2020 – MY YEAR OF PAINFUL GROWTH
Thank you, Adepero, for this opportunity. You inspire me in many ways. Keep burning and shining, light of the world.
After NYSC, What Next?
This is an account I would have NEVER written for shame.
My 2020 story began in October 2019, after my National Youth Service in Edo, Benin city. 2019 was my year of evangelistic feats however, Benin city “showed me pepper.” When I returned home after NYSC, my mum told me to relax for 3 months. She was a little embarrassed by my weight and skin colour, and she wanted me to “recuperate.” Honestly, I wasn’t ready to start going to work by 4 am and returning by 10 pm. I welcomed the idea. I planned to proceed for Master’s and upgrade my options for work.
The University of Ibadan or Not?
In November 2020, I wrote an exam for a Masters degree at the University of Ibadan. The exam was divided into two: English Proficiency Test (EPT) and Departmental Proficiency Test (DPT). The result of the EPT was out in a few days and I scored 82 over 100. The result of the DPT was not released. Older students said that it would be released in a few months – close to resumption. The tentative resumption time was March/April 2020.
Now, my application to the University of Ibadan was a back-up. Towards the end of my National Youth Service, my eldest cousin began to indoctrinate me with the benefits of studying abroad, diversifying from and/or finding a niche in my course of study – Microbiology. She studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Ibadan, and she insisted that the University of Ibadan could not offer me the leverage I needed. In fact, I wrote the exam for Master’s at the University of Ibadan without her knowledge.
Honestly, the stronghold was that I did not believe I would study outside the country. After Secondary School, I applied to study Medicine in various institutions outside the country at the behest of my mother. I got multiple admissions however after following through with the process, my mum changed her mind at least 5 times. Looking back, I guess it was because of fear or funds. However, I just didn’t want to have false hope. Also, I had a vivid dream about my journey abroad. One of my friends (I had not seen her for a few months) also reached out to me and shared a revelation about my journey. She spoke in parables, however, my mentor explained to me that it meant that my journey would be successful but I would lose my footing or walk with God. My second mentor has taught me this: The path of a man who bears a cross is narrow and the cross he bears restricts his movement. If he moves haphazardly, he only suffers more pain.
Come up Hither
After my Master’s degree exam, I began to experience intense divine encounters. They were calls to “come up hither” in God. On November 25th 2019, by the leading of God’s Spirit, I joined a prayer accountability group called “The Knee Concept” (TKC). That was the beginning of my burning prayer altar.
On December 2nd 2019, I cut my hair. Whenever people asked me why I cut it, the reason I gave was “Mo fi irun mi dajo ni Benin (I donated my hair in Benin) and I want a fresh start.” However, that was the physical reason. Honestly, I began to hear the call of God and I did not want any distraction. So, I literally began to cut distractions off. I was in a relationship so I told my partner about my hair and he eventually agreed.
In December, I attended the Oasis International Conference hosted by Pastor Nathaniel Bassey virtually. During the conference, Apostle Joshua Selman (a guest minister) began to teach and as he did, the Holy Spirit told me some things to tell my ex. Basically, it was an apology for not being there for him during my service year. Afterwards, I sensed that my ex was avoiding me. My self-esteem was fast waning.
2020 With the Sauce
At the beginning of the year, my mentor and his wife visited my family. He asked me about my next step. I explained that God instructed me to wait like Mary. My mentor confirmed what I said. I figured that I would work with my mum and make some self-development strides. He tried to explain to my mum and he called for a 7-day fast.
The fast began to expose things very quickly, and I had multiple dreams of deliverance. On January 7th 2020, my ex suggested that we break up. He ghosted me for a little while. My relationship was 6 years and 2 months old. I had never experienced a break-up before so I was in denial. When I tried to get closure, he referred to a fight we had while I was in Youth Service. Apparently, that was the beginning of the end. I was blamed for some mistakes he made and words I did not utter. After a few weeks, I agreed to break up with him because he did not love me anymore, I could not trust him anymore, I was so scared of his unforgiveness and my mentor asked me to break it off. I was very uncertain of my decision however I knew that my ex was over me.
For about 7 months, I could not sleep well. My regular sleeping time was 4 am/5 am. Several times, my mum held me in the middle of the night and prayed for my deliverance. During the day, her anthem was “Go out!” She got tired of my presence at her workplace. I wanted to escape by resuming school (I’m a little bit of a bookworm). Unfortunately, the University of Ibadan was stalling. Then, she began to clamour that I get a job. The problem was God asked me to wait. I could not have survived a job in January. I kept having multiple emotional breakdowns and flashbacks. It was too much.
The Call to Intercession
In January, my prayer group (TKC) bore another ministry – The Watchtower Initiative (TWI) – an intercessory school for Nigeria. I was part of the first set of students and leaders, and it was an intensive spiritual regiment. It spanned 13 weeks, and I took a 13-week break from my house fellowship because of clashing schedules. My induction into intercession for Nigeria was a 3-day dry fast. That experience opened me up to something deeper such that I would wait on God for days on the matters of Nigeria. I also learnt how to keep watches of prayer in the day, so, at certain times, you can predict that I would be praying. I am grateful that I was jobless at that time.
Towards the end of February, people believed I had no ambition. My mum was not happy about my commitment to my prayer group (TKC) and intercessory ministry (TWI). Honestly, she thought I had joined a cult. My way of life was driving her crazy. I was always fasting and hardly sleeping. I also developed this habit of only bathing at night. I woke up to spiritual work, prayed during the day and had my bath at night. My mum is very neat and she bathes at least twice in a day. She is also slightly more extroverted than I am. She believed I was depressed and poured all my energy to the church. Yes, I was sad, but I entered into the “wilderness season” in 2019 – before my break up. Since the ember months of 2019, I felt like a pregnant woman in the spirit.
After the intercessory school, I began to look for jobs. I knew God wanted me to wait so I was on the lookout for virtual jobs. I kept checking the University of Ibadan’s portal for updates. This was in March 2020. ASUU strike and COVID-19 would have been mocking me tori I neva experred it (because I didn’t expect the turnout of things). All federal schools – including the University of Ibadan – went on strike and COVID-19 hit the world. I was just like “Really?” In my house, I was in “isolation” during the lockdown because it was inferred that I was in a cult, I had no job and apparently, I used to smell because I bathed once in a day.
After a few weeks, my mother’s friend told my mum about the redundancy of staff at his organization due to COVID-19. He invited me to work for him virtually, and I also introduced a few of my capable friends to help out as interns. So, I got employed in the pandemic. I started with an intern’s pay of N15,000 monthly. Over time, my salary multiplied. For a while, my mum did not believe I was working. She thought all I did was for church. Please note that she is a fervent believer; she just could not get me.
During the lockdown, my prayer group (TKC) prayed together via Mixlr between 12 am and 3 am for about 28 days. During one of the vigils, I slept off on my knees in prayer. However, when I woke up, a pastor wrote out most of the prayer points raised by the set-man on the WhatsApp community page. I was so grateful. From the following vigil, I began to write out the prayer points raised by the set-man for others who sleep off in prayers. Subsequently, we began to hold 5-hour prayer vigils every Friday. We learnt to pray to God for intimacy and purpose, not “bread and fish.” This was how we could stay for hours. After this period, the set-man appointed me as Lead Prophetic Scribe of The Knee Concept, one who documents the utterances of God to God’s people.
In March 2020, I was invited to become the secretary for a female evangelistic group. The convener served in The Knee Concept. The set-man of The Knee Concept was her mentor. I wanted a female mentor and I felt she would be appropriate for me, so I joined her but waited on God for the go-ahead to submit to her mentorship. However, God disagreed. After a while, I received word that I was labouring like a fool. I was doing so much alone in her ministry. So, I resigned from service in her ministry in July.
I had a few suicidal thoughts this year. I dreamt of a car crash, imagined being hit by trailers and thought of dying from emotional pain and spiritual workload. I was ashamed of saying I was tired because I imagined what people like Pastor E. A. Adeboye have experienced. One night, God spoke to me through the same Pastor E. A. Adeboye. He said, “God does not kill his wounded soldiers; He feeds them.” Also, I fell into clinical depression at a point. I know because I have been at that sunken place before. I lost my father almost 9 years ago and when I did, some demons oppressed me. I began to hear their voices again this year. So, I asked for a 2-week leave from some spiritual work and faced official work. I just rested and stayed with God alone. After the retreat and some Bible study, God fed me more bread for the journey ahead.
While working, I began to pick up skills like virtual collaboration, learning agility, transdisciplinarity, graphics design, audio and video editing, and sales. I developed an interest in Content Creation and Digital Marketing. Canva, Shaw Academy and LinkedIn Learning were the avenues God used to refine my skills. This growth happened amid the pain. The growth in my mind and spirit is truly exponential.
God rewarded my work for Him with more work. In September, I became a pastor at my mentor’s church. In October, I joined the Spiritual Development team of Legacy Youth Fellowship (the youth fellowship of my home church). The team became my solace. In such little time, we prayed through on matters that affect our nation.
Well, I am aware that certain men find me interesting. There are some I may not know. However, most of them are scared to approach me. I think they have reason to be. I do not find confusion appeasing, as in, I don’t like the confusion of not knowing who is mine. I have seen this operation help me chase men away even when they are pining.
After all I have been through, it is apparent that attraction is not enough. Aimoye “like” (I have liked enough)…it is not enough. Love is not enough; spirituality is not enough; even virginity is not enough. I cannot afford to make a mistake anymore, so I must hear the Voice of God and see the agreement of our destinies to say “Yes” to a man. I must also become the kind of woman that my kind of man needs. So, I’m on hold for now…
Well, 2020 has been my year of waiting, my year of the wilderness and my year of painful growth. I thank God that I am alive at this point. People whom I consider better than I am have passed away. I am not where I want to be but I am not where I used to be. I am on the lookout for better jobs, I am gaining new skills and I am letting God help me forget the past, behold and see a new thing. With all my heart, I pray for the grace to be a yielded vessel and bear the cross of destiny because this is just the beginning.
God bless you, Adepero. Thank you for reading, Adepero’s lovers.
Tomiwa Babajide is an Associate Solutions Architect at LEAD Resources, a charismatic administrator, an SDGs advocate, a creative writer and a graduate of Microbiology. She is adept in transdisciplinarity, novel and adaptive thinking and virtual collaboration. She is zealous to learn and provide real-time solutions to the challenges in the polity. She loves to eat crackers and drink yoghurt, and she can pray and go on road-trips for Africa.
Compliments of the season from Perry’s Tots.🎄
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