Sitting in her house, holding a cup of coffee with both hands, she still cannot believe it. It looks like a dream. One in which she is an outsider, watching herself from a distance. True, it has been an interesting year. One year in which she has certainly changed, and become a different person. Hopefully, a better different. Normally, Sarah hardly lets her guard down. She hardly shares her feelings, even with her closest friends. She prefers, or rather preferred to dedicate her entire being church work. Giving her all, as she preferred to call it. Then. A year ago.
In fact, romance has never been her thing. At least that is what she led herself, and others, to believe. But that is not to say she has never liked anyone. She has had a number of crushes in the past. Guys who would never get to know what she felt, because outwardly, she gave away nothing. To the world, she is a stern Christian who has little time for carnality. Or more precisely, was. Because he changed her. Okay, God changed her, but he helped to change her perspective on life, and matters faith. Before, few men dared to approach her. No one could imagine her in a romantic relationship. Because all that was carnality. And Sarah, in her own words, was in love with Christ and Christ alone.
Sometimes she wondered whether she was a hypocrite. Because everyone believed she was super holy. A girl who held breakfast briefing sessions with God the Father in the morning, power lunches with Christ and social dinners with the Holy Spirit. That she has no time to think about earthly matters.
But she always knew that that was not true. She has feelings. There are men that awoke the womanhood in her. Seeing them talking. Or singing. Or playing, whether football, basketball or rugby. Tall men with muscular bodies. Interestingly, none of her crushes were Christians. She found Christian men to be too…what’s the word? Uptight. Which often filled her with shame because she knew that many people saw her as uptight as well. And she probably was.
But she WANTED a Christian husband. A deeply spiritual man who would be her priest, provider and protector. Her pillar. A man with zero sense of humor. Scratch that. A man with negative 500 sense of humor. Because when you are fighting spiritual battles you cannot find time to be funny. Perhaps a Pentecostal pastor with an impressive resume of fighting demons and tearing down principalities. Then they would spend every moment at the altar, interceding for a perishing world. Honeymoon would be spent on a mission in a remote part of Turkana. That is what she wanted. But her fantasies had a different version. She should not have watched those soap operas as a teenager. Her mind was now carnally polluted.
Which is why, while she surrounded by such men, she did not consider any of them possible suitors. Yet they all were spiritual giants who made demons tremble. I mean, the vibrational prayers would scare even non-mortals. Especially the wicked non-mortals. These men filled her with awe. But she had zero romantic feelings for them. A few of them asked her out. For instance, Brother Joseph said that the Lord had told him in a dream that she should be his wife. Just like that. They were leaving a prayer session when out of the blue he blurted it out:
“Sister Sarah, while I was praying, the Lord showed me in a dream that you are my wife. Let us fulfill the Lord’s command and get married.”
That had scared her. Okay, first it had shocked her, then scared her. Because she looked up to him, and marveled at his closeness to God. Surely, he could not be mistaken about the voice of the Lord. But then again, he was not the kind of man that she envisioned marrying. In her daydreams, she wanted a romantic man. A man who would make her feel feminine. A man with a way with words. Thoughtful presents. Romantic gestures.
She had spent many days crying in the prayer room, or the Power House if you may, casting out the demon of lust that was surely possessing her. She cried unto the Lord many a days. But the wicked spirit proved to be stubborn. It stayed on. And she knew that for as long as she felt the way she felt, she would never be truly happy with Joseph. So she told him that she did not feel the same way.
“It is not about what you feel Sarah, it is about fulfilling God’s command” he had said.
“The Lord has not spoken to me about that matter Brother Joseph. I am sorry,”
Joseph had rebuked her strongly for her “disobedience”. He had called her names. That night she had cried herself to sleep. Cried because of her carnality. And her disobedience. Yet the worst was yet to come. Within no time, everyone knew that she had tempted Brother Joseph. That she had asked him to marry her, but he had refused.
That had hurt her deeply. Why would a Man of God peddle such cheap lies? Soon, people were looking at her in a strange way. The desperate woman who had seduced a man. And the way she pretends to be holy!
So she had left Conqueror Jesus the King International Ministries (CJKIM) in shame. She could not bear it any more. The stares. The sarcastic greetings. It was too much. Even Mom, as the Pastor’s wife was called, had called her aside one day and gave her a pointed lecture on the propriety of a woman. Nobody asked for her version of the story.
She did not attend church for three weeks. On the fourth Sunday, she went to the small church near her home. After her experience at CJKIM, she was determined to keep a low profile. Just worship and quietly leave.
But then on that very first Sunday, she found herself seated next to him. Justus. They had been together at the University. She found him to be good looking, but was not sure whether he was saved. To be fair, she had never seen or heard him do or say anything wrong. But he was not a member of the Christian Union. Which meant that he was probably not saved. And she been warned several times that a non-believer was a non-believer, whether a bad boy or a good boy.
Julius looked genuinely happy to see her. After the service he suggested they take lunch at a local café while catching up. Sarah thought it would be impolite to say no, so she agreed. And so they spent the entire afternoon together. She found him to be funny and intelligent. And spiritual in a weird way. Weird because he was so relaxed. Spiritual men, in her view, always wore a serious countenance. Because Kingdom business is serious business.
Yet in their conversation it was obvious that Justus was not only saved, but he also understood scripture well. She enjoyed talking to him. It soon became a habit for the two of them to meet at the café every Sunday after church. Then came texts, and phone calls.
One day, she told him about her experience at her former church. She did not plan to. She just found herself saying it. That was when he said probably the most profound thing she has ever heard.
“Sarah, the Christian faith is all about love. Loving other people, whether believers or non-believers. 1 Corinthians 13 makes that clear. Jesus said it when they asked him about the greatest commandment. And James repeated it. We Pentecostals want to imagine that our theatrics and habits are what make spiritual warriors. We want to be seen to be the most spiritual in our congregations. So we pray louder. And want to appear in every Church function. But Spirituality has nothing to do with all that. It is about loving God. And loving His people. Simple.”
She had internalized those words. And they had liberated her. Now she found it easier to smile. And laugh. She cared about people more. Over time, she no longer saw them as perishing souls. But as whole human beings, just like herself. More importantly, she realized she did not have to prove her spirituality to anyone. She only needed to focus on doing what was pleasing to God, as written in His word. That was liberating.
After that conversation, she became even closer to Justus. Their friendship blossomed. And today, Justus asked her to be his girlfriend. Girlfriend! She said yes before she could stop herself. And instantly regretted it. What if he thought she was too forward? What if…
“Hey sweetie, are you thinking about dumping me after 15 seconds?” his voice had cut her thoughts short.
She looked at him. His eyes were dancing playfully, his hands behind his back.
Out of nowhere, red roses materialized. She hugged him and shed a tear. Okay, tears. A torrent of them. It is only about a year since she sat with him at that café, for the very first time. When she was broken soul, full of hurt and bitterness. But it looks like a long time ago. She has since healed. The bitterness is gone. She has certainly changed a lot. And yes, she is in love. With both Christ and man. One man. Her Justus.
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