Monday, 7 July 2014

Where are Your Manners?!

How was your weekend?! Mine was wonderful! It always is after the Holy Ghost Service at the Redemption camp on the first Friday of the month - Theme for the night was 'The Blessed of the Lord'.. I feel blessed :-) May this be an exceptionally blessed month for you too in Jesus name.

So, I learnt something important early Saturday morning. 

I was sitting with my beautiful Aunts, Uncles and much younger cousins after the Service, quite tired and ready to snooze while watching my cousin play a racing game on his Dad's tablet. As he played, another young boy who was walking past was so drawn to it that he lost himself and just stood over my cousin watching the game. My Aunt and I said to each other "Wow, games are so addictive, look at the boy, he hasn't even realised that he is peering over a stranger's shoulders and it almost seems like he is about to fall into it". We went on to imagine the level of punishment and abara (famous back-slap invented by Nigerian mothers in 1843, known to cure most forms of deviant behaviour with alarming speed) we would have had the 'pleasure' of, if it had been us. 

Oi! Where are your manners mate?
Like we thought to ourselves, no manners! I mean, how could you just wander off, happen to see another boy in the midst of people and just stand over his shoulders, absolutely engrossed in the game that he was playing! (You know how you get when someone is reading your newspaper over your shoulders without being invited lol). Good manners say that you control yourself and just keep walking right?

Well, not too long afterwards, my Aunt whispers to me that "The woman sitting across us is his mum and can you believe that she has 5 young boys (2 sets of twins) and I happened to just make small talk with her about how she copes with all of them, when she starts to tell me with tears in her eyes that she does it alone, as their father was recently killed in Borno state by the terrorist group - Boko Haram".

I must have felt a douse of cold water on my face! I couldn't believe it! I looked again at the young boy peering over my cousin's shoulder and what I now saw was very different. I saw a boy who possibly needed to make new friends and probably escape from the hardness of life. My heart reached out to him as I couldn't imagine what life had dealt this young boy and his siblings. A life without a father.. A myriad of thoughts crossed my mind, "How does he feel?" "What did that sad loss mean to him?".. He was old enough to know what the loss of his father meant, but too young to have to deal with it.

I couldn't care less at that moment if he wanted to grab the game from my cousin's hands! It wouldn't have really mattered then. All I could see was a boy who needed all the love and understanding he could get. Far gone was my disapproving look and thoughts.

I asked God for mercy for being so hasty in judging his lack of good manners! And it dawned on me how quickly we sometimes stick our noses up at people for the way they are now or they behave, yet we do not understand the story behind that individual.

Judged until proven innocent
We want them to do 'the right thing' behave 'the right way', yet at that time, all they need is just to be.

It was a huge lesson for me - Always give people the benefit of your doubt. Be charitable always to others, you never know just what life has thrown at them or the enormity of what they have had to deal with. You never know what may be responsible for their actions - it doesn't excuse it all the time but it means that you empathise and just give them a break.

I will never forget a quote I read not too long ago - That individual who seems most difficult to love is probably most in need of love.

May God help us to be charitable in our thoughts and actions and to show love to all, at all times.

Have a wonderful and blessed week xx


  1. Absolutely....we never know what someone is going through in their lives. God help us to start practicing seeing people through God's eyes, with patience and empathy, a welcoming spirit and love, without even knowing the story behind their behaviour. It's not easy to do but with practice it becomes easier. May God help us.

  2. Amen and amen dear.. Patience and empathy are key and we can never give too much love. May God help us xx

  3. My goodness. I just read this up on africanismcosmopolitan on the essence of not judging. May God help us

  4. Thanks for this reminder, Ayo—I needed it. I pray that God would fill all of us with compassion and understanding past our usual levels in His name.

  5. Oooh dear I had these moments too when I was ashamed like "gosh I judged this person too fast". It's really embarrassing.

    I think my stay in Nigeria also taught me to not evaluate things too quickly. Learn, observe, ask; don't label people (or cultures at large) without even knowing them and their circumstances. It is so easy to just say "he is lazy" or "she's always needy", but all too often I found out that things are not always like they appear to be on the surface...

    In a nutshell, I believe we need to distrust our instinct at times... Even this post is an example: Reading the title on fbk I suspected it might be about bad men having lost their (romantic or general) manners, but the content was totally different that what I expected it to be :-)

  6. How practical is this post? I have to admit I'm guilty of making conclusions without knowing the full story too...I need God's grace to stop my bad manners too.

  7. @Oluwatosin, Amen!
    @GNG, Compassion is it! I was taught that compassion is compassion when it moves you to act on what you have seen
    @Sebs, Really embarrasing, in addition to making you feel like you belong in the dog-house sometimes :-)
    lol@the title of the post - I thought people might think so too :-0

  8. "That individual who seems most difficult to love is probably most in need of love" - simply sums it all up for me. Loved this post.

  9. Yes, everybody has a story behind their actions. All we can do is ask for grace not to be judgemental at all.

  10. @Anonymous, I remember that quote often - I pray that God will give us the grace to love unconditionally!
    @NaijaSisters, Amen.. To be as understanding as God is to each of us xx

  11. Most of us are quick to judge, with our very myopic understanding of what is really going on. Thanks for the reminder ma'am.

  12. If there was a "LOVE" button for this post I would click it. I have been focused on building up empathy and forgiveness in myself this year like never before. It hit me earlier on this year (like Oprah's "Aha" moments) that the way to love Christ is to extend the hand of grace and mercy to others that he continually offers me when I make imperfect choices. We always hear to follow Christ as Christians but it's different when we finally grasp the type of love and compassion that really means. It's not easy but I will keep improving at it.

  13. Thanks Ada! This love thing is deeep and not easy but possible by the grace of God.. We keep on striving to be better at it :-) xx


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