for my husband was not the solution. By God’s grace, I found the help I needed. What I needed was to remember why I chose this man in the first place. My husband is the best choice for me because he is selfless; he is sacrificial in his love for others; he is hard-working, creative and ambitious; he is a leader and natural-born provider.

He is not a neat-freak; he rather sleep than socialize and he has an easy-going approach to life that complements my somewhat excitable personality. I did not marry him because I wanted someone who cleaned like me or cooked like me or parents in the exact same way I would. I married him because he is a man of integrity; he has demonstrated his trustworthiness even while we were friends and he is a man committed to living by the standards of Christ. I married him because I wanted him as my partner and everything he has shown me from all the years before our wedding proved that he would be a great man for me.

“My husband loves me unconditionally. If he is not helping me in the way that I need help, it is not because he does not want to. He may not be able to because he is exhausted as well or he may not know how best to help because I have not told him.”

That is the truth that has replaced the lie. The minute I stopped feeding the trolls (engaging in conversations or indulging in content that encouraged me to blame my husband rather than seek a mutual solution), the weight of resentment started falling off. The burdens started shifting off my shoulders.

A final note before I close this post. I have had at least three friends and sisters that I cherish who have walked through the heartbreak of divorce. Each time, it has been because their husbands left them feeling unloved, devalued and alone. Even if the men did not walk away physically, they checked out of their marriages emotionally, financially, and materially. Watching the women I love attempt to pick up the broken pieces of their lives from men who were suppose to love them has given me a new understanding of what it takes to make a marriage work. You can be the best spouse in the world but when you do not have a partner who is willing to work with you, you are headed for disaster.

I realized that I am blessed to be married to someone who is willing to work with me. He accepts my flaws and even when he does not allow me to get away with low-living (living below what I am capable of achieving), I know it is because he wants to see me walking in excellence. I am equally willing to work with him. In every way that matters, my husband is the man I need and want. He is present with me and our children. He demonstrates his love for us daily. He has never done anything to make me question his character. He provides very well for our family and he is just a really great man!

The next time I am frustrated about something in my home or marriage, I am committed to remembering who I married instead of letting my emotions lie to me. I will no longer be feeding the trolls.

You can hold me to it!

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You Are More!

The most beautiful part of life in Christ is the daily, hour by hour growth that occurs when we are consciously committed to walking with the Lord. The topic I want address is actually already here in the form of a previous post. You can go read my post “For the Daughters of Eve” written in 2016 here:

https://naijabeauty.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/for-the-daughters-of-eve/

It is password protected because it was only meant for women I trusted with an issue that was painful to discuss. The sting is gone so I’m free to share with any of you that’s interested (password Sisterhood).

When I wrote the previous post, I was dealing with a lingering sense of inadequacy.

It started when I graduated law school and was unable to find a job for six grueling months so necessity led me to open my own practice. It deepened when I was engaged to my husband and some of my pastors told me in no uncertain terms that a woman without an income was a liability to her man. It grew wings after my first born when my husband expressed that my time as a stay at home mom was not only hindering us financially but also showed a lack of care concerning his attempts to provide for our family. Each of these episodes shook me in different ways and I endured a tedious process to heal from their unintended consequences.  The last time I tackled this feeling of inadequacy was a few months after our second son was born. All around me women I knew were working and providing for their families or themselves. These same women whose opinions I valued and whose lives bore godly fruit were also telling me that any wife or mother who was successful at home but without her own business, enterprise or  income was incomplete. Their words added salt to an open wound. It seemed no matter how much I grew in my character or how much I contributed as a wife and mother in my home, if my income did not reach a certain amount, I was failing. I took the sentiment personally and honestly it broke me.

Today, my story has changed. When God delivered me from the fear of failure, He gave me a boldness and assurance that I did not have  before. That is where I want to draw from to encourage you, my readers.

A woman who agrees with her husband to stay at home to raise her family and forego a paycheck as part of her reasonable service should not be penalized with our disdain simply because it is a choice other women would never make. She’s doing what God has asked of her in her own home even if God does not require the exact same choice from me or you.

Most women I know would never openly condemn a stay at home mother for not working but still they say things like “I didn’t get all this education to stay home and raise some kids” (actual comment directed my way). Comments like these did much to damage my perception of my worth before I found my assurance in Christ. After my second son was born, my income was non-existence. I had missed months of work and declined taking on new clients as I grappled with the sickness of pregnancy. As a business owner, my maternity leave was at my discretion but woefully unpaid. So I did in fact acquire all of my education to “stay home and raise some kids,” at least for the first six months of each of their lives. As believers we pay much lip service to the dignity of mothers and wives, but in my own experience, we are often demeaned by the very body of believers with whom we belong. We are excused while pregnant or immediately after giving birth because of course we need some time for our bodies to heal and to bond with our newborns.

”When are you going back to work?”

Because raising children is not enough “work” by itself and nobody is going to pay you to raise your own children. And of course, you can’t possibly expect your husband to be the only one who earns an income. You can’t afford it.

Only millionaires are entitled to raise their own children as they see fit. The rest of us need to keep our nose to the grindstones and pay others to care for our children while we do the more important task of keeping food, shelter and clothing readily available.

I am being facetious.

A wife and mother who earns an income by working either within or outside her home, for herself or for another is doing a dignified service. She is supporting her husband’s responsibility to provide for his family. Her help is indispensable to her family. Most households could not survive without dual income so a wife’s paycheck is a physical representation of what her support means within her family.

Likewise, a woman who stays at home and does the dignified work of raising her family in the fear and knowledge of the Lord is doing a work that cannot be quantified. Her role in her family cannot be overemphasized. Without the unwavering support of a wife who sacrifices to be the primary caregiver of their children, many husbands could never earn the income they use to provide for their families. Without a wife who can oversee parent-teacher conferences, doctors appointments, family meals and household budgets, most men with children would not have the time to earn the income their families require.

But you are more than the income you earn or the measurable help you can provide at home. You are literally made in the image of God for His divine purposes. To quote a social meme “there’s no way you were put on this earth to just pay bills and die!” There’s immeasurably more to you than your roles at home, no matter how invaluable you are in those roles.

The reason those past quantification of my worth based on my income hurt so deeply was because I had lost my personal sense of purpose. I knew God would not have created me if He did not have a specific purpose in mind for my life. But in the years lost in self-doubt, I also lost my sense of passion, and thus my sense of direction. I was not the wife who couldn’t properly help her husband because her income was limited. And I was not the mother who could not provide the needs of her children if they ever depended on her. I am my husband’s strongest ally; his favor from God in human form because I am uniquely equipped to help him bring his God-given vision to pass. I am my children’s protector and first example of a godly woman. I am their window into the heart of God towards them as I love them with God-given grace.

I am more than my income. I am more than my roles at home. I am more than my title and I am more than the work of my hand. I am God’s beloved. And I choose to rest in that knowledge.

I invite you to do the same. You are more!

 

 

 

Marriage Does Not Save You!

Chatting with my brother Keaton (Twitter @doulos_kb) gave me a flash of inspiration. He had a question for our married friends.

Is it possible to gossip to your spouse if you don’t have the person’s business you’re telling permission? Marital intimacy can’t violate Biblical principles.

Keaton Brown (Tampa, FL)

I responded with a resounding “YES!” but I would like to explore the topic further with my readers. There have been times in my marriage when a sister has confided in me about her personal struggles or asked for prayer concerning a sensitive issue. More often than not, the issue at hand is one that only women endure and the answer does not need a man’s perspective. Later on, if my husband and I are driving in silence, my mind may wander to something we could discuss and the first thing that will likely come to mind is the last thing I was just told. Before I blurt out “hey babe, Pollyanna (lol, you like that fictitious name I picked) is having struggles with sexual thoughts,” I pause.

Is this information any of his business?

Would sharing this with my husband who I know will keep it in strict confidence still pose an embarrassment to the sister who confided in me?

Why do I feel the need to share this information in the first place?

If there is nothing to gain from sharing this information with my husband and I am doing it simply for the sake of making conversation, I need to hush. Even though I know my husband well enough and I am fully confident that he would never betray my confidence or that of this sister by blabbing about the topic to others, I am fairly certain that Pollyanna would be extremely uncomfortable with the idea of my husband (in whom she did not confide for good reason) being privileged to this sensitive information about her. I am not sharing this information because I want my husband to pray for her. Even if I know that he would do just that, there is nothing to be gained by violating another woman’s trust in this regard. I can join her in prayer without involving my husband; this protects her privacy while offering her community through her sister in Christ (me).

Continuing with this hypothetical, let’s say I have had issues with gossiping in the past, even as a single woman. Maybe prior to coming to Christ, I would sit on the phone for hours discussing the happenings of other peoples lives. The ideal would be that once I came to Christ, I repented of such sinful habits. But if after marriage, I am no longer gossiping with friends and start “sharing information” with my husband that has no bearing on our marriage or his responsibilities, then I need to re-examine my heart. The propensity for gossip is still there; the only thing that has changed is my audience. Sharing information that violates the confidences of others and is none of my husband’s business is gossip!

There may be other information that almost fits this category but it is not  necessarily gossip. For example, if someone confides in me about their financial struggles and I feel led to help, the first person I talk to is my husband. If he’s on-board, then we give a joint gift. The person may not have confided in my husband but when it comes to our money, that is very much my husband’s business. I can give the gift with my husband’s blessing without divulging all of the sensitive or potentially embarrassing details the other person relayed to me.

I like this discussion because it exposes some of the ways we try to sanitize our sinful proclivities by gathering them under the “I’m married so it’s okay” umbrella.

I know of friends who have confided in one person only to have them share the information with their spouse and it ends up becoming public knowledge. That is a gross violation of the Bible’s command to bear one another’s burden. This person is fulfilling the biblical command to “confess your sins one to another” and we dare not make that task more difficult for them by betraying their trust.

This post was intended as a short one so I will end my musings here but I want to hear from you, reader. Do you think it is always necessary to share what someone else has told you in confidence with your spouse? How do you preserve the principle of being one flesh while still maintaining the confidences of those who share their sensitive information with you, but not with your spouse?

The Journey of 2017

I have been struggling to share everything I really experienced in 2017 because putting it all on screen feels too much like inviting strangers into the most sacred aspects of my marriage. But after an eye-opening conversation with my sister and a second heart to heart with a cherished friend, I believe I know how to share the ins and outs of my year without betraying the confidence of those in my home.

I started 2017 hopeful. I was newly involved with a deliverance ministry that focuses on helping women grow in their relationship with the Lord (www.wivesinwaiting.com). I knew that if I allowed it, the ministry and the sisterhood I would build within it would grow me in uncomfortable but important ways. My children were two-and-a-half years old and eight months old, respectively and the work of mothering them was time consuming but I was finding my feet. I had reliable child care and a schedule that worked for our family.

I started feeling the nudge to do something tangible to invest in my marriage. Having two children so close in age meant that date-nights were long forgotten for months and months at a time. I did not want to wait until we were in crisis to seek the help I needed to be a more intentional wife towards my husband. With all of that in mind, I signed up for and was approved to participate in a marriage mentoring program called Good Thing 101. The program was eight month long and it forced me to do the work of prioritizing my marriage every week. It has done wonders for my prayer life, our intimacy life and my mindset towards my husband and I am still reaping the benefits till today. When 2017 began, I was afraid to dream in concrete terms. I had general ideas of what I would like to see during the year but actually stating goals intimidated me because I had been disappointed in the past.

One of the things I was afraid to put down on paper was concerning our finances. Because I had ignored my credit history for so long, I knew it would take years of work to undo the damage. This realization left me paralyzed when it came to believing God for any material things that would involved credit utilization. I am not one to believe that I can speak my car and house and millions into existence. In my own understanding, faith without works is dead. I can believe God to put food on my table but if I turn down jobs that could provide for my family and sit on my hands, I have condemned us to starvation. In like manner, I was not about to speak a new car or a new house into existence when I knew I had not done the work to make those things possible. To put it plainly, I was afraid to believe.

My own plan for home-ownership was that one day, we would have saved enough money to entice someone to sell us the house of our dreams even if we were not as credit worthy as other buyers. I knew the hefty down-payment I had in mind was years away so I took home-ownership off the table as a plausible short-term goal. My husband however, would not be deterred. He was tired of renting and he wanted his own home, with a yard for our children. As his partner in life, I got on board with the plan and believe it or not, by August we had secured financing for our home. By November we had our entire down-payment secured.

I was gobsmacked! God answered a prayer I had been afraid to pray at the beginning of the year and He did it within months.

In between securing our financing and saving the down-payment, I was hit with a huge business liability (five figures) that threatened everything we were working towards. I wanted to quit. I literally wanted to sell off all of my business assets, pay off the liability and close up shop. I was done. I was done with owning a business and I was equally done with even hoping to ever own a home. Who ever heard of trying to buy a home while dealing with this kind of financial stress? The money I had planned on setting aside would now be siphoned up by this new debt that came out of nowhere.

For weeks I wavered between anguish and anger. Nobody else I knew that went through the process of buying a home ever encountered this type of crap. They found their home, paid for it and moved in. Why did mine have to be a different story? I cried angry and bitter tears. I also cried in fear.  I did not want to be the reason my husband’s dreams were dashed. Through it all, I found the courage to pray. And when my courage failed me, I asked others to pray for us.

As we inched closer and closer to moving day, I was cautiously optimistic. I did not give myself permission to be excited because a part of me feared that our hopes would be ultimately disappointed. When we finally settled into our new home, my heart melted in thankfulness and joy. It was real. This was ours.

We spent the holidays in our new home and while we prepared for Christmas, I started thinking about what our new set of responsibilities would require of us. I crossed off any plans of any major purchases for at least another three years while we get accustomed to our new financial obligations and duties. It would be entirely out of the realm of possibility to believe God to give us any more than what He had already granted. We did not deserve it and we could not afford any more than this. Imagine my shock when I received a brand new car as an early Christmas gift. I left the house in my modest 2006 hatchback which had served me well for the two years we owned it; I had piled over 40,000 miles on it for personal and business errands. The car was over 100,000 in mileage but I was determined to ride it until the wheels fell off. I could not believe God for another vehicle until this one was paid off. I hated car payments all together. There was no way I was signing myself up for two of them at a time. God and my husband had other plans though. I left the house that day in a car that was 11 years old and returned to find one that was almost a decade newer. Shocked was an understatement.

At that point, I decided to stop limiting God. I had to repent. If God was gracious enough to provide the material things I needed even when I felt that I did not deserve them, He could certainly open any door that I would need to enter in order to prosper in the coming year. God has given me the gifts and talents I need to make wealth and secure my family’s future. Walking beneath my God-given capabilities would not serve me in this new year so I had to change my mindset. There was no need to walk in fear about our finances. We had the God-given knowledge to manage our wealth and credit, and now by God’s grace, we also had the means.

My affinity for living well below our means was a coping mechanism for my fear that we could lose everything at the drop of a hat. Money was a safe-guard and a god that beckoned my worship. If I had enough of it, I would not have to trust God’s provision. God Himself shattered that sinful thinking by challenging me to believe Him for my needs. He has been more than faithful. The God who made a way for me in 2008 when I had nothing, in 2013 when we got married, in 2014 when we had our firstborn and in 2017 when He brought us to our Rehobeth is worthy of my unwavering trust. His track-record is impeccable. He knows the end of 2018 from the beginning and He has prepared everything I and my family need to prosper, to thrive, and to live in His fullness. His grace is sufficient for us in this new year. He is the God Who has been our help in ages past. He is our hope for years to come.

 

What Makes A Wife

A diamond is forever

– De Beers

For months now I have been searching for the words to connect my thoughts and feelings about what marriage means to me personally and coming up short. In the recent discussions on social media about ring size and costs, I did not have a dog in that fight so I sat on the sidelines and watched the maylay; quietly musing about the ring I wear on my left hand. This ring is lot of things – a symbol of commitment, an accessory, a cherished momento. One thing it is not, however, is a status symbol. This ring is my husband’s first paycheck after graduating nursing school. It’s the moment he realized he wanted to build a life with me. It’s the symbol we exchanged in front of loved ones and in the presence of God as we vowed to make up from each fight we have about who spent too much money on nonessentials or who left the house without cleaning up. It’s his promise to be there in the room as I gave birth to our two boys and my pledge to make a dollar out of ten cents when the chips are down. My ring symbolizes so many things that are otherwise unquantifiable. One thing it can never represent is how much value I hold either in my marriage or because of marriage. Wearing a ring does not make me better than a woman without one. Having a smaller ring does not make me less than a wife with a large one. This ring did not make me a wife. It only symbolizes it.

As we journey towards our fifth year in marriage (wait, whaaa?) I can testify that this ring holds no transformative power. It didn’t make me a better woman or magically shaped me into Susie Homemaker. I still don’t know how to fold fitted sheets; my two toddlers are still not potty-trained and I can still burn a pot of food if I really put my mind to it. All this ring has done for me is allow me to realize that my husband’s well-being is now irrevocably tied to mine and my time to be selfish is over. My ring is a physical reminder that I am accountable to and for a life besides just my own. It’s a visual of the never-ending cycle of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that should be the pattern in our home. That is how I choose to measure our commitment to one another. No ring of any size or cost could do that.

Yours In Christ,

Omowunmi

2018 Is The Best Year I Never Had

If you read that title wrong, you would think I was being presumptuous. I am only a few days into 2018 as of the time of this post but I have unshakable faith that the year holds great things for me and my loved ones. There is a certain level of confidence that comes with your decision making when you know that God is leading you. For the first time in a long time, I have peace that extends to every corner of my life, not just my home, marriage, friendships or finances but literally every aspect of my life. Years ago, my marriage was flourishing but I had turmoil in my friendships. Then my friendships were great but I felt forgotten and useless as my gifts laid dormant. Then my home life was amazing but finances were an issue. I would be winning at 90% of my life and the other 10% would be in shambles. I could not understand why.

And I will not claim to have all the answers now.

But a large part of what was keeping me miserable was my fear of failure. Anything that seemed like it would be difficult for me to overcome, I did not even attempt. I avoided risks and thus avoided the pay off that could have accompanied them.

In this new year I refuse to live below standard because of fear. My 2018 actually began sometime in October of 2017 because the risks I took in those last months of the year positioned me to reap a harvest in 2018. I am optimistic. I am hopeful and I am determined to do the work to see the results I desire. I know none of my plans mean anything without God’s direction but the wonderful thing about where I am right now is that God placed me here. This confidence is not in my abilities but in the God who gave them to me. This hope is not in my own strength but in the One who can do the impossible. God’s grace conquered my fear of failure and it is His grace that gives me this joyful anticipation concerning 2018. I know challenges will come. I know that things will not always go as I plan or hope but I refuse to sit in defeat and I am DONE with expecting the worst. I have been jokingly telling everyone that I am accepting no losses in 2018 but I really mean it. Anything that looks like a loss is no match for a God who can conquer death. That’s the greatest comeback in history!

God has proven Himself beyond faithful in my 30 something years of life. There is nothing coming my way in 2018 that He has not known and prepared me for. I am going confidently because I know Who goes before me. 2018 IS the best year I’ve NEVER had!

2017 Ten Years A Slave

The year was 2007. I graduated law school, passed the bar on my first try, spent 6 months looking for a job and finally, told myself that I was too old to dream. In 2007, my dream died and a fear was born. For ten years, I carried that fear like a cherished belonging. Fear spoke louder than the voice of reason so for ten years, I stayed. Rooted in one place like a miserable tree. Far from flourishing but unable to see another life beyond the one in front of me.

In 2017, the roots started to come up. By God’s grace, I started dreaming again. I put feet to my prayers and did the scary things. I put myself out there. I took the terror out of the word “no.” The worst they could do was say no; it would not kill me.

And in November 2017, the fear of failure died the gruesome death it earned.

I am free.

In 2017 I grew in my role as a wife. My love for my husband took on new roots and meaning. I invested in us. As a family, we did the work to secure an inheritance for our children and reaped the rewards. I stewarded my children’s lives well. I found my place in ministering to God’s people. I wrote. I prayed. I fasted. I dreamed. I applied. I interviewed. I believed and I saw victory. I saw breakthrough on the horizon.

I welcome 2018 with open arms because living free from the fear of failure means that the world has opened up to me in a new way.

In 2017, we did great exploits. In 2018, we conquer.

The End.

Just the Facts, Ma’am!

No title on this one, just the facts!

For the past three months, my husband has made it his business to push me out of my comfort zone. Whether it is physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually, hubby has been ON IT in making sure that I am growing at my God-given pace rather than staying where my roots have been established since even before we got married.

I have discovered over the past month or so just how badly the fear of failure has wrapped its claws around me and any such plans I have ever entertained of doing anything different from what I have always done.

I am one of those people who hates moving. I hate packing things up, saying good bye to the places to which I have grown accustomed and having to develop new relationships in an unfamiliar (read: scary) place. What if I get lost? What if everything is a disaster and we would have been better off where we were? These same kind of thoughts have keep me in jobs I did not enjoy, positions I have outgrown and relationships that have turned dysfunctional. My husband however was having NONE of my fears. As reasonable as my reasons (read: excuses) sounded in my own ears, he wanted no parts of them. It was time to move. It was time to leave ideas that were not working and venture into completely uncharted territory.

Strangely enough, his resolve gave me courage. Where my knees would have buckled at the thought of doing this on my own, acting at the prompting of my husband gave me a fearlessness I have never had before. “The worst it can do is fail. It won’t kill me!” I actually said those words! Me! The girl who will not try out another hairdresser after 5 years (no matter how highly recommended) because I am afraid they will abuse my tender-headed self. I barely recognized myself. Fear of failure kept me pursuing my passions as a hobby rather than innovating ways to do what I love for a living. That same fear keeps me from delving deeper into relationship with people with whom I need to mend fences; I do not want to be the vulnerable one. I mean, what if they rejected me?  I can now say that it was the fear that kept me thinking “small” career wise because I knew the bigger the waves I made, the bigger the target on my back. Who needed the hassle? Not I.  Being in covenant (marriage) with someone who sees my flaws and still champions my strength does much to cut my excuses off at the knees. If he thinks I can do it, maybe I am the one who does not know my own strength.

Since the end of July, I have cried more tears of absolute terror and fear of ridicule than I  have shed in the past four years of marriage. There are days like today where I am going from task to task with a “just keep swimming” attitude (shoutout to Finding Nemo). And there are days like the one two months ago where I buckled under the weight of it all and let the agony of an unknown and unplanned future bring me to convulsing tears.

So, in this season of my life, I am doing it afraid, but I am doing it.

 

 

The Thief

One day a thief crept into our home. We were going about our business while he crept about undetected. Infinitely dangerous but we never suspected a thing. Until some things came up missing.

Like joy.

Like peace of mind.

Like contentment.

Comparison is the thief of joy

I keep running into that quote online and it will not leave me alone. If you have followed my journey thus far then you know that comparison was a struggle for me a couple of years back. The Lord has been gracious since then and I have learned how to steward my own portion remarkably well. It goes without saying that I may not have perfected the art of never envying another person’s life or possessions, but honestly, I am being perfected on a daily basis.

When I came across this quote yet again this week, it got me thinking about what exactly has been stolen from me in the years I spent neglecting my own life to envy another’s. One instant that immediately came to mind was that of a former friend. This was someone I had known since childhood but did not establish a genuine connection with until we were adults. By that time she had grown into a confident, beautiful, self-assured, take-no-prisoners of a woman and I was still finding myself but putting up a good front. I cherished our friendship because we genuinely cared for one another and we were each other’s trusted ear for our most sensitive secrets. But under the warm embers of our friendship was this nagging need to prove that I was good enough to be her friend. That toxic mentality gave way to competition. Although I loved my friend, I was also keenly aware of how much more popular and sought after she was compared to me. I did my best to mimic some of her style; I shopped where she shopped, wore similar hair styles and befriended the people in her life. My prayer was that some of her “certain something” would rub off on me and I would be more sought after and well-liked by association. In that instance, comparison stole my ability to be a true friend. Which one of us would want a friend who felt compelled to compete with us? Yet there i was being exactly that type of friend. For all the love I had for this woman, there was no way I was presenting her with the best version of myself as her friend if a part of me was jealously seeking to have something she effortlessly possessed.

When I think a little harder, I remember another friend with whom I found common ground based on our passion to see young people in Christ and flourishing. This woman of God is a natural at getting young people of any age to open up to her. She befriends them easily and keeps their confidences. I am the same way to a certain extent but the grace of God operating in this lady’s life made me question my own. Eventually, things went sour between us (it is a long story that I cannot tell without divulging intimate details that may cause embarrassment to all parties involved). Over the past five years, God has healed my heart and given me the hope of reconciliation. But honestly, I am embarrassed and ashamed of myself for the manner in which I acted. In my jealous comparison of the gifts operating in my life and the life of the young woman in question, I have treated her unfairly and without compassion. When I think back to some of the words I have spoken to this woman in the heat of the moment, I cringe. Here, comparison stole a sister in Christ and a partner in ministry. I have asked the Lord for forgiveness and have taken some steps to correct my missteps with the person in question but I know there is room for more. Reconciliation is the heart of my Heavenly Father so I am keeping my heart open to that possibility in this situation.

Lastly, this quote reminds me of the first few days and weeks (and maybe even the first year) of my marriage. I went into marriage with the expectation that my husband would be praying the heavens down daily over me, lavishing me with gifts and words of love, and meeting my needs spoken and unspoken without issue. Once we came home from the honeymoon and began living as husband and wife, I quickly realized that my amazing husband was very much flesh just like me and not the second coming of Jesus Himself. What made my reality harder to accept was the flood of Instagram pictures I had visually consumed and mentally stored away. Where was my breakfast in bed? Where was my surprise getaway trip? Where was my “just because it’s Wednesday” flowers? I wanted everything social media had shown me that marriage was suppose to entail. As I compared my reality to the filtered promises on the internet, I was crestfallen. Comparison stole my joy and had me questioning the gift of God that is my husband. Thankfully, I am surrounded by wise and godly counselors and the Holy Spirit Himself would not leave me to my foolish devices for long. The Lord intervened and opened my eyes to the ridiculous jealousy and envy I had for other people’s supposedly perfect marriages. The Lord reminded me that viewing the highlight reels of others would never improve my marriage or increase my joy as a wife. If I wanted a joyful and romantic marriage, I needed to get to work being a joyful and romantic wife. Learning to serve my husband from a place of unconditional love has infused everything I ever hoped for into our home. I still regret those moments I allowed the thief of comparison to steal my joy and plant seeds of bitterness in my heart against my husband. But I thank God daily that He has uprooted every evil planting of the enemy of my soul and my marriage. Comparison stole my joy for a moment but if I had allowed it, it could have stolen my marriage.

Friend, what has comparison stolen from you recently? If you still recognize this thief working in your life in ANY regard, I implore you by the mercies of God to drive out this enemy from your heart before it steals, kills and destroys the blessings that God has richly bestowed upon you.

Yours in Christ,

Omowunmi

Tales From The Trenches (Mother’s Day)

My first Mother’s Day (2014) was about a month after I gave birth to our first-born. I was still at home with our son since he was not old enough for public outings. I remembered feeling somewhat lonely that day as my husband went off to church without us. We were about to celebrate our first wedding anniversary that same week and after almost 365 days as a married couple, I had come to realize that my new husband was not big on holidays. He did not make a big deal about them so I adjusted my expectations for Mother’s Day accordingly. Maybe he would remember or maybe the mayhem of life with a newborn would sweep all thoughts of cards or gifts from his mind. Either way, I was prepared. I was thankful enough for the gift that we have in our new baby and that was all I really needed for day to be special.

My amazing husband shocked me by going all out for my first Mother’s Day. I had more gifts than I knew what to do with and my heart truly blessed God for how well I was loved as a wife and as a new mom.

At that time in my life, I had naively assumed that all of my friends who were newly married and not yet mothers themselves were delaying pregnancy on purpose until the time was right to build their family. At that point, I had a handful of sisters who were also newlyweds and only two of us were moms. In my mind, everyone else wanted a few more years with their husbands before they started bringing children into the world. As the years went on and the same friends of mine had yet to welcome their own bundles, I marveled that so many of my friends who were either in their thirties or right at the cusp were delaying starting their families for so long. Eventually, I got a reality check. Many of these loved ones of mine were not actively trying to prevent pregnancy. In fact, many had prepared themselves, emotionally, spiritually and physically for the journey of pregnancy and motherhood only to be disappointed month after month. It was a sobering reality.

I do not know why I assumed that everyone who wanted to get pregnant could. It had never occurred to me that anyone that I actually love and pray for would suffer the heartache of infertility. In my understanding, infertility was what happened to other people, those who had waited until they were menopausal before trying to have children or those who had long-suffered with medical conditions that were known to make childbearing next to impossible. It did not happen to happily married, young, thriving, Bible-believing women. That would not be fair.

All around me were women who had been married for far longer than I who were not yet mothers and I was totally convinced that it was because they wanted to wait till later. These were women who were leading ministries, running businesses and managing much more than just their household. It made sense to me that they did not yet want to add the responsibilities of parenthood to their long list of duties. Then there were the newlyweds who were younger than me by five years or more who were not yet parents either. Again, I assumed it was because they were not ready at the ages of 23, 25 or 27 to enter into the trenches of life with a newborn. Many of them were still learning how to be married so it made sense to me that they decided not to have children right away.

Lost in the melting pot of my assumptions were the friends who were newly married, newly pregnant and not yet showing, only to have their hopes crushed by miscarriage. There were others who were my seniors in marriage by almost a decade and I had assumed that they were childless simply because their time to conceive had not come. Worse still, those friends who were saving the sharing of their joy until after the safe arrival of their babies only to experience every parent’s worst nightmare of giving birth and having to bury their children.

For so many Mother’s Day in the past, I had never given a second thought to these different classes of women, all mothers in their own right – mothers in waiting, mothers of angel babies, and hopeful mothers to be. This year, they were at the forefront of my mind. Even as I celebrated the joy of fruitfulness, a part of me was prayerful for the countless number of women in my life who may be carrying their pain quietly.

You are loved. You are not forgotten. You are not alone.

Yours in Christ,

Omowunmi