By Akinwunmi Akowonjo and Gbenga Awomodu
“Preach it pastor! Word! Mmmn…” The noise in the auditorium is almost deafening! Dolapo is among the very few who appear unexcited about the whole thing. She has come to this relationship seminar just because her friends forced her. She is just twenty two, but she has been in and out of five relationships in the last three years and she is very dejected. After gaining admission into the university to study Law at eighteen, she felt she was ready to conquer the world! She started on a very bright note and was ready to give the next four years of her stay on campus the best shot because her parents had spent a lot on her Diploma programme. However, she had a clique of friends who wouldn’t let her be. They kept on teasing and pushing her until she finally heeded their advice and started going out with Kunle, a final year Mechanical Engineering student who seemed to have it all – brains, body build, money, car, and everything any student would desire. But it would not last long! She was just not ready for the responsibilities and time-consuming attention the relationship required. He was just too pushy… Like a dream, she soon broke up and ended up with five breaks-up in three years. Now, she’s in her finals and again, she’s desperate to get engaged before going to Law school!’
The storyline above is a very common one. The relationship topic is everywhere right now and, in fact, many people are tired of those relationship talks and seminars! It appears to grab the attention of most young people even more than the salvation message, but a lot of times one wonders why despite the numerous tips, books, and audio-visual materials on this topic, many young people still do not get it right. If people do as much as they hear, we should have less relationship mistakes and casualties. Many people just attend relationship seminars, marriage talks, and youth/singles retreat only to savour the excitement in the air and have fun. We hardly reminisce and meditate on those vital lessons passed amidst the noise and screams of energized youths. We do not even take a second look at the notes we took or the self-help materials we were given, talk less of putting the lessons learnt into practice!
The purpose of this article is not to tell you again, all those things you have heard over and over again about how to start or improve a relationship. This is not another attempt to tell you five steps or twelve principles of a happy marriage. No! You’ve probably gotten tired of hearing and reading those terms. Take a pause. Let’s approach the issue of relationship from a different perspective. Why hurry out of singlehood? We need to enjoy and explore singlehood and avoid pressure and haste. Many people out there are eager and ready to attach themselves to the nearest love-professing guy or that lady who catches their fancy and most of these people even claim to have the backing of the Holy Spirit since they have “peace” in their heart. The reason why many people are looking for attachments is because they have not come to appreciate the purpose and beauty of the years of singlehood, and they are not even willing to explore this unique period in life. Are we asking you to stay single? Of course not! (We don’t intend to either). But before you attach yourself in a relationship, be sure that you have explored the benefits of singlehood.
Singlehood is a time for finding purpose. Before two companies merge, each company first finds out its own strengths and weaknesses. There is a detailed analysis of their vision and purpose in business. After serious introspection, each company realizes and clearly states its projection for the future compared to its present state. When such a thorough assessment has been made, it becomes easier for the company to select or properly choose the other company which would effectively complement its strengths and weaknesses, and shares similar values and business ethics, amongst other protocols. This helps in a mighty way to determine the future outlook of the single company that emerges. Why attach yourself to someone when you have not even discovered your own purpose and assignment in life, let alone what role your partner is supposed to play in helping to fulfil that purpose? While you’re still single, find your purpose and begin to work tirelessly towards achieving it.
Remember the Adam story. Genesis 1: 18 records that the Lord God said it wasn’t good that man should be alone. He would make him a help-meet. Does that strike any chord in your head? While Adam was at work in the Garden, God saw that it would be good he had someone with him. She would be someone who would keep him company while he was at work and help him to achieve more and be more efficient. Scriptures say God made woman and brought her unto the man. Where was the man? He must have been in the Garden, on the field doing his assignment, fulfilling purpose. So, love-seeking folks, please seek thy purpose! Once you know it, it would be easier to know by the Holy Spirit which kind of person to marry, who to marry and where your partner is supposed to fit into that purpose of yours. With a good knowledge of your purpose, you would be able to define the purpose of your relationship and marriage and eventually come up with a vision for your family.
Singlehood is also a time for self-development. It is amazing to find a lady looking for a soul mate when she doesn’t even have a good character that would win and keep the soul mate? Remember Rebecca, how she became Abraham’s daughter-in-law. It can be inferred from the account in Genesis 24 that she was a lady who had taken time out to explore her singlehood to and had built up her character. The servant prayed in verse 14 that the damsel who would be Isaac’s wife would not only offer him water, but also the camels. That is kindness! How many ladies today have that endearing kindness to go the extra mile, out of their comfort zone, to help people? Giving the servant a drink is understandable, but camels! Camels consume a lot of water. An average camel can gulp up to 30 UK gallons (approx. 136 litres) of water in ten minutes! They store up a lot of water for long journeys as they drink. Imagine Rebecca having to fetch and pour water over and again, yet she didn’t complain. Some may say that it was the servant’s prayer that worked. Yes, but Rebecca’s character helped the job. Good character is not expected of the female folk alone. No matter how much of a fine boy you are or may be you are even on a 4.89/5.00 CGPA and have rich parents, no right thinking lady wants a man who can’t genuinely express love, is stingy, hot-tempered, or can’t control his hormones and emotions. Before you attach yourself to that lady and end up taking her through hell on earth, find out which of your habits and character traits will give any lady a hard time and work on them. Some guys are just dirty and unkempt. Some can’t even spend money on themselves let alone someone else and you want to go into a relationship? Sit and think. Everybody wants a guy she can show off to her friends and family and be proud of. Please, make her job easy and work on your lapses.
It is also a time to plan. Some people don’t even know what they want to do after university! Some do not even know whether they would like to study for advanced degrees, get a job or start their own business immediately after school. Others do not even know what career to pursue. Even if you are part of those who blame the government and leaders for the scarcity of job openings, if you fail to plan, others will plan your life for you, and you most likely would not love the outcome! Planning is a vital part of every man’s life. Explore your singlehood to plan your life, but be flexible about it. Do not plan your life so rigidly and expect that one lady must fit into that plan irrespective of what she had planned too. Please plan your life with the leading of the Holy Spirit as you allow for flexibility to accommodate your partner’s plans too. You will need to effectively balance your individual plans to the benefit of your home. When a lady has spent time to develop herself, not just any kind of guy will come to ask her out. What a lot of people don’t know is that you attract your type of person. If as a lady most of those who ask you out are wayward guys then you may want to re-check and reassess yourself. If you want to attract a sound person, BE SOUND! Let us say at this point that you must be careful not to set unreasonably high standards for you partner just because you have developed yourself. There is a need for balance.
Relationship is a time-consuming and energy-sapping endeavour. For people who haven’t grown up spiritually, it could be just another disaster. When you are in a relationship, you are spiritually responsible for yourself and your partner. But you wonder what happens to a man who is not even spiritually responsible for himself and wants to carry someone else along. Let me ask this question? Who told Adam that Eve was his wife? Having spent time with God, he didn’t have a problem knowing what God had prepared for him. Spiritual depth is a proper foundation for discovering a common purpose and vision for your relationship. You should be able to discern the purpose for your relationship, marriage and future home.
Finally, use your singlehood to build family values. Men who come home unnecessarily late and don’t value their wives didn’t start after marriage. It had always been a part of them, but it just didn’t surface until marriage for full expression. If God is interested in your relationship, then He is interested in the family that results from it. You therefore must learn and imbibe core family values. Learn to value everyone in your home and respect them. Some guys do not respect their mothers and sisters and they go out there telling a lady that they love her! That’s a lie! You can’t value your wife if you don’t value female members of your present home. Ladies, you are not exempted. Rebecca in Genesis 24 impresses me. You want to know why? Though not expressly stated, Rebecca must have been someone with good family values. The way her brothers treated her and her guest, and the prayers said strike me! Her people who were responding to the love and respect their sister and daughter had shown to them. They must have been thinking, “Her good character and family values have paid off finally!” Her brother and mother even pleaded that she be allowed to stay with them for perhaps ten more days! They were going to miss her big time! She had made lasting impact in their lives. The prayer in Genesis 24: 60 shows that she valued her family and they valued also esteemed her.
Are you looking for love? Look within and ask yourself whether you are what any man would go the extra kilometre to have or whether you are the kind of man that your dream lady can’t resist yelling out “YES” to. If you must marry the right person and build the right home, then you must be the right person!
This piece was originally published in the 2009 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria and has been slightly modified. Akinwunmi Akowonjo is a former President of the LVCU and recently graduated from the University of Lagos.