It was the 1st of the year, and I got set up.
Actually I should say I messed up, because that’s really what happened.
If you follow my blog or my videos online, you will know that I speak a lot on what I like to call ‘the Clapback’, which is basically your response when you go through rough times in life. I like to sensitise myself, and others, by asking the question, “Do you ‘clapback’ when life is tough?” Meaning do you hit back in anger and rage at whoever is turning the screws on you? Do you recoil into a ball of fear, insecurity and shame? Do you fill your life with worthless nonsense just to forget the hurt and pain that has been dished up? [Fill in the blanks with whatever response you usually dish up when life hurls painful experiences at you]
Whenever you respond to the hardships that life hurls at you by acting out or even embracing an identity or character trait that is beneath what God has empowered you to be in this world, that is what I call a ‘clapback’.
And so, on 1 January 2018, I clapped back. Hard. And I can tell you now, it felt like a sore set up, and I fell for it. It messed up my 1 January (which is a huge deal if you are like me and your peace, not to mention your work, hinges on your soul being uncluttered).
Here’s what happened.
My family has been on holiday in South Africa for a few weeks. Once again, if you follow my work you will know that I grew up in South Africa and I lived here up until about 19 months ago. And though I have very many beautiful stories of my life as a Nigerian-South African, I have just as many stories about how the racial tension that is sadly a significant part of the South African story, played a significant role in shaping my experience, perception and response to life.
Anyway, my family and I have been on holiday in South Africa and it’s been great, but I had this underlying tension in my heart. I just knew that at some point, I would be involved in a racially charged incident either because the incident was actually racially motivated, or because my sensitivities about racism had driven me to that conclusion … or both.
It happened on the 1st of January, of all days.
I don’t want to go into details of who said what and what said who (haha!) save to say that it involved a kiddies’ playground at the place we where holidaying, and an altercation with the mother of another kid that was also using the playground and interacting with my kids.
What I will say is that, yes, I clapped back. Hard. And I walked away from the incident feeling …
Even now, that I write this, I still get this acrid taste in my mouth, when I picture the lady yanking my kids’ hands off from the bicycle her child was sitting on.
The very thing that I feared would happen, happened.
I was hurt that even as a grown woman, a mother, a professional, even though I am no longer a little girl, innocently walking the streets of the city I grew up in, vulnerable to people’s prejudices, I could still be treated this way. I was hurt that anyone would dare to speak to or treat me, not to mention my kids in such a manner. I was hurt that this nation that was my home for the majority of my life, and this nation that houses the vast majority of my memories and even some of my dreams, could still hurl thorns at me.
Long story short, we left the playground in a bitter state, and for the hours that followed, my mind was a sea of foul emotions. I kept replaying what happened, and my heart spiraled to depth after depth. The rotten taste in my mouth kept getting worse and soon I began mourning the loss of my joy, which is something I really needed, it being the 1st of January and all..
But somewhere in all of that, that sweet, steady, strong presence that has now become my mainstay; He is the Holy Spirit, began to radiate into my spirit. Lights were being switched on. I began to see clearer. I began to realise that this incident had gripped me in a place that I had hoped I was in total control over. But alas, I am still work in progress. I began to realise that I could either allow the anger and hurt to fester and begin to steer my thoughts and actions for the rest of my holiday, or I could give the whole situation to God, wait on Him and cooperate with Him as He ironed out the crevices that were emerging in my soul.
So I began praying and talking to Jesus, even as I went about my day. I began telling Him how I was feeling, telling Him how wrong the whole thing that happened was, and asking Him to soothe my heart and restore my joy and peace.
AND THEN, SOMETHING INTERESTING HAPPENED.
I began to feel convicted.
I started feeling bad.
“But Lord!” I cried! “Why should I feel bad? What did I do wrong? That woman was so rude, so aggressive, so irresponsible with the way she behaved to me and my kids! She was hateful! How could she treat us like that? She would never have done that if I was not black, and if my kids were not black. She would never! Why should I feel bad? Am I not allowed to stand up for myself? Gosh, am I not allowed to stand up for my kids?”
Let me just interject this flow right now to say this. I love Jesus. I love that I can talk to Him, spirit to Spirit. I love that He has loved on me and wooed on me so much, refusing to be deterred by the grand foolishness that I very often display. I love that He is and has been at work in me so much, such that I can even have a whole conversation with Him about who said what and what said who (haha!), and He can set me straight, all the while cradling me close to His heart.
So I questioned God, in my spirit. Spirit to Spirit, which is how we commune with God. And I wanted to know why He was convicting me, as if I had done something wrong.
His response to me went something like this:
“Toyin, your heart was foul in this whole situation. Leave that woman to me. I know who she is. I know her brokenness, I know her sin, I know her intolerance, I know her hatred. She is MY creation. I have a plan for her life and I will continue to pursue her to bring her to repentance, and restoration, or even to justice as and when needed. But YOU! You cannot judge yourself by her lack of standards. If she has chosen to live out what is in her heart, this does not give you, My child, the license to respond by doing ‘just a little better’ than she did, and then pat yourself on the back for being better. The same ardent passion that you expect Me to apply when you demand that I ‘fix the brokenness’ that you hate to see but love to judge in the world, is the same ardent passion that you should expect me to use when I step to you to fix your brokenness.”
And then the Holy Spirit started showing me what was really in my heart. He started replaying to me the way I had responded earlier that day on the playground, when things were unfolding which led to the altercation. God started reminding me of aspects of what had actually happened on the playground that, in my anger, I had ‘conveniently’ forgotten. I realised that even as I marched towards the scene as it was unfolding, I had already hardened my heart and resolved to lash out hard and take no prisoners. My intention was not to understand what had led to the incident, but rather to fight, and to prove a point, and to stare anybody down who dared to look at me for too long.
And most of all, all of this was because I am still on the Master’s worktable, and He is still dealing with me, when it comes to hurt that I have experienced as a result of growing up exposed to that devilish ill called racism and racial tension.
You see, I am a woman claims to believe in and live for the One who’s expressed ‘statement of self’ is, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, intention was not to bring peace, or to effect God’s justice or love, or mercy, or sovereignty.” (Luke 4:18)
If that is who I really am, then I have given up my right to clapback.
So yes, my Lord convicted me, deep within. He did it lovingly, yet firmly. He doesn’t have time for games, you see. And as I continued to ponder on the whole saga, I realized that I had been set up so well by the devil. 1st of the year! I had gone into 2018 with a bang! All confident, on some ‘this is my year of discovering the God who calls me’ tip. And the enemy got me where I clearly still have some work to do.
I repented. I spoke to the Lord, genuinely asking Him to forgive me for living by the very standards that had offended me. I asked Him to restore peace to my heart, and to take away the sour memory of what happened. The memory is still there, and it still makes my cheeks hot! But my peace is restored, and so is my joy. I am work in progress, as I always say, “I am Toyin … very much still under construction in the hands of the Father”.
Anyway, let me leave it at this. I don’t have to spend too much time pulling it together. You get the gist right?
- God is quite clued up about the brokenness that you see and experience in the world. Not only is He clued up, He is all over it, working on people’s hearts, restoring those that are willing to be restored, delivering many from pain and suffering, disciplining and removing those that need some of that, using even the most unyielding to make intricate moves, all with the aim to offer all of mankind the opportunity to be healed and made whole, from the inner man, out. But, God will not prioritise someone else’s process of restoration, or discipline for that matter, over yours. You are part of the picture. Your chosen identity and character, in response to your life experiences, can either be part of the solution to the world’s problems, or it can compound the problem! Yes the guy next door might be a royal mess, doing bad things, hurting people left right and centre, but God will not look at you and say, ‘Oh baby, you have a few issues but they are not too bad, so I’ll just handle you with kid gloves and reserve the hot iron rods of correction for this other guy with the ‘bigger’ issues. With the same passion that you would like for God to ‘work on’ that other mum at the playground who you are convinced needs a huge dose of racial tolerance [insert whatever other example fits your story here] is the same passion that you can expect God to work on you and your brokenness.
- You have an enemy, the devil, and he aint playing. HE WILL SET YOU UP. And if you are not alert, you will fall. You see, the devil is committed to making sure you never live healed and uncontrolled by the sensitivities that your past experiences have scripted for you. Be aware of this, and stand ready to resist the enemy. And how do you do that? By tuning Him out and tuning in to what GOD has to say about whatever it is that is forcing you backward, into a mind-space that you thought you had already won your victory over.
- Don’t stay down. If you mess up like I did, you run to Jesus. You do it boldly, not sheepishly. You run to Him, you repent, genuinely, and authentically, you stick closer to Him than ever before so that next time something messed up happens, you will not falter! And you keep on pursuing that inner wholeness that He has offered to you. You keep on pursuing His calling on your life.
I continue to believe that the wrath of man does not birth the righteousness of God (it’s in the Bible). In other words, your uncontrolled anger, my rage, cannot even begin to smell the kind of fruits of peace, love, joy, healing, restoration, righteousness, justice, that God can bring, when we allow Him to author our responses to the brokenness that we hate to see but love to judge in the world.
I am Toyin, fully convicted by my own words, and very much still under construction in the hands of the Father.
The B.O.O.M Walk Program by Toyin Oladiran
We all come from somewhere. We all have our battle scars. We all have those life experiences, past or even ongoing, that have forced us into shadowy corners in our lives, preventing us from living fully, loving fully and most of all, serving God to the uttermost.
Some of us have carried on in this way, and gone on to do life ‘normally’, to become pastors, engineers, fathers, builders, lovers, secretaries, government officials, wives, teachers, sports coaches, gym instructors, you name it. Yet many are living a façade; a classic tale of smokes and mirrors. Many are carrying around, and being defined by those pivotal life experiences. Many have learnt to accept that this is just the way life is – living with and from the baggage.
What’s your scar? Where does it come from? Is it still driving your thoughts and responses to life? Are you tired of your scars keeping you wedged off into the fringes and sidelines of life, constantly angry, bitter, frustrated, rejected, insecure, proud, self-righteous … etc?
That’s what you and I will be tackling with the HOLY SPIRIT in The B.O.O.M WALK PROGRAM.💥
This Program is for EVERYONE…
…Yes, I said EVERYONE!
Be careful now. Do not think that only people who struggle with what we erroneously call ‘the big sins’ like murder, slavery, adultery etc struggle with the ‘Old Man’ (‘B.O.O.M’ stands for ‘bow out, Old Man’). Yes those are reflections of the ‘Old Man’ at work, but for the vast majority of people, the traits of the ‘Old Man’ are way more subtle, and internal.
I’m talking anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, self-righteousness, pride, fear, insecurity, rebellion against God, inferiority complex, lack of self-control…the list can go on.
The ‘Old Man’ thrives in secrecy… it’s all about the state of the mind, isn’t it?
Come on. Do not be afraid! And do not settle for more of the same!
Click here now to indicate your interest and to begin to prepare your heart and your spaces. The kind of transformation we are talking about here does not come by the click of a finger, neither does it come by lurking in a spectator’s seat. You need to take a bold step, own who you are and where you are at, and come along, for The B.O.O.M Walk Program.
I cannot WAIT to work with you. And if I am so excited about it, imagine how God, the Incredible Lover of your soul feels?😉
Hugs and Love,
Toyin Oladiran (Christian Transformational Coach and Creator of The B.O.O.M Walk Program)
The Narrow Gateway
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