Enjoy this excerpt from my novel, Guilty as Grace.
There was a short and confusing email from one of her [Esther’s] brothers. He said he had been trying to reach her. And he said there was someone they wanted her to meet, a good family friend who had just gotten back from the UK. And could Esther send her phone number? They wanted to know when Esther was coming back to Ghana.
Esther read it over and over and then decided that it was just another stunt from her dysfunctional family. They already had her contact details. She had given it to them. Unless they had tossed it aside and not bothered to save it. It wouldn’t surprise her. She had never been that important. And who was this fellow back from the UK? A family friend? And what was this about when she was coming back to Ghana? She had told them when she was graduating and that had been five months ago. And now she was doing an internship for a year. So what was the big deal now? It was confusing indeed. And maybe she was as dysfunctional as they were because Esther knew she was not going to reply the email in a million years. What was she going to say anyway? She had not spoken to her brother in about three years.
“Hello?” Esther was hesitant. The caller ID said Unknown.
“Eheh, Esther. It is your mother.”
“Mama? Are you all right?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine. Everyone is fine.”
Esther pulled the phone away from her ears. Why was her mother shouting?
“Your brother said he tried to contact you. Why didn’t you call back?”
And I’m fine, too, thank you, Esther thought, silently grieved.
“What is this about, mama?”
“When are you coming back?”
“When I finish working here. Is there a problem?”
“One of your brother’s friends is back from the UK, Kwame. Do you remember him? He used to come to the house all the time.”
“No, I don’t remember him. And mama, you don’t have to shout. I can hear you just fine.”
“Okay, okay. Your brother’s friend is back in Ghana. He is a doctor. He was asking of you.”
“Why was he asking of me?”
“Don’t be silly, Esther. We are trying to help you. Have you finished that course?”
Esther silently sighed. Hadn’t she just said she was working? “Yes, mama. I have finished the course. I’m working now. Getting practical experience.”
“Ah, don’t worry about that. If you come back home, you won’t have to work anymore. Kwame will take care of you.”
“Why would Kwame take care of me?”
“Don’t be a child, Esther. He is a good man. We are just trying to look out for you. Remember when you refused to marry the reverend’s son. This is your opportunity. We’ve not said anything about all that happened before. So he thinks you are a nice woman, which you are. Do you think you can come back next month? We can pay for the ticket.”
Esther felt a wave of frustration, anger and bitterness that she had not felt in a long time, things that she had not thought capable of feeling anymore. It took all she had to compose herself and not say what was on the verge of her tongue to say.
“Mama, please listen carefully to me. I am not coming back to Ghana next month so please don’t buy me a ticket. And Kwame will not be taking care of me because I can take care of myself. You can thank him for his kind thoughts but I won’t be marrying him.”
“Esther. Esther. Esther. How many times did I call your name?”
Esther managed not to roll her eyes.
“I thought you had changed.” Her mother continued. “I will pretend you didn’t say that.” She tut-tutted. “I know it is a bit sudden but you will like him. He drives a nice car.”
Esther wondered whether she should laugh or frown. It occurred to her to ask, “How old is he?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. But he is your brother’s mate.”
Esther thought for a moment. Her brother was almost 40 years, 38 to be exact. “I can’t come to Ghana now, mama. I need to finish the terms of my contract.”
“Ooh, this girl. Don’t be stubborn. How much are they even paying you there? Kwame can get you a job in the UK if you want. There’s nothing for you there in China.”
“It’s Singapore, mama. I’m in Singapore.”
“What is the difference? Anyway, your brother will buy the ticket okay? I have started cleaning your room.”
Esther was horrified.
“No, mama. Please don’t buy the ticket. I won’t be able to travel.”
“Ah Esther. Where did I go wrong with you? See how I am trying to do right by you.”
“Mama, please stop being dramatic. Look, I have to go now. I have to catch the bus or I’ll be late.”
“You won’t have to catch a bus when you come back.”
Esther felt all her mother’s scorn in the word, “bus”.
“Goodbye, mama.” Esther quickly ended the call. This conversation could have gone on for the next one hour.
She got up but sat down quickly again. She felt shaky, too unbalanced to move. So they had found her phone number. That meant they really wanted her to marry this Kwame character. And they were going to buy her a ticket.
Oh, God, Esther groaned. This was a terrible complication she didn’t need. But why were they so interested in getting her to settle down? What was in it for them? And again who was this Kwame guy? And how dare her mother raise the whole issue with the reverend’s son?
End of excerpt
For sure the pressure can mount.
Do you sometimes feel like Esther? Or have you been in a similar situation? Or maybe you know friends who are? Sometimes it’s as if there is an invisible timetable that you need to keep to if not you feel as if you are somehow failing? And not just failing at some Maths or Biology exam, but failing at life! And the worst part? The panel of judges that you face are often the people closest to you, the people you want to do good by. There are a thousand and one Nollywood movies on someone scheming to marry off her daughter. The career woman who is in her thirties and miserable because she is not married. The older sister who watches in dismay as her younger sisters get married. The pressure is on.
But let’s not put it all on the unmarried sisters! After that grand wedding, there are sly looks and not so subtle comments about whether you are fulfilling Genesis 1:28. Those looks get bolder when a year passes and you are still not showing signs of being fruitful and multiplying because for logical reasons, you just wanted to finish your degree. Or because it is you and your husband’s decision to make, reasons that are not good enough for the panel.
Wherever you are at now, pause and breathe (because no one likes to talk about the ugly side. The stressful relationships. The failed marriages. The unfulfilled wives. The desperately exhausted and disappointed mums.) First, don’t let the pressure get to you. You are not alone. You haven’t failed. You are still the fairest among women. The unanswered prayers may seem to pile up and situations may seem to drag on but that does not define who you are.
I like mirrors, most of the time. The small compact ones in your purse, the one in the bedroom, in the bathroom, even on your phone. Yep. Mirrors are handy for checking out yourself from time to time, make sure the hair is in place, the lipstick is still slaying. Weirdly, I never used to take my time to look into mirrors even when I was supposed to be a self-conscious teenager in secondary school. I figured that little could grow wrong with cornrows on my head and powder on my face.
Fast forward to becoming an adult, I started to do it out of obligation. No Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all for me. But I have discovered that looking and staring intently everyday into a different kind of mirror is actually good for me. Healthy, actually. I love to stare into the mirror of God’s Word because that is where I see clearly who I truly am.
The Word of God gives you the right marking scheme to rate yourself by the right standards. That is where you can evaluate your life and every expectation under the glaring light of Jesus’ love and truth. I have noticed that women are easy scapegoats. We make easy pickings for the world but nowhere in the Bible was Jesus harsh with the women the world despised. Not a single place. And He says that He who has seen me has seen the Father. So is God a harsh and demanding God? Nah. Far from it. He knows your aches and pain and joys and prayers, and our strength is to find rest in the arms of the One who made us and knows us. (II Cor 3:18, James 1: 24, 25)
So where is the pressure? Just show it to God. Talk to Him.
Because God’s got you, girl. And maybe right now, you are on top of your game. High five girl! Stay there and keep shining! Don’t forget to share this to a friend who needs some TLC.
Of course, this applies not just to the ladies. The guys, we hail you o. Trying to make ends meet. Up and down, in and out, determined to do the right thing in a world which does not appreciate it. So much expectation on your shoulders. You are special.
Life is beautiful.
Like seriously beautiful. I like to tell myself that, not because I wish it to be true but because it is. I mean, I am alive! Stress can rob us of this simple truth, the hard facts can look daunting. But it’s all about perspective. At least I’m holding God to that because He’s promised the abundant life. He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies so that when they are defeated, you have a front row seat to a spectacular show.
At this point, I feel like I’m preaching, not blogging😅. Hey, maybe someone needs to read this because I’ve tried to change the direction of this post but it’s not working🤷. So this is for you.
STAY HIGH ON GRACE!
PS I have an awesome mum. She’s the best ever. 😍 😎 No pressure.