Written by: Ife Grace.
When Bola got out of the conference room at about 3p.m, her stomach was rumbling. She had only taken a cup of coffee since morning and even though she had a pack of sandwich in her bag, what she wanted was some real food. She dropped her laptop on her table and grabbed her purse before rushing out of the office.
In the eatery across her office, she set a tray of fried rice and barbeque chicken on an empty table close to the window.
As she picked up the fork, memories of the incident that had happened few months ago flooded her mind. She lost her appetite and the fork fell from her hand. The shock of seeing her fiancé, Paul, stare at her colleague when he came to pick her up was still vivid in her mind.
‘Who is she?’ she had asked the moment she entered his car.
Paul couldn’t even look at her. ‘She is my ex. We dated for a while on campus and then we broke up. Why didn’t you tell me she works in your office?’
Bola was irritated by the question. ‘Was I supposed to keep a tab on all the girls you dated? Besides, she just got employed a month ago.’ She looked at him calmly. ‘Did you really date her or was she one of your many flings.’
Paul didn’t respond immediately until he pulled out of the street into the expressway. ‘We dated even though I knew I couldn’t marry her.’
‘Because she was not my kind of girl. She was pushy and always available. I never had to fight to get anything from her. She gave it all to me willingly. Besides, I wasn’t really in love with her.’
‘So why did you ask her out?’
‘Are we going to spend the whole evening talking about a girl from my past? It ended long ago Bola.’
Bola didn’t say anything after that. Paul also made no attempt to continue the conversation. They’d planned to spend the evening with one of Paul’s friends who just got into the country from Canada but instead, Paul dropped her off at home and that made Bola very angry. She got down from the car and marched into her flat.
The next day, Funke cat-walked into Bola’s office in a short gown and a four-inch pointy heels. She stopped in front of her table.
‘Are you dating Paul?’
Bola grinned. ‘Paul is my fiancé. We are getting married before the end of the year.’ Stay away from my man.
Funke laughed. ‘Wow! Smart guy. He messes around and finally settles for a good christian sister.’
Clasping her hands on the table, Bola stared at the blank screen of her desktop. Some of her colleagues were already settling into their seats. ‘Funke,I have work to do. I don’t have time for small talk this morning.’ She powered the desktop and picked up a file from her table.
Funke sat on the edge of the table. ‘The leopard never changes its spot. Are you ready for the baggage Paul’s going to bring to the table? Can you handle it?’
Bola looked at her and her pulse rocketed.
Funke placed her hand on Bola’s shoulder. ‘Let’s talk over lunch.’
And they did talk. Funke was natural with storytelling. She knew how to create pictures and her words were gripping so much that they kept you glued to your seat. Bola listened to every word Funke said. She knew Paul’s father was a surgeon and his mother the branch manager of a bank in Lagos but she had no idea how Paul spent lavishly back on campus.
He had broken the hearts of many ladies, Funke said, and every friday, he hung out with his friends at the night club where they drank and met new babes. Many times, he didn’t want to take her along and she knew why. On such nights, while he was away clubbing, she would hug his pillow and cry herself to sleep. He returned the next day with gifts as compensation for staying away. She didn’t want his gifts, what she wanted was his faithfulness. In school, she was his babe, but when he returned to Lagos for the semester break, he had other babes.
When she had asked him for the password to his photo gallery, he had refused and said,
‘I can’t give you my password Funke. I don’t want to break your heart.’
Bola tried to push aside her worries and dug into the barbeque chicken. As she raised her head, she saw Funke appear at the entrance and lowered her head. The last thing she wanted to hear was more stories about her fiancé’s past. Few days ago, her mother had asked if a date had been fixed for the wedding, she had say No. She was getting worried about her relationship with Paul. Could this be God giving her a sign that she should end this?
Her thoughts were interrupted by Funke’s appearance at her table. She forced a smile and watched as Funke sat down and began to talk about Paul.
‘I can’t forget the evening I went to Paul’s room, crying. I was tired of my friends telling me they saw my boyfriend in a hotel with a lady or the chats and calls by some of his flings. Guess what Paul said when I confronted him with his infidelity.’
Bola stared at her, curious.
‘He stood at the door and said, ‘Listen Funke, you are the best thing that ever happened to me. I need you to know that you take priority in my life. So stop comparing yourself with other ladies. They don’t have any place in my life. I use and dump them but you are special.’
Bola gasped. ‘He said that?’
‘I swear on my grandfather’s grave. When I told him I couldn’t stand him cheating on me, guess what his response was?’
Funke shook her head. ‘He said all men have the potential to cheat. That it’s a trait they are born with. He said it was like eating eguisi soup and pounded yam every day. No matter how much he loved to eat it, he’d get bored after a while.’ She hesitated. ‘Bola, It wasn’t long before he dumped me for another girl. That’s why I’m asking you to be careful. I know him very well. He will hurt you.’
Bola didn’t pick Paul’s call throughout that day. He was so worried and rushed to her office the next morning.
She was working on a report when the receptionist called to inform her that Paul was at the reception waiting for her.
‘I’m busy. Tell him I’ll call him later.’
But she didn’t. He called several times in the evening and still she did not pick his calls. Bola was watching a movie on her laptop when her best friend, Chidinma, entered.
‘Why have you not been picking Paul’s calls. The guy is so worried.’
Bola didn’t respond. Chidinma shut the laptop and pushed it aside.
Bola frowned. ‘What? Abeg let me watch my movie in peace.’
‘Paul is waiting for you outside. Stop acting like a teenager and go talk to him.’
Reluctantly, Bola went out of the house. Paul was standing in front of his car when she approached him.
‘What’s going on? Why have you not been picking my calls?’
Bola folded her hands. ‘I need a break.’
Paul stared at her for a long time. ‘You’ve had two breaks in the last six months. Funke is still polluting your mind against me right? I told you to stop listening to her.’
Bola flared up. ‘Why should I stop? Because she is saying the truth?’
‘What truth are you talking about?’
‘I remained chaste while you screwed different ladies. You are marrying me because I am fresh from the oven but once you taste me, you’ll get bored and search for satisfaction somewhere else.’
‘Babe, who is filling your mind with this rubbish.’
‘If I wasn’t a virgin, would you have thought of marrying me?’
‘Yes. When I proposed to you, I wasn’t even interested in your virginity.I wanted a woman who loved God. A woman I could grow together with.’
‘How sure am I that when we get married, you won’t cheat on me. You might even be cheating on me already.’
Paul exhaled. ‘I think we should end this relationship.’
‘You see what I’m saying. You are tired of me already. Do you even love me?’
Paul tried to stay calm. ‘Bola, I love you and I’ll always do. But I am tired of you bringing up my past. We’ve been together for two years and you still do not know me.’
‘I’m just scared.’
Paul leaned forward. ‘When we started this relationship, I told you I was a playboy before I met Christ. I didn’t hide anything from you.’
‘But after you got born again, you still had sex with Toyin. You even smooched Bisola and –
‘That was five years ago. I had just known the Lord and I was still struggling with lust. But God’s grace has dealt with that. I have not cheated on you since we got together and by God’s grace, I’m not planning to. How many times have sisters in our church visited my house at night but I chased them away. Do you know how many numbers I have blocked? I am not doing this because of you. It’s because I love God and I want to please him. I know I have a crazy past but Bola I do not live there anymore. There are brothers in the church who will fit into your model. Maybe you should just marry one of them.’
Bola folded her hands and stared at her feet. She wanted to hug him, to tell him how she loved him more than life itself. She wanted him to cuddle her and tell her everything was okay.
‘I’m sorry you had to meet someone like me. But I know you will find someone better who’ll give you what you deserve. We can’t have a marriage if we do not have trust.’
Paul got into his car and drove off, leaving Bola standing at the gate. He was shattered inside. He called his friends.They were hanging out at a restaurant.
When he entered, they immediately knew something was wrong. He sat down and narrated all that had happened.
‘Guy, listen, don’t let guilt pull you down. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Old things are passed away and you carry a new life now.’ One of his friends said.
Another friend placed a bottle of orange juice in front of him. ‘You are crucified with Christ right? But even at that, the life you now live is by faith in the Son of God who died and gave himself for you. You are a different person now. It’s so hard to believe that you lived a wild life before. See how God has worked powerfully through your life.’
‘Paul says we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus. It is this same God who works in us to will and do of his good pleasure.’
Paul sat back and listened as his friends continued to talk. Quietly, he prayed under his breath.
‘Holy Spirit, I don’t know what to do. The woman I love with every breath of my being isn’t comfortable with me because of my past. Help me Lord.
Paul, I have made a new covenant with you because of my Son Jesus. This new covenant takes no record of your past. Your sins and iniquities have been wiped clean. I have made you a partaker of the divine nature and right there in you dwells the fullness of my Son. Lay hold on the great and precious promises I have offered to you. Rest in me. Be calm.
Paul sighed inwardly. ‘Ok God. I trust you.’
‘Paul, are you here?’
He sat up. ‘I’m sorry jare. What did you say?’
‘What do you want to eat?’
While Paul made his orders and discussions moved to other issues, Bola was on her knees with her best friend, praying. When Bola didn’t know what words to say to God again, she prayed in tongues. It wasn’t until past 11 that Chidinma finally left her house.
At lunch the next day, Funke appeared as usual. She settled beside Bola with a burger and coke.
‘How’s Paul?’ Funke started.
Bola smiled. ‘He is fine. He is such a wonderful man. I won’t trade him for anything in this world.’
Funke shook her head. ‘That playboy has really messed with your head. I’ve told you to be careful. Paul is-’
Bola raised her hand. ‘I will not listen to you speak ill of my fiancé. He is a different man now and yes he may not be perfect but he is surrendered to God and that’s what matters to me. I’d rather marry a guy with a terrible past who is open to the leading of the Spirit than a man with no story who is stubborn and hard-hearted.’
Funke stood up, enraged and stormed out of the eatery. Bola dialed a number.
‘Paul, please can I see you after work?’
He didn’t respond.
‘Paul please. I’m sorry and this time I mean it. Funke was here and I told her I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world. We’ve been together for two years and I’ve learnt more of Christ through your life than all the sermons I’ve heard. Don’t quit on me please.’
Paul sighed. ‘I never did. I’ll see you after work.’
When Bola returned to the office, Funke passed by her table without looking at her or saying a word. At the close of work, Bola stopped by her table and still Funke would not look at her face.
Outside, Paul was waiting. Bola entered his car and sat beside him.
‘I’m so sorry.’ Bola pleaded. Paul smiled and turned on the engine. Just then, Funke came out of the gate and when Paul saw her, he turned off the engine.
‘Give me a minute, please.’
He climbed down from the car and hurried towards Funke. He stood in front of her, blocking her path.
‘What do you want?’
‘Funke, I’m sorry for the way I treated you in the past. You were there for me but I never for once appreciated you. I used you to satisfy my lust and I hate myself for doing that to you. I knew you loved me but I was a stupid and callous man. I’m sorry.’
Tears welled up Funke’s eyes. ‘I loved you Paul. You hurt me so badly.’
‘I know and that’s why I’m asking you to forgive me. You are a beautiful woman and you deserve the best. I’m sorry.’
The tears were pouring down her face. ‘It’s okay Paul. I forgive you.’
Paul held her shoulders but she buried her face in his chest. She reached for her handkerchief and wiped her tears.
‘Funke, thank you for forgiving me.’
She nodded and stood there as Paul returned to his car.
‘I was really cruel. She was faithful to me but I treated her like a piece of shit. I wish I could rewrite my past.’
Bola squeezed his hand. ‘That cruel man died many years ago. This man here is different.’
Paul nodded and pulled his car away from the gate. Funke was still standing at the same spot as they drove past. She waved at Bola and smiled. Bola waved back and blew kisses at her.
For many years, I believed that there were habits that could never leave you. I thought if a brother had a problem with lust, it would be a struggle till he dies.
I believed that a person faced with addiction had to battle with it till he breathes his last.
I concluded that an angry man would never be able to control his temper no matter how close to the Lord he becomes.
Not until I met God’s grace. Grace in the person of Jesus. Now, I am sure of one thing; because of Christ’s fullness that dwells in me, I have abundant grace to live the life Christ desires of me.
You cannot understand that sinful actions can lose its grip until God opens your eyes to an understanding of his immeasurable Grace given to us by reason of our union with Christ.
At first, it may look like nothing is working and Grace may seem slow, but as you continue to behold Jesus, you’ll begin to see changes in your lifestyle and conduct.
Let people keep sharing experiences and horrible stories of people who never got out of a particular lifestyle.
Let them swear on their grave that nobody has ever been free from a particular sin, your responsibility is to always fix your attention on Jesus by beholding him in his Word. Your role is to practice the presence of the Holy Spirit and become familiar with his leading and instruction.
Oh yes! We can be like Jesus in our conduct, conversation and lifestyle.
You see this God, He can do exceedingly above what you can ever ask or think. Whatever has happened in your past is gone forever.
Believe with all of your heart that you can express the traits of the new creation man. Continue to believe even when you are yet to see a manifestation.
The words of Hebrews 12:1 and 2 (NLT) greatly comforts us:
Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up and let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith..
Jesus changes the worst of all of us. He takes our pasts and throws them into the sea of forgetfulness. That sinful habit shall not have any dominion over you. You are under God’s extraordinary Grace.