After four years in a land far away from home, Jane had successfully bagged a degree in Economics and was ready to return home. She looked through the airplane window and smiled at the little country she was leaving. She had made friends here, seen beautiful sights and even found a church that reminded her of home but she didn’t mind missing all that if it meant coming home to where it truly mattered. She smiled as she thought about the entourage that would welcome her at the airport and mummy’s soup and semo that would be waiting for her.
The welcome party was larger than she thought. “You have made me proud my daughter!” Mummy said, “And we must celebrate! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! We must tell the world that my daughter is now a graduate!” The people around cheered and clapped. Jane smiled and put her two hands to her eyes. Her mother was making her feel like a celebrity. Her father just smiled and nodded at what mummy was saying. He looked in her direction and smiled when she uncovered her eyes. She smiled back. They were both the only shy people in the family.
The next day was Sunday. Mummy said it was going to be Thanksgiving. This meant that there would be a dancing procession in church. Mummy was well known and an active member of the women’s wing so everyone loved it when she did Thanksgiving. She knew how to give a party and how to give generously to the church whenever she was excited.
In the church, after the sermon, taking the offering and making the announcements, it was time for the John-Glory family. The band leaders sang praises and half of the church danced to the altar with Mrs. John-Glory and her shy daughter leading the procession. They danced and shouted for close to five minutes until the Pastor finally gave a signal for everyone to pause so he can pray.
When all was quiet, the Pastor smiled and said, “Our God is good!” Everyone echoed, “All the time!” Then, he said, “I don’t need to ask why you are all rejoicing this morning! It is obvious! Our daughter is back!” Everyone clapped and cheered. “Studying abroad…. Even in an African country, is not easy because there’s nobody you know there. But you went, you saw, you conquered and now you are here. It is the Lord’s doing. Marvelous in our eyes.”
Mrs. John-Glory screamed, “Praise the Lord!” The church echoed, “Hallelujah!”
The Pastor smiled and said, “Let us Pray.”
Everyone bowed their heads as he began thus:
“Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, I am that I am, the God of all flesh, we thank you for the John-Glory family. We thank you for this great thing you have done in their lives and in our church as a whole. Thank you for seeing our daughter through school for four years and now she’s back! We return all the glory to your name. Father, as she has gotten this degree, we pray that you give her the other degree. Give her a man that will love her as you love the church so that in no distant time, we would come together and celebrate her again in Jesus name!”
The whole church roared Amen except Jane. She couldn’t believe her ears. Was this all that the pastor was going to pray for her? She just stood still beside her mother until everyone opened their eyes and the pastor dismissed them. Then, she walked to her seat.
After church, the youth leader handed her a flier for the upcoming young ladies program organized by the pastor’s wife. The meeting was tagged: Singles ladies summit. The highlights were going to be: Turning your relationship to a Courtship, Secrets to long-lasting marriages, The role of a help-meet and Motherhood, an eternal ministry. There was nothing in it about spiritual growth, career development, and financial literacy or independence. It was all marriage, relationship, family and motherhood. The very things Jane wasn’t sure she wanted just yet.
As she made to go home, the women leader came and squeezed her tightly. “Good afternoon ma,” Jane greeted, bending her knees slightly. “Welcome home my daughter,” she said, “I’m so proud of you.” “Thank you ma,” Jane replied. “So tell me, who is the guy on board now? I hope he’s Nigerian o,” the woman leader asked. Jane chuckled. “There’s no one yet ma,” she replied. The woman’s eyes widened. “I’m still trusting God,” Jane added quickly, seeing her reaction. “OK, my dear… Don’t worry, He will come through for you. You know my daughter married at 21. You are 23 now but I know that God is faithful. I will be praying for your breakthrough!” “Amen, thank you ma,” Jane replied feigning a smile. “Mummy will be wondering where I am now ma,” Jane said, wishing she had thought of this escape plan earlier. “Okay, my daughter… Greet her for me.”
Religious leaders have a big role to play in raising unscripted and unstoppable girls. This is because lots of people respect their spiritual leaders and take their words on how life should be sometimes a little more than their parents or families because religious leaders are often regarded as people who know the mind of God. In our setting, many people want to live their life to please their creator and always emphasizing marriage as the ultimate for women could make girls see it as all God has intended them to be. But we know that this is not true because our Holy Books and ancient history records women who were religious and spiritual but still accomplished great things with or without marriage. We hear of people like Deborah in the Bible, Mary Slessor, Queen Amina of Zaria and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. All these were women who believed in God and made a huge difference in their society. Religious leaders should not just groom girls for marriage or keep praying for only their marital bliss but should also help them in other areas of life like leadership, their career, their self or personal development and their spirituality. This would go a long way in raising unscripted and unstoppable girls who would also make great and amazing wives and mothers if and when they choose to be.