Witnessed a mix of good and bad fatherhood

Our fathers are great (not all though), but we do not want to be like them when we become fathers…we want to be better. Yes, better than they are or were! Come on fathers, a charge to keep we have…!

A charge to keep…🤔

My view of fatherhood has been a balanced one because of my personal experiences. Even though I focus most on the good, I appreciate the ‘bad’ as well.

Ultimately, dad has been a great dad, but he had his good times and bad times with parenting. I had a fairly balanced experience of fatherhood growing up. I grew up to witness at first hand, both the good and the bad. Dad had largely been a great dad; but at a point, he admittedly became a bad dad and neglected his responsibilities towards us. I wouldn’t say he is fully to blame for my parents’ divorce and our bitter experiences of growing up in a broken home, but he obviously contributed. Mum single handedly shouldered a lot of responsibilities until her untimely demise. But I’ve been blessed to also see Dad acknowledge his shortcomings openly to us following mum’s death and trying his best to make amends. I have seen a beautiful lesson of a Dad pick himself up and try to be better.

Even though it had to take the shock of mum’s death to perhaps bring our Dad back to his senses, I guess he really did his best to reunite with his children. Ten years on, after mum’s demise, he’s still trying his best to be there for us in every capacity as a Dad, obviously having learned his lessons. On our part as his children, I wouldn’t say there’s still any bitterness towards him for the way things went (trust me, words can’t describe how really broken our relationship with Dad was), except that we do sometimes wish mum hadn’t gone that early.

But we also do know that there are no guarantees in this life and that our story or experiences is obviously still better than many people who had to go through worse. Whether we like it or not, the obvious truth is that, there are families much more devastated by divorce and failings of parents. It is therefore important to have that balanced thought and always be reminded that, no matter what we are going through or facing today, our story is still better than millions out there.

So, on every Father’s Day going forward, we just feel blessed that things turned around for us and our Dad, when we never even imagined it would. And then, we also remind ourselves of our resolve to do better and be better.

Indeed, a charge to keep we have and a God to glorify! Happy Father’s Day to all you amazing fathers out there! Keep giving fatherhood your best shot, God being our help! 🙏🏾

Been grateful for this one thing…all my life 😊😁

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©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

Take a stand against rape and all other sexual violations

Here in our side of the world, we have demonized everything sexual so much that it blinds us to real issues on the subject. Sadly, this apparent demonization makes it all the more difficult for people to be openly expressive about their sexuality and prevents open discussions on sexual abuse issues, especially rape. Quite sadly, innocent victims who try to speak out about their abuses rather get labelled, or their situation made light of.

Very frankly, there is a general kind of hypocrisy here in our side of the world, of everybody behaving like saints who have never had sex before, talk less of ever being abused sexually or ever coming close to being violated. Our “outwardly religious but inwardly sinful” nature will never allow us to openly make a stand against sexual violence. And that is how we allow it to even take root right in our Churches (the house of God) and yet pretend it is not happening.

Sometimes, it is difficult to place a hand on the real causes of rape especially. However, there is some positive feeling that, perhaps the culture of over sexualization of women which has seen almost every man growing up to see women as sexual objects (for the most part) to be dominated and to be used at will for their satisfaction, could be a major contributory factor. Trust me, even in today’s developed world, if a man and woman should be involved in a sexual abuse issue like rape, the man will simply have the upper hand and one wouldn’t be surprised if no blame at all is given to the man and made to walk free. The man’s power or ability to coerce a woman to have his way with her will be totally overlooked and it will surely be the usual rhetoric of it is the woman who doesn’t know how to keep her legs closed or her breasts covered enough, or doesn’t know how to carry herself modestly enough to avoid being raped, etc.

Yes, women are beautiful and many times could be objects of sexual desire, but that shouldn’t mean that it is okay for men to find women worth raping. Of course, any man would find a woman with all the right curves in the right places very attractive, appealing and desirable, but that obviously must not give any man a justification for birthing the slightest thought of rape.

Sexual objectification of women, as we see even in so many works of art, may contribute somehow to the culture of rape but it still is not okay. Let us not forget that women desire or lust after men too, but we rarely see them always going about raping men all over the place.

Obviously, the argument is not that women must absolutely be believed and to not hold any blame in a sexual abuse case (because men get abused too), but there just shouldn’t be any systemic bias towards men, and women must be given a voice to speak out against their abusers and demand justice. It is also important that the wheel of justice does not continue to grind slowly for female victims of sexual abuse, as it appears to be the case. Justice delayed could be justice denied.

We certainly need more public outrage, support and demand for justice in the fight against rape, like in the recent rape and murder of the young Nigerian student Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, right in a church where she felt was a safe haven to go and study in. The growing silence of us as a people only gives room for sexual abuse cases to keep growing and for the offenders to even feel free to walk about in society and continue to perpetuate more evil. We must all continue to lend our voice to the fight against sexual abuses because just one day, it could be any of us or our family members falling victims.

Maybe it is easy for me to relate with this rape and sexual abuse thing because someone very close to me almost got raped by a Pastor she held in high esteem and trusted as a brother and friend. Such traumatising experience is one that lives with victims their whole life and only God knows the damage it creates on various aspects of their life.

Maybe that is why a big part of my problem with rape and all other forms of sexual abuse is mostly with the Church, who I expect to take some lead in the fight against sexual abuses, but somehow they seem to play a laid back role and rarely add their voice against this social canker. But that’s not surprising because hardly would you find any Church on the surface of this earth that has not somehow tried to shelve issues of sexual abuse right in the Church under the carpet. If the Churches are constantly seen to be practicing and encouraging sexual abuse, how would they then have the moral right and confidence to come out and speak boldly against the practice?

It’s a really tough world out there for women to get justice for sexual abuses because this male dominated systems or support structures (including the Church) seem only interested in preying on women. The best we see them do is offering women a platform to hear them out but that’s where it seems to end; meanwhile what is of more essence to the victims and the public is real action or justice beyond just being heard. It’s really important for our justice systems and social support structures to be seen to be working effectively.

Perhaps the real work starts with all of us playing our part in creating a safe society for all and really taking a stand against sexual violence. May we not be seen to rather encourage it by either being silent or shielding offenders because they might be our Pastors, employers, family members, friends, and what have you. A victim somewhere is perhaps depending on us. We can all be the voice of the voiceless.

#SayNoToRape #NoToSexualViolence

Kindly share your opinion with us, for together, we can all become a strong voice in creating a safe world for all.

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©Mark Gadogbe (2020)

The good girl bad girl balance

I guess the sexy churchy girl balance is very important when it comes to marriages and/or relationships. Most men, I guess, want a good balance between holy and sexy; they want their woman’s ‘bad girl’ game to be just as good as her holiness game. Obviously, a woman’s sex appeal must be top notch to continually attract her man. Men want the good girl and the bad chick, all in one package.

Somehow, a woman must be a bit of a ‘bad girl’ and a ‘church girl’ to be perfectly right for a man. Women who switch both roles perfectly well are great at keeping their men and their home. Women who downplay physical attraction often lose out because the rare truth is that, it is mostly hard for a man to feel a sexual or romantic connection with a woman he is not physically attracted to. That is why a woman must invest in always looking attractive and appealing to her man; she must invest in everything that makes a woman look and be sexy.

A man would crave a bit of the ‘bad girl’ when all a woman offers is too much of the ‘good girl’ character. When it’s all too religious, it gets boring. Obviously, that must be the real reasons why I lot of christian sex books had to be written to at least teach church girls how to be sexy, act horny, play a little ‘dirty’, spice things up and have great sex? Godliness is of course a great gain, but a woman must not only learn how to be a prayer warrior.

Similarly, the ‘good girl’ will be most desired when all a man gets is the ‘bad girl’ stuff. Too much of everything is obviously bad, right? That good balance of a good girl bad girl trait is absolutely a winner with men.

The reverse is also true, just so we don’t put it all on the women. Women also want a good balance of the playboy and church boy traits in their men.

Obviously it’s all about times and seasons, knowing when to be churchy and when not to be, right? 😊

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…And do share your opinions with us!

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

Secret love relationships 

Growing up, I made a very important decision early that when I fall in love, I was not going to encourage it to be a secret relationship. I told myself I will do all I can to meet her siblings and parents, either while we are friends or within the first year of dating. Why? I just thought it was the wisest thing to do if the end goal of my relationship with her is marriage. If it’s not for marriage, then well…it wouldn’t matter meeting anybody because we won’t need anybody’s approval or disapproval really.

Maybe it was not so much a decision I made; maybe it’s because I was brought up that way. My mother of blessed memory never encouraged wrong associations and would make sure we bring our friends home. She was very homely and just wants to know our friends and wants us to feel comfortable bringing them home instead of staying at friends homes. She was very protective and interested in what kind of friends we had. If you have a mother who is very strict on the rule that all her children be back home by 6pm no matter where they said you were going to, then you would understand how she never joked with certain things. It became a part of us that no matter where we were or which friends we are with, as long as it is approaching dusk, we start making our way home.

It was like the default setting. It didn’t matter to her whether you are the eldest or youngest or whether you are old enough to take care of yourself, you just must never stay out late!

So, yes, I grew up with the decision to feel it’s very important and safer to bring my girlfriend home quite early in the relationship or to get to know her family early. That one thing was very important to me because I needed to know very early in the relationship whether or not her family will accept me, first of all as a friend, and then potential partner, and whether she and my family will be cool as well.

Travelling the distance in a relationship to later discover you are not accepted by either of your families is a pain and wasted years. I will rather break things off early than sink in deeper before that reality dawns on me. I know how families can be and I didn’t have to lie to myself that all will be well when we are ready to marry.

In the culture we find ourselves, family approvals have a very important place in marriage. Our people say that marriage is more about two families coming together than just two individuals. Deciding not to care about parental approvals and blessings and just elope to get married is a recipe for disaster. As such, it is better to cross that bridge earlier than later in a relationship and that was my principle.

For me, I believe whatever you run away from in your journey to marriage or in life generally, you will still meet later. So, why not get the hurdle at least half solved now or why not know your fate sooner than later in a relationship leading to marriage?

Secret relationships will surely only have one or two outcomes, and that could mean it ending in tears 🤷🏽‍♂🤷🏽.

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…And do share your opinions with us.

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

How Church is Church Now?

In the wake of Corona Virus, everything has changed across the globe, including Church services, doctrines and the likes. These few random thoughts have been crossing my own mind lately.

They used to castigate those who worship from home via TV and online platforms as not being Christians after all. Christians are only those planted in a Church and never miss Church, blah, blah, blah. Hope we are asking ourselves how Christian we all are now being at home and doing Church online?

They used to take pride in preaching in or to huge congregations. See how awkward it is now to be preaching to empty chairs and nobody standing up to clap for you or give you needless fans? Hope those your many body guards who don’t want anybody nearing their revered men of God are still at post protecting you in an empty Church? Hope some men of God have started learning again how to carry their own Bibles to the pulpit? Hope some wives of men of God can now have some true happiness and not have to fake in Church pretending to be happy with their husbands never sitting at home in the name of doing God’s work?

Oh how they used to take for granted church members who leave everything they have to come sit and listen to the word of God preached. Then, there are those haughty ushers who think they are the best of human beings God has created just because they are privileged to direct people to their sit. Will you now go and direct empty seats or you will direct people online? Hope we’re all learning now that everybody matters.

And oh, now that it is communion service, I hope it is okay now and acceptable to use shortbread, pie, fruit juices, just anything we find in our fridges to represent the communion bread or wafer and communion wine? Should it matter now, or should we still argue about which Church is doing it the right way or not?

Hope a lot of our ‘stupid’ doctrines, practices and attitudes in Church are giving way in these few days and we can enjoy some sanity from the confines of our rooms, as we all pray, read the Bible ourselves and build our personal relationship with God?

May God help us all come out of this global storm and be better people and believers.

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

Dating is easy…Marriage is hard work

​Marriage preparations do not end at the altar

You are allowed a temporary sigh of relief and accomplishment at the altar…but almost immediately begins real work; a new reality. Dating is easy…Marriage is hard work. 

When in doubt, remember all the billion people who couldn’t keep it together even at the easy dating stage. If dating could not last…marriage could not too. You may not like that reality but it’s just the simple truth. 

God meant marriage to be forever, of course your Pastor told you that; but it’s not always forever if you don’t put in the works. And who says your Pastor’s marriage is all rosy and a heavenly Jerusalem 24/7; don’t believe that lie, they just want you to see it that way. They go through every thing every normal marriage goes through; are they Jesus? How will you feel if your Pastor comes to say on the pulpit “things are not going too well with my marriage but we’re still working things out”. You think it’s not a possibility? The Pastor’s marriage has good times and bad times just like every other marriage. 

There are no perfect marriages; yours wouldn’t be either. So, chin up and let go of all the fantasies! 

Your righteousness can be sinful…

Your righteousness can be sinful and your salvation questionable…if it blinds you to the gospel of grace, when it makes you feel exalted above all, when it gives you no patience for the sinner, when it makes you feel it is for you that Christ came and not the worst of sinners, when it makes you forget that it is God himself who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure and that of our own we can do no good thing.

The posture of some Christians on social media is sometimes worrisome as a lot of people’s activities or contents are loaded with unnecessary arguments, labelling and putting people down. I do feel mostly that nobody gets saved by what seems like insults, judgments and castigations on social media, especially when people express opposing views to our Christian posts or messages. In many cases, it perhaps makes us no different from the people throwing stones at the biblical woman caught in adultery.

It is not here (social media) that we are coming to differentiate between what is morally wrong and morally right…it is mostly common knowledge. Nonetheless, if that has to be done, it must be done with a lot of tactfulness. To the best of my knowledge, people don’t become good when all you do is constantly hammer their wrongs in their face; they become worse. If you like, try that approach on your child and see how they turn out.

It doesn’t mean a Christian should never point out people’s wrongs, but there’s always a good way to do that; the approach matters sometimes more than the message. It is always important to remember that it is by grace that some of us even turned out good. We must always acknowledge the grace of God in our lives because sitting on social media, loading our timelines with Bible verses and acting all clean and righteous is not what is at stake. Fact is, when someone’s sin or actions bothers you more than your own and instead of working on you, you will rather judge and castigate them, you have a problem! It’s like today’s Christians are more interested in pointing out sinners than even praying for them so God does His own work in them. We just like to let people see they are the bad nuts and we are the good ones, I guess.

I may be right or wrong but I never maintain that I speak truth; I speak my mind on issues. It’s the recipients of what I say, write, publish, etc. that are the judge of whether it is truth (makes sense) for them or not. That’s why I don’t go about forcing my opinion on others for them to accept it as the truth, and if they don’t, they become the enemy. No, God alone is true and I’m not a Pastor so I don’t lay claim to “speaking the mind of God” and forcing His will on people. I’m focusing on living my Christian life the way I know best.

Social media is a great place to evangelize and spread the message of the gospel but we must never lose sight of our approach and conduct in achieving that aim so we don’t look self-righteous. We surely can build each other up, but we can’t force our truth on people and make enemies out of the very people we are sending the gospel to. And we can’t be hypocritical either, keeping our timelines flooded with scriptures just to look good outside while our real lives are questionable.

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

The rise of women and the struggles of men living in a woman’s shadow

Perhaps, many men out there are very insecure and so used to a male dominated world that they want things to stay just as it has always been, to their advantage. It seems difficult for them to live in the shadow of a woman, especially in this modern day progressively feminine world. Men are born leaders and their ego worries them a lot, especially when they are not able to function in their natural role of providing and fully leading, or just being in total control of things. It worries many a man when his woman begins to rise above him and call the shots in the union and he appears to gradually lose his voice as a man. Many men will worry about having to adjust their life to tag along their woman’s lead.

It appears society is more accepting of a woman building her life around her man’s dreams rather than the opposite. Majority of men are yet to get used to such a life of being the “follower” in a relationship. Perhaps, that concept is a huge paradigm shift for a man or perhaps, it is rather the way some women handle their rise above men that freaks men out. Truth be told, some very successful women can really rub it in their man’s face with their kind of attitude.

It appears that it is not enough at the dating stage for a man to say he has no problem with his woman rising above him, say earning more than him, being more educated than him, being more vocal and wanting to be heard more than him, etc. Many women fall for that only for reality to hit home later when the same man who said he has no problems with stuff like that suddenly begins to struggle to come to terms with it when that reality manifests. See below one woman’s sad agony:

Even though it shouldn’t be, in our part of the world, a woman’s rise above her man sometimes hurts the man’s very nature and gradually develops into a life of insecurity and if not managed, depression could set in. In such instances, nothing the woman does going forward seems to satisfy the man. He may sometimes be successful in his own field but he still feels his woman is now competition…especially because many such women too don’t learn to shut up sometimes. They begin to feel bossy and act like they don’t need the man for anything as she is now self-made and anything she needs she can get…she may only need the man for sex.

Before her rise, the man probably feels he has 70% voice in the decisions of the house or decisions about their life. After her rise and the fact that the home has to perhaps adjust to her schedules to run effectively, he naturally feels he’s only got 30% voice or control in matters of their life/family and that “kills” most men silently. It’s perhaps not an inferiority complex but the fact that the natural course of nature/society as men have been used to is changing faster than they can handle. It takes very few exceptional men today with great understanding, to see their women rise above or be more successful than them and not complain, want to “kill” themselves or move to take a woman at a lower level that they can more easily control or command.

Somehow, it appears many men just can’t stand women calling the shots in any setting. However, women also appear to have grown tired of sacrificing their dreams and passions to simply follow a man’s bidding or vision for life and becoming reduced to mere housewives taking orders from their men.

It’s a difficult decision for today’s woman who wants to be independent of her man, achieve her own dreams and build a life of her own, to now have to tag along her man’s dreams or leadership. Unfortunately as it becomes, many women find themselves in a seemingly bitter place of either choosing her own rise and risking it all, or sacrificing her rise and focusing only or more on becoming a man’s home builder.

That kind of sucks because today’s woman kind of hates the tag “home builder” or “housewife”. They didn’t ask to be called by that and feel it’s a stereotype society/religion (at the time) has put on them. They now feel their purpose in life is way beyond just building a home. They are or want to be commanding leaders too and want that to sink into every man’s head. Whatever she chooses to sacrifice in the end (her own rise in the corporate world as against building a home) is her choice. It’s a difficult one but it’s a personal choice that she does not want to be resented for.

After all, life is all about choices and perhaps, it should be okay for homes to run on two separate visions, the woman’s and that of the man’s? Some say many marriages or homes are breaking today because it is increasingly difficult to find homes running on a common vision and united front; rather, you find the woman pushing her own separate dreams and the man likewise. Building a stable home has become secondary to our careers and dreams and nobody is willing to make the bigger sacrifice, it seems. Perhaps, the greatest losers are the children born in such homes as they become often lost in the mix as daddy and mummy are left exhausted daily after chasing their personal dreams and have little time to spare building a home.

Perhaps, it may be best for couples to strive for a good balance in their personal interests and dreams. Nonetheless, the kind of life we want to live is always our personal choice and whatever we choose in the end, we must be ready to live with the consequences. But we hope and pray our choices turn out right and work for us. For good or bad, society’s wellbeing depends on our choices.

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

Cover image source: John Ritter |theatlantic.com

Accommodate people’s personal choices 

Tell me why you feel my life choices offend you or are wrong to you?“. This is the question I mostly ask “nosy, know it all people” who enjoy prying into my personal life. And on a countless number of times, I realize they don’t always have any good reason for their disapprovals; it’s just something they themselves are uncomfortable with, their own fears, their self-created rules (dos and don’ts) for life.

In the end, those who are wise enough realize one simple truth: their fears do not have to be my fears; their life choices do not have to be my life choices. Their mission in life is completely different from mine!

The kind of man we will become in the future is entirely based on our life choices. So, sometimes you have to allow us to make our own mistakes and learn from them. We just need to know that we are answerable to our own choices. You need to allow us room to be men; to own up our choices and accept responsibility for the outcome…whether good or bad.

So, as difficult as it is, can we try this new year not to be quick to judge people? When you fear for someone’s personal choices, just pray for them that their choices, no matter how uncomfortable you are with them, turns out good for them.

It’s true we have to learn from other people’s mistakes and take caution every now and then. But it’s also true that what killed my mother is not necessarily what will kill your mother.

Simply, let’s make room to accommodate other people’s life choices. There’s a reason why God made us all different in the same human skin.

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2020

Pressures of young married couples

Young married couples need money to run their life. Once you marry in our part of the world, your responsibilities skyrocket because it’s never about just you and your partner. There’s so much to do and there’s so much external pressures…especially from our families. You don’t have to complain in our part of the world…you just have to cope; it’s called being “responsible“.

We’ve seen many young couples unable to survive because many fail to sit down and plan their monthly expenditure early in their marriage. When you do, you’ll actually realize you have very little to save for your future after trying so hard to satisfy “everybody”.

Everybody is trying to get money out of you in our part of the world and funny enough, they see it as their “right” to have a part in your small money. Family, friends, church, strangers, etc. Some take it as a loan and do not pay back, perhaps thinking your situation is better than theirs. Others think it is their “human right” to demand money from you just because they are your family. The Churches especially, if they have their own way, they will take all your monthly salary and tell you to go depend on God’s supply.

Many churches these days don’t care the source of your money or how their members make a living. It doesn’t matter to them how young folks make their money (genuinely or not), as long as they bring it to Church. The more you give in church, the more you’re liked and the closer you get to (or the better attention you get from) the “man of God”. The more affluent you seem, the more the Church tries to get closer to you or act as if they care about you. Minus the money, you’re on your own. Some Pastors live on Church funds (which of course keeps growing) so it doesn’t matter to them to even think about the kind of financial responsibilities their members carry outside the Church.

Out of over spirituality too, many struggling young couples themselves too don’t mind throwing money at Church even if they can’t feed their family. If their family member is in real need even, they will rather send the money to church than help the family member with it and not have anything (e.g. tithe) to give at Church.

Some churches have no clue at all what work their young members do. In fact, they know close to nothing about the people they call “members”. They care rather more about “members” bringing in money to give tithe, offertory, covenant offering and all the many others they have devised in our part of the world.

We are living in a time where many people are doing very dubious things just to make money and some feel encouraged or rather pushed by our churches and their constant demand for money and so will do just anything to “save face” in church or feel they also belong. Imagine how close you are to the “man of God” or the position you hold in Church and most times that he asks for members to sow “a seed befitting your status” you are unable to give. Some Pastors will even force you to give by calling out your name or putting you on the spot with all manner of tricks.

But the sad truth is that, most times when young married couples or “members” are even in need, family and friends offer help faster than the Churches we give all our lives to with 100% religious devotion. In fact, you even feel more comfortable going to family and friends for help than the Church. The Church mostly becomes the last resort when all avenues have been exhausted. How many churches even help their poor members? Most times, they even take longer to help. It is mostly when “members” need the Church to come through for them that the Church starts acting funny with their “are you a member in good standing” antics, but surprisingly, one’s membership never comes into question when the Church needs your money (tithes,offerings,fund raisings for projects, etc).

The financial pressures are just so much on young married couples…but many times too, we are our own enemies because we try to do too much to please everybody. We must learn to live within our means, always watch our finances and have good financial plans for our life. We must live with the mind that help is never coming from anywhere. It’s sad because I often see young married couples depend on alms just to get by, yet still give all they have without thought to church, family and friends…just to save face and thereafter wallow back into poverty. I don’t know what kind of mentality that is though. 🤔

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019

Image source: El Carna Studios