A Friend in Need (25)
For a moment, I felt the beating in my heart stop. A devilish numbness crawled up my arm. I stared vainly at the figure before me, contemplating unholy options that invaded my subconscious. I stared until my sight became blurred and I thought I was going to collapse, then I sneezed hard and revived.
“You and Tayo are what?!” I stood up from the chair, then sat again. I tried to keep my voice low. “Are you messing with my mind, Maria?” In addition to the surprised look on her face, she was looking scared too. She’d probably never seen me this way before. I’m not sure I’ve seen myself this way before either.
“Why would I joke with such a thing? He proposed to me some weeks ago. Is there a problem with that?” She looked so sincere. I knew it would be unwise to start telling her I’d been having a crush on her too.
“What do you even know about Tayo?”
“Enough to want to get married to him.”
“Really? You think you know him? Do you think because he is brilliant and appears spiritual, then he is perfect? You are choosing by sight, Maria.”
“I know Tayo is not angel, and I’m not one either.” She turned her face towards the window. “I believe God is leading me to marry him.”
“God is leading you?” I gave a sarcastic laugh. “Sister Maria, I am speaking with you as a concerned friend who doesn’t want you to fall into a trap. You better be sure that God is really leading you. You are aware that Tayo is my best friend, and I know so much about him. There are many things you don’t know about him and you need to pray that God will reveal those things to you. I’m sure if you receive a full revelation about Tayo, you will think twice before giving him a reply.”
“You might as well start giving me those revelations right now, because I have already said yes to him. I told you we’re engaged.”
An alarm went off in my head once more—more like the church bell ringing at prayer time. “What?!” I hit the table so hard that she jerked backward. “You said what to him?” I asked as if that’s not what being engaged meant. I knew I’d already run slim on options, so I activated my ‘Plan B’.
“Sister Maria,” I said with an authoritative tone, “You have allowed carnality to get the better part of you. If you had spent time in prayer, God would have warned you about him.”
“What are you insinuating, Bro Femi? I know what God told me even before he came with his proposal. So, what would God have warned me about?”
I shook my head with pity in a way that said, ‘Children of nowadays. What do they know?’
“Since you have given him your answer,” I continued, “Then you have one question to ask him.”
“I will tell you the question, but you can’t ask me for the answer. You should ask him to tell you about—”
“Tolani.” She completed the sentence. “Yes, he has told me about her. He has told me about Benjamin too. In fact, I’m supposed to meet them this weekend, and I wanted you to accompany us.” I was speechless. My balloon was punctured. I didn’t just look defeated, I felt defeated. I managed to say something.
“He told you about them, and you still want to marry him?”
“Of course.” Her answer was somewhat strong. “I know how I felt about him before he told me, and the feelings didn’t change after he told me. I believe God is with me on this. Telling me that part of himself made me love and trust him more than I did before.”
“You have feelings for him too? I thought you said it was me you liked?”
“I said I liked something about you. And, even though I didn’t tell you then, I’m telling you now that I liked you, and I still do. But, love and like aren’t the same. I like you, Femi, but I’m in love with Tayo.” She said emphatically. “Now I see what you’ve been doing. Is that why you’ve been bad-mouthing him since I came here? Trying to turn my attention from him to yourself.”
I was ashamed of myself. All the cautions of the Holy Spirit that I had refused to heed were now echoing in my ears. I’d been making a downward journey on the emotional lane that I’d shut out the inner voice of the Spirit. A part of me knew that my methods were wrong, but my emotions proved stronger than my knowledge. I bowed my head in shame.
“I’m disappointed in you, Femi.” Maria said, pushing the chair backward, and ready to leave. “I thought you were a good friend. And, to think that you are even a pastor; I expected more from you.” She turned back and opened the door.
“Wait.” I went after her before she stepped out of the vestry. I closed the door and started pleading with her. “Sister Maria, I’m so sorry. I know I shouldn’t have gone that far. Please, just please, forgive me.”
“Forgive you? That’s not hard to do, but since I’m not the only one your action affected, you need to ask God for forgiveness. And, you need to ask Tayo too.”
“Please, Sister Maria, promise me you will not tell Tayo about this. If you have truly forgiven me.”
“I’m sorry I can’t make that promise. I already promised him that I wouldn’t hide anything from him as far as our relationship was concerned. He trusts me so much that he didn’t hide anything from me, and I won’t betray that trust because of you. So, if you don’t want me to be the one to tell him, you should call him up and tell him yourself.”
That was fair enough. It would be worse for Tayo to hear it from Maria. “I’ll tell him.” I pleaded, “But, that will be later. Tayo can’t bear to hear that now.”
“That is mine to decide. If you don’t want me to tell him, you better make sure you have told him before the next time I see him.”
“And when is that?”
“Can you at least do me a favour of being present when I tell him?”
She paused for a moment, then shrugged in agreement. “If you’d had agreed to accompany us to Tolani’s this weekend, we three would have had to meet this evening to plan for the journey. I could tell him you’d be around, then you’ll tell him.”
“Thank you.” I released the door. “I’m sorry again.” She took her leave without passing any comment. I locked the door and fell on my knees. I thought of how disappointed God too would be in me. I had allowed the flesh to drive me so low to the point of disgrace. I pleaded with God to forgive me. I asked him to touch my heart and purify it again. I prayed. I was so lost in the prayer that I didn’t know when I dozed off.
To be continued…