Christmas eve, I slept on an empty stomach, I was believing God for food the next day. You see, sometimes, people go through a lot but cover it up in a smile and nice perfume. This was my case this Christmas period. As I slept, I was dreaming of food and meat everywhere. The alarm tone of my phone dragged me out of the dream world into reality. I had momentarily forgotten it was 25th December and I wanted to go back to sleep when I took a second look on my phone screen and realized it is a bad idea.

I jumped out of the bed, rushed to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and took a quick bath. I was supposed to be at the Christmas service in Church and all I had on me was a thousand naira. The local assembly I attend happens to be far from where I live so I make transport allowances for Church activities every week. I was lost in thoughts, whether to skip service and reserve that money since I had nothing left but on second thought, I went ahead to get ready for service. I remembered someone was owing me two thousand naira and I banked on it. I had put a call across to him and he promised he was going to get me the money when I am back from Church.

I got to Church on my clean suit, well-ironed white shirt and my low-end designers’ one-year-old watch. My shoe was shining, a side of it was torn already but it was hardly noticeable. I had my tablet which usually served as my Bible and writing material, I also had my smartphone and clean face towel. As usual, I’d smile at anyone who greets, I’d wave at some. Having seen myself at the mirror stand, I knew I was not looking bad at all. I did not just look handsome, I looked well-to-do.

The Christmas service was awesome, the music, the word and other extra activities were clearly on point. As the service progressed, Pastor announced “is there anyone here who has nothing to eat this Christmas, who is finding it a bit difficult in this season? Kindly indicate by standing…”

This was for me, I knew it! I had nothing at home, I had no beans, no rice not even the things required to make a decent meal. I had exhausted every foodstuff and had even survived on credit for some days. I was struggling with me to stand. Nobody else stood, I was shy and then I also felt people wouldn’t believe me. It was only one minister in the assembly that I had confided in previously to share what I’ve been going through for some months. It was a big struggle but I sat on my problems, I was not willing to shame myself (I thought).

After a minute and a few seconds, two persons stood up. They were both females, one was a mother who separated from her husband and another was a single lady. Pastor waited to see if someone else would indicate but my heart was beating so fast and I decided to just sit on it and hide my issues under the nice suit and smile.

Pastor called up the two ladies on stage and they were given 25kg of rice each, ten thousand naira each plus five thousand naira each that came as a donation from another person making it a total of fifteen thousand naira. I learnt that after service, people were willing to assist them more.

Guess what? I went to the toilet to slap my self and wipe my face. The reason many people are not getting help is that they are dressing up their problems and making it appear as though they are fine. I understand that sometimes, we hide these things because we don’t want to give people a chance to take advantage of our vulnerabilities. There is no point telling everyone you come across that you have a problem but I have also learnt that the Church is designed to be a place where anyone can open up about their issues without any sense of shame.

I didn’t get help not because I was looking good but because I intentionally hid my challenges behind the suit. One of the ladies that came out was very well dressed, you could hardly tell she was going through a big financial challenge but she was willing to open up and she got help and was overwhelmed by it that she broke down in tears.

I learnt from that experience and I am writing this to encourage you. When you’re going through certain struggles, don’t pretend things are fine, open up about it to those you are supposed to open up to. Many of us have passed help simply because we presented ourselves in a manner that says “I don’t need help”. I met help face to face, I met the instant solution I needed at that moment, I met what many would have termed a miracle but I passed it because I wasn’t willing to open up, I was not willing to hurt my ego… Yeah, ego! I think that’s what it is about. Meanwhile, the debtor I banked on still disappointed and it was a funny holiday for me, yet peaceful and full of joy!

Maybe, next time, I will loosen up a bit. And then next time, I hope to be the one helping others. Whatever happens, don’t hide your problem from those who are supposed to be your support system. Dead men don’t have an ego to protect, be alive first.

PS: I haven’t said you should make your problems a uniform. You are not the only who has got issues though. Don’t deny that problem but don’t look like a problem

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