Today, AdeOla speaks to us about having questions, feminism and her interesting dream.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria in a family of six (6) people. I have an older sister and two younger brothers, and my parents have been married for almost 40 years. I am close to my family, both my parents and siblings, though over the years we have all successfully set some much needed boundaries with each other.
I grew up going to church with my family on Sundays, and maybe an occasional night vigil, but I wouldn’t say I necessarily grew up in church. My childhood was great and I was, and to some degree still, the family’s black sheep. I got into a lot of trouble as a kid, because I did everything my parents said not to do. One of my nicknames growing up was “She-Goat,” and I pretty much got spanked a lot. I, however, must have been bearable because I had amazing grades and was more into books than I was into boys. Most of my childhood memory is fuzzy as memories tend to be, but I had a great childhood with a grounded upbringing. My parents did a good job raising my siblings and I.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment? A few passages are holding me together in this season, and they are what I speak over myself and remind myself often when it feels like I can’t make it through.
Here are two of many:
First Samuel 23:14: “David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.” – Even when the enemies go after my journey, God hides me and will never give me over. It is reassuring when the storm in my life gets overwhelming.
I have also been praying Psalm 23 over myself almost daily for the past two years.
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me down the path of righteousness for his name sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You have prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever. Amen”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: In August, I spent a week fasting and prayer about a few long-term unanswered prayers. The first morning, I went for my typical early morning run and prayer, and specifically asked God what I needed to focus on for the week.
Without hesitation, He said to clean house starting with my speech and specifically in the areas that seem innocuous or that no one cared about or saw. I had this visual of behind and between the couch, under the entertainment center, the bed and microwave, etc. I am getting rid of the tiniest taint in my life and currently working on my speech.
Profession: Writer + Editor | Project Manager.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? I had always stuck with “A Thousand Miles, The First Steps” However, the title “Permission to Dream” has been swimming in my heart lately.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? As earlier mentioned, as a kid, I went to church with my family. However, my first and quire bizarre encounter with God was in a dream. Growing up in a Christian home, I knew, but did not understand the concept of salvation and the cross. I gave my life to Christ in my freshman year of college. I had gone to church, came back to take my usual Sunday afternoon nap, and I had a weird dream.
In my dream, I was hanging out in the park with a couple of friends playing a game. The rules of the game were for each participant to run from one end of the field, jump over a huge deep pit and run to the other side of the field. When it came to my turn to run, I was motivated by the screams of my friends yelling out my name. As I ran towards the pit, a large group of drunk, deaf and blind people chose that moment to walk across the field and got into my path. I kept running with the intention to run through them, jump the pit and complete the race, but I got entangled in their midst.
I woke up from that dream, and got a huge revelation in my heart on how the race was my very own race of life, the pit was the issues, trials and tribulations I get to walk through and the blind, deaf and drunk people were the sins and bad choices in my life.
If I choose to keep making bad choices, there was no way I could run the race successfully or jump over all the pits in the race. If I tried to do it in spite of my sins, I would get entangled in them, and they will ensnare me and prevent me from moving forward.
I felt convicted, got on my knees and gave my life over to Christ. However, my lifestyle wasn’t necessarily submitted. I knew God loves me and I was His, but I still made some stupid choices. I also knew that God would always forgive me even when I willfully chose sin, and I took advantage of that. Many times, I walked away, because I felt condemned and guilty, and I was tired of going back and forth in my faith. I wanted to be stable, but I found myself straddling the fence.
However, in December 2008, at a New Year’s Eve’s celebration at church, I heard God’s distinct voice say to me “Stay With Me.” I decided it was Jesus or none other for me. I decided to choose to stay with God through it all, the pain, the bad choices, the sin, the trials, the fears and the doubts. I decided to crawl back if I had to, even when I make a wrong decision. I decided to stay with God. Since I made the decision to submit not just my life, but my lifestyle to Jesus, I have seen and experienced Him work a change in my mind, my heart, my choices and my desires.
“I decided to crawl back if I had to, even when I make a wrong decision. I decided to stay with God.”
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Staying rooted in the Word and prayer.
Hobby: Dancing, traveling, and reading.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Stay in the word daily, if possible. I personally take the weekends off of my early morning quiet time.
Prayer about any and everything – I am pretty open and transparent with God. Maybe obnoxious sometimes, because I call Him out often, and He dishes it right back. Talk to God about your doubts, excesses, fears and sins etc.
Find a community and engage with it – it can be rough because you will not always agree, but prayerfully find your people that will stick with you and stick with them. Also, be vulnerable with them, they will hurt you and you will hurt them, prayerfully navigate those seasons.
“I am pretty open and transparent with God. Maybe obnoxious sometimes, because I call Him out often, and He dishes it right back.”
Favorite person in scripture? A toss between Nehemiah and David.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to learn that God is a good father and He will walk this journey with you wherever you are. Whether you are in a pit or a valley, on a mountain top or at the bottom of a tequila bottle, a good father stays with you. I also want people to know that God will change you from the inside out, and it is a life-long and sometimes uncomfortable journey, and in that journey, it is okay to be honest and authentic with God and with the people around you. It is okay to vent and yell at God. He can take it. It is also okay to let others know you mess up and mess up alot, legalism cannot survive in a space of authentically showing up as you are in the hands of Christ.
How do you leave your mark on your community? By being authentic. I share my struggles with faith, Jesus and the Bible. Many things in the Bible makes me wince, and I’m willing to acknowledge them and showcase them. I am a believer, and I have questions. I want people to know that it’s okay to have questions. I want every believer and non-believer on their journey to be okay with saying “I love Jesus” or “I hear you about Jesus,” but I don’t love this about Him or God or Faith or Christianity. Now, let’s talk about it.
“Many things in the Bible makes me wince, and I’m willing to acknowledge them and showcase them. I am a believer, and I have questions.”
Favorite holiday? Christmas
A goal you have? To write and produce for television and film… I guess that is more a dream than a goal.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Emmmm…I heard there is no sex here, why?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: The intersection of faith and feminism. I hear a lot of people say “The Bible is the most feminist book in the world,” and I disagree. However, I do believe that scripture supports and advocate for feminism which has its good and bad, just like any ideology. As a Christian, I want to submit to the leadership of the Bible, but I also have some questions, and I am constantly side-eying Bible. I am also learning and unlearning what the intersections are and would love to talk more about that as a believer.
What does your morning routine consist of? I wake up between 5am and 6am most weekdays. Exercise for an hour – it is my time to both chat with God and to dream. I spend time in the word after I shower, and then eat breakfast before I sit at my desk to work or head out of the house.
What is on your nightstand? Books! Books! A bottle of water! Books!
Define Christianity in a sentence: A journey.
For more AdeOla:
Until next time, keep witnessing!