When Love Happens
By: Bold Beauty
My name is Ojima Dorothy Dariths, most people call me ODD. I want to tell you the story of how love changed my life. I am a model, fashion designer and farmer. I own my own clothing line, a poultry, a piggery and a green house. I am going to be 28 in May and I had never had a boyfriend before my husband whom I dated for 3 months and married a year ago. Funny isn’t it? Trust me my lack of a relationship isn’t for lack of choices because believe me I’ve had plenty, I just turned them all down. I wasn’t gay or anything really, I just haven’t had good examples when it comes to relationships and I was determined not to be a statistic. You probably don’t understand where I’m coming from, let me start at the very beginning. With my grandma.
You see my grandmother is the strongest woman I’ve ever known. She raised my sisters and me and taught us to be strong and not take rubbish from anyone. Grandma lived with us while my mum worked 2 jobs to pay our bills and put us through school. Where was my dad? He left. I was 6 at the time, my older sister was 10 and my baby sister was 4. It was hard, I won’t lie but it was probably for the best. Reasons being that for as long as I could remember our home had always been a war zone. Almost no day passed without screams and yells. No week passed without someone bleeding, so when dad finally walked out, it was the best choice for all concerned. Grandma never talked about him and mum never mentioned him unless she was mad at one of us. As the middle child I always tried to make sure that didn’t happen. I was the peace maker. I always wanted everyone to be happy but somehow, my efforts were never good enough because sure enough someway, somehow, mum would get mad and yell at one of us, calling us stupid and worthless, just like our father. I remember onetime my sister talked back at her……….oh lord we all thought someone was going to heaven that day. Bottom line, my sister survived that ordeal.
Years passed and we lived like that, without our dad or any male influence in our lives and we were comfortable, or so we thought. Still don’t see where my granny fits into all of this? Allow me to explain. My grandma was married 4 times and she had 8 kids of which my mum is the last and only girl. For her first husband, she was nothing more than a baby and food factory. 3 babies and years of neglect later, husband number 2 stepped in. She married him thinking he would be better and he was, until she had 2 more babies and a miscarriage due to over working herself. That’s right, he was lazy. He would go out visiting with friends all day and come back demanding food and sex. Well, she left him too. Husband number 3 my oh my, he was a charmer the way she describes him. Charmed her and almost 8 other women into having babies by him. My grandma was lucky to get away with just 2. And lastly my granddaddy. Now him, he was mean, a drunk and a player. Oh he would beat her up, lock her up for days without food or water and still rape her. She was ecstatic when he died because her family had refused to take her in again.
This was the atmosphere my, mum grew up in, seeing this violence and abuse day in and day out. I don’t blame her if on some level it became normal for her. She just didn’t know any better. Mum taught us girls to hustle hard and never to rely on a man for anything. And boy did we learn. My older sister became an interior decorator who also runs an import/ export furniture business. My baby sister is rounding up her 2nd master’s degree in psychology while running an online catering and fitness business and me, well, you already know what I do.
The nickname ODD came from school. I had always been the odd one out in any gathering. I tended to stay away from trouble, minded my business, avoided boys and the girls who hung out with boys. For all I knew, they were the cause of all the grief in the world. Now like I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t gay or anything, I just refused to be yet another statistic. Yes I had watched other relationships try to blossom for my sister and mum but nothing ever worked out. Every man was either a cheat, a player, violent or just plain lazy. I got to believe there were no good men in the world. All the internet relationship goals, please, that’s all just a big joke.
My mum was a religious woman growing up, every Sunday we’ll put on our Sunday best and head to church. I never understood why and she never bothered to explain. My grandma would sit and read her bible like it was a story book and when I asked her questions she would simply say she didn’t know and she is not God. So I stopped asking. I figured God didn’t want to answer me, after all if He did He would give my granny answers to my questions right? What a silly little child I was. So yeah, there’s my background on life as I knew it.
Throughout my secondary school and university I only ever participated where the boys were because I felt the constant need to prove my worth as their equal. Huge leap from shying away from them right? I have no idea how that shift happened but it was there. I would go against the boys in karate club, I joined the cadets because it was supposed to be the “boys club”, in the university I ran for faculty president because I was told a guy had to do it and a girl could only run as vice. Joke! Guess what? I won! In a landslide too! I beat 2 other guys. I could have been termed a tomboy but no. From a tender age I had always loved clothes and make up. My favourite play time was playing dress up and oddly enough, my least favourite thing to do was go shopping for clothes because the stores never seemed to have what I liked. As I grew older I started to sketch out the type of clothes I wanted to wear and begged my mum to get our family seamstress to make them for me. So yeah, that’s how I got started in fashion designing. I never kept close friends, I was a popular loner. I knew everyone and everyone knew me but I didn’t have one person I called my friend.
This all changed in my final year at the university. We had just written our final exams and I was pumped! I was about to be a graduate at age 23. Mum was going to be so pleased really. On our way out of the hall a colleague handed me a flyer, it was a handbill for a church program. I didn’t even bother reading it. I just handed it back to her and told her no thanks. Later that evening I was restless, wondering what next? In the next 3 months I would get my bachelor’s degree and move on to do my masters. I had already done all of my research, I had a great paying job waiting for me, I had planned my life out, so why was I so restless? I needed a challenge, I needed something to win, to conquer. I decided I was going to a bar. I was going to drink. Now I’m a lightweight but I knew even then the system of drinking alcohol. I had the science of it down to a T. don’t to shots, have your drink with ice, pace yourself and drink water at intervals. So, off I went, down to a bar to have a self-imposed drinking challenge with any random man. I must say, it was more depressing than I thought it would be. Different men offered to buy me drinks all in a bid to talk to me or dance with me and take me to bed. I was disgusted. More than half the men who approached me where married and proudly brandishing their rings. What a waste! They were all drooling on about how sexy and gorgeous I am. I know I’m a pretty girl, but I always thought I was nothing above average. So these men who showered me with praises just irritated me even more. Is this the lengths men would go to just for a piece of fresh meat? Did they really have to lie? Much to their dismay, I left that bar and got a taxi straight home even more disturbed than I was when I got there. All the way and even after I got home I kept wondering what was wrong with people? Men! What was wrong with men? Why were they such pigs? Despite these thoughts, I never hated men. I was just sad. I had this void, this longing I didn’t recognise and I thought men where the cause and it made me sad. I got home, pushed these thoughts and feelings to the back of my mind, did some mind clearing meditation and yoga and then went to bed.
My graduation came and went, mum was pleased, grandma was proud, my sisters where my rock, my support system. My life plan went on like I knew it would but somehow, something wasn’t the same. Often times I would catch myself zoning out and the memories of that night at that bar would flash across my mind followed by that church handbill. I always quickly put myself in check. I mean it’s not like I wasn’t a Christian, I went to church every Sunday, I gave my offerings so what was all that about? About 2 months into my master’s program, I was leaving class and heading to work, it was a rainy day and this woman runs up to me with her baby and asked me for a lift. Of course I obliged and coincidentally, I was going her way so it wasn’t any trouble. On the ride she kept talking about how it was a blessing she saw me and how she knows she’s always covered and I just kept laughing. Then she boldly went on to invite me to her church. Immediately I opened my mouth to reject the offer but before I could speak she continued, saying she knew I probably had a church and she wasn’t trying to convert me but she just felt moved to invite me and that it didn’t have to be on a Sunday, I could attend that very day after work by 6pm. The word “moved” stopped me and I found myself accepting her invitation and giving her my phone number so she could text me the address of the church. For the rest of that day at work I was completely focused, I did not zone out and I forgot all about the church. Just as I was about to leave work with a nice hot bath in mind, my phone rang, I didn’t recognise the number but I picked anyway. It was her. She said she knew she was supposed to text me the address but she felt moved to call me instead. Yes that word again. She gave me the address and it was an area I was familiar with. It didn’t take me long to get there. She was outside with her baby, waiting for me. She led me in and said she didn’t want me to sit alone with strangers. Maybe it was the fact that my body was tired but that hit a nerve with me. It was the most thoughtful thing anyone had ever done for me. The praises came on and it was exciting, I was moving my body and thinking to myself, ok, I could get behind this, it’s nice, groovy. When the worship came on however, I started to feel so uncomfortable, that restlessness was back and it was intense, I wanted to leave but I was boxed into my seat I wanted to run, I didn’t want to feel all this. I found myself crying, tears just streaming down my face I wanted it to stop but it wouldn’t. Then she leaned in and whispered to me not to fight it and I just broke down. Right there. In that seat, in that church, I cried like I had never cried before. I cried till I couldn’t breathe and I was spent. What was happening or how it was happening, I had no idea. That wasn’t me, that crying fit, that wasn’t me, I had always been strong and self-reliant. If I needed to have a good cry it would be in my room at night and silently into my pillow but there I was weeping in the middle of a church, surrounded by strangers. I tried to get up and get out of there but I was struggling. Right then she held me, she held me so tight and kept saying thank you Jesus over and over. And I broke even more. The more I broke, the tighter she held on, she refused to let me go. Finally I calmed down and she let go but still held my hand. I noticed her baby was being held by a man sitting beside her. She didn’t let go of my hand throughout the sermon and honestly, I don’t remember what that sermon was about, I just kept looking at our joint hands and I felt currents pass through and each time the current passed, a new wave of tears would hit me and she would squeeze my hand tenderly. After the service, I thanked her for inviting me and I couldn’t look her in the eye. I was about to ask if she needed a ride when she pulled me in for a hug. It was very warm and comforting. I thanked her again. She then introduced me to her husband, the man who was holding her child. I braced myself and looked at him but there was no need. I found none of that lust I saw in other men, his smile was genuine, his handshake was warm and simple and I noticed how he looked at her. There was something there, something I couldn’t understand and I was confused. She walked me to my car and said she would like to pray with me. I remember thinking really? Now you ask permission? She prayed a kind of prayer I had never heard of in my life. She prayed for God to reveal himself to me. Internally I laughed and thought, is it the same God who didn’t want to answer my questions as a child? Oh well, let her have a go at it. I thanked her and left. I was numb all the way home. I could do nothing but have a bath and drag myself into bed. That night despite being bone tired, I slept fitfully. I couldn’t understand why. For the next 3 days I didn’t see or hear from her and I busied myself with school and work. On Sunday, as usual, I got dressed and went to church but it was different. I felt different. Empty. The whole service felt like a waste. So, as I was leaving the church, I searched for her number and sent her a message. I didn’t know what to say so I just asked after her wellbeing and her family. She responded almost immediately and invited me to her house fellowship that evening by 5. I accepted and she sent me her address. The rest of the day was really just a blur for me. I left home by 4.30pm and got to her house with 10minutes to spare. I honestly don’t remember how fast I was driving. She ushered me in and offered me some water. I spent the rest of that spare time playing with her son. More people came in and greeted me with warm smiles and finally the fellowship started. There was nothing extraordinary about it but it was warm and refreshing. I felt that emptiness melt away. The meeting lasted an hour and at the end of it, she asked me to stay back and chat with her a little and I accepted. We talked for a bit about her life and her work, school, her marriage, juggling all that with a child. I called her super woman and she laughed and said she only has God to thank for it all. She asked about my life and I opened up in a way I never had before. There in this stranger’s living room I was talking about my whole life. My constant need to be better than anyone, my emptiness, everything and she said something. She said He loves you so much you won’t even begin to understand. I was just staring at her confused and she said again God loves you so much. At that I wanted to run again but she stopped me and asked how long I had been running and how much longer I thought I would be able to keep running. I admitted to her that I was confused and it was all so new. It was something I had never know and I wanted control over it. She led me there with a simple prayer to give my life to Christ and become born again. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders I felt so relieved I cried. At this point it was almost 8pm, I didn’t even remember it getting so late. I had to leave. She encouraged me to pray when I got home. I didn’t even know how to. What was I going to say? I got home and tried to pray in the way I knew and let me tell you now nothing was happening, I was just mouthing words. So I stopped, and I started talking like I was speaking to a friend who was just listening and not responding. I poured out my heart and soul that night. I cried and prayed. I wanted to understand what was going on. I needed to, I needed help. I begged and prayed and then I heard a voice in my head say I love you. I couldn’t contain it, I exploded. Love? Love? Really? Who loves me? All those men who want to sleep with me? My sisters? My mother? My grandma? They don’t even know what love is how can they love me? I ranted, I yelled, I screamed, and I when I was done I remembered something. Reveal yourself to me. So I prayed that even though I didn’t understand it. I prayed it anyway. I was a regular church goer so it was no surprise that John 3:16 flashed in my mind. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” It was the first part however that got me. God loved the world that HE gave His son to die. I started wondering who I could die for. The answer, no one. I wasn’t even sure I could die for myself. Just then my phone beeped checked it and it was a message from her. It read “if you were the only one left on earth, He would still come and die all over again for you. That’s how much He loves you” I felt weak and I began asking, what sort of love that is. The answer came, the love of God. And I knew what I wanted. I wanted to know this love. This love that clearly surpassed human logic and understanding. I wanted to feel it for myself. Yes as you can guess, that was the very next thing I prayed for that night. I felt lighter and I went to bed. That was just the beginning of my love affair with God. That week I could only count the seconds till I could go to church or talk about God and His love. I was internally and visibly happier. I was learning and growing. This went on and I was at peace for the next several months.
Then my first test came. My mum called, my dad had reached out to her and he wanted to see us. To describe how I felt would not do it any justice but let’s just say there was an unhealthy mix of resentment, fear, indifference and something very close to hate. I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to meet him. I wanted him out of my life. I wanted him gone and I told my mum as much. I refused to see him. For the next 3 months I couldn’t pray, I was back to being restless and troubled, burying myself with work and school. I was writing my thesis and I needed to focus I couldn’t afford any distractions. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on with me, I couldn’t, and it was my issue to deal with. This went on for another month. I kept avoiding my father until I couldn’t anymore. I had been summoned home by my mum. I reluctantly went and there was the man who fathered me, sitting there in my mother’s living room. The living room I grew up in without him. There was a man I assumed was dead to me for 18 years. I stared at him with an emotionless expression. Not betraying the whirlwind of emotions I was feeling inside me. I greeted him in a respectful but detached manner. He commented on how much I had grown and how proud he was of me and he called me his baby girl. I just refused to react. I just kept staring at him while he spoke. I didn’t say anything until he said he had to leave and that he would like my permission to be a part of my life. All I said was “ok”. He left and I spent some time with my mum before I went home. That night I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning until I finally asked God what I was supposed to do. I was confused. Only one word came to mind. Forgive. Forgive? I didn’t hold any grudge against the man what was I supposed to forgive? Again that word kept ringing in my subconscious. I prayed for peace and forced myself to get some rest. The next day I texted my lady friend and asked to meet she obliged and we fixed a venue to have lunch. At lunch I didn’t know how to broach the topic of forgiveness so I kept going round and round and picking at my food until she eventually asked me what was wrong. I gave her a summary of how my dad wanted to come back into my life and how I was supposed to forgive but I didn’t know what I was supposed to forgive or even how I was supposed to go about it. She fell silent for a while, I could only assume she was praying for wisdom. Then she explained to me how sometimes people hurts us unconsciously and how even we don’t know we’re affected and how badly we’re affected by it until they’re brought to us up close. She also said I could try thinking back on all I remember of my dad and honestly see if he has hurt me in anyway and how that has affected me and in what capacity. Then she mentioned that forgiveness isn’t for the person who hurt us but for us, that it was meant to free us from the pain and the hurt we hold on to. I didn’t really understand what she was talking about and so she gave this analogy; she said imagine you’re on a journey and everyone you meet on your way hands you something to hold on to for them, over the course of that journey you would begin to slow down because of all the baggage you’re dragging along. She said these baggage are the hurt and pain that people have caused us and we carry over time and what forgiveness does is, it helps us to drop these baggage so we can continue on our journey without the weights holding us back or dragging us down. After lunch I thanked her and we went our separate ways. I kept mulling over her words for the rest of the day. By the time I got home that night, I had realised that the reason I was always guarded towards men was because of what I knew of some of them and my father just happened to be at the top of that list. That night I prayed for the grace to forgive him and every other man I had known who had in one way or the other contributed to my pain. I didn’t know if it would work that way but I did it anyway.
Even though I had prayed, I was still reluctant to see my dad. He kept calling and asking to meet but I kept coming up with excuses. I wasn’t ready. 2 weeks later, after a Sunday evening fellowship, my lady friend asked after my dad and I told her I didn’t know I assumed he was fine but I hadn’t seen him since that day at my mums house. As I was leaving she pulled me aside and said to me, a large part of going through the process of forgiveness is having to confront the person who hurt you and consciously forgiving that person until it doesn’t hurt anymore. I thought about that the whole week and so that Friday, I invited my dad to my house. We talked about him, his life after he left us, how he remarried and how he was happy and he asked about me. I told him he left a void in my life. I opened up and told him how his actions made me resent him and how I didn’t even know he hurt me until he came back. My father broke down in tears and begged for my forgiveness. He said he didn’t know how to ask at first and that he knew he had hurt us, all of us and he knew he couldn’t take it back but he just wanted to be a part of our lives again. I cried too. We spend almost the whole night crying and asking each other for forgiveness. I prepared my guestroom for him and asked him to sleep over. After he went to bed, I stayed up crying and praying for the grace to forgive him and every other man wholly and completely.
It took me a while and I won’t lie and it was a lot of work to forgive but it was worth it. My relationship with my father flourished and the restlessness I felt was gone, my guard was broken I was free. I am still free.
Now I know, if I didn’t go through all of that, I wouldn’t have met or learned to appreciate the man I call my husband today. He’s a Godsend and my best friend; my teacher and my support. Believe it or not, my relationship with my father helped me form a relationship with the man I married. He is everything I didn’t know I needed or prayed for and for that I’m eternally grateful.
God saved me. God’s love saved my life. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be today if the love of God didn’t stop me in my tracks. If He didn’t persist and most importantly, if I didn’t yield at any step of the way. I don’t know who is reading this but I just want to encourage you. God’s love is real, its tangible and its never far away just leave yourself open to it and learn to trust Him. He would never leave nor forsake those who place their trust in Him. He’s always waiting for you to reach out to Him. All you need to do is take one step and He’ll do the rest. He loves you, He loves us and He so desperately wants to show us how much he does. His love is without bounds or reason. Seek Him today, He’s waiting for you.
He’s the unlikely prince charming who rescued this damsel in distress and I fell head over heels in love with Him. I’m still in love with Him today but I know that He loves me way more than I could ever imagine. It’s not easy every day, learning more about him and healing in places I didn’t even know I was broken but I keep my trust in Him always and I have faith that He would see me through and He does every time. I am still learning to see myself the way He sees me; beautiful, whole, complete and utterly loved. Literally, to die for!
I hope this piece has touched and helped encourage someone. Thank you for reading. I love you but God loves you best.