Growing up, even with my curiosity and juvenile tendencies..(well, not so juvenile, I be beta pikin) I could be passed off as a ‘church girl’. As a teenager, I attended a sister-church to Deeper Life Church in Nigeria. Their ways (dogma, if you like) was akin with Deeper Life’s. ‘Mary-amaka‘ skirt(long skirt), ‘Natchy‘(nappy afro hair that’s not been straightened) , Headtie covering the ears, no make up, no jewelry was the ideal look of a member of that church. Matter of fact, I was termed devilish when I showed up at one of the annual conferences with braided hair extension; a Christmas hairdo I was very much pleased with. I was just 11 years old then and the teenage care teacher had worn a frown towards me because of that. So, now you get the picture. This was the setting of the church but my Mom was partially dogmatic. However, she didn’t fail to take me to church for all the weekly service. My Dad wasn’t born again then and won’t budge, instead he would laugh at us and laugh at how all our conference names had “war” or “fire” or “thunderbolt” in it.
One faithful day, I got visited by my Mom and she had this glee on her face she was trying so hard to hide. She couldn’t help but dish out the news that my Dad had given his life to Christ and he was now attending fellowships and church services with his present church. He didn’t go to the church we attended. So my Mom happily joined him to his new found church. I got back from boarding school for the holiday and saw that things had really changed. And that was how the torture began. (cue in music)*duhn duhn duhn*
I was to wake up at 5 a.m for morning devotions. My dad was so zealous, he would do his personal quiet time at 4 a.m and call us at 5 a.m. Even my Mom wasn’t that zealous. It was admirable at first but it became a drag when I always had to drag myself to the sitting room. The first day, I found out it lasted for an hour. I assumed it was just because he needed to admonish me as I’ve come for the holiday. Days went and it was an hour, sometimes an hour plus. I remember days when I would sleep through the bible reading and sermon, my dad will yell so hard and I’d jump. Sometimes, the punishment was to stand up while others sat, to refrain yourself from sleeping. I’m sure most Nigerian homes experienced this. Y’all know how sensational the sleep can be at 4 a.m/5 a.m. On days when I battle so hard with sleep (after staying up to watch MTv as a teenager), he would admonish me and tell me how the devil is creeping right at that moment as I’m sleeping. Hay God! Don’t even get me started on how brutal the knock on the door was, when waking me up. Or when my parents use what I did wrong the previous day, as a case study through out the devotion. Don’t get me wrong. I loved God, I still do but as a teenager and even a young adult, I felt trapped. Like I had no say. I couldn’t be excused no matter how tired I was the previous day. I always admired other people who just had shorter duration of morning devotions and they were off for the day. One day I came home and he said it has to be done Morning and night. Whaaaat?! I just looked forward to getting married and packing my load.
Fast forward years later, I look forward to morning devotions because I admired the teachings and devotion style of my Sister-in-law and her husband. We didn’t have a well structured devotion time back in Saudi Arabia because my hubby’s work shifts got in the way. We start it, then leave out a day…then another day..and another day until we give up on the routine and pray personally or when we conciously strive to. Another funny but valid reason is, We play too much in my house. Sometimes as my hubby is praying or reading a sermon, his voice starts ringing in my head, reminiscing on the joke he cracked earlier and I just burst into laughter. Same with him. Now we got no work shifts getting in the way and I’m trying to enforce the routine. But some questions come to mind everytime. Is it disobedience when one party is just not up to it, out of tiredness or discretion? I’ve seen and heard about scenarios where it’s like a taboo if any member of the household misses the devotion. Is it right to force someone to start up a routine just because it’s a Godly thing to do? I’ve heard people say the Man should enforce the morning devotion because he is the ‘High priest’, do you think the same? Some say the woman holds the family in prayer so she would enforce it, do you think same too? How did you start, enforce and maintain a morning devotion routine? I’d really like to know your ideas.
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