A mind of her own/ Edith Ohaja


        Bridget watched her mother in the Lord, Didi, and a brother in the church, Zion, whispering in the corner. From their occasional glances in her direction, she knew they were talking about her. She also knew what that portended and she was getting angrier by the minute. She decided to go outside the church hall for some fresh air and to calm herself down. She didn't want her prayers during the vigil they were attending to go unanswered which would be the case if she stayed angry.
        But Didi followed her outside and told her to go and see the pastor briefly with Brother Zion. Didi, a civil servant and part-time evangelist, was concluding plans to have them joined in wedlock despite Bridget's repeated protests.
        "No, I will not!" Bridget declared.
        "What is wrong with you?" Didi asked. "You think you can do better than Brother Zion? Or you want to go back to your former lifestyle?" That was the last straw and Bridget exploded.
        "What makes you think I'll go back to my former lifestyle if I don't do what you say? Are you the one that saved me or the one that's keeping me in the faith? It may come to you as a surprise, but I have a mind of my own".
        "Where was your mind when I picked you from the gutter, messing yourself up to survive? And where was your mind when you fell into sin with that small boy on campus four months ago?"
        "Look at you trying to take the glory of God! So I was hustling to survive and I've made mistakes as a believer but you've always been spotless. Wonder why you got saved then". While Didi was struggling to muster a response, she continued, "Even God allows us to exercise our free will, but you keep dominating and manipulating me into doing as you say without considering if it is what I want or God's will for me. There has to be a line between ministering to someone and using charismatic witchcraft on them".
        "Are you calling me a witch?"
        "I'm just saying I will not be your lapdog anymore. If this relationship is to continue, you have to be content with giving me advice and allowing me to weigh it before deciding what I will eventually do. I will no more have you calling the shots and letting my mind go to waste", she answered and began to walk away.
        "Don't come running to me when the idols of your father's house or your former friends start harassing you", Didi threw after her but Bridget did not even break her stride as she made her way back into the church auditorium.
        Although she was grateful to Didi for preaching to her and assisting her spiritually and materially since she gave her life to Christ, she was feeling suffocated by her overbearing attitude. And it wasn't just on the issue of marriage, she had her nose in virtually everything Bridget did. She expected every decision, every step Bridget took to meet her approval first, down to how she spent her money and who she made friends with.
        Initially, Bridget was grateful for the guidance because she saw that the Christian lifestyle was totally at variance with how she had lived before. But after fourteen months, she felt she needed to come out from under Didi's wings. Besides being an undergraduate, she had read her Bible through in the first year and had a continuing habit of reading four chapters everyday. She read Christian books, listened to Christian music, and was a regular at church and Didi's fellowship. She also had a small circle of Christian friends which she hoped to keep expanding. She didn't think that being a Christian consisted solely in seeing everything the way Didi did. She didn't want to lose her individuality and become another Didi clone like many others. She yearned to broaden her horizon.
        But Didi could not bear to be contradicted or opposed. She saw every expression of contrary opinion by Bridget as an act of disloyalty and betrayal. And she refused to acknowledge that Bridget had any knowledge of the Bible to speak of, even after she told her of her Bible reading practice. She dismissed the whole thing as head knowledge as though she had exclusive access to revelation. For example. when Bridget said she was not comfortable with women pastoring churches, a practice which Didi applauds, she flared up as if Bridget had blasphemed and shouted her down. She was averse to debate and expected Bridget to swallow her views and just shut up but it wasn't working anymore.
        The resentment in Bridget had built up gradually and by the time Didi introduced the subject of marriage to Zion, the girl was determined to oppose her without giving the young man a chance. Unfortunately, Didi persisted until matters came to a head in the altercation they just had outside the church. Bridget wanted to concentrate on the praise and worship going on but she was feeling tearful. She felt a hand on her shoulder and it was Zion. Surprisingly, she was glad to see him.
        "Can I see you outside for a minute?" he whispered and she followed him. They went to the car park far from the music in the church in order to hear themselves.
        "I don't want to waste your time but I need to tell you that I'm not happy you're quarreling with Mummy Didi on account of me". She wanted to say something but he held up his hand. "I overheard your exchange earlier. Please, I beg you to make up with her. Perhaps, if I didn't pester her about how much I like you, none of this would have happened. I hate to be the one to ruin your relationship".
        This brother is not bad at all, Bridget thought. But in order not to stray from the subject in hand, she replied, "You don't understand, Brother Zion". She noticed that his name had a nice ring to it. "My quarrel with Mummy Didi has been a long time coming, as they say. No need to blame yourself".
        "But you know that God has called us unto peace". Unto peace - she would have teased him for using King James'* English to converse but she didn't know him well and didn't want him to think she was trivialising their discussion.
        "I will do what I can to sort things out".
        "By the way, my name is Zion". Bridget rolled her eyes. "I believe we shall meet again, very soon". She smiled as she shook his extended hand and told herself, "Jesus nwere mmadu".*
        She wondered what she would do if Didi rebuffed her because of the things she said during her outburst but decided she would cross that bridge when she got to it and it certainly won't be tonight.
-To be continued-
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*King James' English is 17th Century English as used in the King James Version of the Bible.
*Jesus nwere mmadu is Igbo for Jesus has people (like good-looking people, well-behaved people ... )
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Ⓒ  Edith Ugochi Ohaja  2015 (Facebook: /edithugochi.ohaja  Twitter: @EdithOhaja)
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Jesus is LORD!