NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH THANKS
My mum had a method of discipline called the cup; there was an imaginary cup that got filled with imaginary water every time we committed an offense. We did not get punished until this imaginary cup was filled. Sometimes it took five small offenses to get this cup filled; sometimes it was two huge offenses. I had gone out to play soccer with my friends; we stayed out late, my white polka dot skirt got filthy while playing, I came home late and I knew that there was a possibility my mum was waiting for me with my own special Mr. Do Good to whoop my back and hands into contrition. Prior to this day, my mum had been sounding a note of warning to me that my cup was almost filled up so I knew that it would only take a miracle for my mum not to whoop me that day. My friends advised me to remove one of the hairs on my eye brow, wrap it in a piece of paper and throw it either into the gutter or on top of the zinced roof because they said it would make my mum forget the wrongs I had done. I did it and I also sent a short prayer to God that my superstitious belief would be effective. I got home, my heart beating right out of my chest, my palms sweating and my mind stilled for a hard beating in case my actions and prayers didn't work. It did; my mum asked me to come help her in the kitchen and the next day when she was doing my laundry chastised me to be more careful with my ‘girly’ clothes that required more care, I was in shock; I couldn't believe that my mum did not beat me, shout on me or give me the famous silent treatment. It was the first time in my life that I was conscious of saying a huge thank you to God for helping me out in a time of crisis.
Thanksgiving describes a feeling of gratitude for service rendered in any form. It is a show of appreciation for any positive event that has gone our way. It is an act of expression for the good that people do to us, it is a way of life, a culture and tradition that is as ageless as time itself.
I remember the first time I learnt how to pray in 1999. It was at block rosary crusade and I was asked to say the closing prayer; I started by thanking God for my family, for life and for health before I moved on to prayer for forgiveness of sins and finally for a good night rest. The brother in charge of the meeting spoke to me and said that I prayed correctly, he advised us on the importance of giving thanks to God each day and from his explanations I realized that praise to God is the best form of prayer.
Think about it, everything we ask God for, he already knows; our deepest desires, our greatest fears, and the thoughts we are afraid to speak, God knows it all. What can we give to a spirit we cannot see, we cannot touch, we cannot fully understand? How do we appease him for the many wrongs we commit every day? Thanksgiving! It is the simple, perfect and most effective form of prayer.
I don’t care what religion you ascribe to or what deity you worship, at the end of the day you take a deep breath and you send thanks to your creator for seeing you through that day.
My neighbours worship the god Ogun; when I was little I used to feel more righteous than them and tease their kids for not having a real religion that could take them to heaven, but now I realize that I am in no place to judge. On the first day of each year they have a gathering and they offer thanks to Ogun for the old year that has passed and the New Year they have just entered. If that isn't thanksgiving then I wonder what is.
I do not have a well paying job so for most of the year all of my prayers have been centered around asking God to grant me a good job of satisfaction and contentment but I was in church in September and the priest was giving a homily about thanksgiving, he says most Christians just keep asking God for things all year round, but we hardly have a prayer session where all we do is give God thanks. I was so touched by the homily that from that night I changed my method of prayer and I took more time giving God praise and trusting in his knowledge of my needs. It felt good; prayer had more meaning, my life felt fuller all from the simple act of thanksgiving. But life will not always be kind, I have had a difficult and frustrating year and sometimes it felt like if I was saying the same prayers with no result, the only thing that kept me together was prayer, internet and my friends. It was not enough though as things came to a head in early November when I was unable to acquire a job I was hoping I would get. I was angry with God, I was angry with myself and I did not know how to move from that spot, to thank him for things that have not worked out, to praise him with my frustrations and to glorify him even in my anger. I still have not been able to say a proper prayer since that day, I have only said the rosary a couple of times and my bible has started gathering dust from being unused; hopefully I can try tonight, make a new start with the new year because if there is one thing that God has done for me even when I have deserted him is to be patient with me. He did not let me suffer, or go hungry and for that I am grateful.
My friend said he won’t miss 2012 because he only learnt a few things from it and his life hasn't really changed much between 2011 and now. That is not true, so many things happened last year that seeing this day is a miracle in itself. There are so many things I am grateful for, if asking from God is never too much for us humans then telling him all he has done for us shouldn't be too much either.
I am thankful:
· That in the midst of all the boko haram crisis, bomb blast, plane and helicopter crash, death from flooding, kidnappings, armed robbery rampages, rapist killers, road accidents I have not been harmed and neither has my family and friends.
· For the gift of life each day, because for that to be achieved God has kept me out of every situation that could have brought me harm.
· For health; some people I knew were involved in serious road accidents. One minute she is right next to me and the next am hearing that she is in the hospital with dislocation in three different places and severe injuries all over her body. I went to the hospital and I was so sad I almost cried. There was a young girl of probably 15 years old who couldn't eat and had to be fed from a tube, there was another woman whose leg injuries didn't seem to be healing and there was yet another lady whose body had to be exposed because the wounds were so severe they couldn't be covered up. It was not a sight for the faint hearted. I came out of the hospital and I sent a thank you to God, I did not commit sin that day and I felt so much remorse for taking my life for granted when there were people who would never have their lives back the way they used to know it.
· For the ability to swallow pounded yam and egusi without hassle, for the best taste buds in the world, for a huge appetite and for my love of life and all things good.
· For my feminism which I have come to appreciate and embrace as an important part of me. This year has helped me to take time and consider those parts of myself that I want to explore and feminism came top of that list, because my writing was borne as a tool for feminism. Life like I have said before has placed me as a black-African woman and for that I am thankful because from this minority position I see things differently from others, I have a tougher skin against rejection from stereotype and I have acquired more knowledge on the fight for female empowerment and representation in governance.
· For my family, through crisis and good times we have stuck together, though we differ in personalities the blood that binds us connects us as one and I am thankful for every time they have had my back.
· For all the job rejections I have had to bear this year; I still do not know what the full story is from the creator, but I have learned patience where there was none, faith where it was little and hope when it was non-existent plus really juicy stories that I can tell my kids when the time comes!
· For my conscience that has kept me in line, sometimes I hate how it won’t let me get away with bad things but I am grateful because at the end of each day I go to bed with a clean heart which really helps me sleep well.
· For the androgynous woman I met this year who has educated me on the reality of stereotype and rejection. I feel blessed to have met u M and I hope that the world will soon stop being a place where people are grouped into classes and sections but accepted the way we present ourselves to be.
What happens when you have family in the Dana air crash, book haram victims, flood victims, road crash victims; what do you do, how do you say thank you when all you feel is confusion, anger and helplessness? You simply don’t! You don’t say thank you because in that moment all you want to do is grieve and God understand, with time you thank God for the lives they lived, the moments you shared with them, the joy in their laughter. You remember the happy memories because those are what get you through the sleepless nights and the pain and you pray in thanksgiving even when you don’t feel like because sometimes that is all that helps.
There is no such thing as too much thanks, it can be done when we wake up and say thank you to the creator for a new day and for the gift of life, it can done when we are about to eat a delicious bowl of ice cream or a large wrap of akpu, it can done by giving to charity, by sharing with our friends, by helping out in donor agencies. As long as thanks is offered with a heart filled with gratitude, the Creator is always ready to receive our thanks because if we praise him all the time, he will bless us even more.
2012 is over; we usher in the New Year with joy hope, faith and most importantly thanksgiving. Take the time today to say a little prayer to the Lord in appreciation of the little things he has done for you and thank him for the ones he has in store for you in 2013. How can you thank God for the future if you have no faith…..happy new year my friends!!!