“So, how did it go?” Bode asked his wife as they prepared for bed that night. They had just finished their family devotion and were now in the quiet of their bedroom. He gathered up some of the papers he had been working on containing some financial statements and varied letters that needed his approval at the church.
Nike was quiet for a while, giving the question some thought. She was still whirling in a vortex of emotions from her talk with Anjola. Since she got back, there had been that abiding air of grief. She had spent a handful of years counselling few rape victims but this one stuck with her in a way that was both familiar and sad.
“It was quite heavy. She has so much to work through…” she absently straightened the bed and sighed. “I’m not even sure I can help her.”
Bode dropped the papers and faced her, focusing his gentle, intelligent eyes on her. “What’s wrong, dear?”
She sat down. “I don’t know. Her family is a mess and coupled with what happened to her, there is just too much to work through. She has become quite cynical about God and life in general and I can understand that because it mirrors how I used to feel. But now, when I try to help her, I find I cannot. I tried but it just felt so…light. Like knocking a stone with a feather,” she looked at her husband but he said nothing, so she continued. “And when we spoke, I felt like there was so much more. I had that peculiar feeling that something had eluded me.”
“Hmm… Honey, you sound discouraged already,” he sat beside her. “I understand why you would feel that way but it’s not your job to change her or worry about how it will happen. When God began dealing with you, you were not concerned about how He would do it neither do you know how but He did it. We go through a lot of undue stress when we are too concerned about the how of grace. Don’t. Just keep praying for her, loving her and speaking the words the Spirit gives you.”
She laid her head on his shoulder and sighed. ”You are right, of course. Besides, it’s just two sessions and less than a month, right?”
“I just wish I knew the how of my part. I trust God can help her and now that you mention it, I am reminded that He knows what He is doing. But I’m not sure I know what I’m doing or what I would do. What if I say the wrong things? What if I push her further into the tunnel? It is a very delicate situation.”
Bode picked the Bible on the bedside table and opened to second Corinthians chapter one, reading verses three and four:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father of compassion and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God,”
He closed the Bible.
Nike sat up and took the Bible from him, opening to the scripture he just read. She read it over and again, muttering the words. “Wow,” she breathed. “I’ve never really seen that scripture like that.”
“That’s God’s word for you.”
She felt a certain kind of hope unfurling in the depths of her heart as understanding came. God had brought her through some of the darkest times in her life. He had comforted her as the God of all comfort so that she could bring relief and hope with the same hand she had received. Her suffering and healing had led her straight to moments such as these; helping others get through their own sufferings. She had once heard a preacher say, “Out of your mess, God brings a message,” and she had not given it much thought, deciding it was one of those impractical punch lines preachers dished to hype their listeners.
But now it made sense.
She gave her husband a kiss, “Thank you,” she said as the sweet relief flooded her heart the first time that day.
He smiled slightly. “When is your next meeting with her?”
“On Monday. She’s supposed to come to the clinic with Victoria for tests.”
He nodded gravely. “It is needed.” There was a brief pause. “This is a delicate situation like you said. And I cannot imagine what other girls like her who have no help, will be going through. The fact that she has you and others is a work of grace in itself.”
Nike nodded. “I hope she sees it that way.”
“It is well. We’ll be praying for her.”
She watched him stand up to return to his work and smiled inwardly. There was no day she did not give thanks to God for this man. Looking back now, she was glad she had allowed God lead her. There had been other more ‘appropriate’ suitors at that time, men who had been richer, more handsome, more charming and more suited than he was.
There had been Dipo who had bought all sorts of gifts to woo her – his father had been a very rich cocoa farmer. Then there was also Rotimi, a beauty of a man with charms and enough wealth to make most sane girls lose their heads. There had been other men and though she had not fancied any man much then, but she certainly wouldn’t have wanted to settle for Bode either. He wasn’t rich or very charming but he became one of the best things that had ever happened to her. In fact, after they got together, she honestly didn’t find anyone as attractive.
Bode loved her deeply, made her better and drew her closer to God with each passing day. And she couldn’t have asked for a better father for her children. Yes, they had their moments, so many issues they had to work through as two imperfect people but their love and honour for God and each other had brought them through, especially those days when he yielded to the call and had to leave his job and go into full time ministry.
If someone had told her this would be her life some thirty years ago, she would have screamed at them for daring to give her an empty hope. Her life had been so vague and shapeless. And thinking of this, she now understood little of what she should do with Anjola.
* * * *
Victoria felt a light tap on her arm but as though from a faraway place. She groaned and rolled over. The tap came again, this time a bit more urgently, then a disjointed yet familiar voice, “Victoria! Victoria, wake up!”
She groaned again as she struggled to open her eyes, prying them wide enough to stare at the blurry silhouette of her mother hovering above her.
“Hmm?” she moaned as she tried to sit up, feeling for her phone beside the pillow. It read 3:09am.
“Sorry for waking you dear. I just thought the earlier the better.”
Victoria nodded, yawning. “What is it?” she asked, her voice husky.
“I remembered you told me your friend refused to go to church. How about you call her and tell her we’ll come pick her up this morning? That would give her more encouragement to come. She can even have lunch with us afterwards.”
It was Sunday morning.
Victoria wanted to smile and tell her how thoughtful it was for her to think of that but she was feeling very slow and hazy and couldn’t bring herself to do anything but nod.
“Okay,” she muttered. Her mother was like that. She was a very urgent person, never delaying an idea for a minute longer and Victoria respected her for that but right now, she resented it. It was past three in the morning!
“Alright dear. I just had that sudden urge to do that.”
Again, Victoria nodded.
“Let me allow you go back to sleep. Remember to call her o! Say around 5:30?”
Immediately her mum got up from the bed, she lay back and was asleep before she could think of another thing to say.
* * * *
Anjola got the call around 5:40am. She had just finally settled into what could be considered as ‘sleep’ after a very fitful night full of nightmares, when the shrill ringtone filled the room. She grudgingly picked it.
“Hello?” she answered sourly.
“Hello Anjola. Good morning. Sorry for waking you,” she sounded a bit too bright for such an early hour.
She didn’t bother with pleasantries. “What’s wrong?”
“I and mum were just saying how it would be a good idea to pick you up for church this morning.”
“Church?” she repeated numbly.
“Yes. Or do you have plans?”
Anjola thought fast. “Err… I have some notes and assignments to finish. Besides I’m seeing you tomorrow,” her voice lowered.
“Oh. The service is just three hours, not the whole day! I could even help you with the notes. Besides, this is different from tomorrow.”
“Come on, Anjola. You’ll love it. Besides you don’t leave Aje a lot. Or will your mum talk?”
She resisted the urge to snort. The woman didn’t care where she went or what she did as long as she did her chores and didn’t steal her money.
“Great, we’ll pick you up at the bus stop by 7 o’clock. Is that okay?”
“I don’t have what to wear,” she made a last attempt to escape.
“Don’t worry. I’m very certain most people didn’t leave their homes to watch your attire,” she said, her voice was laced with a warm humour that made it difficult for Anjola to be mad at her.
“Okay,” she said finally, sighing.
When she dropped the call, Toke grabbed her arm. “Who is that? And who give you phone?”
Anjola gave her a look that her cousin couldn’t see in the dark and freed herself. They had been distant lately and even Anjola’s attempt to hide the phone for the past few weeks had not been necessary. Toke had been spending most of her time with Debo who suddenly seemed to be interested in her.
Anjola did not feel obliged to explain herself.
“Leave me alone,” she settled back on the mat to catch a brief snooze before she had to get ready for church. Maybe it would at least lift some of the heaviness off her heart.
* * * *
For those who have not read the previous episodes, you can find them here.