However, like she observed earlier, it was not a perfect family, because the youngest son and daughter had derailed from the family values. Jude had fallen under the pressure of the peers he chose as friends and was always getting into trouble, while Evelyn had a child out of wedlock and put up an air of indifference. She appeared angry and rebellious towards the family. Jude, on one hand, had softened at her visit. Everyone knew how close they both were and that he had always been her favourite. And so, after a chat with him about being the positive influence on his peers with his own principles rather than succumbing to their negative ones, he promised to sever himself from the wrong peer group and change for the better.
Carol learned that her parents, in their frustration, had once rebuked Evelyn by comparing her to her religious sister – Carol and the industrious, married and responsible Ijeoma. Hence, Evelyn had to live with seeing her parents’ disappointment every day and eventually built up this resistance to get by daily. To heal this wound in the home, Carol cautioned her parents to completely forgive their daughter’s error and be thankful to God she kept the baby and not aborted it in a bid to avoid shame and then end up with a worse consequence. She appealed to them to try to show her some love, attention and understanding so that she would feel their forgiveness.
To her sister, Carol also called aside and embraced for a long while until she felt her coldness melt into tears. She told Evelyn that she did not condemn her, but that Evelyn could learn from this mistake and regain her dignity by focusing on her dreams and then actualizing them. She also told Evelyn that she did well to keep the child, and that she should revise her catechism on the commandments of God, especially where it has to do with sex. ‘God did not make the commandment to punish us but to help us find and maintain our dignity as humans deserving respect and to honour His presence in our body.
‘The man did not marry you as he promised but denied you completely. Would you want to repeat it and have another child out of wedlock?’
Evelyn shook her head.
‘Then have some respect for your body; if not for yourself, do so for the faith and the love you have for God who lives in you. Ask Him for whatever you want but keep to His commandments and He will answer your prayers according to His will for you, and you will be happy when He does.
‘The man who loves you will respect your body, not only because of you but because he also believes in the God who lives in you and honours His presence in you. If he doesn’t believe in the God you believe in and you accept him and his way, then you will have to live with the consequences of your choice’.
‘But some of my friends ended up well even though they made the same mistake as I did’ Evelyn interrupted earnestly, confused.
‘Your way and theirs are not the same. You live in a home founded on God’s principles and so His grace is much in you. God has His eyes on those who love Him and He’s not ready to lose them to the worldly unless they choose to completely sever themselves from him. But, He waits for the worldly too to take the opportunity of His grace because for as long as they live, they have His breath, His undying love and His Presence in them too,’ Carol emphasized, ‘keeping them alive whether they acknowledge Him or not. It may seem that they have no immediate consequences for their wrong but that could be because the tempter is at work in them to continue to deceive you and other people of light into their negative worldly way. Whereas, you are probably a grace God has given them to convert them to His righteousness because God has faith in you’.
Evelyn was brought to tears, ‘I have betrayed that faith’.
Bringing Evelyn to her chest Carol robbed her back affectionately, ‘You’re still alive and know better now; you can still do right by Him’.
‘I am so sorry!’ Evelyn continued to sob.
‘He knows and I trust has forgiven you’. Carol patted her even more.
Evelyn remained in Carol’s embrace till she was calm. ‘But! Sister Carol, …’ she seemed eager to ask about something but, on weighing her intended question she hesitated. ‘Never mind’.
‘But I do mind. Better ask me now than ask the wrong person. I am the one talking to you about whatever you have doubt about, and if I don’t know the answer then I’ll tell you so’ Carol assured her amiably.
Evelyn smiled a little, weighed her question again, and yielded to asking all the same, trusting that her sister would understand. ‘Sister, I like and desire some men who speak nicely to me’.
‘So did I and so do almost all women’. Carol laughed to ease Evelyn’s mind and it worked. ‘And the men know that too, which is why some tell us what we want to hear and so find their way into our hearts, and then, our pants; you know what I mean?’ Carol winked at Evelyn, and Evelyn chuckled halfheartedly.
‘However,’ Carol continued, ‘some other men are genuine with their nice talks. It is only left to you to resist the temptation to have sex with a sweet-talking man at the courting stage. Pray and seek God’s intervention in your relationship, read your Bible to school you on righteousness and respect for yourself. And if the man loves you enough he will appreciate your stance and respect you too’.
Evelyn nodded, and then teased, ‘So Sister, did you have your own share of sweet talks! How did you handle it?’
‘Sure, I had my share and a pretty lot of them for the pretty girl I am’ Carol played along too. ‘But I know what I wanted to be and focused on it, shunning them off as wisely and as politely as I could’.
Evelyn frowned, ‘So how did Brother Jeff come into your life?’
‘Persistence!’ Carol recollected smiling, ‘He wouldn’t take – NO – for an answer and he was so lovable I couldn’t get him off easily. So we became friends and he took it more seriously than I did, because in my mind was the plan to simply serve God wholly’.
After much empathy Evelyn turned apprehensive, ‘But sister, the world doesn’t work that way anymore!’
‘But the people of light in the world do. The people of light must let their light shine and not shy away from it because the worldly would mock them with the philosophies they made up to justify the life styles they have chosen instead of the WORD OF GOD. This mockery is a defense tactic that they use to hide their shame and guilt and to pull the heavenly down with them. Sometimes, they claim or pretend to have no use for their Creator and His promised eternity. But we believe and have hope in God and so must always obey Him above worldly philosophies so we can see Him, face to face, someday. Our heavenly Father is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and His Spirit guides us still in the changing times.
‘Darling, if a man doesn’t respect you, he doesn’t deserve you and will soon abandon you when he’s done with you. I need not overemphasize that since you’ve experienced it. Only a man who genuinely loves God and has faith in God will know how to love a woman as God commands and intends in the Bible’. Carol considered Evelyn’s downcast and continued, ‘Evelyn, don’t be in a hurry to be loved. Pray to God for your needs and He will supply them in good measures, and that includes the right man for you. Trust Him’.
Evelyn looked up and nodded with a smile, ‘I will’.
‘I may be physically unavailable to you, but with our phones we can talk about anything. Promise to not let me out of your worries’. Carol looked at Evelyn for an answer. And they sealed their agreement with another long embrace and tears, this time because of the distance and time they will be apart again.
When it was time to return to the monastery for her final profession, Caroline did so with great relief. She had come back for a last visit to her family and found it in one peace, in good health and in multiplication as well as with the comfort only God can give. If it took that day of mishap to make her answer His call, she must have forced Him to look away from her family for that brief moment, as the insincere consolers outside their window had suggested. And poor OluChukwu paid for it with his life. OluChukwu who was ever lively and always told jokes to make family and friends happy; may his soul rest in peace. Whether his death was her fault or not, it was a guilt she would have to forgive herself for or live with for the rest of her life. The family seemed to have healed of it, good, they need not share in her troubled conscience, she thought.
She would live out her days praying for her brother’s soul, praying for all her loved ones, and for the world, especially for all in need of God’s mercy. And she would pray to forgive herself too, not just for feeling guilty but for accusing God for that fateful day; she knew God gives all the freedom of choice. But, if right, she must also forgive God for allowing her brother to die. These thoughts amused her. They have been part of her musing with Him. She knew that God is all knowing and with time His reasons for the things He allows and not allow would eventually be unraveled and she would come to understand His will. But if she did not forgive Him but dissociate from Him because she was angry, then she would not maintain that communion with Him that would enable Him counsel her and eventually give her those spiritual gifts of knowledge and understanding of His will.
She also knew that the tempter, whose name she hated to call for any reason, could be at fault for all their troubles in order to cause her to continue to procrastinate and put aside her vocation; but she blamed herself for giving room to him. It was the only way to take responsibility for her mistakes and so better her life. It was a pity the tempter did not know God’s plan for His children, otherwise, he would not bother tempting them and doing them harm, she thought.
So long as she was with God and in His home and heart, she was contented. She was contented to live a life of service to mankind by prayer and charity.
And as her family bade her farewell they saw a contentment laden with some burden. Perhaps it was the realization that she may never visit them again. That was okay by her for them to think; she would rather keep her guilt to herself.
© by Ifeanyi Oluwafemi Chukwudi – Jan 06, 2011