A Friend in Need (29)
As soon as we finished our final exams and convocation, Tayo applied to Firewall Engineering Company where he had his internship and was employed as a Graduate Trainee. Two months into the job, he was sponsored abroad for a 4-month training.
Mrs Okafor, after her maternity leave, resumed back to work with a promotion letter. She became the new Director of the Youth Counselling Centre after Dr Andrews retired. Though most of her duties were administrative yet she continued to influence and transform lives of young people around her. She took personal interest in cases of young people suffering from depression and various types of addiction.
Life literally flung us in different directions. Tolani didn’t allow being a single mother to hinder her from furthering her studies. She applied for and won a scholarship to run her Masters’ Degree overseas. When the challenge of caring for Ben came up, Maria, on hearing the news through Tayo, offered to take care of Benjamin in Tolani’s absence.
Maria enrolled for an Online Master’s in Business Administration while running her own business alongside. Within a year, her business grew geometrically that at the end of the year she’d won three different awards of one of the best female entrepreneurs.
Mrs Okafor was gracious enough to offer me a job as her associate. It was after I accepted her offer that I realized she’d written to request for an associate and the former director had told her to hire anyone she believed could fit. The pay was good and I felt a sense of fulfilment in practicing what I’d studied.
One of the earliest cases I handled barely a month into the job was that of a teenager, Steve, who was addicted to pornography. “I have promised myself time and again that I wouldn’t watch it again, but every time the urge came, it was irresistible and I soon found myself breaking my promise.” Stephen confessed.
I tried to find out if he’d shared his struggles with anyone but his response was almost what I expected. “Share with someone? NO! I don’t know what to expect when I share with my friends in the youth church. I came here because I felt I could open up to a stranger than to a familiar person. I also heard the director of this centre is a Christian and felt she might be able to help in some way.”
“Do you want to stop watching porn? Why?” I asked.
Surprised at my question, Steve paused for a moment then replied, “I know it is a sin. I know it is wrong. I want to stop but the harder I try, the more I am trapped in its web. Apart from that, it drains my spiritual life. Reading the word of God and praying becomes very difficult for me after I watch it. In fact, there is a heavy load of guilt that descends on me and I lose every confidence to approach God in prayer. I want to stop because I don’t want to continue living in secret sin. Though no one knows about it, I am sure God does and He isn’t happy with my actions. Please, how can you help me? Can I be free?”
“You can be free, Steve.” I said. “I want you to know that secrecy is the strength of sin. As long as you keep this habit to yourself, it will continue to dominate you. I also want you to realize that you cannot struggle your way out of an addiction all by yourself—you need help. The blood of Jesus is efficacious enough to break every addiction from your life. You just have to yield yourself to God and allow him to renew your mind.
“Also, when breaking a bad habit, you should replace it with a good one. Every time you feel the urge to click that link, bring out your Bible and read, or close your eyes and begin to pray. Form the habit of meditating on God’s word. You’ll have to do away with objects of temptation like pornographic magazines, erotic novels and videos, otherwise, they’ll keep dragging you back to your past.”
“I once destroyed those things but I found myself downloading them again.” Steve interrupted.
“That is why you need someone you can trust.” I said. “He may be your pastor or your friend, but share your challenges with him and tell him to ask you regularly about your progress. If you know others struggling with addictions too, you can form an accountability group where you share how you deal with your various temptations. That sense of accountability also helps in the addiction-breaking process.”
After discussing at length with him, we joined hands and prayed together. I was excited beyond measure when Steve called me a month later to say that he had been experiencing victory since our last discussion. He added that his openness about his addiction encouraged others who were struggling to come forward too, and they were able to start a youth accountability group headed by their youth pastor, where they shared and prayed together. There and then, I knew God had a purpose for me as a Christian counsellor.
I was still in the middle of my euphoric feeling when I went for lunch that afternoon. As I settled my lunch at my usual spot, I spotted Doctor Sarah across the hall discussion with Debby. I watched till Doctor Sarah stood up and left, then I came close while Debby was almost finishing her drink.
“Is this seat taken?” I asked like a gentleman.
Debby looked up with surprise. “What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same. I work here and I believe you know that already.”
“Well, I now work here too. Doctor Sarah was just giving me some necessary information about my work here. She’s my mentor.”
“That is good news.” So, I would get to see Debby every day? Maybe this will be my chance to know her better. I said to myself.
I did see Debby every day at work after that day, and even sometimes when I went to Mrs Okafor’s house. However, I no longer saw in her the eagerness she used to have around me. I could only wonder if she was just ‘pretending’ or if she had been ‘taken’ by someone else. I shared my worries with Pastor Adekunle, Tayo’s dad, and he counselled that whatever God had said if it was the will of God, it would be fulfilled; if not, God will open another door for me.
Life went on and I decided to wait for God’s timing. I was relieved that Mrs Okafor didn’t ask me about it until after about 8 months of working with her. When she did ask, I simply told her that I believed God would make all things beautiful in His time.
About 3 months later, Tayo informed me that his wedding would be coming up the following month, and he wanted me to be his Best Man. I agreed joyfully and the preparations began in earnest.
To be continued…