I thought, and really did thought!
“I thought I was really crushed but I found out that that was the deepest lie of the enemy!…” Mercy’s voice ran through the mic and spread on top of my eardrums like rich chocolate butter on a slice of bread.
“Oluwapemisire, would you come out of the car now? We are late” I shouted at my first granddaughter who was still holding on to her bar of chocolate and biting another chunk into her mouth
I was dazed!
What sort of a girl eats chocolate so late at night!
“Mummy, you are spoiling these children already” Mercy had told me one day when at around 10am, she called to talk to them and I told her that they were still tucked in their blankets, sleeping peacefully while I did the house chores
Well, what was I supposed to do?
It is the joy of every grandmother to see her grandchildren, hale and hearty and enjoying God’sgrace right?
That was why when Mercy and their father decided to have a six month retreat in the United States, I gladly accepted to take care of the wonderful three children they had- Oluwapemisire, Oluwandabira and Iranlowooluwa
The 6 months summer retreat was over but they had been invited as the couple of the year to a National Christian Youth Fellowship Summit for the Cross Over night at the Eagles’ Square, Abuja.
Seyi had paused the Mount Zion’s ‘Fiwajomi’ movie that we were watching the night before and I looked into his face
“What?” I asked, because the look on his face could be very scary sometimes
“My baby, I beg you because of Christ that we are serving. Should I kneel down?” he kept on dramatizing- or that was how I saw it.
I was just so confused as to what he was talking about
“See, the children just called that they are already in Sheraton Hotel”
“And you know the programme is slated for 10pm right?”
“I am leaving the house by 7pm” he said and I opened my mouth wide
“7pm because of what? Are you the gate keeper there or something? Why would you want to leave so early?” I asked and he shook his head, smiling so happily
“You don’t understand the glee and the joy. But by 7pm, if you are not ready with your grandchildren, it means you would have to come in your car. The traffic jam at Nyanyan could be very maddening this festive season” he said and played the movie again, looking as though it wasn’t him that just spoke
And true to his word, he left us behind and I had to struggle with two wonderful boys and a lovely girl because as usual, I felt it was too early to wake them by 6pm when they were having their nap and I had to bath and feed and also pack some food for them.
But it was already some minutes past 11pm and Mercy had started her speech.
The three children held unto me even as I struggled with the food packs and my handbag in my hands.
I was just a proud grandma.
“My baby” That was Seyi’s voice
He must have been looking out for me because the look on his face was that of anxiety and worry
“They have started since, ehn!” He said as he helped collect the bags and we tried to make it to the front seat
“Sir, you can’t go to the front again. Its occupied” an usher tried to stop us.
My husband turned to meet him and patted his shoulder
“We are the parents of the guest speaker. We have reservations in front” he said proudly and I exposed my teeth as my smile was so pure with no kind of pretense whatsoever
“Oh! God bless your womb ma. Wow” the usher said she led us gallantly to the front seats.
“My keyboardist, you would have to be at alert with me today even as I deliver my speech. You get me?” Mercy faced the instrumentalist who nodded
I smiled softly
“See mummy” The children said almost together and I tried to shush them quietly
“I said that I thought that I was really crushed but oh no my people! I was not!” she said again, looking lovely in her long, turquoise turtle necked gown and beautiful glassy shoes
She picked something from the pulpit and raised it- her diary!
“This diary contains everything about my life and everything that I have ever gone through in life but guess what? The title is boldly written down in here-Crushed!”
There was a thick silence even as she spoke and I nodded accordingly
“You know, I felt I was really crushed when I thought I had a kind of mystery surrounding my birth and that I was abandoned and forsaken. I felt I was really crushed when my foster mother maltreated me and did all sort to me but I was still consoled by my foster father’s kind of love” she went on and I listened with rapt attention, shaking my head as those times reverberated back in my memory
“I felt irreparably crushed however when my trusted, foster father started to molest me sexually and there was nobody to talk to…hmmm” she sighed deeply and it had effect on the sand of people seated
“I felt I was so crushed when friends in school called me Messy Mercy and wee-wee girl because I was still bedwetting at my old age and I could do the shameful thing anywhere, anytime!” she looked over the crowd and smiled
“I also felt that I was so so much crushed when my foster father so instigated some speculations about me in order to cover his dirty acts that I was demonic and possessed and everyone around me believed. I felt so crushed because no one could see the good in me” I looked at Seyi’s side and he shook his head as he hissed regrettably, wiping the beads of sweat on his forehead
“I felt so crushed when I realized that I had missed my period and I feared that the worst might have happened to me- I could tell nobody, nobody how I felt” she continued and she smiled again
“I felt really crushed when in my state of nausea, my crush, whose name is Jean came up with a ‘friendship-proposal’ and I had to refuse because I felt some kind of betrayal and unworthiness to be friends with him. I felt too crushed when he said some hurtful words to me after my decline. It felt like that was the worst thing that could have been said to me” she said and I picked Iranlowooluwa’s hands and squeezed them tightly as tears gathered in my eyes
“Then, from losing the pregnancy in a life-threatening way, to having to be taught how to walk again…and also to be…” Her voice had become shaky and the tears in my eyes strolled down as I tried to swallow my feelings
Then, I looked up and saw her husband walking up the stage to meet her.
She dropped the mic and ran into his embrace and I was really touched
It was the most touching thing that I had ever seen before that I didn’t even know when I stood up to start clapping and shouting
Almost everyone present joined me as we celebrated the duo
“He is my hero! My husband!” she was both laughing and crying into the mic
I knew that feeling right!
“You are my love, my everything!” he said in the mic too and many people oohed and wowed as they displayed public their undying affection for each other
“The one who made me believe that I was never really crushed” she said again
“Because you never really were” he said sweetly, looking deep into her eyes
I had goose bumps at that point as my husband came close to me and pulled me near lovingly. He was shaking excitedly!
I smiled at him and patted his shoulders
“Thank you for loving me…..sir!” she said as she saluted him like a soldier would. There was a cry of excitement from the crowd as they clapped and whistled at intervals
Jean stood behind her as she continued her speech while we took our seats
“The feeling of being crushed was heightened when I was ushered into a counseling session that I never asked for and the news of being HIV positive was disclosed to me!” she broke it out and I just held my breath
What the Holy Spirit can do!
“I cried! I felt it was all over! What good could ever possibly happen to me? Exactly what?” she paused again and I sulked in my tears as the silence congealed
“But, while I felt that it was all over, there was a ray of light again! God started his work from the very beginning of my life- he made it clear to me that there was no way I could run away from the precious name of Jesus which I had grown to really hate!”
I nodded continuously as I wiped the tears which had decided not to stop falling down my face.
“2Corinthians 4:8-9 says and I quote ‘we are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed! Those verses became my confession daily as Christ started the reconstruction process of my life”
She walked to her husband, whispered something to him and he walked to the keyboardist
A tune started playing
I am pressed but not crushed
Persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I am blessed beyond the curse
For his promise will endure
That His joy’s gonna be my strength
Though the sorrow may last for a night; His joy comes in the morning
The whole house joined in the ‘I’m trading my sorrow’ chorus and it was a real revival in the square as I looked around and found different kinds of expressions
Some were on their feet, singing happily; some were on their feet with their hands stretched high to the sky, with tears on their faces; some were on their knees, praising God; some were looking around and surveying all as I was too
I quickly called myself to order as I lifted my hands up to God.
God, please don’t make me an onlooker even when others are being blessed because of overfamiliarity and overexcitement
I quickly prayed
“Halleluyah!” she called us back to order and we all started to sit down again
“Listen up, keyboardist…God kept me!”
I almost let go
I felt like I just couldn’t take life anymore
My problems held me bound
Depression weighed me down
But God kept me close,
So I wouldn’t let go
God’s mercy kept me,
So I wouldn’t let go
She sang again and the song started making sense to me anew.
I never realized the song could be so blessing that way.
The song was just the definition of Mercy my child!
It was just the perfect expression of what was going on at the very moment
A force took me off my seat and down on my knees and I started crying heavily
I didn’t know if it was in regret of the pain she and gone through in life or because I was just being grateful to God for the sudden turnaround
“Are you planning on giving up already friend?” she asked as the square had become fierily surged wit spiritual current of worship and reflection
“Oh yes, by this time tomorrow, we would have been ushered into a new year. We would have screamed and danced ‘Happy new year’ but are you really happy?”
There was silence
“When we were contacted to be the couple of the year that would be delivering this speech to Great Nigeria on this New Year eve, the Lord spoke to me explicitly that it should be about my life because just as my name depicts, my life is an expression of His mercy!” she paused again, went on her knees and raised her hands up high
“My fellow Nigerians, you are not alone! I can imagine how you feel. I know the feeling you have that it seems you have so large a burden on my head that has made you bent underneath! The weight is so much that your tongue is lashed out of your mouth as your throat seems clogged up with thick phlegm. It seems the end is near you. Well, I have been there…”
I almost gave up
I was right at the edge of a breakthrough but I couldn’t see it
The devil really held me
But Jesus came and grabbed me,
And he held me close
So I wouldn’t let go
God’s mercy kept me,
So I wouldn’t let go.
“We have just thirty minutes left to the New Year and is it the same way you are clogged up and choked up and frustrated that you would be ushered into the new year?”
“No!” There was a thunderous answer
“Please let’s sit down and quickly listen as I finish up within the limited time I have left” she said and the whole congregation sat down obediently.
“Granny, I want to wee-wee” Iranlowooluwa said and I opened my eyes in shock
What sort of a thing is this?
“Me too” Oluwandabira told me too, clutching at my cloth
“Me too” Oluwapemisire said, licking her chocolatey hands
“Wait please dearies. Let us finish listening to what mummy is saying” I told them pacifyingly and they nodded sheepishly like they were being controlled.
“My family was restored to me fully as loneliness and feeling or abandonment disappeared after having waited for about seventeen years. I pray that concerning everything you have lost and you have bent down to search, looked up to look for, checked inside to reach out to but have been difficult, there would be a restoration. There would be a cause for celebration and jubilation in the mighty name of Jesus!”
“Amen!” People thundered with joy and affirmation
“Every form of maltreatment and wounds that I had gotten from my foster mother were forgotten as sudden care was shed upon me. It was like a dream. I command concerning you that the scripture which says that ‘When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream’ would be fulfilled in your life in the name of Jesus!”
“Amen” We all chorused again with outstretched arms
“By the time I was exposed to the word of God which the Lord Himself described in Jeremiah 23:29 as such that ‘burns like fire’ and ‘like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces’, I tell you that all my bedwetting and those reproaching nicknames stopped!”
“Halleluyah” they chorused, accompanying the shout with claps and all
“I tell you all that the word of God is the key! Jesus is the Word of God. Once Jesus is missing in your life, you are an impending sorrow!”
There was silence again
“Hmmmm…” I nodded
“For us, immediately we heard that our foster parents were in such an unpalatable situation, we had to be sent abroad. Jean, to Australia with Daddy and I to Europe with Mummy. We went to start a new life together though separately.” She swallowed before going on
“The atmosphere you are exposed to would determine how well your life would be shaped” she said and we watched on to explain what she meant
“If you use a circular cup for moin-moin, you should expect a circularly shaped moin-moin. If you use a flat surface for the moin-moin anyways, you would have a flat moin-moin”
I nodded so well as it sunk into my skull.
“What I am saying in essence is that you can’t expose your children to cartoon and Nickelodeon, Disney Junior, terrible computer games, Keeping up with the Kardashians, domestic violence between husband and wife, insults and abusive words and all those at their tender ages and expect children whose thoughts are heaven-bound! I tell you the truth!”
“While those things are not essentially bad because my kids too do watch some of them, exposure to the things of God really does matter first! Train up your child in the way they should go and when they are old, they would not depart from it.”
There was a round of applause
“You buy your child a whole galaxy tab while she doesn’t even have a small pocket bible in the least? You do not well parents because the best legacy you can give your child is Christ alone!”
I thought, and really did thought!