“…To Will and To Do” 2

Written by Joy A. Adewumi

A light wave of chuckles came from the audience but it soon died down.

Mona began. ‘Two weeks – and when I say two weeks, I mean, a day after honeymoon ended – into what was highly anticipated as a heaven-on-earth marriage, I discovered that my husband snored,’ some people in the audience chuckled. ‘I discovered he put his shoes in the wrong places with his smelly socks tucked into them – apologies, sweets, I know you’re watching,’ May as well as the audience laughed. Mona continued, ‘and he had an annoying habit of saying, “Mo, breeeaaathe, whenever I was pissed at him and worked up.’ The audience laughed again. Mo smiled.

‘I tried so hard to whip him into shape, trust me, I tried, but he was no metal, dude was all flesh and blood, he was bending nowhere.’ Another wave of chuckles came from May and the audience, after which Mo continued.

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‘Before six months were up, I was almost constantly pissed, worked up and unsatisfied with everything in my home. I was always right and he was always wrong. I did things the proper way while he, being the weirdo that he was, did things upside down. More annoying was the fact that when I was at my worst, he would just say, “Mo-” ‘- breathe.’ The audience and May chorused together with Mo and she joined them in the ensuing laughter.

‘Well, you see what I was saying?’ She asked with a chuckle and got an answering one from the audience. She continued, ‘On more than one occasion, I displayed my nasty tendencies in public and the one time he dared walk out on my crap, I decided it was the final straw and I wanted no more of our sham of a marriage.’

There was pin-drop silence as Mona continued relating her story. ‘I spoke to my Pastor’s wife and you won’t believe what she did that day.’

Not a soul spoke.

‘She called my Pastor and began berating him. “Honey, what on earth is wrong with you. I just can’t figure you out. Twenty-five years into our marriage and you still can’t arrange dishes in the dishwater. You put coloured clothes with the whites in the washer and I always have to re-sort the garbage because you always put the wrong kinds in the wrong bags. I don’t know what to do with you. I’m not sure you’ll ever learn. You simply laugh off my corrections and insist I have to take life easier and live a bit. I don’t think I’m interested anymore. Let’s call it quits.”‘

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May’s expression of surprise was comical and it mirrored that of many others in the audience.

‘Do you want to know what he said in reply?’ Mona asked her captivated audience. Vigorous nods of heads mixed with a murmur of “yes” was the reply she got.

‘He said, “Before you walk out on us, you might as well be informed that you’re no martyr. You snore. You always make me look like a wicked parent whenever I correct the kids. You always nag at me whenever I’m driving and you’re too serious for comfort. I can go on if you like.” By that time, guys, I was already confused. They looked so serious.’ Mona’s audience erupted into laughter.

My Pastor’s wife scoffed and claimed that she had changed and was no more guilty of half of those things he’d listed and he made the same claim for seventy-five percent of her list. Then, they concluded mutually that the changes only happened because each taught the other to be better. Then and only then did I realise what the drama was about. It was a simple lesson in self-improvement.’ Mona paused a little to let that sink in. The nods she got told her they got the message.

She continued, ‘That day, despite my arguments and claim that I was the right, though, not perfect, party and my husband needed to change, my Pastor’s wife instructed me to go home and have a discussion with my husband where I’ll lay down his faults without nagging and I had to promise to let him lay down my faults too without nagging. Then, she gave me a challenge. She said, ‘for the next one week, Sister Mo, don’t nag at your husband, teach him. That is, don’t scold him for doing something wrong, rather show him how you’d rather he did it. And when he asks you to breathe, don’t flip, rather, do just that. Don’t take it as nagging. Take it that he needs you to calm down for a second. If within the next one week of doing exactly what I have instructed, there’s no change, then, we’ll talk about that separation.’

‘Wow!’ May exclaimed laughing.

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‘Yes, that’s the right expression, because that was the beginning of the best chapter of my life which I still enjoy this day.’

Loud applause thundered and May, continued, ‘On that note, beautiful people – like May would say, – I am that woman who, once upon a time, believed she was okay the way she was and all the faults laid with other people until I saw that I was just as flawed as others, if not worse and that self-improvement is a must if one would enjoy a beautiful and fulfilling life. Now, that is all I talk about.’

The crowd erupted in cheers as May, exclaimed, ‘Wow! Just wow! So, tell us, how has the journey being?’

Mona twisted her lips, ‘I won’t lie May, it was very tough at the beginning. I was finally seeing my terrible personality for what it was and I hated who I was. I realised with so much pain that my personality had not hurt only marriage but every single relationship I’ve had all my adult life. With siblings, my parents, friends, colleagues, just mention it.’ May and many others shook their heads. ‘I tried to change but it was hard and so I went back to my Pastor’s wife. This time for entirely different reasons. She laid it out thick for me. She said self-improvement always starts with self-discovery and usually we might not like what we find. A truckload of humility would be needed for us to acknowledge our faults. Also, the journey to becoming better versions of ourselves would be crazy hard and that’s where self-discipline steps in. We can’t give up because the alternative to self-improvement is not an option. So, we simply keep trying, and that’s what I did. That’s what I have been doing.’

‘Hmm… that’s deep.’ May replied. ‘So, would you say people, relationships, homes and dreams fail because people refuse self-improvement?’

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‘Yes, often than not.’ Mo replied. ‘But I won’t say all who are not being deliberate about self-improvement refused it. There are about three categories of people when it comes to self-improvement. The first category consists of those who are just unaware of how bad their personalities stink. They seldom have long-lasting relationships because people always walk away from their lives and they think the world has a vendetta against them. Often, they turn bitter against the world.
The second category includes those who are blessed enough to know their flaws but are in denial. The third group of people are aware of their flaws but have given up on improvement because it’s a tough process. Only a countable few who make up the last category are in it for the long haul and are dogged about it.’

‘Now, that’s quite the exposé’ May replied. So,’ she said turning to the audience, ‘In other words, find your category and walk up the hill from there. Let’s take a quick commercial break before I ask our guest another pertinent question. We’ll be right back!’

As the commercial played, one of the officials, brought Mo a bottle of water and she took a few minutes to relax. This was going well. She didn’t know where she got the structure from, but anyone listening would think she had a manuscript memorised. She knew, however, that it was the Holy Spirit speaking through her. Silently, she prayed for an opening to mention the role God had played in her becoming.

The break ended and May continued with her questions after re-introducing the show.
‘Now, Mrs Taylor, we all would like to know. Is there a climax in self-improvement?’

Mona smiled. ‘Are you asking if there’s a point when you stop improving because you’ve improved on all there is to improve on?

‘In not so many words, yes.’ May replied.

‘No, there isn’t. Not till you draw your last breath. What you’re asking for is perfection and it’s not humanly possible. Every day, you’re either working on something or finding another flaw you can’t permit. It’s a life process. You just have to keep going and taking one lesson, one discovery, one victory or win, one day at a time. The important thing is to keep working on yourself, for yourself, for your loved ones and humanity. A great character is the best gift you could ever give humanity.’

Chai! Today deep is calling to deep.’ May commented and then turned to the audience. ‘So, ladies, I’m sure you’re brimming with questions to ask Mrs Taylor, so I will not monopolise her attention more than I’ve done. I’ll be giving two people opportunities to ask one question each. Our guest speaker will pick those whose questions she’ll attend to herself.’

May asked all those with questions to signify with raised hands and Mona’s eyes almost bulged out when over a dozen hands delicately shot up. Way to put a girl on the spot! How was she to pick randomly?

Follow my lead. Mona recognised the charge and with a deep breath she scanned the crowd of raised hands and her eyes rested on a young woman in her twenties. She didn’t know why she felt she should attend to the lady first but it just felt right so she pointed at her and the girl stood up to take the mic from a guy standing by.

‘It’s been a pleasure learning from you today, Mrs Taylor. Thank you for sharing so much with us. However, I am the sort to find more strength in specific testimonies than general information. So, I hope I’m not getting too personal if I asked that you kindly share the specific things that have helped you cope with the challenging process of self-improvement, especially at the beginning. I hope to employ some of them if I can.’ The lady said.

This is your opening. Take it. A smile transformed Mona’s face. Finally! She did a jig in her mind. When you follow God, you can’t go wrong.

‘Thank you for asking that question,’ Mona began. ‘No, I do not mind sharing. Apart from my dogged determination to be that lady who puts a smile on every face and wants to be the best version of herself, I had three things. One was a great mentor turned life coach. I bet you can guess who already. Yes, my Pastor’s wife. She opened my eyes to who I could be. Who I was made to be and I have been thankful for her presence in my life ever since. Two,’ Mona continued as she ticked off her points on her fingers.

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‘An indispensable support system. My husband, yea, the same I wanted nothing to do with six months into our marriage. He saw what I was doing and not only joined me on the self-improvement journey but was also my support. The deeper I dug in to see my true character the more I hated the rotten insides that were revealed but he kept reminding me that he was not dense, he saw beautiful stuff in me that made him decide he wanted forever with me. In his words, we just had to jettison the rotten and let the beautiful which he knew to be present take precedence. Every day I wake up, ladies, I do so with a heart full of gratitude to God for giving me the best among men. You can argue with yourself but it is the truth.’ Some people in the audience chuckled. Others smiled.

Mona continued. ‘Finally, now, you have to know I was saving the best for the last. Since you asked for me to go personal, it would be a gross omission if I do not tell you that personally for me, no part of my journey would have happened without the God factor. It got so hard I wanted to give up. I felt it should be easy if this was the right way to go. So, why then was it so hard to be a decent human being. My mentor then revealed the verse of the scripture that became the springboard to my progress. It was a scripture verse that said, ‘It is God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’ It means, not only will God have me do His good pleasure, that is, be the best I can be, He is the One who makes the process happen the right way. He not only creates the will in me, but He also gives me what I need to do it. Since that day, I laid my struggles at His feet and though this might sound illogical to you, things got infinitely easier. And my becoming, though still tough, became what I looked forward to, rather than something I dreaded. Those were my aids.’

Mona did not see it coming but the audience erupted into applause.

May cut in after a while, smiling sheepishly. ‘You know what they say, right, ladies? Time flies when you’re enjoying yourself. I’m sorry to renege on my promise but we won’t be taking a second question today. Our time is far spent and as much as I just want to continue to enjoy this beautiful session, we must draw the curtain at this point.’ Then, she turned to Mona and said, ‘We all cannot express our gratitude enough that you graced us with your lovely presence. I bet our audience, both physical and virtual were tremendously affected by your wonderful words. Thank you so much.’

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Mona smiled with relief as May continued, sending greetings from sponsors and presenting her with gifts from the studio as well as sponsors.

She did it! She did this show and it had turned out to be the best thing that had happened since she began sharing her experience. God took control and was glorified.

‘Thank you,’ she replied as the audience showed their gratitude with applause and May finally brought the show to a close.

Dear reader,
Thank you so much for taking your precious time to read this beautiful story. Thank you for your week-long patience as I’m sure you didn’t expect two parts to one story. I hope you’ve been blessed.

Self-improvement is God’s will for us. He’d have us grow and be better versions of ourselves under Him. If we will, He is more than ready and able to help us come up higher in personality and strength of character.

So, if you are in Mo’s shoes and would like to be a better you henceforth, it’s as simple as coming as you are and humbly asking God for help. You’re the clay, He is the Potter. Let Him break, remake and reshape you to fit His perfect plans for you. Trust me because I’ve been there and I can tell you without all reasonable doubts that you will never regret that decision.

Thank you, once again, for reading. God bless you.