- “If I know the way home and I’m walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way because I am staggering from side to side?” — Leo Tolstoy
I became a Christian four years and seven months ago. In those four years and seven months, I have staggered from side to side. I have, at some point, believed that some people were just not born to be Christians. In those four years and seven months, I have become accustomed to a deep weariness that now resides in my head. I have laughed about this thing, I have cried about this thing and now, I choose to write about this thing.
In 2016, I gave my life to Christ. It was nothing dramatic. I was new in university and my roommates would wake up in the morning to cry, literally, to God. It was astonishing to me. Why would anyone wake up early in the morning to cry to the big guy up there? Every morning, I would wake up to sounds of tears being shed with smiles on their faces. They would sing “Oh, how you love me so/ oh, how you love me so…” and I would plug in Lil Wayne and watch till it was over. It was good fiction material. After one week, I decided that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to have. Two weeks later, I was in a Christian meeting saying the sinner’s prayer because I wanted something to cry about early in the morning.
My Christian journey started on a high note. I had, and still have, the most supportive Christians anyone can find. I had several empty journals and a brand new Bible. I was ready to begin to a new life.
The first year:
Everything was good. I went around bookshops, pricing Bibles and having huge dreams of preaching in market squares. I bragged to John Timothy that I would raise the dead before Final Year. I looked up Kathryn Khulman and tried, unsuccessfully, to fall in love with her sense of fashion. You never could tell, her life may soon be mine.
A few months in, I ditched my trousers and my Lil Wayne songs. My friend, Temi smiled as I marked all the songs for the bin. She was happy, she did not particularly like Lil Wayne. We laughed together and ate chicken boiled in a local spicy stew. After eating, I went around the hostel collecting gospel songs. After listening to some of the songs, I would be so angry. What is this one even singing? What kind of mediocre album is this? But, I convinced myself that I would get used to it. The devil would release me long enough to enjoy it. It never happened.
I broke up with the boy I liked. I told him I wanted to take God seriously. I began to “press into God”. It seemed like the more I pressed, the farther he went. I was confused. Jesus, where are you going? Why don’t you like me? Is anything wrong with me? Son of man, you’re super partial. You’re so partial that Nneka gave her life just yesterday and she already has the early morning tears.
The second year:
My Quiet Time book was filled to the last page. I had gone through some books in the Bible. In fact, the last time I went home, I attended my home church to challenge the Sunday School’s teacher’s knowledge. But, my Encounter Book was empty. My Miracle Book was empty. No written prayer was ticked as answered. I still did not have the early morning tears.
I saw the boy I used to like and he asked how my Christian life was going. I nodded and ran away. He was looking finer than before.
I start to read Christian books, borrowing ten at a time. I was looking for answers. I was looking for something to be deeply passionate about. I came across the term “hardness of heart”. I decided that it was what I had. I mean, look at Pharaoh. God intentionally hardened his heart! Maybe that’s what God was doing to me. Maybe that’s why I’m not overwhelmed by the sacrifice on the cross. I started to tell everyone that I wasn’t growing, or changing or crying. Everybody started to give me solutions: Be patient. Don’t look for signs. Everybody’s walk with God is different. Search for God in the scriptures. Pray. God likes to hide, he only reveals himself to those who have grit.
Really? He died on a cross and now he wants to hide? If I died on a cross and 2000 years later, you confessed my name, I’mma appear in front of u and give u a slurpy kiss on the cheek. I’mma be like “Yo, Yo, Yo, it’s Christ come to save you! Mehn, I never thought you’d ask!”
The third year:
I’m giving my life to Christ for the 500th time. Something must have been wrong the previous time. Maybe I didn’t say all my sins. Maybe I wasn’t sad enough, broken enough, willing enough. They say the altar call and I’m raising my hand again. Dear Jesus, come into my life…. My mind is wandering. I’m thinking about boys. I’m thinking about money. I’m thinking about fame and debate motions and Adichie’s wisdom. My mind is a noisy place, too many things are happening at once. Maybe if God quiets it a bit. Maybe if it’s less cluttered. Sighs. Na like this dem dey take go hellfire.
Many have given up on me. Many, still, are praying for me. Many continued to insist that I was looking for “big signs”. So, I stopped looking for any sign at all. I stopped expecting anything. When I went to church and the preacher said “I hope you came here with an expectation”, I would just scoff. I won’t even expect the sun to set.
I grew tired of my Christian friends. I became angry with all of them. Why are they so happy? Why are they so content? Why is theirs even easier? I started to criticize their every move. Did Jesus ask you to…? Will Jesus condone your…? I was the stupid voice of reasoning in every Bible study.
Seven months in the fifth year:
My Bible is dusty. I’ve discarded some of my journals. I’m happy Covid-19 has disrupted the church-going ritual. I’m happy that nobody will ask me why I didn’t come last Sunday.
My faith has become a burden but I cannot leave it alone. I still remember crossing Lagos-Ibadan express road and not seeing that oncoming car. Halfway across the road, people were shouting. What is she doing on the road? Does she want to kill herself? What is that girl doing in the middle of the road? I stood and, for the first time, I saw the car coming. It was so close already. It was coming really fast and I was transfixed by it. I simply stood, watching it and wondering if this was how people usually died. The screams were getting louder and something, or someone, nudged me back. It was a small push or a big jerk. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was there and at the same time it was not there. The car raced past me. It’s side grazed my body and it was gone. I had lost some buttons and the contents of my bag were scattered on the tarred road. Everybody was shouting and shouting and I just stood there till my brother came and yanked me off the road.
Every time I reimagine this story, I tell myself that I finally regained my senses and pulled myself away from the road but I didn’t. The nudge remains, as if challenging me to dismiss it, as if daring me to call it a brain trick.
“Do not mislead me, do not be glad that I have got lost, do not shout joyfully: ‘Look at him! He said he was going home, but there he is, crawling into a bog!’ No, do not gloat.” — Leo Tolstoy
This faith has become a burden but I can’t walk away. I can’t forget about it. It keeps calling me back. Something about it continues to appeal to me. Something about Jesus continues to catch my fancy.
So, this is not a story of failure. This blog is not a testament of my new found atheism or agnosticism. It is a documentary of my journey and questions and doubts and struggles.
Will it ever work? Will I ever have an unflinching belief in the Lordship of Jesus? Can I serve God and really be fulfilled? Do people like me — people who like to ponder and analyze and do their thinking independently — stand a chance at this Christian thing?
I do not know. I am not sure. I really cannot say. But, I’m willing to try. I believe in trying.