The day I became the ugly nastiness that I hate to see but love to judge in the world
– A Crowd-the-Platform Piece by Toyin Oladiran (storyline by Mercy Faleyimu)
I went to sleep one Monday night with one thought on my mind. That day, I had become the ugly nastiness I hate to see but love to judge in the world. What would my Tuesday look like?
One beautiful Monday morning, I left my “no-admission sign” at home. My “no-admission sign” is my sense. My values. It’s that ‘thing’ in my mind that encourages or restrains my lifestyle, and my character. It’s what shapes my response to life. We all have a “no admission” sign; no matter what you believe in, no matter where you are from, no matter your religion. We all have a “no admission” sign that shapes what we accept into our lives, and what we put out into the world.
Well, I am a Christian, and on that day, my “no-admission sign” that helps me align my response to life with Christ’s example, was nowhere near me.
So here’s how it went down.
When I stepped out of my house, everything was all good. Hair style, check. Outfit, on point. Not to mention, I was wearing a new jacket. Yup, I was very ready for a productive work day. Off I went through my apartment complex and out the gate. I stood on the side of the road, waiting contentedly for an okada (motorcycle) to take me to work.
It’s that ‘thing’ in my mind that encourages or restrains my lifestyle, and my character. It’s what shapes my response to life. We all have a “no admission” sign; no matter what you believe in, no matter where you are from, no matter your religion.
Next thing I know, a Hyundai Jeep whizzed its massive tyres right through the large puddle of icky mud water that was in front of me! I mean! I was drenched from face to feet in dirty mud, don’t let me even get started on the state of my spanking new jacket. But the guy didn’t even look back for a second. He continued speeding off in his fancy jeep, leaving me shocked and deflated!
To say I was annoyed is an understatement. I was livid. And so, I stepped into a form; a script that with hindsight, I know that I, the real me anyway, did not write. God certainly did not write it either. I got into character and vented very nicely and heartily, hurling choice scathing words at the guy, stopping between words only for some serious hissing and huffing. I wished he would have stopped the car to face my wrath.
Pity though because, I didn’t close the script and toss it after I vented out all that unrighteous indignation, neither did I hurry back into my heart to retrieve my “no-admission sign”. I took my fuming mass of anger and my sharp and ready tongue ,and hopped on the next okada to work. That okada driver must have seen the thundering clouds circling around my head, because he stayed in his lane, well well! One wrong move, and he would have been my victim number 2.
Turns out my victim number 2 was not to be the okada driver, after all. Ahhh! Enter Ayo, my co-worker. Hmmm…
You know those people that just think that brilliant sunlight streams out, every time they open their mouths? They are so self-involved that it’s like they live in a plane above ours, and they act like they are clueless about what other “lowly human beings” are up to? You know those people that give you a bored once over when they first meet you, then they sniff twice as their eyes glaze over, as if they wish they had not seen you at all? Yep, that was Ayo. And yep, that’s how she looked at me most of the time.
I remember, back in secondary school, girls like that would be the “cool chicks” for sure. And the rest of us would console ourselves by imagining a day when we were older and richer and way more successful professionally than they would be. That would only be fair right? LOL! Doesn’t always work that way though, does it?
Anyway, Ayo was that girl.
Now the way I usually handled her was to just to ignore her. I would just mutter some platitudes to avoid her pettiness and drama, you know, when I was in my right senses and I had my “no-admission sign” in place. But alas! Today was not to be such a day.
So, I walked into the office and I saw Ayo, and the first thought that flashed through my mind was “Dear God oooo! Let dis ghel not try meee!!! Today na today. If this self-declared princess so much as crosses my path today, she will know what it means to spell my name backward! As in!!! By the time I am done with her ehn… hmmm…I mean, why would anyone make it their life’s work to make other people feel small and puny?! What did I ever do to you? I’m done taking it o.”
Poor Ayo. She didn’t know what hit her. When she sashayed over to me to blab about some inconsequential and nonsense mis-step she imagined I had committed, I was all over her like a bad rash!
Hahaha! Yhoooo! Ayo was shocked! I was elated! As in, I was patting my own back and fist pumping myself. “See God, there’s a time to turn the other cheek, and there’s a time to give as much as you get. See how quickly she shut her mouth?” And I went about the rest of my day with my battle axe on my shoulder, and my sword in my hand. Ready for my next victim.
I wish I could end this piece by telling you that an hour or so after leaving Ayo stunned and confused, my spirit spoke to my heart, and my heart spoke to my mind, and my mind spoke to my mouth, and my mouth spoke to God to ask for some sort of forgiveness for hating on His (rather annoying) creation, Ayo. I wish I could say that I soon realised that I had just dished out my worst to someone that God loves as intensely as He loves me, even despite all my many mess ups, and blah blah blah…but nope.. Nothing like that. My “no-admission sign” was still off.
Here’s what happened. My hours and minutes were invaded by thoughts of snarling quips. Wicked thoughts. Prideful thoughts. Bitter thoughts. I was going about my work as usual but in my mind, I was sitting on a throne, judging this person and that person, sentencing them all to hell on a fast train, and loving it. So when that work day ended, and it was time to head back home, it was not me who packed up my things, picked up my bags and left the office. It was some chick; a fragment of who God made me to be. An unrecognizable version of myself. A mirror-image of the mess that my day had thrown at me; the mess that had gotten me all riled up in the first place.
I had become the ugly nastiness that I hate to see and love to judge in the world.
I wish I could end this piece by telling you that an hour or so after leaving Ayo stunned and confused, my spirit spoke to my heart, and my heart spoke to my mind, and my mind spoke to my mouth, and my mouth spoke to God to ask for some sort of forgiveness for hating on His (rather annoying) creation, Ayo.
It turns out that by lashing out at the world for lashing out at me, all I achieved was to get cornered into acrid and brash spaces of more of the same. Yes, I may have put out and given my best shot. Yes I may have put so, so and so in their place and let them know that they best not try me when the sun is shinin’…or something like that. But in the bigger picture, I came away gaining nothing.
Instead, I lost my peace. I lost my strength to rise above the nonsense that life does hurl at you; and yes, let’s not get it twisted, a broken world hurls broken things at its people. But most of all, most tragic of all, most pointless of all, I dented my flow with God. And now with the benefit of hindsight, which as they say, is 20-20, I know that it all went downhill that morning, when I forgot to strap on my “no-admission sign”.
What was the point of it all? What leg did I have to stand on, when I was giving as “good” as I got; when I am acting on the very same (mis)values that Ayo lives by? How do I complain about hatred, prejudice, bitterness, anger, rejection, elitism, racism, when in response to it, I act out by being hateful, prejudiced, bitter, angry, elitist, racist etc? Or is it that I am entitled to act out, because “they did it first”? If I am entitled to be broken and to lash out at the world because I am a victim, then what if those that victimised me were (or are) also victims of someone else’s anger, and bitterness, and prejudice, and hatred and racism and elitism etc?
Let me put it this way.
If I hit back at the world for hitting at me, what makes me different from the world that hit at me? What leg do I have to stand on, if I throw hate at those who throw hate at me? Am I more justified than the first hater, simply because my hate is in response to their hate? What if their hate is in response to the hate that someone else threw at them when they started their morning, or their lives for that matter?
The cycle goes on and on. Why can’t I be the one to break it?
Where does entitlement end? When does mercy and forgiveness begin? Where does strength and the quest to be whole and to be a source of healing, and not a contributor to the brokenness of the world, kick in?
I went to sleep that Monday night with one thought on my mind. That day, I had become the ugly nastiness that I hate to see and love to judge in the world, and it was because I had somehow left home without my “no-admission sign”.
What would my Tuesday look like?
I am Toyin…
fully convicted by my own words and very much still under construction in the hands of the Father.
Written by Toyin Oladiran (Storyline by Mercy Faleyimu)
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