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JULY 05 2020 | LETTER NO. 6 | BAD HABITS
Dania's Letters

I tend to procrastinate. When the notion to write letters came to me, I agreed with God that we would write them on Thursday, edit sometime between Friday and Saturday and then send out at 4pm (WAT) on Sunday. Thursday, because it’s my favourite day of the week (for many reasons, including that it was Jollof rice day on our food timetable when we were growing up). Thursday also, so I would have enough time to sit with it, turn it over in my mind and then edit before sending out. 

The first three letters went smoothly – I sat on Thursday, heard and wrote. Sometimes, I already knew the subject by Monday, but I waited till Thursday, anyway, just to be sure. For the 4th letter, however, I was quite busy with a cake order on Thursday so I couldn’t sit. Instead, I wrote it on Friday, and edited in time for Sunday 4pm, without any issues. Unfortunately, this deviation showed my subconscious that I could get away with not writing on Thursday. So, for letter 5, I waited till Saturday night. I wasn’t too busy to write on Thursday; I just put off till the last minute. I didn’t get to edit it till Sunday, meaning I couldn’t send it out at 4pm (WAT) as I’d planned. As I edited it, I told God that I now saw why keeping our Thursday appointment was important – so I wouldn’t be rushed or feel compelled with writing and editing it.

Fast forward to last Thursday, time for the 6th letter. I already had a general idea of what the letter would be about, so again, I figured I could get away with just banging it out on Saturday night. I ended up not sitting till about noon on Sunday. 

Here’s what I “banged out”:

Growing up, Saturday mornings were strictly for family devotion. Due to the realities of Lagos living, we’d pray individually during the week but come 9am on Saturday morning, everyone reported to the living room for a literal “dwelling” in the presence of the Lord (lasting an average of 3 hours). I remember many attempts to shift the commencement time to 6am or 7am in order to stay true to the “morning” part of the term “morning devotion”, but it never worked – imagine trying to get children under 10 years old to wake up and stay up before 7am on a non-weekday.

I remember one particular Saturday, after devotion, my dad lined up all three of us to inspect our nails. I don’t remember what prompted this (he probably saw one of us biting and relishing our nails during the week), but he said he’d decided to do a weekly inspection of our fingernails. All three of us used to bite our nails. That day, he noted our nail lengths and said he expected to see growth by the next weekend. Anyone with signs of biting would be given six strokes of the cane. We all agreed and went our merry way. The following Saturday, I got six strokes of the cane, carefully delivered on my preferred palm in my dad’s characteristic way – to cause no more than momentary pain and indignation.

It’s the only time I remember being punished for biting my nails. Not that I stopped; I think my dad just decided it was a lost cause. You see, I couldn’t help myself and not even the threat of/actual punishment could stop me. On and off over the years I’ve persistently bitten my nails. I think the longest I’ve gone without biting (minus the few times when I’ve fixed them) is a week. I’d admire the length and beauty for that week, right until boredom or an anxiety-causing situation caused me to take a bite without thinking. And before I knew it, everything would be leveled.

A couple of weeks ago, I tore off a nail with my fingers and was about to put it in my mouth when God told me to throw it away.

Me: Excuse me?

“Remove the reward that comes with biting them. “

Reader, I did and that was it.

It’s been three weeks and I haven’t bitten my nails since. And it’s not like I’ve been fighting the temptation or struggling to stay on the track. The temptation simply disappeared along with the reward of it. Even when part of one comes off accidentally, I simply throw it away. In fact, the thought of biting my nails now annoys me because it’s pointless. There’s no longer satisfaction in doing so. It was a such a simple yet effective solution that I railed at God a little for just giving it to me now – I could have been spared those six cane strokes.

How are you? Is there some reward you need to throw away?

I hated it. Okay, maybe not hated, but I certainly wasn’t comfortable with it. At all. I also didn’t have anything for the On Repeat and Binge Jesus sections. I considered different songs for On Repeat, but nothing quite fit. I sat. Waited. Stood. God? Are you here? Lay down. Sat again. Played music. God? Played some more music. Instead of the usual calm, all I got was restlessness and regret. I then started to question whether I was letting myself get in the way. On the surface of it, it wasn’t a bad letter, yes? Perhaps I didn’t like it because I was looking at it with human eyes and comparing with my previous letters. What if there was someone that needed to read it, but I didn’t send it, thereby depriving them?

I decided to send it Ugo and ask what he thought.

"Oh you missed a comma here, this word is repeated there."

"Yes, yes I haven’t edited yet; but what do you think of it? The substance of it?"

"Well, it’s nice but it isn’t quite like the others"

So it wasn't just me.

"I think so too. I’m considering not sending it at all but what if there’s someone that needs it?"

"Have you prayed?"

"Yes. Kinda."

"I think you should do so. As soon as you get off this call, just ask God whether to send it or not and then do whatever He says."

So I did. 

Should I send this, Lord?

“No.”

Instantly, the restlessness ceased, and calm returned.

I’m so sorry, Lord. I took for granted that you would always speak, and left it till the last minute for no good reason. I’m sorry. So many platforms and vessels in this world, yet you granted me this privilege and barely 6 weeks in, I’m already taking it for granted.

“Well. Isn’t it better that it happens now, when it’s still early?”

I guess it is. I’m really sorry.

"I know you are. I’m not mad at you."

Okay. So asking me not to send it is you trying to teach me about consequences, yes?

“I decided to help you, by removing the reward at the end. Last week when you put off our Thursday appointment, I still gave you something when you came on Saturday; your procrastination resulted in a reward. It’s why you came even later this week. So, I decided to help you, by removing the reward.”

Wait, hold up! Wow. This means you knew about the subject of letter 6 before I even…? And you decided to use my procrastinating to reinforce... But how did you even know I would…?

“How did I know?”

Lol! Alright, alright. You're legit the coolest sha. Thank you.

So, again I'll ask you; what reward do you need to throw away?

Sometimes I think about how frustrating it must be for the devil, that God uses everything. Fears, mistakes…everything. The devil was there thinking he’d used my work-in-progress penchant for procrastination to disrupt the flow of letters, meanwhile God who knew me and my whole life before I was formed, used the same thing to reinforce a point He wanted to make.

On Repeat
Heroes

I woke up this morning with this song playing in my heart. I hadn’t listened to it in so long that I had to search for it on Google – I remembered that it was by Amanda Cook, but not the title. The line that rang in my head was:

You taught my feet to dance

upon disappointment

And I will worship you


The fiercest battle we fight on earth is the one for our minds. Whoever wins the battle there, wins.


Let the weary rise

Lift their eyes to see

Your love crushing every lie

Every doubt and fear


I will, trust, here in the mystery

I will, trust, in You completely

Binge Jesus.

I first saw this Instagram TV post about two months ago and the first word out my mouth at the end was, "Powerful". I then shared it with Ugo and my friend Toluwani, and they both responded with, "Powerful".  No kidding.

I had reason to revisit it this week, and no matter how many times I watch it, it's still as moving and as powerful as the first time I saw it.

The "other side" is always closer than we know

I hope your week is full of colour and energy. I hope you find the light you need to let go of the things you should.

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As always, my email's in the footer if you'd like to write me back (or just hit 'reply').

Live free,
Live free,
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Chronicles of Dania

Lagos, Nigeria

dania@chroniclesofdania.com

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