"I think that we are using religion to our own detriment. I mean... actively waiting on Jesus to save us...".
The hit TV series Being Mary Jane is filled with so many thought provoking quotes, each episode begins with one. But the deepest quotes can be found in the series' dialogue, especially season 2. Season 2 began with a scene that had Mary Jane sitting in her living room, having an intellectual yet lighthearted conversation with her closest friends. That singular scene is very informative, the banter while entertaining, serves as an eye-opener (as does the rest of the show). But one of the many lines that resonated with me was the one above.
I'm a religious person, also a spiritual being. But after my morning devotion one morning several months ago, I got off my knees and found myself asking myself some hard questions. I was in a place where (I felt) life wasn't being too kind and I didn't seem to be getting the things I wanted or thought I deserved. I had tried, prayed and fasted, prayed and fasted...
As I got on my feet that morning realization dawned. Was this belief/faith in God/Religion counter-productive? Had my reliance on a greater, supernatural Being made me lazy? If I wasn't waiting for an Almighty, all powerful miraculous God to come down and save me, wouldnt I grab life by the horns, pursue my goals with singleminded focus, determination and chutzpah?
If I knew that everything; my daily bread, all my success, achievements and the attainments of my goals relied solely on me, wouldn't I, armed with this knowledge, stand on my own two feet, look inwards for strength and inspiration, look outwards for profitable collaborations, strong networks and ruthlessly make use of every resource available? Wouldn't my life be more productive, more notable?
"Do your best and leave the rest to God" is one of the popular mantras in Nigeria. But how often is our "best" even really that good? And what if there was no God to leave the rest to? Wouldn't you make sure that your "best" leaves no room for failure or wanting?
I think of times I've studied halfheartedly, written exams and expected a great God to come and wave his wand and turn a C paper to an A. I think of times I could have been out there, chasing down my dreams and beating down people's doors, but I stayed home because I believed in a miraculous God that would send my "helper" to my room, who would magically turn my life around. I think of times I could have made moves but instead chose to pray, strongly believing that faith moves mountains but conveniently forgetting that faith without works is dead.
I remember my very intellectual friend Chimdi, who's a christian by the way, saying a few years ago; "why are Nigerians so crazy about God and religion? Is there any street in Nigeria where there isn't one church? Yet look at the state of things. Then take a look at the wealthiest nations; UAE, Hong Kong, USA, Singapore etc and tell me how many of them are christian countries or so high on religion. Doesn't it tell you something?"
It sure does.
I believe in God. I believe in miracles, I have been a frequent recipient of His miraculous blessings. I believe that God has the best intentions for me. But the day I made a conscious decision to live like there's no God, to live like I am completely on my own, solely responsible for my success, my future and my destiny, that I alone am the author of my success story, was the day I sat up, got up and went to get it. My life has been considerably productive ever since.
Sure, there are things in our lives we have no control over. Those are best handed over to God (for those who believe there's a God). But for those which we can do, let us do, and do spiritedly.
Some of us, either religious or otherwise, have been wise and strong enough to grab life like a big juicy orange, and with our own hands squeeze it of every drop. But not all of us. Let's not use religion to our own detriment.
Have a beautiful Sunday guys!