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Tola F.

Today, Tola speaks to us about her time of grief, her fascinating childhood and her book.

Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I have an older sister and a younger brother, born to Nigerian expat parents in the UK and grew up in London’s suburbs. My parents got divorced when I was about four, our house was sold and Dad started working away, mostly in the Middle East where we would visit on school holidays. Both my parents had good jobs in engineering and finance and we had a number of Au Pairs and live-in “Help”. But after the divorce, mum decided that she wanted to be able to spend more time with us so she retrained and became a teacher.

Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Proverbs 24:16 ‘The godly may fall seven times but they will get up again’.

Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Waiting!

Profession: Writer, Editor, Model and soon-to-be business owner.

If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? They say your first book is always some sort of auto biography. My first one came out in 2020 and was titled: Still Standing – 100 Lessons from an ‘Unsuccessful’ Life (available in print/audio and electronic format) and that feels pretty apt!

When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I can’t remember the first but a powerful one was in my final year of university during Easter weekend. I felt God tell me to fast from foods, screens and all activities. I was alone in my student house and spent the time reading the Bible in silence. On the final day, I wrote down everything I felt separated God from me and then ripped it up as I felt He wanted me to know He had forgiven me. I wept so much knowing God’s love for me then.

“He wanted me to know He had forgiven me. I wept so much knowing God’s love for me then.”

How would you describe Jesus? Friendly, fun, powerful.

How has your relationship with Him changed you? I’m learning to be less hard on myself because Jesus isn’t that hard on me and He is supposed to be my example of how to treat people (which includes of course, how we treat ourselves).

What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? Probably, the years following my baby daughter dying after birth, after which my then husband filed for divorce. I cried out to God and felt nothing to be honest. But in hindsight, I felt like God let me go a bit wild; almost like how you might wait for a toddler to cry themselves out til they were too tired to fight you anymore! I was offered a lot of grace in that period because I was so bent on self-destruction disguised as partying and having “fun”. I did have fun but I was also avoiding my emotions and grief.

What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Meeting and spending time with people outside of my typically Pentecostal Christian bubble. People with different opinions and thinking both inside and outside of the Christian faith. It has been a reminder to me that Jesus would have been everywhere and not hidden inside a church waiting for people to come to Him.

Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): God bothering by Rhidian Brook. It’s a collection of the ‘Thoughts for the Day’ he read out over a 20-year period on BBC Radio 4. Fascinating insights from a man who was kind of a publicist for God in the face of a sceptical mainstream audience.

Top three essentials: Every time I leave the house? Lip balm, keys, phone.

How did God speak to you recently? About waiting and letting other people have the time to figure things out on their own.

Hobby: Reading, dancing, hiking, singing, yoga, getting dressed up.

Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Read the Bible (find a translation that speaks to you to make this easier), be prepared to be surprised by God, don’t watch the news.

Favorite person in scripture? Not sure I have one. But when I re-read the story of Jonah recently– I did laugh. People give him such a hard time, but he was trying to avoid being the butt of a joke when God in His kindness, inevitably changed His mind about destroying the people of Ninevah

What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Oh wow, that’s a tough one! I think that resilience and joy can co-exist.

How do you engage with your community? I talk to everyone! And currently, building a business that will serve it better. : )

Favorite holiday? Lake Como with an ex or Rio with that same ex. I’d love to revisit to claim back those memories without him in them haha.

A goal you have? To build my own house.

A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: When I was going through cancer treatment last year (2021), my cousins dedicated Weds eve to get together online to pray for me. That meant so much to me and we are closer than ever now.

Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Why did you make me wait so long?

Thing you want to raise awareness about: Health is wealth, and there’s so much more to health than just what you put (or don’t put) in your mouth.

What does your morning routine consist of? Hot water, quiet time – podcast/prayer/Bible reading and sometimes a walk with the boy.

What is on your nightstand? Two books, pink salt lamp, alarm clock, flowers.

Define Christianity in a sentence: An opportunity to be broken and rebuilt fully in the way we were created to be.

For more Tola:

Find her on Instagram: @ChristCoutureGirl

Buy her book here.

Sign up for her weekly essays on Substack:

Watch her TEDx Talk on Debunking the Myth of Success:

Until next time, keep witnessing!


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