Friday, July 17, 2009

Church-Hunting, Blog Series

Hey people! Hope life is going great and you are enjoying the summer sunshine! Is anyone going on holiday somewhere exotic? As for me I've had a very busy couple of weeks. Writing and editing is fun, but it can get frustrating sometimes! I can't complain though, it's my job and I don't think I would love to do anything else :)

I did go for the Caine Prize readings (EC Osondu won- yay! See more info here) and I took some pics, but I'm feeling too lazy to upload them right now. I had a good time though, meeting other writers, listening to the readings and networking afterwards.

So we've been back in London for about two weeks, and settling in quite fine. I need to start finding out about transport links in my area, and useful things like the banks, post office, corner shops and so on. Meanwhile, hubby and I are now looking for a church in the area to attend. Some of our friends have been suggesting one church or the other. So last Sunday, we decided to try a branch of Redeemed not too far away. We were a bit wary, as we haven't attended a Nigerian church for five years and we had gotten used to a very different setting, but we decided to try it. Perhaps just the once, so off we went. Then at the end of the service, hubby asked me what I thought. Honestly? Okay I liked the praise worship and the message was good, but I just felt under a lot of pressure. What pressure, you might ask?

I don't know if it was just me, but I felt the pressure to conform, pressure to fit into a certain "type", pressure that people are watching you and they will immediately judge you based on the most superficial things.

For example, I couldn't help but notice the competitive size-ups I got as soon as I entered the church. Seriously, it was like people looked at hubby and I from head to toe, scrutinising our appearance before deciding if we were worth bothering with or not. Now I may be wrong, but that impression I got was too strong.

Then there was the pressure to "dress up". Don't get me wrong, I like looking good, but Nigerian churches take it to extremes when you feel you have to dress a certain way before you are good enough to appear in church. I've heard the argument so many times over that most people give. "When you want to go and see the queen/go to work, you dress well, so you must dress well too when you want to go and see God". Yeah right, I say. Like God is sooooo impressed by whatever I wear to His presence. He is not like us that judge people based on their outward appearance. I also think that kind of implies God only lives in church, and He is not with me 24/7 which is rubbish. God sees me when I'm in my living room, not dressed to impress and He hasn't told me yet that my outfit is not fit in His presence. LOL

Furthermore, there is the pressure to impress/oppress others. When hubby mentioned his job to someone, the first thing they said was, "Is that the car you drive?" Seriously! I found it quite amusing to be honest. Is that what people do - go out and buy cars they can't afford simply to impress people in church? So church is now where we go to show off our latest acquisitions, whether it's cars, clothes, gadgets and what not. Na wah o!
Apart from the pressures I mentioned, there are also some other minor issues of time-keeping, gossiping, looong messages about giving before the offering and so on that I have with the average Nigerian church. So by the time I put all these things in context, I said to hubby that we should either develop really thick skins or continue church-hunting! Any recommendations, good people of blogville?

If you are not already following our blog series, what are you waiting for? Click to read all the posts so far: In My Dreams, It Was Simpler . Yours truly is writing the post for this week (as Lola), so make sure you check it out and leave a comment! We would all really appreciate it.

Here's a little snippet:

I left Maureen’s flat in disgust. Why are the girls looking at me as if I’m just a trouble maker, lying about Dayo to Titi? I told them Dayo was married, I mean, I saw the photos with my own two eyes. Yet Titi is telling everyone that she went to Dayo’s house and didn’t see any evidence of a woman living there.

That's all folks! Hope you have a great weekend ahead!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Back in the City!

It's been almost five years since I moved out of London, but I'm back again. When I left, I was a single girl, off to do my Masters in Nottingham. That was September 2004, but now.... how things have changed :-)

We haven't even been in London one week yet and already our bike has been stolen! LOL.
We had padlocked it with a chain to the bike rack in the compound, and yesterday, hubby discovered that both the bike and the chain had vanished. I found it quite amusing, what a nice way for the reality to sink in - Welcome to London! We're now going to have to buy a new bike and a much stronger lock and chain! But apart from that, we are settling in quite fine. I've been unpacking our stuff gradually and I'm almost done now. We don't have our phone, cable and internet connection set up yet. I'm blogging with hubby's mobile broadband that he uses for work so I can't use it for ages. I'll be glad when we've got that sorted.

In the meantime, I'm carrying on with my work and I'm really pleased to be out of the funk I was in a couple of weeks ago. You wouldn't believe what I read in my Word for Today on this past Thursday the 2nd of July -(daily readings)

"So, choose to see it God's way. Let it go. Do what you've been called to do, and watch God vindicate you royally!"

Which was exactly what I had been trying to do since I wrote this post. It's amazing how God speaks into situations that we go through, reassruing and encouraging us to keep going. Otherwise it's easy to get discouraged and lose focus of what is really important, and allow other people to misguide us. Especially when it seems God's way doesn't conform to other people's accepted way of doing things. I just need to remember to trust God, that even when things are not going so smoothly, His plan for me is still the best, and it hasn't changed.

I can't believe it's July already! Like wow, the first half of 2009 has quietly slipped away and we are already in the second half! It sure makes me feel like I blinked and missed it. Anyhow, I'm enjoying the mini-heatwave going on at the moment, and I intend to make the most of it this weekend. I'll be at the South Bank - the London Literature Festival is happening there for the next two weeks. The Caine Prize readings are on Sunday evening (more info on the shortlisted stories and the writers can be found on their website here), and Helon Habila is making an appearance on Monday evening. It should be interesting!

Hope you have a great weekend whatever you do!

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