Thursday, October 27, 2016

5 Wrong Reasons for Getting Married: Part 1

Marriage is probably the most misconstrued idea in the world. Many people go into it for all of the wrong reasons, forgetting that it's a divine institution and a life-long commitment. This results in many unhappy homes, dissatisfied people and failed marriages.

So if you're planning a wedding soon, it's best to get a reality check and ensure you are going into it for the right reasons. Here are a few common reasons people get married:

1. To escape the stress of home
Believe it or not, some people, especially women, get fed up of home as they get older, mostly because of chores, curfews, or rules laid down by their parents or guardians. In this state of dissatisfaction and complaints, the idea of marriage seems all the more welcoming, as it presents the opportunity to escape the stress of staying at home. The only problem with this is that people often find the very issue they are running from in their matrimonial homes, at an even higher level. They still have to clean, cook and take care of the family, and also become accountable to their husbands with several 'dos' and 'don'ts' which they try to keep up with to sustain the marriage. If there is no other substance or foundation on which the marriage is laid, then it will undoubtedly fail.

2. To conceal pregnancy
Sometimes marriage is seen as a cover for pregnancy out of wedlock and an escape route from the stigma that comes with it. It is understandable that sometimes a family with a high society or religious status might want to avoid the embarrassment and troubles of having a baby out of wedlock. It is true that it is good for a baby to have the security of a home as it comes into the world, as this is what God intended in the first place. However, marriage should not be entered into solely for this reason. If other salient issues such as compatibility, common faith and or values, love and understanding are ignored, there may crop up in the near future and destroy the marriage or drastically affect those involved.

3. To make you feel better about yourself
You may probably be wondering what this point is doing here. 'What's wrong with feeling better about yourself when you are with the right person?' you may ask. The point to note here is that your joy, happiness or essence should not be based on a person or the institution of marriage. This will prevent you from breaking down or feeling lost when you are disappointed by your spouse (which will happen) or if the marriage does not live up the expectation you had. There will be ups and downs, highs and lows, difficulties and wonderful experiences. You can't afford to think that you will only feel better about yourself when you get married. First find yourself, fall in love with who you are and the God who made you. Rely on His grace to be better each day, and then enter marriage, prepared to give and not just to be given. There should be something reliable that's higher than you and the marriage itself from which you get your sustenance, identity and joy. Get that in place first before talking about marriage.

To be continued ... Click here for Part 2

©LAW Afolabi, October 2016

5 Wrong Reasons for Getting Married: Part 2

We are exploring five common wrong reasons people get married. If you missed Reason 1-3, please click here.

Here are other reasons worth considering:

4. Because you are getting older

"You better settle down, because you are not getting any older", might be one of the most popular sayings among African families. The society cannot process a single woman above thirty pursuing her career. There must be something wrong with her, her standards must be too high, or probably she cannot submit to a man. These are a few of the misconceptions prevalent in the society that lead people to make wrong decisions in marriage, simply to avoid hitting the age 30 mark. The mark is higher for men, but there is still that societal, family expectation and pressure to settle down perhaps by 40. The pressure may be worsened by the fact that all your close friends have gotten married and seem to have left you behind.

Although it's been said by some health professionals that it is easier for a woman to have children at an earlier age (the average woman's fertility peaks at early 20s) with less chances of complications, age should still not be the sole reason for getting married. What's the point of rushing into marriage with someone you hardly know or someone who you are not convinced is totally right for you, only to end up divorced, separated, unhappy or abused in the near future. The stigma of being an older single woman which you tried to avoid will even get worse, with additional labels of 'divorcee' or 'a woman that cannot keep a home' (Not that these stigmas are right, but that is a topic for another day). It is better to marry later than others to the right person for you, than to rush into a marriage you will later regret.

5. To change your status
 'Miss to Mrs' is a common inscription on bridal shower cakes. It is also the desire of many young women who want to become more respected in the society as married women are. How you are seen should never be your motivation or reason for getting married. How will the respect or recognition by the entire world make you any happier or fulfilled in your home? Your title is not more important than your destiny. Please look closely before you leap.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Can You Play Safe In Love?

Being in a world where it is easier to discover the existence of another planet than it is to know what goes on in another man’s mind means that love is one of the biggest gambles we’d ever take as humans. The mystery of it all and not knowing how fair or not love would be to us, reflects a lot on how we conduct ourselves and our affairs generally.
In fact, if we could build walls of steel around our hearts and secure it with bronze padlocks and gates bearing large captions for trespassers to KEEP OFF; perhaps, we’ll record greater luck in love. The stress of having to break the walls or the risk of being bitten by ferocious guard dogs may deter the players among us, who have no regard for emotions of fellow humans from perpetrating devilish heartbreaks.

Much as we might have wished for there to be some form of mathematics involved (and maybe there really may be ways people can be manipulated to behave in certain ways) but the truth remains that no one can ever truly tell if who he loves will love him back at all or if such person will love him back in the same measure. This uncertainty that comes with falling in love breeds one of the deepest issues in relationships. The inability to let ourselves go totally in love puts us on edge and starts to breed insecurity.

We start to wonder if we have let our guards off too much or for too long. We become so calculated in our actions. Love degenerates to a game.
‘He should be the one calling me now because I called two times already’
‘I can’t risk letting her know that I love her that much, less she starts to take me for a fool’
‘I can’t tell her that I love her before she tells me’
‘He is too smooth, I can’t trust him’
While some of our worries may be valid, many times they are not. We need to reprogram our minds and just take love for what it is; a pure and selfless emotion. If we are so focused on being loved back in certain ways, we unconsciously mar the beauty of it all.

 Hearts are broken and mended every day, so one or a few failures at love shouldn’t be the reason for one to hold back when with someone new. Don’t be afraid of letting yourself go or being taken for a fool. Who cares who calls who, long as you are both happy? There will be temptations to hold back and take stock of who has done what but your insecurity shouldn't be given room to grow. 

Whatever you decide, bear in mind that it is alright to be vulnerable in love, let your guard down sometimes. An African proverb says if you shut your eyes hoping to ignore bad people, the good ones will also pass you by . Playing it safe takes the beauty out of it. Bask in the beauty of the 'no holds barred' kind of love. There is always that special person that wouldn't throw your love in your face.

N.B: This does not apply to you if you are in an abusive relationship or with someone that doesn'tt care about you at  all.If you are in an abusive relationship, you need help. If your partnerdoesn't' care  at all, then you need to leave, Your love alone cannot sustain your relationship, there has to be two people on board for the relationship to work.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Working With Purpose Partners

Everyone has a purpose; it just takes us some time to figure out why we have been placed here on earth. However, not everyone succeeds at their purpose, and you wonder why. If you have been created to achieve a certain task, shouldn't things fall into place and wok out in one of those unbelievable testimony type of ways? Well, not really.

If you intend to discover and succeed at your purpose, you have to surround yourself with your purpose partner. Too often, many people fail to figure out their purpose much less excel at it because they have surrounded themselves with the wrong people. They have surrounded themselves with naysayers (i.e. people who see the problem with every idea and are always keen to point out why it won't work); they have surrounded themselves with people who don't want to hurt their feelings or critique their work (i.e. yes-men); they have surrounded themselves with the pity party hosts and hostesses; they have surrounded themselves with the association of life complainants. I could go on and on... but you get the gist.
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If you want to succeed at your purpose, you need to develop the habit of forming strategic relationships rather than aimless friendships. You need to locate the people around you who are for your purpose. It is important to understand right now that some of your friends may be on your side but not necessarily support your purpose. They may want you to succeed, to be happy, to reach a point in your life where you are satisfied with who you are, but they may not understand your purpose. You can share your dreams with them but they just won't get. They might say "Oh that's a great idea!" But they won't do anything to help you take it further.

There are other people in your life who are for your purpose and your purpose only. They understand your mission and they are there to ensure the mission is accomplished. They are not interested in what you do during your leisure hours with yourself, and they can't be bothered if you reach a point of satisfaction. They simply want to make sure the purpose is achieved! There are others in your life who are both friends and purpose partners, and that of course is the best of all. They help you take your purpose further, they pray with you, and they are concerned with you flourishing personally...but hey when you flourish in your purpose, your life will flourish too.

It's never too early to start working out who your purpose partners are, and it is never too late either. As long as your are breathing, you still have a shot at it. Stop spending all your time and energy on aimless friendships. Instead, start working with people who are in tune with God's will for your life. Every relationship you nurture is important. Make sure you're nurturing the right ones. XOXO

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Fear of the Will of God

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How many times have you been told to let God plan your life and immediately had a mini panic attack? How many times has someone said to you "May the will of God be done regarding your plans" and you struggled to say "Amen". How many times did you say "Amen" then went quickly to a quiet corner to prayerfully enforce and establish your plans? How often have you hesitated in saying the words "May your will be done in my life God"? If any of these questions apply to you, I am here to inform you that you have divine will phobia. 

It is natural for most people to worry at the thought of following God's perfect will. What if God decides to take you from a palace and make you lead some grumpy and ungrateful people through the wilderness? What if God decides you should be sold into slavery and even go to jail for a crime you did not commit just for his will to come to pass in your life? What if God's will has your thrown in a den of lions and instead of shutting the mouths of the lions, they jump at you immediately and tear you apart? So many what-ifs creep into our minds when we think about the will of God, that it immediately sends us into panic mode. We start to enforce Matthew 7:7 that says we should ask and we shall be given. And later on in the chapter, Jesus said no father will give his child a stone when he asks for bread, or give him a snake in place of a fish... so we believe that by establishing our desires in prayer, we are escaping the stones and snakes God might have in store for us. 

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.

But you see what I've come to realize is that the fear of the will of God is a fear that has been planted in our hearts by the devil. It has been supported by his lies that our plans are much better, and a sense of self-assurance that says we know best and our plans must come to pass. That is because Satan knows that God has amazing plans for our lives, and the best way to destroy those plans is to make us feel we must be in control and things must play out the way we want. Satan feeds our ego when we proudly tell people that we are in charge of our lives. It feels good to say we are living our lives by our own design, not by the design of a God we call on but cannot trust because he might just send us to the dungeon in line with His will. 

As the time turned from December 31 2015 to January 1 2016, God laid a verse on my heart:
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
This was the verse I received while I prayed against the confusion and battles I faced. God's plans for us are GOOD. They are designed to give us hope and A FUTURE. If it was only hope, one might say "yeah whatever. Hope deferred makes the heart sick". But we also have a future which highlights that our hopes in line with God's plans for us will be fulfilled. The plans of God are to PROSPER us, not to leave us in slavery or in a dungeon. He wants to prosper us and bless us! He wants us to be happy and fulfilled. But Satan wants us to believe God's will is not enough. He wants us to think if we are thrown in prison, God will never come to our rescue. He wants us to think if we are thrown in the lion's den, the lions will tear us apart. He wants us to think God will not show up. Afterall, the Israelites were in slavery for hundreds of years. Where was God? 

God did show up! And when he did, it was GLORIOUS. Trust God's will. Trust His power. God will show up! His plans are perfect and designed to bring peace and prosperity in all our ways. Let God's will be established in your life and watch how work becomes fun, and life even with its ups and downs feels like a good day at a theme park. God will never leave you void and He will never let you fall. Even when you fail, his grace will come like a wave. Even when you rebel, He will not abandon you in prison or slavery. He will not let the enemy rejoice over you. His will is to prosper you, give you hope and a future. Isn't it worth it to leave your life in His hands? Have a blessed week. XOXO

Of Queues,Pregnancies, Purpose And Life

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I detested queues. Queues used to make me get really uneasy. I used to pant and pace about like a dog that has lost trail of its owner whenever I had to stay on a queue, but lately I have had to think very deeply about respecting the order it brings. I am also at that place where I can acknowledge that it teaches patience, tolerance and respect for fellow humans. I am learning to respect the process that birth brilliant results seeing as everyone gets their turn in the long run.

This experience with queues is reflective of some aspects of our lives as humans; we can get quite impatient in our life’s journey. We feel like things are not going the way that we desire for them to go for us. I remember a friend once told me that she is sure what she was working on was what God intended for her but she just couldn’t understand why things were dragging and not particularly adding up. Instances such as that cause our faith to falter. The disappointments we encounter make us want to throw in the towel, making us wonder if there is something we are doing wrongly. Imagine how the Israelites felt in the wilderness, many of them rebelled and some even desired to go back to Egypt.

In my reflection, I have come to admire God’s way of planning ahead and making sure our experiences fortify us. The story of David comes to mind here. David after being anointed to be the king went through many tribulations and was almost killed by Saul. I am sure there were times he would have wondered if the unction upon him was a genuine one. He must have almost given up hope when he had to run away for his dear life, but he stuck it through and he was able to mount the throne and fulfil his purpose.

There are many jokes about how life catches up with us making us lose sight of our dreams and purpose, but that is not supposed to be.  When we are walking in line with God’s plan for our lives, disappointments are not necessarily disappointments. Most times, God builds our character through what we perceive as trials and tribulations. This isn’t to say we should be docile but this is to remind us that we must never forget to learn the intended lessons in our setbacks.

Visions, like pregnancy, go through stages from conception to the several stages of foetal development and then it is finally birthed. Like a pregnant woman, there will be period of uneasiness but you need to keep your mind set on the goal. Every stage is important and you need to be careful not to be in a rush to birth your vision so as not to end up with all the complications that may be connected to the time not being ripe. Moreso,so as not to end up stifling the life out of your vision.

Hold on tight to that dream, respect the process, and learn the intended lessons. Don’t force it when the time isn’t ripe. Trust me, it's all going to work together for your good.

Rock on soldier.
May God be with you.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Can One Love Another Deeply Without Spending Money?

Nollywood has a number of films with the common theme of love and materialism. The protagonist deliberately refrains from showering a girl he loves with gifts to test if she is materialistic or not. In some of those movies, the girl passes the test and in others, she dumps him for lack of ‘patience’ thereby losing an ‘ultimate chance to becoming the wife of a wealthy man’. There are also the ones where women discover that their husbands married them only for material gains.

Now, should this be reason enough not to want to spend on one’s intending lover? Could it be that a ‘stingy’ lover is just being careful or is just not in love enough to part with his/her money?

However way you look at it, these are valid questions and there are many more begging for answers. Does the giving or exchanging of gifts deepen the love a man or woman may feel? Can one love another deeply without parting with money or material?

Sincerely, I think we are so fixated on guarding our hearts sometimes that we fail to feel love for what it is. Love is a beautiful feeling and it finds expression in everything we do. Love can be found on the lips of a lover fondly calling his beloved in a way only he can. It could be long stares that tell stories of fondness and attraction. Some say it is the rumbling feeling one feels at the bottom of one’s stomach upon sighting that special person. I think it surpasses that. It is that feeling that makes one want to try new grounds and go to lengths never travelled. Love, we are told, isn’t self-seeking. It is gentle; it is very generous. It is as generous with affection as it is with material things.

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