The Indispensable Extra…
Short Story Written by Joy A. Adewumi
‘Good afternoon, sir.’ I greeted my dad as I walked into the living room from work and sank into a sofa.
‘How are you, my dear? How was work?’ He asked fondly with a smile.
‘Cutthroat.’ I replied with an exaggerated sigh.
He laughed as he muted the TV. ‘C’mon. Can’t be that bad now, can it?’ Then after a short pause, he asked, ‘Have you submitted the application for that job I told you about?’ I closed my eyes in exhaustion wondering what the best way would be to tell my dad that I hadn’t applied and I knew he was aware that the deadline was the next day.
‘Abigail? The deadline is tomorrow, what are you waiting for?’ He asked.
I peeped through my eyelids to get a feel of his reaction. Of course, there was no way I was going to tell him the exact reason I had not applied. It just wasn’t the kind of stuff I wanted to discuss with anyone. After all, people don’t go around telling others about their shortcomings and inferiority complex.
‘Abigail, I’m waiting for an answer.’ He insisted.
With a sigh, I finally opened my eyes and sat up. ‘Dad, I’ve just been so busy with work, you know? It is exam period and grading has been taking a bulk of my time.’
‘So, busy, you haven’t found the time to draft a cover letter, research a thing or two about the company and send an email with your ready-made resume. Try again, Abby.’
Oh, dear! Couldn’t he just drop it? If he could guess I wasn’t telling him the actual reason, then he must know it was because I didn’t want to tell him. ‘Dad, I don’t know. I’m just not feeling this is the one, you know.’
‘Young woman that was the same thing you said about the last three suggestions I forwarded to you. You’re the same person who will come in a few days and whine about getting something better, that pays better and gives room for career advancement. I just don’t get you. You keep getting certification upon certification, but you always shy away from applying for jobs. What exactly are you trying to avoid?’ He asked as he folded his hands, obviously waiting for a tenable excuse.
I stared at my fingers for a while, simply enjoying the coolness of the room after the super-bumpy bike ride I had to endure under the scorching April sun. I was also trying to come up with something that would satisfy my dad. ‘Probably, I am thinking of going into business.’
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He chuckled as he rubbed his palm down his face and said, ‘Abby, we both know not a single bone in your body is business-inclined. So, start talking. It’s high time we got to the root of this matter.’
I groaned inwardly. Dad was like a dog with a bone that afternoon. He wasn’t letting go. ‘Dad, I have papers to grade.’ It was a feeble, stupid excuse, but anything that might work would do right now.
‘You brought papers home to grade? Where are they? I only see your handbag with-’ He asked making a show of looking around my seat for a stack of papers.
This time I groaned audibly. ‘No, but-’
I wasn’t done but he cut in, ‘I thought so too. So, get talking.’
‘Okay sir, can I at least go rest for a bit and we’ll talk about this later at night?’ I pleaded in a last-ditch effort to wiggle out of the bind I’d found myself in.
‘You mean at night when you’ll lock yourself up and I won’t see you again till you come back from work. And of course, that works for you since the deadline will be just a few hours away by then. Abigail, aye lo bami. (You met me in this world)’ Her dad countered with a dip of his lips and leaned back on the three-seater he dominated.
I should have known he would see right through that. Now, I was in a real bind. What other way to go than to sugarcoat the half-truth and give it to him. Because there was no way I was spilling my insecurities to him. It would be ridiculous. Here he was, a go-getter, larger than life, entrepreneur par excellence and super-dad. Whatever mutation happened with my genes was a cruel sort.
‘Okay, dad. I was just thinking, maybe I might be better suited for some other job, you know? I just haven’t found the right fit. That’s all. And you know, I’m better off with my current job than one that might end up being trouble for me.’ I replied, shrugging.
Dad nodded for a while as though he got my point, but I knew better than to celebrate too soon. He was a crafty one. ‘I guess that’s a nice way to paraphrase, “Honestly, I am terrified to submit my application. I am not sure I measure up and I am afraid of rejection.”’
‘Dad!’ I was caught unawares. I knew he probably wouldn’t settle for my sketchy excuse but I didn’t expect him to get so close to home. What was he? Some psychic?
‘Deny it flat out and I will drop it.’ He challenged, looking straight at me. At that point, I didn’t like him very much because I felt he could see right through me into my deepest insecurities.
‘No comment, sir.’ I replied, looking away and folding my hands across my midriff.
‘Well,’ he replied, shrugging with a smile that screamed, “I won”. ‘You know what they say about silence in the court of law. Silence is an admission of guilt.’
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‘I am not-’ I began in my defence but he cut me off with a raise of one finger.
‘Abby, enough of the hide and seek. I sensed your insecurities a while ago, but of course, I couldn’t just come at you with it. Now, you have confirmed it and the only way forward is to deal with it. You can’t keep holding yourself back for no legitimate reason.’
I chuckled and swallowed hard before I replied, ‘That’s so easy for you to say, sir. You are an achiever. No offence, but an overachiever would fit even better. I’m not sure you’d understand how I feel.’
He wore a small smile that featured the slightest tilt of his lips and a soft expression took over his features. ‘Well,’ he cleared his throat, ‘What if I confess that I wasn’t always an achiever, talk less of an overachiever, as you tag it?’
‘What?’ I asked bewildered. The image didn’t fit into the picture of my dad’s life. ‘That’s hard to picture.’
‘Well, that’s because old things are passed away and all things have become new. It’s also the reason I could recognize the signs in you and guess what?’
‘What?’ I asked.
‘It broke my hearts into tiny painful pieces to find out that you now have the same insecurities I once harboured. I know it’s a painful and depressing place to be. I also know, however, because, of course, I am a living testimony, that you can overcome it.’
I swallowed hard and nodded as I said, ‘How do I go about it?’
‘I know you’re probably expecting that I’ll go all motivational and charge you to rise to the challenge, bla bla bla. But you can always find tons of that on YouTube. Rather, I’ll go spiritual.’ Dad replied as-a-matter-of-factly.
‘Sir?’ I asked, truly bewildered. ‘I didn’t realise it was a spiritual problem.’
‘It isn’t, at least, not in the sense you’re thinking. Just listen to me.’ I nodded and he asked, ‘How encompassing is your Christianity, Abby?’
I shook my head, I didn’t see that one coming. I wasn’t even sure I understood the question. ‘I’m not sure I get you, sir.’
‘I mean, is Christianity a total way of life for you? Does it factor into every facet of your life? How aware and permissive are you of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in your affairs? Not just your ministry now, but your secular life – your academics, your career, your social life? Or is that a part you’ve never really allowed Him into because you think it’s none of His business or He couldn’t care less?’ Dad paused as though he was waiting for an answer.
In truth, I was not sure I grasped the full implications of his questions or could even figure out where he was headed but I replied with what I understood so far. ‘Dad, if you’re asking if I usually pray about these aspects of my life, then yes, certainly! I mean, what would I do without God in every aspect of my life?’
‘Right, honey! Two major questions at this junction.’ Dad was fired up but I was hoping this interview session was going to bring a definitive solution to my predicament. ‘One, When you ask what you would do without Him, I can’t help but wonder, are there not unbelievers who barely give God a second thought but are very successful in their chosen career? That probably means if you work hard enough and do your due diligence, you could make it, so, where then is the place of God in your success? The second question is, how exactly do you pray about these areas of your life?’
I blinked rapidly and if I wasn’t surprised, I would have burst out in laughter. I didn’t realise this was a critical thinking session. Was dad trying to prove to me that I was better than I thought by making me think this hard? Because if he was, then he just might be disappointed.
Goodness, gracious! There you go again Abby, self-doubt and self-deprecation all the time? Don’t you ever get tired? I whined at my pessimism. Okay, back to the questions, I didn’t think they were mere questions to get me thinking, I believed dad had somewhere he was going with this.
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After a few more seconds of organizing my thoughts, I replied, ‘Well, promotion does come from God alone, doesn’t it?’ I asked dad regarding the first question.
‘But unbelievers also get promoted?’ Dad countered.
‘Well, He makes the sun to shine on both the just and unjust, besides, there are certain laws that can’t be broken in this world. One of them is sowing and reaping. If you do your due diligence, cross all t’s and dot all i’s, you are naturally due for success.’
‘So, what are the exclusive benefits of Christians in this game? If there are any at all.’ Dad asked.
Dad was right. From all I’d said, it didn’t sound like there were exclusive benefits to being a Christian especially when you’ve done your due diligence. ‘As ridiculous as it sounds, I’m not sure I can think of one. I mean, the Bible admonishes Christians over and over to be diligent with the work of their hands, as this is the path to prosperity. I figure obedience to that is our perk. But then some unbelievers obey it better than we do.’ I shook my head. I wasn’t answering his questions. I was doing a merry-go-round seeing as I was back to where I started when I began explaining my answer. And he was just smiling at my misery.
‘You’ve not touched the second question at all.’ He said simply when I finished babbling.
The second question? Oh, the second question! ‘Yea, about that, all I do is claim His promises of prosperity, success, favour and mercy to work for me and magnify my efforts.’
‘Huh!’ Dad grunted. ‘Why would you bother when you’ve done your due diligence? After all, the law of sowing and reaping should suffice, shouldn’t it? Besides, how does your insecurity factor into those prayers? I mean how can you pray for God’s favour and still be insecure?’
At this point, I was exhausted. ‘You could just tell me what to do, instead of picking my brain, dad.’ I whined.
‘I am not a motivational speaker. Answer my questions.’ He retorted.
I sighed and considered his questions wearily, I was tired of this quiz. Then a light bulb came on in my mind and I began talking. ‘Wait, of course, it’s because of, well, extra assurance. I mean, yes I’ve done my due diligence, but still, promotion comes from God and it’s His prerogative whom He gives it to, sowing and reaping or no sowing and reaping. Besides, so many things can go wrong in the secular world but when heaven is working in your favour, the lines will fall unto you in pleasant places. Divine favour is that indispensable extra we all need in pursuit of life goals. And it’s a perk that comes with being co-heir with Christ.’
‘That makes a lot of sense, my dear. In fact, you nailed it! Yes, we need to do our due diligence, and the bible even commands it, telling us failure and impoverishment is the consequence of doing otherwise. Then, the bible is further dotted all over with promises of that “extra” you spoke about. It’s that extra that makes you stand out in a sea of outstanding applicants. It’s that extra that turns the heart of evaluators and committees in your favour when there is a close tie. That extra is the difference God promised to put between those that serve Him and those that serve Him not!’
‘Wow!’ I couldn’t help my smile. Dad’s explanation made it so much more beautiful!
He was not done though. ‘More so, sometimes, that extra can be a leverage.’
‘Leverage?’ I asked, sitting straighter.
‘Say, it wasn’t intentional or as a result of slothfulness, but you fall short somehow. If God’s favour is in play, it gives you leverage. That’s why it is a favour and not a reward. The difference is that the favour is undeserved while a reward is deserved. It might sound unfair, but it isn’t, it’s just an extra perk for a son or daughter of God.’
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‘Wawu!’ I sighed deeply thinking of what he’d said in light of how I’d always viewed my chances.
‘I know you’re already thinking of it. Probably. But my second question is still hanging. You know, where I asked how your insecurities fit into your prayers for success.’
Of course, I’d deliberately avoided answering that particular one but in light of what he had just described, I wasn’t so scared to think about it. I could tell this was dad’s endgame. It was obvious as he sat back and gave me time to think of it.
If I had a little extra on my side, and leverage when the situation called for it, why then was I insecure about my ability to land a job amongst a crowd of applicants vying for the same position? Well, that was because I hadn’t realised what I have now. Now, what had I to do? The knowledge of “extra” and leverage wouldn’t just chase away my insecurities. I felt deep in my bones that something had to be done.
‘Okay, dad, now I know my insecurities are baseless in light of my privileges as a daughter of God. But the insecurities wouldn’t just fizzle out just because I now have this knowledge. What do I do?’
‘True, my dear. All you’ve been handed is a weapon, you’re yet to use it.’
‘So, how do I use it?’
‘Abby, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness in high places.’ Dad quoted with excitement dancing in his eyes. ‘So, my dear, where do you use it?’
My eyes lit, mirroring his as I shot up from my seat and squealed, ‘In prayers!’ My handbag hit the tiled floor but I couldn’t care less, honestly.
‘Right! My people perish because they lack knowledge. We ask and receive not because we pray amiss. How then do we not pray amiss?’ Dad asked.
‘By praying with knowledge!’ I replied, wide-eyed.
‘Now, my dear, you go into your secret place and tackle those insecurities with the weapon of God’s word, using the knowledge you’ve just acquired. I expect that by the time I see you next, you would have submitted that application.
I beamed at him as I picked up my bag, genuflected and made a dash for my room.
I was so fired up that by the time I shut the door behind me and turned the lock, my lips were already moving. Immediately, I flung my bag on the bed on the bed and opened my mouth so that the Holy Spirit could fill it. I completely released myself as He made intercessions for me with groaning that cannot be uttered. I lost track of time and just let the Holy Spirit have His way. I could feel the release deep in my bones. After a while, I began praying in comprehensible words.
‘I am satisfied with favour and my barns are filled with blessings. Favour has compassed me about like a shield. Nations are subdued before me and the loins of kings are loosed to open before me the two-leaved gates of a good job with fantastic pay. The heart of kings are in the hands of God and as the rivers of waters, He turns them wheresoever He wills. The heart of everyone involved in my success and prosperity are turned in my favour. God has gone ahead of me to make every crooked path straight. Every gate of brass standing on my way to success is crushed and every bar of iron is cut asunder.’ I burst into tongues again.
‘The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage. God has given me the treasures of darkness and the hidden riches of secret places. My going out and coming in is blessed. Blessed am I in the field and blessed is my going out and my coming in. Blessed is the work of my hands and all my endeavours. God has called me by name so that He can magnify Himself through me.’ More tongues as I snapped my fingers vehemently.
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‘I am blessed. I am prosperous. I am an achiever. I am lifted. I am made to sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, far above fears and insecurities. Far above failure and rejection. Far above principalities and powers. I have a full abundance of God’s blessings. The heavens are opened over me. The floodgates of blessings are opened to me. My barns are full and overflowing. I am not mediocre. I am made to stand before kings and not mean men. Angels are dispatched for my success and breakthrough.’ More intense tongues.
‘I have the keys of the Kingdom. Whatever I bind and disallow on earth is bound and disallowed in heaven and whatever I loose and permit on earth is loosed and permitted in heaven. I disallow mediocrity, average, failure, rejection, insecurities, inferiority complex in my life in the name of Jesus. Because at the mention of the name of Jesus, all knees must bow. I decree in that powerful name, revered on earth, feared in hell and obeyed in heaven, that success, breakthrough, prosperity, and favour is permitted in my life in Jesus name.’ Some more tongues.
‘Glory to Jesus! Hallelujah!’ I jumped and whooped as relief and release coursed through my veins. I hadn’t felt so charged and elated about anything in months, because before I could my fears always ruined my mood and I was back at the valley of pessimism, but this time, nothing was pulling me down. I could tell it was finished!
‘It is finished, the battle is over,
It is finished, there is no more war,
It is finished the end of the conflict,
It is finished, Christ Jesus is Lord!’
I sang the song over and over as I powered up my laptop and pulled together my application materials. After a little bit of research, I drafted my cover letter, attached my application to the email, cut out a part of my cover letter for the body of the email and dashed out of the room to have my dad check it out before I hit send! I was overjoyed and I glorified God for using my dad for me.