Religion divides; religion unites. Its symbols are seen everywhere here. In the big southern cities, churches clamour for prominence with their dizzying signboards on busy and quiet streets. While the western world wants to send God packing, we have him firmly entrenched in our society.
Having watched God’s role shrink in the west, I embraced his omnipresence back home. But my joy at luxuriating in unabashed religious freedom was marred by incident after incident with religious-sounding people.
Religious clichés form a huge umbrella where strange bedfellows meet. Christian choruses drip from the sweet mouths of juju practitioners and Holy-Ghost-power-wielding herbalists advertise their solutions in the newspapers. But it is in the language of everyday people that these clichés find unbridled expression, so much so that a simple yes or no response is as elusive as constant power supply.
In a culture where speeches are padded with verbosity and our elder’s words are peppered with flowery proverbs, perhaps it is fitting that our words are wrapped in religious foil and by God’s grace is the heavy-duty foil that covers every situation under our sun!
When I queried my handyman for a firm work commitment, he kept dodging under the grace of God. “By God’s grace I will come and do the work on Thursday.”
When I persisted, in exasperation he declared, “Madam, I will come on Thursday, God willing!”
Then he beamed like a monkey atop a tree that had escaped the canines of a hungry lion, daring me to challenge the will of God.
That he did not show on the said Thursday is symptomatic of a national ulcer.
Civil servants show up at work by believing and trusting God.
Political parties garner votes by the will of God.
The mechanic will fix your car by the grace of God.
Senators, stupefied by the challenges facing their constituents, hold press conferences where they proclaim, “It is only the grace of God that can save Nigeria!”
Like soap that glides through wet hands, we use religion to evade the grasp of accountability time after time. From Aso Rock to Ajegunle, religion is courted, invoked, and brandished as if it is a determinant of GDP and as if, according to Karl Marx, it is the opium of the people!
At the mall, a young man selling CDs from his début album politely accosted me. Recognising a fellow struggling artist hustling for survival, I decided to purchase one.
“What kind of music is this?”
“By God’s special grace, Christian music.”
I nearly walked away, but I kept hope alive. “Are you sure?”
“Of course madam,” he replied without hesitation, “what else would I record?”
“Look I want to encourage you. I’ll give you N300 anyway, what kind of music is this?”
I guess he must have thought that I imagined that he was born yesterday—a whole him—a scammer of scammers. Looking pained, he told of how other buyers had commended his efforts. He painted a picture of struggle and survival, in which the grace of God and the will of God had converged to give him a testimony, proving that no condition is permanent. Moved, I overlooked the shabby packaging and paid for the CD.
Later, I played the CD in my car. I strained my ears through the poor sound quality to make out the lyrics. The chorus rang:
Naija is where we are
Naija is where we belong
Naija is where we will die
My lips curved slightly as realisation shone through my eyes, of course it was a Christian song!
Since productivity hinges on how God is wielding his grace, I have come to certain conclusions about my day.
Will I go to work today? Ah, it’s in God’s hands.
Will I eat lunch during break? Yes, God willing.
Will I take a pee after lunch? Believing and trusting God.
And finally, can I draft a concluding paragraph for this blog post? By God’s grace!
© Timi Yeseibo 2013
Photo credit: dan mogford / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dansflickr/272385799/
Title: scams upon scammers
Photo credit: MikeBlyth / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Original image URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blyth/152662733/
Title: Power of God bus (Chi Boy)
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
42 thoughts on “By God’s Grace”
By God’s grace. Whenever I hear that line I wonder how many of the people using it actually believe in God. I think it has become our catchphrase the way many young women use the word ‘like’ in every sentence they utter. I might write about it later. Thanks for this.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Certainly in these parts, we have abused the phrase.
I look forward to reading your take on by God’s grace and/or the famous ‘like’ 🙂
By God’s grace ehn, we will begin to take responsibility for our lives and not hold God or Satan responsible for everything.
A very insightful and enjoyable read!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Believing and trusting God! 🙂
Timi. You are eloquent and witty. By God’s grace, the sky is your limit!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you. Amen o . . . by God’s grace! 😉 XD
God willing, you too shall push past all hindrances to your ‘hustle’ 🙂
Lovely post. They conveniently forget the part about laboring more abundantly. Grace & Peace be unto you
True, there is dignity in honest labour. We need to believe it enough, see it demonstrated enough, to embrace it. Thank you Tony. More grace 😉
This is my first time visiting ur blog and I am hooked already..u got me rolling almost all the way through this beautiful,well articulated piece.what really got me tho was the part the guy said,by Gods special grace, I mean surely he could have simply just said xtian music..Kai Nigerians,such fascinating bunch…me love this write up anyways..well done
Lol, a well-crafted Naija sentence has to have something religious woven into it! Odunayo, welcome, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Thank you 🙂
*laughing and rolling on the floor* Thank God for the rain again tonight, …my laughter won’t disturb the neighbours by His Grace…lol…
Nigerians and our religiosity!…
Insightful post…important lessons…
May we learn to quit abusin this beautiful gift of Grace!
This religious foil that we use to cloak everything, especially our wrong doing, na wa! I remember an expat who moved to Nigeria from the States. She was so happy to be among so many God-fearing people, until she was scammed again and again!
Laughter, rolling, floor, rain, neighbours & God’s grace. I bet you have all the ingredients for a blog post 🙂
Got to know about abt ur blogspot from Osemhen’s and I’m hooked!
Might I add that always using God’s grace as a condition for our intended deeds kind of reveals a subtle caveat that we might not end up doing them and that we blame God(‘s supposed withdrawal of his beneficence) for our inadequacies/gross incompetence/failures.
I want God’s grace and I pray for it too- but I wouldn’t say it in the manner of (insincere) Nigerian artisans!
Hiya Rowland, I’m honoured to have you here!
You’re so right. I need God’s grace, I crave God’s grace, I’m zero without God’s grace… but just like you, I don’t want to use it to blame God or deceive others!
Down-to-earth, humorous depiction of a daily abuse of what should be sacred. Can’t agree more. The supplication springs up to mind (with some tweaking though): “Father forgive them for they know not what they say much less how they say it.”
Haven’t stopped being a fan.
Lol Bunmi 🙂 . I overheard someone say that we are all equally in need of grace… I dare add forgiveness as well!
Thanks for being here. When are you going to start blogging again?
“I’m a true Christian, so I cannot lie to you…”,”By God’s grace…” and some other lines that bear the God-factor have been used to perpetuate some of the worst crimes/acts in this country. So when someone mentions the name of God while trying to prove his sincerity, my suspicion heightens. In response to this, a co-worker asked me if I really believe in God. I told her that was a question for God to decide.
Like a musician once said: “The cases God will judge are too many.” And I’m very certain that the wrong use of God’s name is one of them.
Uzoma, if only we could just let out yes be yes, and our no be no…
I feel you…
Well my sister u forgot one, God dey. that tape wuld have gone for 150 bt shaa God is able, i wonder whenever i read your blog if i culd ever afford you to write me a speech. u are one of a kind and am proud to know you by God’s grace
Lo Arinze! God dey indeed. I guess the minute I parted with N300, the guy privately extolled the ‘mercies of God’ that had brought a ‘mumu’ his way 🙂
I am glad to know you too! What kind of speech do you want me to write? Believing and trusting God, all things, including speech writing, are possible!
Great post. I say by the grace of God only when I truly mean it. Not sure if it means I only consider God when am desperate. I hope not.
Lol! But you’re honest, and that is refreshing!
Reblogged this on tHe CrAzY NiGeRiAn and commented:
This is a must-read!
Hey Timi! Great post. Permission to reblog. Awaiting approval…
Thanks Jollof! What an honor, please go ahead…. by God’s grace!
Hahaha you said it too! The famous By God’s grace is really indispensable! I can see why we use it all the time. It works every time! 🙂
Yeah, and I’m really loving your sense of humour! Lol!
My sister, this is hilarious! By God’s grace has become a cloak of defence and shield for some lazy people who do not want to be accountable and take responsibility for their misgivings. We thank our gracious God who has not withdrawn His grace despite the abusive use of the word.
We keep depending on God for everything. Nigeria is supposedly one of the most religious country in the world and yet corruption, murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape…………we do them all. We complain all the time about the problems of Nigeria and always end with ‘God will see Nigeria through’. As if God is going to come down and fix our mess.
Ha, and it is not as if depending on God’s grace is bad in itself- it is the facade that leaves much to be desired; it is the refusal to employ that grace to achieve worthwhile objectives, that leaves much to be desired!
Hey, you may find out during the course of this dialogue, god willing, that not a few Nigerians share this frustration with you.
By god’s grace, I am a son of a Deaconess and an elder in the church and by his mercy I was a youth pastor until I got admitted into the university.
However, I have still discovered that we give god less credit for all he does for our country. All the bathing in his grace and mercies are mostly hypocritical, but God has been faithful in all ways. and his mercies endure forever. Amen 🙂
Ha, ha 🙂 I agree Charles. What irks me is when the phrase is used with the intention to deceive, as unfortunately in my experience, and that of people I know, it usually is.
Mehn! No be small thing o! What more can I add except to say – It is well 🙂
Joxy, Joxy… don’t get me started on “it is well” as well! But in my experience, “it is well” seems to be limited to charismatic circles. In fairness, I hardly have any complaints on its usage 🙂
I feel you girl-next-door. You are spot on when you say it is said as if it is to say, will you challenge the will or grace of God? Thinking about it, it may be one of many things that make Nigeria one, is it not the same thing as inshallah? I agree no one knows, that is even a song, but the problem is when it is used for poor planning, I should say bad planning, ill-consideration and a total lack of commitment to accountability. But there is still hope. I met an example person at Legoland, a young girl doing her intern from ATBU, I actually asked if people still go to school there. By God’s grace, things go better!
Exactly Frank! It got so bad when I was in Nigeria that I started believing “by God’s grace” was a synonym for no! I put all the “God-gracers” in one bag, but now and again, you meet someone who challenges your assumptions, like the girl you met at Legoland 🙂
Inshallah, e go beta!
Lol! And ‘God willing’ I will comment on this write up!!