Pastors are human just like the rest of us.

Pastors Are Human Just Like Us

I attended a new church today. Much to my mother’s chagrin. Somehow, she believed I was going to stick with her and go through the conventional route but I wanted out. After all, I’ve been in the same church for more than ten years. I was definitely due for a change.

Church was electrifying. I have a thing for churches that prioritize worship and I had a full dose in a 90 minutes service. When I was done, just outside my house, I bumped into my ex and exchanged pleasantries. Of course, I asked what church he attended and I was quick to chip in the church I was coming from. He made a snide comment at the Pastor that stirred in me.

Fast forward to a few hours later, after deliberating over it repeatedly, I shared my new experience with my mother. I wasn’t expecting her approval or anything, I just needed her to know. When I was done, I waited for the disapproving remarks to follow. It didn’t exactly come but her body language was everything I needed to know.

Where did we get the idea that ministers of God are supposed to perfect? Where did that come from? Just because they are being used vessels doesn’t mean they have automatically attained the height of perfection. In this part of the world, I know how we’ve placed religion on that high pedestal. Ideally, I shouldn’t be amazed but today it struck me how incredibly tough it is to be a minister of God.

Coming from a church whose General Overseer is revered, there’s a system that has been in place over the years. But entering into another ministry with a much younger pastor, frankly, I do not have expectations. I do not form the habit of idolizing my pastors because they’re humans just like me with a special grace. All, I want is to hear the word of God and maybe grow spiritually.

So, no I’m not going to my new church expecting the pastor to perform magic. I’m not expecting him to know it all rather admit his vulnerability and allow God use him.

Also, I wish my mother could stop worrying about me being wrongly indoctrinated because I’m grounded and I can tell right from wrong.

Book Review: The Big Picture – Douglas Kennedy

Year: 1997
Country: England
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Review: The Big Picture - Douglas Kennedy

When I picked this book from the crime fiction section, It came across as one of those unassuming novels. The cover didn’t give anything away until I read the jacket and got quite interested. Somehow, it should be thrilling enough. That’s the only explanation for all of the discomfort brought about by the weight of the book.

Ben Bradford is your regular middle – class next door neighbor with a good life. Wall Street lawyer, gorgeous wife, brilliant children. 6 figure paycheck. Big house in an affluent neighborhood. Basically a designer life. What else could he ask for? Unfortunately, he was deeply unhappy and dissatisfied with himself and his good life. This eventually seeped into his marriage and career which he absolutely hated because he had to give up his childhood dream of professional photography. Along the line, his marriage ended and he committed murder by accident. This was the beginning of the rest of his life. Of course, every single thing changed.

The Big Picture addresses sensitive issues like marriage/divorce, identity, murder/crime, passion/dreams, responsibility, grief, and my personal favorite, photography. Each of these themes made lasting impressions on me and I’m going talk about a couple of them and how they resonated with me.

  • Marriage/Divorce

Can I just say that I have a new perspective on divorce because I think people are inherently selfish? Ben clearly knew his marriage was on the verge of collapse but every single time, he reached out to his wife to talk about it, she pushed him aside, even as far as giving him the silent treatment for months. Her mind was clearly made up. I absolutely hated that they didn’t even make an attempt to fix it. Counseling, Therapy. Whatever. They didn’t even try. Instead, Beth went ahead to have an affair with their neighbor. Although, I wouldn’t blame her because she had made it clear to Ben at the onset that she wasn’t interested in marriage. But he persuaded her until she gave in and it all came crashing down like a block of bricks. I feel like I understand the current alarming divorce rate. People are selfish, lazy and are not ready to put in the work!

  • Identity/Passion/Dreams

I hate that people underrate the importance of self-discovery. Finding yourself really saves a lot of future problems especially in career and marriage. Ben knew what he wanted but still wallowed in self-pity the whole time. It’s important to know what makes you tick to avoid falling for undue pressure. This probably took a lot of convincing but I’ve learned that in order to support your dreams and passions especially if it’s in the creative industry, you would have to make sacrifices. For instance, working in the corporate world to afford gadgets and gears. There were a lot of lessons to learn from Ben especially how he managed to make so much money from writing wills and being miserable while at it. Eventually, just as he was about to become senior partner, he gave it all up. He literally gave that life up for self-fulfilment. That took a lot of gut if you ask me.

  • Photography

This was easily my favorite reference. Ben got his first camera at an early age and decided to pursue photography. But because his father wasn’t pleased with his career choice and he didn’t get his big break fast enough, he had to give it up. When he became financially buoyant, he began collecting cameras as a guilty pleasure of sorts. The Big Picture was written in the 90’s before the era of DSLRs. So, there were darkrooms and films, negatives, chemicals. It was such a thrilling experience. Even before his big break in his second life, I loved how he took photographs with so much passion as well as some of his tips and tricks he used to achieve great portraits. He reignited the fire in me and reminded me again why I want to take up photography. I literally cannot wait. It also reiterated that hard work pays. Just keep at it. Your time would come.
It was an enjoyable and well-balanced debut novel. It took me on a roller-coaster of emotions and it did not drop me for once. I absolutely loved how it put some things into perspective. The storytelling was impeccable and the transition was seamless. It left me spellbound.

When I was done, I had to put up an instastory. Truly, the best books are usually unknown.

Rating: *****

5 Practical Tricks To Reading More Books

5 Practical Tricks To Reading More Books

The other day, I attended an event and one of the attendees who also happens to follow me on Twitter asked how I manage to read 50 books+ a year. I mumbled some responses and promised her that I would sleep on it and write a post subsequently. But first, I needed her to understand that I am a freelancer and I don’t have a 9 – 5. My social life is also non-existent so it is relatively easier for me to read more books because I have all the time. When I eventually get a 9 -5, it would be a different ball game entirely.

If you’ve also been wondering how to squeeze in more books into your routine, these should help.

  1. Read ebooks.

This is obviously a no-brainer. I mean, ebooks are the condensed versions of paperbacks which make it even more convenient to read and carry about. Usually, all things being equal, I finish an ebook in 48 hours or less depending on the number of pages. Whereas, it might take me 72 hours+ to read the same number of pages on a paperback. It’s science. If you want to cover more books, stick to ebooks.

2. Be open to diverse genres, it keeps things exciting.

One of the things you can do to kill your reading morale is sticking to one genre for a long period. I get that some people like to dedicate their time to one genre at a time but it gets monotonous after a while and slows you down in the long run. Even if you want to read one genre, alternate it with other sub-genres. Again, it keeps things exciting and you have something to look forward to.

3. Choose a convenient reader.

There’s nothing more annoying than having to make adjustments every now and then. Whether it’s a Kindle or a Tablet, make sure it’s convenient to use in terms of battery life and screen size. I have a 7″ tablet that I use solely for reading. It’s decent and gets me by. In fact, last year, I read 80% of my books on it until it crashed. So, earlier this year, I reverted to paperbacks until I got a new tablet.

4. Have paperbacks available.

I know what I said about ebooks. The thing is, whatever device you’re using, the battery will drain eventually. So, it’s safer to have an extra paperback by the side to keep the momentum going. This means you would be reading about two or more books at a time which is perfectly fine.

5. Set a reading goal and be intentional about it. 

Apart from the obvious bragging rights, it keeps you accountable. Every time, I log into my Goodreads page to enter a book, there’s almost always something or someone to spur me on. I’ve had a reading goal for about three years now and I’ve read more books in those years than in my entire life. That’s how serious it is. So, start from somewhere. Say 20 books a year. I started with 40 and I haven’t read anything less since then. Start small and just grow from there. You might surprise yourself. If you can’t stick to a reading goal, join a book club.

 

Writer’s Diaries: How Natural Hair Blogging Paved The Way

I had a conversation with someone a while ago who thought I was passionate about natural hair and it occurred to me that I’ve never really talked about the impact of natural hair blogging on my writing journey.

Three years ago, I got a DM from my would-be teammate about an opening for a natural hair blogger. I was puzzled. Where was this coming from? What gave her the idea that I would be interested in writing about natural hair? Granted, I was transitioning at that period as I had just entered the world of natural hair and discovered what it had to offer. I was also quite vocal about it on my Twitter. So, I was knowledgeable to an extent. Even at that, I still didn’t see myself writing about something I barely knew about. When I was done raving and ranting like I always do when faced with a challenge, she said I would find a way to wing and wing it did I. At that point, my blog was about 9 months old so I had a bit of experience writing for an audience. Shoutout to the WordPress community!

So I started. After all of the welcome pleasantries by the best editor and teammates I’ve worked with till I date, I published my first post. It won’t be out of place to mention that that was my first time using that CMS – Blogger. To be honest, I didn’t want to come off as a rookie so I was a bit skeptical. But given my little experience with WordPress, I found a way around it. That was how my weekly column began.

When I started my blog, I always had this coping mechanism that helped me deal with my fears. I would tell myself repeatedly like a mantra that ‘I wrote for myself’ hence I wasn’t going to put myself under undue pressure just because I was writing for an ‘audience’. You see, for the longest time, I didn’t know African Naturalistas was a popular site with a wide readership. In my head, it was just one of those blogs and I didn’t need to worry myself about backlash or some readers seeing through my rookie-ness. That helped me push out genuine content. I figured if I had to do it, I had to do it well. Over time, I became more armed with a wealth of information that I couldn’t wait to share every week.

This is what happens when you start writing for niche sites – you start to become knowledgeable. You throw everything you previously knew to the backseat and open your mind to accept new information. Your mind will be blown and you would become somewhat of an authority in that niche after a while

It’s been three years – in September – and I don’t think I would trade any of the experiences I’ve had. Is it from all of the people I’ve met that have become friends or to those ladies that want to associate with me just because I’m affiliated with the brand? Or the incredibly sweet readers who almost always recognize me offline? Or becoming actively part of the natural hair community in Nigeria and getting involved in meet-ups? It’s been amazing. But that doesn’t mean there are hasn’t been downsides.

Writer’s block is as real as it gets. There are times when I would ask Atilola for a two weeks leave under the pretense that I’m under the weather just because I couldn’t come up with content. Then I would get back and still not have anything to write but I would have no choice but to struggle and I hate struggling to write. Those are the times when I thought I had done enough and it was time to quit. No hard feelings. I was just done. I couldn’t just continue anymore especially since I had gotten other gigs along the way. But then I would get some email or a direct message asking for my opinion on something and it would hit me that I’m just as vital to the team as everyone else and then everything would be fine with the world again.

You know how every writer needs a portfolio? Coupled with my free  guest posts I had previously written, writing for African Naturalistas served as a perfect portfolio for a newbie writer. I didn’t have anything to lose even though sometimes I underrated it but I’m so glad and thankful I didn’t lose it.

 

Here’s The Genesis and how I Weighed The Options as well as my Fictional Struggles.

‘Is It Your Complete?’ – When A Partner Takes The Place Of God In Your Life

About a week ago, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I paused at Noble Igwe’s photo to read the caption. I thought I saw something that stirred in me.

I actually saw this.

 

She Completes Me

I didn’t know when I typed a comment,

Oh wow. Your wife completes you and not God? Good to know.

I honestly don’t know where that came from. I never write comments especially on celebrities’ pages. I just scroll and pass. For this, I never intended to come off as a sanctimonious Christian but I couldn’t help it. Of course, by the time I got back a while later, my mentions were filled with his voltrons. Why do I follow him again? I heard him speak at Social Media Week and I thought he had a great sense of humor. I don’t care so much for his fashion sense. Anyway, the most striking comment in my mention was,

Is it your complete?

I found that hilarious.

But it got me thinking about why I was affected by that phase. One too many times, I’ve read about how people put their spouses in that place of complete and total adoration. Then you begin to hear things like, ‘he/she completes me’ and you wonder where the place of God is. Everyone clearly knows that Noble is completely besotted with his wife so he probably needed a way to express that without being cliche which I totally get.

I’m not a marriage counselor and I’ve never been married but I’ve been a Christian all my life so I’m pretty knowledgeable about the things of God to an extent. One thing I know for certain is that God is a jealous God and he doesn’t particularly like when his glory is shared or tries to be shared. It doesn’t get any more simple than that.

I’m probably reaching here and it might not be as serious as I am making it out to be. Heck, I didn’t even read the rest of the caption but it is serious because it pains me how we have taken the institution of marriage, abused it and left the rest of us with the remnants of hope to latch on to. Yes, your partner or spouse can be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. As in Noble’s case, she can be beyond your wildest imagination because it seems to me that he cannot still believe his luck. It’s simply unbelievable! No shade.  Also, it begs the question of the state of his faith.

Just as I was about to click publish, I saw this thread and I thought it perfectly summarized everything.

 

 

Someday, I hope we can all get into this headspace that no one can complete us. Not even our spouses talkless of our boyfriends. The earlier we begin to unlearn that, the better for our marriages and relationships. Also, the earlier we begin to reverence God by acknowledging him and putting Him in his place, the better for us all.

That being said, I wish Noble a happy married life and I hope to God that his marriage has begun on a good foundation.

 

There May Be Hope For Customer Service In Nigeria Afterall

Everyone knows customer service in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. In fact, with the uprise of startups and SMEs, more than ever before, customer service is at the forefront. But the way Nigerians are wired, we tend to be cynical especially when it concerns our means of livelihood. Once in a while, there are brands that attempt to break the status quo of complacency and anyhowness by offering good ol’ basic customer service. These brands deserve to be mentioned and appreciated.

customer service in Nigeria

This month, I’ve experienced noteworthy customer service from two brands and I’ve decided to share my experience because feedback matters and Nigerians really do not give a hoot about constructive criticism. So, this is me trying do things differently.  Maybe, just maybe there is hope for Nigeria.

Anytime I patronize a relatively new brand – and they are popping out by the second especially in the natural hair industry –  I never hesitate to call them out when I’m dissatisfied when their product or service.

A while ago, I got some Nubian Roots Rhassoul Clay from Olori Online Store – my go-to store for products. Of course, I was so eager to use it but I was in for a huge disappointment. So much that I had to tweet about it.

Obviously, I was incredibly upset with my purchase because I had to spend the better part of my wash day picking out particles out of my hair. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I attended an event where Nubian Roots was a vendor. Fortunately for me, the owner was available so I dragged Ekene with me to table my complaints especially since their Twitter account was inactive so they probably hadn’t seen it. The owner carefully listened to me and apologized. She was also gracious enough to compensate me with any product of my choice. I couldn’t have been more impressed.

About a week ago, I visited a salon. The first time in three years. A natural hair salon for that matter. Of course, I went there with a lot of high expectations because Onaturals had a reputation to uphold. Lo and behold, I got the most unpleasant customer service I had ever gotten till date. It was so bad that I had to write a lengthy review immediately I got home.

I actually thought it was as a result of my stature because I couldn’t comprehend it. After making a complaint to a colleague of mine who also uses the salon on a regular, I got a phone call from the owner of Onaturals and we had a long and productive conversation from my complaints to suggestions, feedback and customer service in general. The phone call went from a follow up to a full-fledged discussion. I couldn’t be more pleased.

All of this probably look inconsequential in the grand scheme of things but I believe that if every emerging brand decides to take their customer service a bit more serious and not just the product or service, it will go a long way in fixing the already dysfunctional system.