Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
A SMALL WORLD - SEASON THREE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
“The title of my message today is ‘Marriage is a Dream’,” the preacher began. “I’m sure a lot of you are wondering what I mean or where I’m going. I hope you will stay with me as I expand on this subject.”
Nomnso and Kemi had just arrived at the ‘Singles For Jesus’ event holding at Grace and Truth Assembly that Wednesday evening. Nomnso had been prodded by his brother, Ifeanyi, to attend, and they’d made it just in time to hear the speaker’s introduction. They finally settled in their seats and listened as the lady minister continued.
“For most of you, marriage is just a dream. By that I mean several things. Plainly, for some of you, marriage won’t happen. Many people are choosing to marry later and for reasons other than love. Among men and women, those who want to marry vary significantly in numbers, class and ideologies. Therefore, the probability of two people of the opposite sex having compatibility and mutual desire for marriage is very slim indeed.
“So, I repeat, marriage is a dream. And for those of you who will marry, the idea you now have of marriage is a dream. It exists only in your mind. It may be a good idea, it may be a bad one.
“For instance, if your idea of having a wife is having a lady who is happy to stay at home, cook and clean for you, birth, nurture and raise your children, is always ready and happy to have sex with you, and demands nothing from you except money for up keep…you have a very unrealistic idea! If the women who dream to have such a marriage still exist, they are very rare. Be ready to be disappointed.”
The congregation chuckled as the people pondered on the growing trend of working mothers and independent women led by the ideology of Feminism. The minister continued. “And if your idea of a husband is a man who is very romantic, hard-working, successful, sexy and always considerate of you, you’re also in for a big surprise, because those men are very few. Most men struggle to balance their romantic life and work aspirations. Often one suffers at the expense of the other, and if providing for their home or achieving some level of economic or political success is their primary concern, you may find yourself a disgruntled wife, looking for the man who romanced you into his home.”
The preacher scanned the hall filled with youths before continuing. “We all have our ideologies about marriage, built on the foundations of our religion, culture, family upbringing, education and personalities. We bring different beliefs and expectations about sex and sexuality, romance, work-life balance, gender roles, respect and love into marriage that are a mirage of the truth. They are all biased by our personal beliefs and perceptions, and the result is a lot of confusion, discord and disappointment.
“That is why it is essential for singles to COMMUNICATE! It is good for two people who are serious about getting and staying married to use their time as singles to talk about all these things that form the dream of what marriage is to them. You need to know if that dream is a possibility between you and your mate or if you are just dreaming! Because the thing about dreams is that; you always wake up to the realisation of the bitter truth.”
Kemi Odedina shifted in her seat. She realised that she and Nomnso were still very much dating and not in courtship. Even though they had expressed their love for each other, they hadn’t begun to have the important conversations, precipitated by asking the right questions. Nomnso looked on attentively.
“This is not a time to be blind. To be carnal nor sensual. This is not the time to be optimistic nor presumptuous. Marriage is a mighty endeavour, and you need to approach it with all seriousness and reverence. There’s a lot at stake, and what you never appreciated will certainly depreciate in your hands. You need to know what you’re dealing with and embarking on.
“In Luke 14, verses 28 to 33, Jesus gave an example of someone who started to build a tower without first considering if they had the resources to complete it. He concluded that such would be a laughing stock when they inevitably fail. And unfortunately, that’s what’s happening in many homes and marriages. People who are ignorant, foolish and unprepared try to embark on this great expedition to their embarrassment and, sometimes, destruction. We all need to heed wisdom!
“Start by knowing what your dream is of marriage and what the true image of marriage is. Because every dream is based on a truth. Marriage has a true image. The image we are given in scripture is of Christ and the Church. That is the image that Christian marriages should represent and reflect to the world.
“The more you meditate and reflect on this truth, the more it changes and defines your dream. And although it is still a dream, it becomes one that is achievable by the grace of God. It is achievable when both have meditated on this same truth and submitted themselves to it. Which is why we are warned against being unequally yoked with unbelievers… There is no basis to believe that two people with different ideas and beliefs and expectations will end up going anywhere in agreement!”
The minister paused to observe the congregation’s reaction. “Before I go on, I just want to make sure that you guys are following me. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask. We will still have an interactive session later though, but don’t be afraid to ask for clarity now.” The group grew quiet and those fidgeting stilled. She continued.
“Okay, if there are no questions, we’ll just continue. So, we have a couple of points already. 1. COMMUNICATE your dream; 2. MEDITATE on the Truth. The third one is IMITATE the Word or REPLICATE the Cross. These three form a continuous loop, which we must keep in mind to practice in marriage also.
“It’s not enough simply to communicate or meditate. You have to do the work. You can to submit to the Way, the Truth and the Life. You have to follow and imitate Jesus, the Visionary of Marriage. He showed us what it means to love. To submit. To surrender. To lead. And to win. It doesn’t often look like the ideas the world promotes.
“In His Kingdom, the greatest is the servant. We do not lead through oppression but through submission. The dream that we have to live our best lives can only be realised when we die to this fleeting life… It is written that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it abides alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit!” You may have also heard it said that ‘love is a battlefield’, but did you know that the enemy you are out to conquer is your SELF! In the battlefield of love, we must die to ourselves.
“Jesus said that “anyone who seeks to be My disciple must DENY himself, pick up his cross and follow” – imitate – Me. Jesus had no selfish ambition. His goal was to lay down His life to save the world. We are His disciples when we also lay down our lives for one another, whether in singleness or in marriage.
“So, if we are following Jesus, we will forsake our dreams about marriage and replace them with the truth, which will become our desire and ultimately, our reality. This is something you need to imbibe and start doing as singles, not so much in preparation for marriage, but regardless of marriage. Because like I said, not all of you will marry, but we must all serve God and walk in love.
“Don’t be like me and my husband. We’ve had to learn what love is in the midst of marriage. That’s tough! That’s bloody. It’s like learning how to battle…in the midst of a war! Not a great strategy for success. So, singles, learn the truth about marriage now, and prepare yourself to achieve the real dream and vision God has for this great calling.”
Some people clapped, which initiated a round of applause through the hall. The minister smiled. “Okay, open your Bibles with me to the book of Ephesians chapter five. We will be reading from verse twenty-one. We’re going to study the truth about marriage, through the image we have been given in scripture, being of Christ and the Church. Then we can begin to communicate, meditate on and replicate the Cross.”
Kemi Ojo stayed until the end of the ministration and took part in the interactive segment. She was part of a group of four singles, two girls and two boys, and they all shared what their expectations or dreams of marriage were. Kemi realised, when she shared her dream, that she’d totally lost sight of what she wanted from a relationship, or from life in general. She’d become like a scavenger, just going after scraps, desperate for whatever she could get, because she didn’t trust God to provide the best, nor to sustain her regardless.
She listened as other people shared about their dreams for marriage and their ideal partners. One of the men, Udi, said that he wanted a marriage like his parents’; simple and peaceful. The other lady said her dream of marriage was to have clear roles and obligations, and for her, staying home and being looked after by her husband was the goal. The other man, Joshua, said his dream was the biblical illustration of marriage, between Christ and the Church. He was keen to find a woman who was ready to be led and loved, the way Christ leads and loves His Church.
Kemi got goose bumps when he spoke. She observed that he was very knowledgeable of the scriptures too, and he was vocal during the meditation segment. He specifically gave the example of Christ washing the feet of His disciples, to show that men do not have to see being the leader as being the ‘lord’ of the house, but the ‘head servant’. A number of women and girls applauded him for his submission.
When he smiled at Kemi afterwards, she blushed and turned her gaze away. Maybe he was just saying all the right things, but there was something special about this Joshua, she thought.
Kemi met up with Fisayo and her fiancé afterwards and thanked her for the invitation. As they talked about the programme, Joshua came up to the group. Fisayo beamed when she saw him.
“Hey, Josh… I was hoping to see you. Have you met my friend, Kemi?” Fisayo asked. “Kemi, Josh is Pastor Jeff’s son. We went to school together.”
Kemi swallowed and nodded. Josh smiled. “Yes, we met… She was in my group. Glad to know we have mutual friends. Nice to meet you again.” He stretched out his hand to shake hers, his eyes shining.
Kemi couldn’t deny her attraction to Josh when her stomach did a flip as their hands touched. But a pastor’s son?! Yikes!
Temi was home with the twins and their nanny. Oyinda wasn’t yet back from work. But he wasn’t the one she was thinking about. She was missing Michael.
She was expecting him to call soon. They’d fixed the time for his call via WhatsApp to make sure they were in sync. She’d poured herself a small glass of wine in anticipation of their chat. Usually, when they were together, they sipped wine together before they made sweet love. And it was always sweet. Oh, how she missed him.
Her phone began to ring. She excused herself and went to her room.
“Hey baby…” his coarse voice greeted her.
Temi smiled. “Hi dear… How are you?”
“Awesome now that I’m talking to you. How are you?”
“I’m fine… Missing you.”
Temi heard Michael groan. “I love it when you say that. Babe, I can’t wait to be with you again… I’m going to make it worth your wait!”
Temi giggled. “How’s Linda?”
Michael swallowed. “She’s okay. Her chemo is going well. But it’s painful watching her. Her hair has just been falling out in clumps.”
“Yeah… But she’s a trooper. She asked me to shave it all off today, and I did. We took a few photos too.”
“Awww… That’s nice. Can I see?”
“Sure, I’ll send them over.”
“How about Lisa?”
“She’s okay. She never wants to leave Linda’s side. She’s even sleeping on the vacant bed in her room. But I’ve insisted that she goes home for at least two hours every day to freshen up.”
“Hmmm… I can imagine how she feels. I’m just glad that they caught it in time. I read that recovery rates are pretty good for children with AML receiving chemotherapy…”
Michael beamed. “Nice to know you’ve been reading about it…”
“Yeah… Just wanted to understand her condition and if there is anything I can do to help.”
“This… Just keep being there for me. And loving me, and I can cope.”
Temi blushed. “No, problem.” She thought about the retreat and hesitated before adding. “But I might be hard to reach this weekend.”
“I’m going on a couples retreat… To celebrate my friend’s 40th birthday,” she quickly added.
“A couples retreat? You mean, like where they do special activities and counselling for married couples?”
“Was this Oyinda’s idea?”
“It’s my friend’s, well, Oyinda’s cousin. He’s celebrating his 40th and he invited us.”
“You don’t want me to go…”
“I can’t stop you…” Michael swallowed.
“If it makes any difference, I don’t want to. I’ve told him I don’t love him. It’s just something I have to do…”
Michael was encouraged. “I understand. Well, I’m here. And whatever happens after the retreat, just know that I’m not letting you go without a fight. Not again.”
Temi smiled. “Okay.”
Michael closed his eyes, trying to imagine Temi in all her gorgeousness. He was suddenly aroused. “What are you wearing…?”
To be continued...
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