Dear God, Can Nigerians Be Judged Differently When We Get To Heaven?

Heavenly Father,

I can boldly say I speak for all Nigerians when I say we can’t wait to get to heaven. Especially those of us that know Revelations 21:23, it promises that “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp”. And THIS is our ultimate dream; 24/7 electricity.

And speaking of light, isn’t it a miracle that we are considered, according to statistics to be some of the happiest people on earth? The fact that this constant darkness hasn’t filled our hearts with true darkness speaks a lot about the Nigerian spirit doesn’t it?

It is also another great miracle that depression and mental illness is not on a mega high in this country. People here do try their best against all the odds, alas genuine hard work pays minimally. And it is a bad look when thieves and corrupt people have the appearance of reaping all the rewards for little or no work. Harder still is it to convince young impressionable people that that is not the way to go.

We do need to focus and look to our better role models. Unfortunately the noisier “role models” are the wannabe celebrites who are determined to publicise their success with ‘stuff’. Most of which is a gross exaggeration of what they actually own. This is becoming the new normal of legitimate success.

But wannabe celebrities are not who I am presenting to you today; just good old us, regular Nigerians.

First of all, I think when we get to heaven, we should be seperated from the rest of the nations for two reasons.

Number one, if there is a way to hide or disappear, we will find it. I know there is no hiding from you, just saying it might be quite irritating dealing with people who feel so smart that I am sure they believe they can outsmart you. I am just glad there is a word in your good book to qualify people who seem wise in their own eyes; and that word is foolish. And hopefully one day soon, before we leave this earth, we will gain true wisdom.

Two, we will just delay the line unnecessarily; queueing without some abusive authority to keep us in order does not work with us. And you are a God of love. And then there is the issue of excessive begging, multiple justifications or manouvers to either jump the line or avoid the judgement at hand. I am not sure anyone would have the patience for that annoyance.

(A heavy pause and some sighs later…)

I believe I am looking at this all wrong, mainly through my own eyes as I know you are patient, merciful and full of grace.

But as Nigerians, we do a lot of wrong. And so therefore we are now regretably the world’s poster child for scammers and scamming. How did we get here?

Some of us may have have taken your word too literally when you said time and chance is given to all. So whenever an opportunity strikes, we take it. This doesn’t excuse us by the way, we just need to get to the point where one of our values isn’t taking advantage of every situation for our benefit.

There are so many churches in Nigeria but redefining our values does not seem to be a popular topic coming from the pulpit. I guess it is not commercial enough. Or maybe  if pastors could find a way to place corruption and stealing, on the same sin level as fornication and adultery, we may just make some headway.

However I am extremely glad that every man is going to answer for themselves before You. A lot of us really do try to minimise our poor personal choices and not cave in to the burdens and temptations that come our way because of our bad governments.

My final thought is, how can we on a large scale work with your bountiful wisdom, grace. love and mercy and transform Nigeria into a great nation?

And is it possible for your voice to be louder than the still small whisper? Just on the off off chance that the millions of roaring generator noises might be interfering with our hearing. I know, I know, I am just reaching…

You are always an awesome God.

Your hopeful daughter,

Ulan.

 

Featured Image, Seperation of concerns, Falk Lademann Via Flickr

Dear God, How Do You Really Feel About Nudity?

Father,

A “passionate Christian” sent me a message that took a week to get over how upsetting it was.

What amazed me (a feeling that in itself is a miracle, seeing how it managed to surface above the raging fury running through my veins) was the fact that this message was meant to motivate and instruct us in the way we should publicly live our lives. And to add insult to injury, it was worded to read as something you would ever sanction. The title of the message was, ‘DRESS THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE ADDRESSED’. This message basically admonished people to pay careful attention to their appearance to present an image that is not yet true. Even though this image is what they ultimately would like to see their future selves to be. One of the examples in the message was, if a person wants to be known as a successful banker, they should dress the part. Then it goes on to list the name of designer suits that will be appropriate to be able to give off this ‘vibe’.

Of course I went off on the individual and it is possible I have been deleted as a contact… maybe, but really, are we suppose to approve of this kind of message?

What irked me more was the lame defense the individual put up, which was ‘I’m just saying people should always look clean’, even though the message was laced with ‘dress expensive to earn respect tips’. Oh did I also mention the shady well-intentioned gospel-like way it was written?

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It is bad enough people are losing their sense of basic decency, which is to treat everyone equally. And you know the world does not need any more encouragement to add to oppressive hierarchies in daily tries to create; but imagine, people who claim to know you are trying to ‘okay’ it.

Didn’t you tells us not to judge people? Now, we are sneakily trying to approve unfair judgement by dressing it up as assessment. Instead of encouraging people to try to always give their fellow human beings a chance or at least hear them out, we are trying to sum up their life story but their outward appearance. Meanwhile, we are the same world that have a saying, ‘never judge a book by its cover’. These tricks are the kinds of things that make me feel so tired.

So here is my thing, how do we salvage this situation which already seems to have gotten out of hand. You know I researched it and I tell you, it is crazy how many pulpits this same message has gone out from. It is even crazier the large audience of Christians who have bought into it and are re-posting and sharing this message as some kind of truth.

Let’s brainstorm on ideas shall we?…

Okay, this is my suggestion.

In the beginning, you put Adam and Eve naked in the garden, so in my limited thinking, I am guessing ‘naked’ is not such a bad thing in your sight, right? Plus when we step out of our mother’s wombs as Job rightly said, we do so naked. So is it possible to erase the clothe wearing segment of our brains once again and return us to original form?

The thing is once we are in that state, hopefully as blissfully ignorant of it as our first parents were before they sinned, maybe this stronghold of clothes, jewelry and judgement will disappear from our consciousness; we truly need less problems in this world.

If naked is too much because the perversion in the world is too great; maybe sew leaves as covering for us like you did for Adam and Eve. Hopefully we consider it the ultimate end in high fashion and that will be it.

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Or…

If that is not possible as we are living the consequences of a sinful world, help us who claim to know and love you have Christ-like blockers and sieves in our brains. And may our only heightened sense of fashion be,  to be fully clothe in: righteousness, love, goodness, peace and joy.

Imagine wearing those in vivid colors; I dare anyone to call such a person unworthy.

The battle is yours and I am a willing soldier.

Always yours,

Ulan ‘Fully-Clothe Warrior’ Matta.

 

Images via Flickr.

DEAR GOD, FORGET SATAN AND SAVE US FROM ‘THESE’ GODS INSTEAD!

Lord God Almighty; this is a prayerful story.

By this I mean I will tell you the story that has lead to my prayer, even though you already know it. As a storyteller, I can’t help but make the most of my opportunities, so here we go.

There is a man I know… actually, there are men I know but had not acknowledge their existence till I met a man who held a knife to my throat.

Alright, I admit this is not entirely true because no man has ever held a knife to my throat (and I pray this never happens) but it almost feels like I have had this experience through my interaction with that man. One thing this interaction did however is give birth to something I call The Leonidas Discombobulating Effect. And I will tell you why.

Father, the people that know me, also know I have watched the movie 300 at least 10,000 times or maybe only 30 times… I forget. It is such a great movie! The many one liners always vibrate through me bringing life to living. And so far, it is the only movie that flaunts men with six packs but does not immediately make me think ‘vanity’. Six packs should always be put to good use…

Anyway, this man, when I was done interacting with him made me feel like something intangible, at least to me, was expected nay demanded of me. And it is this demand that produced The Leonidas Discombobulating Effect in me. Let’s call it LDE from now shall we, to make things easier.

LDE is the effect I believe was on King Leonidas when Xerxes told him to kneel before him because he (Xerxes) believed himself to be a god. Did you see the look on King Leonidas’ face in the movie? Oh man, he just could not believe it. I am sure the request was mind boggling to him. As far as King Leonidas’ eyes could see. Xerxes was a mere mortal same as he. And that he should dare to demand such must have sent King Leonidas reeling.

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Leonidas and Xerxes discuss surrender. Gotten from Wiki page.

When LDE hits you, time truly stands still and in that silence you ponder on the entirety of your life up until that moment. You ask yourself so many questions like who am I? Then you move on to what am I? You doubt your own humanity because right in front of you, someone wants to take it . Not trying to rob you of it but demanding that you ‘with your own hands’ pass it over. And it won’t be satisfying if you give your life with fear while cowering. It is also not the same if you are eager, mindless and willing. Don’t believe me? All you need to do is play 300 and observe the disgust on Xerxes face when the sniveling hunch back Ephialtes handed himself over.

LDE hit me in small doses while interacting with that man and because of all the absurdity; it took a while to kick in. This man told me of the things he will not in his own words, condone, tolerate and put up with in anybody. For example, he will never put up with disrespect. Then somewhere along the road, I noticed he put up with huge amounts of disrespect from ‘fellow men’. the kind of disrespect which respect-loving-people should find offensive. I was even offended on his behalf till I heard him excusing the ‘men’. Please take a moment and try to picture my confusion.

I could go on forever about all his discrepancies and hypocrisies but this is not about him. It is about LDE: how to know you’ve got it and its potential cure.

Because after my encounter, like all things in life, I see him everywhere. Sometimes as a shadow and other times full fledged. I see him in other men who refuse to tolerate their partners shortcoming while expecting them to help work through theirs. He is the man that would rather be a bystander to wrong doing by other men that put himself out and confront them. I see him in men who place huge burdens on their wives to take in their illegitimate children and love them honestly while they cannot tolerate coming home ( with great reason on the wife’s part) to no dinner on the table. He is the man that emotional, verbally and physically abuses his wife and children while expecting to be respected and treated as supreme. I see him as the father that sabotages his son to remain the ‘Alfa’ male.

Probably some men reading will say Ulan! You feminist! You need humility more than you need Jesus!

And I will say, what brand of humility? The doormat variety? No thanks.

Look, all men are NOT the same. I know some truly lovely ‘human’ men that need no servitude, worship or adoration to live. As I know all these things to be true and exact.

  • All human beings are equal.
  • Father, you love diversity and are the absolute creator hence there is no exact duplicate of anyone on earth. It is no Joke to say we are all special and should be treated as such, right?
  • There is no way, I repeat no way with how jealous you are, that it  would be permissible to have other gods running loose, being feared, worshiped and taking glory for themselves.
  • Man being the head of the home is the role of leadership not dictatorship. This is evident by the lives of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi, who gave and didn’t demand anything that wasn’t for the good of all. Especially those they were leading and protecting. Protecting not abusing because they knew the value of lives allowed to live right and in freedom.

In the end we the victims and near victims must also take responsibility. These kinds of people would not dare demand or enforce anything on us, if we didn’t let them think it was possible. We hesitate to put them in their place out of our fears and insecurities. They thrive because we let ourselves be bullied.

Anyone can stand up to a bully, a dictator and a tyrant but we must be willing to pay the price. And sometimes this means to disengage and alienate. This is not bad as the price King Leonidas and his men had to pay which was with their lives. The truth is sometimes if we allow these kinds of people, this might just be the price we pay.

The other price is the subtle and gradual state of being caged and locked out of freedom by someone with an entitlement mentality.

People reading this (well, it is an open letter after all); no human being should be feared, blindly obeyed or worshiped. No human being can ever earn this right and privilege. And if you have ever met any of these wingless life supremacists then join in this prayer. Let’s take a moment and say this…

You know what, let’s not  pray for help from them but  just pray for them. While our dear heavenly Father takes care of the rest.

As for me, in the famous words of King Leonidas, I will “Give them nothing but take from them everything!”. Everything to them is their ability to abuse, oppress, bully and intimidate. Then hopefully when they are stripped of their power and return to human form, they will have a chance at a fulfilled life and happiness.

Dear God,  please deliver us from this evil.

yours always,

Ulan ‘The battle is not mine, but victory is sure ‘ Matta

Dear God, is my kind of husband only found in heaven or does he have earthly representation?

My Father in heaven,

Even though my letter is a matter of great urgency, I felt it was important to wait a few days before sending it. This is to give time for the dust that was raised from the new year crossover/night vigil prayers to settle before I ask my questions and put in my own request. Especially, as I am sure the traffic in ‘The Husband Request Department’ of heaven was alarmingly high on the night before the New year. And in my earthly thinking, I assumed it would take some time to sort through the piles and answer accordingly.

Are the requests even in piles? Or do they just fall unorganized from the hoarse throats of the unmarried into the ‘I must be married in 2016’ cabinet. Do the angels wearily take their coffee flasks around that day because they know it is going to be a long night? Or do they try to escape the marital office duty by yelling, “Never! I would rather fight a thousand legions!”, as they are being dragged by their wings and dumped unceremoniously on their seats.

Hey, YOU gave me this imagination and it didn’t come with a manual on restrictions… But before I digress too far, as my fingers are itching to, let me ask one or two final questions.

Is there really a soulmate for everyone? Why is unrequited love even a thing? Em… I am asking the second question for a friend. I have my own theories on this but it would be super duper fantastic to get a clear cut answer.

Anyways, I write because I can no longer ignore the concern in the voices of my loved ones. As it is extremely difficult to ignore someone asking you to your face, if there is any hope. These humans really have no sensor when they feel entitled to something. Like my cousin’s booming manly voice asking my sisters in Hausa,

“Wanan Ulan, dan allah, ku taimei ke ta!”.

I can only loosely translate this to, “This Ulan, because of God, you people should help her!”. The English language does not carry the weight of any language it translates but You know how heavy this statement is.

Why are they even concerned, I wonder?

It is not like I have expressly told them that I have a standard no one can meet. Or I have a type that cannot be found roaming the earth.

You and I know, I do not have a physical dream guy because they keep changing in my dreams but the character stays constant; and consistency is good… right?

However, I truly want to do my part to ease whatever fears I may be causing  but I need to know where to begin… again.

So please help all worried and concerned parties to know preferably through dreams and visions, for that potent effect, that it is going to be okay. And it will all be in good time…

Not my will but yours be done.

Your young, marriageable and sometimes ready daughter,

Ulan.

 

 

Dear God, You just may end up alone in that your house.

My Father, which art in heaven,

Before I begin my complain or statements or possible accusations; because frankly with how I am feeling, I do not know the tone this letter will take, let me remind you of what Nana from Pankshin said.

You remember how Nana was very staunch and tied to her traditional ways and beliefs. You know she didn’t want to accept you. The preacher however through the help of your word and spirit, pierced through her zealous heart and changed her mind and ways. And what happened next? Trials and tribulations of all magnitude came her way but Nana held fast. Her zeal, a character trait you put in her could not be shaken, her mind was made up. Until that day.

It was either bible study or some regular evening service she went for, I forget which one but I know you know. Nana was joyfully singing one of the hymns she had been taught and that was the last thing she remembered. When she came to, she was on the other side of the road and in her line of sight, at the spot she was previously standing was a cow. The people that surrounded her said, the cow had charged towards her, lifted her up and flung her across the street. I mean was the cow aiming to throw her up to heaven? Was it some Elijah on the chariot with the horses parody gone wrong? You don’t make mistakes so I know it wasn’t so. But till we all get to heaven, we will just remain with our speculations.

Nana was hurt and humiliated not because of the cow incident but because not too far from where she had been standing was a beer palour with some drunkards laughing merrily at her expense. After she dusted herself and made sure she could walk, what did she tell you? I know you remember it clearly. Nana shook her little finger at you, oh how I wish I could write this with the weight it carries in the Ngas language. She said, “these are the kinds of things you do that will make no one follow you. So you allowed that cow to leave those men drinking in the bar and come and hit me that just left church. Don’t worry, keep doing it and you will end up alone in that your house”.

Father… I am almost at the point of lifting and pointing my little finger.

You know Nana isn’t the only person that has questioned you on these your ways. Didn’t King David ask you, who you wanted to praise you if you didn’t deliver your people? Weren’t his questions valid enough to be recorded in the book of Psalms?

Eternal optimism is one of the character traits you have given me but I am human and sometimes we take a break. Even if it is not for too long. So I will end this letter by borrowing and cling on to some of Brother Paul’s words:

“We are often troubled but not crushed,

Sometimes in doubt but never in despair,

There are many enemies, but we are never without a friend,

And though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed”.

This is what I will say… for now.

Eagerly awaiting your reply,

Your daughter,

Ulan ‘do something new in my life’ Matta.