“SISTER, CHECK YOURSELF!” (SHORT STORY)

Intro:
Wrote this piece flash fiction two days ago. Hope you enjoy and learn something from it. You are highly blessed in Jesus’ name.

“Sister, Check Yourself!”

Ngozi had tried to ignore the first call she received that day, but the caller obviously wasn’t going to relent, having called twice again. She felt for her phone on the bedside cabinet and reluctantly opened her eyes to pick the call.

“Don’t tell me I woke you up,” Chinaza scolded.

“You did and I’m not happy about it,” Ngozi replied.

“Serves you right! What are you doing in bed by this time? It’s past 7 a.m.”

“It’s a public holiday, Naza. Independence Day, remember?”

“That is no excuse for you to be sleeping after the sun has come up. Have you forgotten that we have a programme in church today?”

Ngozi thanked God that Chinaza did not launch into her usual lecture on the dangers of allowing Muslims to do their early morning call to prayer before one wakes up. She had not forgotten the programme but had decided she would skip it when the pastor said it would be a whole day’s affair (Healing and Breakthrough Service), rather than the one-hour Prayer-for-Nigeria they usually held from 7 to 8 a.m. every Independence Day.

She told herself that Christians in Nigeria act like they are machines. They fill up their weekends and every holiday with programmes. Sometimes, you need another holiday to recover from the numerous activities you participated in during the holidays, she thought.

She’d also heard there was a mercantile philosophy behind some of the programmes. According to one of her pastor friends, if you don’t keep your members busy with programmes, they will attend those hosted by other churches and from there change church. “Poor membership equals dwindling revenues,” he’d joked.

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(Related: A Mind of Her Own)
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Still she had seen from experience that there were lots of benefits gained from attending these programmes. She had got her present job after one such prayer programme in her former church. Her eldest sister conceived and later gave birth to twins after twelve years of marriage following a week-long programme at a church she was invited to in Port Harcourt. But Ngozi just wished people knew when to pause.

“I won’t be going to the programme today. I need to rest,” she responded.

Her company had just completed an exhausting marketing campaign and as head of a unit (Babywear), she had put in everything to ensure her unit’s sales margin in the near future will reflect the efforts and resources she and her staff had invested. She hoped to use the Independence holiday on Oct. Ist to refresh herself before resuming work on Oct. 2nd.

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“My dear, there is no rest this side of heaven. The devil and his demons are working overtime and you’re trying to rest. There will be enough time to rest when the Lord Jesus returns.”

“Or when we suddenly die,” Ngozi muttered.

“What did you say? Sister, check yourself.”

“I have checked myself and I need to rest.”

“Whenever a child of God starts getting cold feet about the things of God, the enemy is by their door.”

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(Related: Prayer Partner)
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Ngozi was beginning to lose her patience. Chinaza was a very dear sister, she felt, but not a good listener or empathetic.

“I am not getting cold feet. I just need to rest.”

“Okay, you can come after the morning session.”

“I’m not sure ….”

“Ngozi, check yourself. I will be praying for you.”

“Pray for yourself,” Ngozi retorted. “If you stayed at home to take care of your family, your children would not be so wayward. …”

There was silence on the line. Dead silence. Ngozi knew she had gone too far.

“I am so, so sorry!” Chinaza did not say a word.

“Naza, you know I didn’t mean what I said. Please, say something.”

“I didn’t know that is what you think of me.”

Chinaza was over 10 years older than Ngozi. They met two years back when Ngozi went to buy new clothes for a series of events at her company’s head office in Lagos. Chinaza, who had a big shop on the Ladies’ Fashion Line at Ogbete Market, Enugu, helped her select some beautiful outfits. And as they conversed, she invited Ngozi to her church. The younger lady obliged and joined the church thereafter. Chinaza then undertook to keep Ngozi, the single and busy girl, fervent in the Lord.

“I am sorry,” Ngozi repeated. “Okay, I will go to the service. Can you come and pick me on your way?”

“I’m just paralysed by what you said. Is that what other brethren say about me?”

Chinaza was a single mother with two teenage daughters. She had hoped that she had found acceptance in the house of God, but what Ngozi said brought up old hurts. She knew her daughters were stubborn, but wayward? She had no idea of that. Her earnest prayer had been that her daughters would not end up like her, because she made many mistakes as a teenager.

“No, no, no! I was just angry,” Ngozi lied. She had actually picked her words from what she overheard from another woman in the church. But why make Chinaza sadder, she thought.

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“Please, think nothing of what I said. Just come and pick me.”

“I’m not even sure I can make it to church myself again.” Ngozi could hear her struggling to hold back tears. “Bless you,” Chinaza added and cut the call.

Ngozi could have flogged herself. She ran into the bathroom to shower and go to Chinaza.

“Father, forgive me, and make this right. I should never have said something so cruel to her,” she prayed, as her tears mingled with the spray from the shower.

-The end-
© Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2019

Related scriptures:

“30. And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. 31. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.” – Mark 6:30-32 (KJV)

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” – Colossians 4:6 (KJV)

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

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55 comments

  • Nwoye Chiamaka Favour

    It is true that it is good to attend church programmes, but then some churches occupy the whole week with programmes. When do they expect the members to go and work, how do they expect them to attain prosperity financially when they are always in church? When will they have time for their family just like the lady Chinaza, when do they expect members to rest?
    I wish Christians will know when to attend programmes, when to rest and how to use their time wisely generally.

    • Edith Ohaja

      I wish so too. Happy weekend, Chiamaka!

    • Ezike Winifred udochukwu

      I feel churches need to give breaks with their services ..I mean it’s good to serve Lord but we are humans and we need time to attend to other activities that’s affect our lives. ..I feel what ngozi said is really out of line honestly an it should have really hurt naza so bad …but it means it’s something she always had in mind

      • Ochei Anthony

        I’m not against church programmes but too much of everything is bad. Any church programme that is affecting your health or your state of wellbeing does not worth attending because if you slump and die in the church during church service, the service will surely go on

  • Okoli Ezinne Juliet

    There is actually time for everything, Ngozi really went out of her way, I hope that Chinaza would be able to forgive her. Happy Sunday ma

  • Okere Jovita

    Ngozi said that to her out of anger…she felt that Chinaza was judging her but i think she would have controlled her anger because what she said might even affect Chinaza in a way that she might draw back from God
    I pray Chinaza forgives her
    I also think Chinaza should also work on herself and balance her life like worship God at the appropriate time and also see to the affairs of her family.

  • Onyekwe uchechukwu christophine

    To err is human and to forgive is divine, chinaza ought to forgive ngozi if she has really worked on herself because a true Christian is always with an open mind and forgiving spirit😇😇

  • Akwaeke Ononso

    I didn’t expect that plot twist. I need more of this story Aunty Edith, it doesn’t have to be a flash in the pan. Give us more!! I want to know how it ends

  • Ugwoke Jennifer

    Balancing the things we do in this world is very important and necessary. We should learn how to manage our lives to avoid making mistakes and regretting them later. Chinaza did not balance the things she did. She focused on her church programmes and forgot to take good care of her kids. There is time for everything in this world, one has to know what to do and when best to do it.

  • Ibe Favour Kalu

    We should learn how to handle words when angry because words have the ability to kill, humiliate and hurt people. Ngozi said those words out of anger. I hope Chinaza forgives her(though some hurtful words are forgiven,not forgotten). Also,Chinaza needs to balance her world. She should learn to yearn for the things of God as well as spending time with her family.

  • Oshana Oyaku Endurance

    In as much as what Ngozi said was cruel, Chinaza also needed to hear the truth, because that will help her check herself wholly. Its true our words are as sharp as sword, but they are also needed sometimes if necessary.

  • Ngozi shouldn’t have spoken to Chinaza like that, even if she thought as such about her she is not suppose to say it in that manner. Also, the issue of going to church should be done with wisdom and not be done in detriment of your family

  • Ogbonnaya Noble Comfort

    The tongue is a small member in the body yet does mighty things…it would be good if it is used to make positive impacts instead of negatively as portrayed by Ngozi.

  • Amaugo Stephanie Chidinma

    “When a Christian begins to develop cold feet about the things of God, the enemy is by their door” Very very true Ma!

    Ngozi didn’t speak well. I think it’s best we think before we talk while praying that our speech be seasoned with salt and grace.

  • Nkwocha Chibueze Innocent

    It’s good to always take God’s activities seriously, even the Bible says we should pray without ceasing, the same Bible also says there is time for everything, and prayers can be offered anywhere at anytime, christians should learn how to serve God outside the church

    My opinion

  • Ossai Chidimma Linda

    Its sad ! The church is supposed to be where you find comfort where you feel accepted but like NF in one of his rap track said and I quote “the church is where I found God but also where I learnt to judge”, even Jesus rested on the 7th day during the creation . There is time for everything.

  • Abonyi chisom

    Spending the whole day in church doesn’t make someone a true Christian. I believe there is time for everything. What ngozi said to chinaza might be true but she said it in a wrong way and at the wrong time. I pray chinaza will forgive ngozi.

  • Anabude oluchi

    In this aspect is very good to be committed to church activities but at the same time it should be well balanced with other of our engagement because his also a God of order. And on the other hand, we should have self control when we are talking, Ngozi went too far with her words even though it was intentional.

  • Ejiofor Emmanuel

    Ngozi went too far maybe because of the pressure from Chinaza. But I think Chinaza will reflect on what Ngozi told her because it seems to be true. Sometimes some people sleep in churches more than they do with their family. They do not care enough for their children’s upbringing which is bad. One have to balance their life. Besides, It is not by going to church every day that will make us true Christians, but by living the life of Christ anywhere we find ourselves. We can pray at home, at work and anywhere. Anyway, Ngozi needs to apologise to Chinaza for such utterance

  • This is a very interesting piece. As believers we’re obligated with the responsibility of checking up on our fellow believers. This I believe was Chinaza’s intention but when doing this , we should be guided with all wisdom.

    • Seriously when one began to have cold feet for God’s work or church activities, truly the devil is by the corner.
      As Christians, there is a need for us to examine ourselves from time to time just as a car that goes for servicing.
      Do not relent because the devil and his agents are never tired.

  • It is really bad of Ngozi to say that…
    My advice is, never use people past against them in subsequent times because it can make them to backslide.
    Christians should learn how to build people up and not try to break them by bringing their unpleasant past.

  • Mark Favour

    Bad comments sour good relationship. Wisdom is profitable to direct; I wish she had simply stopped at her previous decision instead of going further. It also shows that anger spills fire to the receiver which in many cases are destructive, just like
    the story of Ngozi and Chinasa

  • Juanita Ikebudu

    The generation we live in now is loaded with a lot of activities , churches should fix services with quality time to worship God and also with the congregration’ s interest in mind because i know if the time they had to stay in church on the independence day was still 7 to 8 , Ngozi would have gone for it abd still had time to rest and prepare for the next day ahead.

  • Anekwe Paschaline

    Sometimes we speak in the heat of the moment without taking time to think our words through. We should always be mindful of what we say because we can kill just by our words.

  • ONOCHIE MMESOMA ADAEZE

    This is a beautiful piece I must say. And we live in a society where majority cannot manage their times and that will spoil a lot in our society because if the individual in the picture is a parent he/she will end up not having time for his/her kids ,if you’re a student you will end up hurting yourself in your academics even your health is at stake.

  • Ozioko Glory Oluchi

    I can feel the pain in Chinaza’s heart right now. This kind of thing happens in many churches. Sometimes people tend to remind some one of her past mistakes which God has forgotten. From the story, Ngozi heard what she said to Naza from another woman in the church. That means they have been mocking her in the church, probably because she is more zealous than they are. May God help our churches.

  • Chinecherem Grace Stephens

    Words are powerful, maybe wrong/bad words are even more powerful. We really should be careful how we let certain words slide through our lips.
    I doubt if the relationship between the two ladies will still be the same.
    May God help us all!

  • Richards Orighomisan Mercy

    Chai, I get Ngozi’s point she wanted the best for her friend, but she sha went too far. God help our words indeed to be seasoned with salt, also help us to express our love in the right way, cause sometimes in trying to be caring and loving we end up hurting those who love us.

  • Nkwocha chibueze Innocent

    Firts Ngozi was lucky to have such a friend, that always push her to persevere in the things of God, it takes a lot of energy for a friend to try to correct their friends, because there is this fear of losing the friendship. In the other hand the Bible said pray without ceasing, God doesn’t get tired of protecting, loving and blessing us, so we shouldn’t get tired of being in his presence too.

  • Eze Chioma Uzoamaka

    Wow. This story just reminded me of my personal philosophy, “Never say anything in the heat of the moment or you might regret it and can never take it back”. People should learn to control what they say even when provoked because some statements can open up old wounds and cause hatred among two friends.

  • Adumike Winifred Munachi

    That really hurts, we all need the grace to think quickly, it’ll save lots of problems that arise from careless statements. Yes, Chinaza needs to check on her daughters, but she sure doesn’t deserve to hear about it the way Ngozi passed the message. Sometimes we know something going wrong with a friend and we’ll keep mute until she hears it the wrong way. Ngozi should have spoken to her friend after she heard other people talk about her; that way, they would find a solution together and still remain friends.

  • Nwannah Juliana ngozi

    Woah, ngozi actually spoke out of anger,I guess she felt chinaza was judging her.
    I just hope chinaza forgives her
    And chinaza needs to know that humans need rest.they need to strike a balance with the things of God .
    I sincerely hope nothing happens to their friendship.

  • Okoloji kosisochukwu Vivian

    Most ladies are always like this and I see no reason why it should be so, we should clip our tongues in order not to commit word murder with it. Ngozi stated the obvious in such a bad way, if she knew chinaza was devoting alot of time to the church while neglecting her role as a mother, she was meant to call her to order in a polite manner not waiting for anger to explode.
    Even the Bible said there is time for everything, so christians should try as much as possible to balance this, be sensitive and understanding, I see nothing wrong with one resting.
    Thanks alot ma, you are such an inspiration.

  • Okoloji kosisochukwu Vivian

    Ma please my comments are awaiting moderation since ooo

  • Chioma Peter

    It is very easy to see the fault of others and call them to order, but we find it difficult to ‘check ourselves’ and do same for ourselves.
    I feel no one is perfect, so let’s not lose ourselves while trying to put others on track.

  • Lilian Chidinma

    It’s obvious that Ngozi didn’t really mean what she said, but it happened anyway, this will help chinaza readjust and take family serious too.
    she indeed devoted all her time to church and did not pay attention to her family.

  • Anokwuru Catherine Ihuoma

    A lot of Christians are like Chinaza, they don’t know when to fall back. I stay in the hostel and most mornings two or three preachers will come preaching at the top of their voices, using megaphones worshipping and praying at a time that people are either trying to read or sleep from a long night of reading. It took people coming out of their rooms every morning to yell at them and outright banning to make them stop.
    Now I’m not making excuses for Ngozi’s manner of speech but I understand her annoyance, and this is why we need to take grace from God to control our anger and not speak while angry. We as Christians should make sure that every word that comes out of our mouths are words of edification and when correcting someone should correct them with love.

  • Ugochukwu Chah

    Oh wow! Well let me start off by saying that with the way pastors and leaders of churches are going, people tend to leave the church not because of anything, but because of an overabundance of lengthy church programs. Of course it isn’t wrong to organize church programs, but it should be regulated, and people really should know when others need a little break and not make them feel guilty about it.
    That being said, I think Ngozi was so very wrong in the way she lashed out at Chinaza. No matter how angry you are, self control should be paramount
    At least she realized it and wasn’t too proud to apologise.
    All in all I have learned to value friendships and not lash out childishly. Hopefully Chinaza forgives her although I doubt if the friendship will go back to normal.

  • Onyekachi Confidence chimamaka

    I totally can relate with Ngozi, three days after an evening exam, as I was coming back looking for where to eat, a young lady approached me, excuse me please, you look really tired, I nodded then stopped to listen to her, she told me can I come for a conference in her church, omg! at this moment it took the grace from the holy Spirit to smile and say next time honey.same thing we see in hostels too.
    But the important aspect is how we try to react to this kind of situation as regards Ngozi’s response to chinaza.
    I have oneday although a joke reminded a friend of how he lost in a competition that he really worked hard for, and truth is that I regret making such comment because he was getting over the situation and all I did was to pour salt into the injury.
    We should try to watch our words because the damage from it,most times is irreparable.

  • Lucy Wilson

    Ngozi was right. Though her spontaneous remark wasn’t called for but it’s actually better that Ngozi let it out so that China za could bring herself together and solve things out, although she could use more pleasant language to tell Chinaza.
    Meanwhile it’s good to attend services. It’s also good to balance your life activities, doing what’s important first. Healthwise the body needs rest to function. If we are actually in Christ, we walk in love not by “force”The bible also assures us that the Kingdom of God is in us. You mustn’t attend all services to be righteous.

  • Oshana Oyaku Endurance

    Tiring members with numerous weekly services can be very annoying, in most churches no single day pass without a programme in church and it can be very tiring. It’s not a matter of falling back, we are all humans and we get tired too

  • Odeh faith elakeche

    Having time for God is one of our top most priority as children of God. But we also need to know how to balance our time so that other areas in our life don’t suffer. Chinanza devoted all her time to attending church programmes. It’s good to attend church services but knowing how to balance our life activities is important.

  • Obiemeka Favour Chukwugozie

    We need to strike a balance in what we do. i must agree that there is no time to rest because the devil does not rest himself.

  • Tiger Freda Jarip

    No no no, Ngozi’s words were uncalled for. I mean, why take it that far? I understand she was exhausted and all due to work but taking it all out on Naza was way immature.
    We should learn to season our speech with salt else they bring our downfall. No matter how much she apologizes to Naza and they make up, those words can never be forgotten.

  • Onyekachi Obumneme Agbo

    Kai! That was harsh. Ngozi’s words to her friend sounded more like she is quarrelling and talking to her enemy than a friend. Anyway there is a need to strike a balance and know when to do what and how but more importantly, it depends on the extent of one’s walk with God and the leadings of the Holly Spirit. Thank you, Ma, for this piece.

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