Suicidal Thoughts (My Hellishly True Story)
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I can remember that moment … but I don’t know why? I guess there are just some moments that stick with us regardless of age or time. It happened outside the Lagos Country Club main entrance … that’s when I asked my Dad the question … Here’s how it all began…
We had just begun going to bible study at our neighbor’s house although they were technically not our neighbors but they were in the same Estate as us so we called them neighbors.
I liked going to the bible study because they gave us drinks and biscuits. The only catch was that we had to study the bible for about 2 hours and then endure long prayer sessions before we could touch the temptations refreshments. But for a biscuit addicted young kid like me, it was well worth the spiritual wait.
So we would attend almost every Sunday after church. It was all fun until one day the lights went out … they wanted to show us a movie. I loved movies plus our old VHS video player was always breaking down so getting to watch a movie and eat biscuits was heaven…except that this movie was the exact opposite of heaven!
It started off with 2 bikers with loads of evil-looking tattoos splattered across their skin. At one point in the movie they found themselves in a church, not sure how they got there but they were there. In the church they were asked to become born again so that they could be saved but both bikers refused … and instead drove out of the church leaving a sad-looking Pastor in the dust.
I guess the Pastor was sad because he knew what would happen next … because a few seconds later one of the bikers had an accident died … and that’s when the movie just changed to horror movie like that.
Before I knew it, the dead biker was in hell chopping fire. Now hell (as depicted in this movie) was this place where flames were blazing all over and people were crying agonizingly but nobody was dying. The one scene that I remember (again no idea why) was when either the devil or one of his minions (sorry Gru … I knows its despicable associating minions with Hell) took a sharp metal object and struck a hell citizen in the stomach releasing a cluster of maggots from his stomach. Let’s just say that I was terrified. No amount of free biscuit could have prepared me for this!
I am not quite sure how that movie ended or if I even had an appetite after watching. What I know was that I was scared. Scared because at that age I had deduced with rudimentary mathematics and rough statistics that if sinless was the only way to avoid hell, then the probability of me going to hell … was hellishly high!
My only other solution was to sleep in church, not sleep like snore, but sleep like become a nun or reverend. Or maybe repent every night before I go to bed and hope that the trumpets sounded while I was asleep. Needless to say the odds were not in my favor … and the thought of going to hell to have my stomach split open but not die was chilling. It bugged me … until I figured out a workable solution. At least that’s what I thought…
It was either a Friday or Saturday evening and we were (actually just my Dad) on our way to play Lawn Tennis at the Lagos country club. When this brilliant idea hit me, I mean it hit me in the car, but the brilliance of the idea did not fully manifest until we stepped out of the car and got to the entrance of the Lagos Country Club. And that’s when the question just sort of popped into my head and out my mouth … this question… “Daddy, if I give my life to Christ and then immediately kill myself can I go to heaven?”
Looking back now, I almost crack up laughing thinking about the thoughts that went through my Dads head at that instance … lol.
But thank God for his brilliance and his ability to think calmly on his feet. Because he produced a smooth Michael Jordan swoosh like answer … this is what my Dad said…
“If you kill yourself, then you can’t go to heaven because you have violated one of the 10 commandments … thou shall not kill.”
Now my Dad did not say it exactly like this, I don’t want his head to start swelling. But I got the message, I was like double fork! I was screwed! My brilliant escape to heaven plan had been shot down with that rare bit of religious logic.
Now as I look back at that incident I realized that I like a lot of people jump into a religion because of the fear of Hell and not the love of God. And some church leaders exploit that FEAR to drive people to their church.
I know this, because my early exposure to church from Primary to Secondary school was defined by fear … I was afraid of the trumpet sounding at the wrong time or of dying before I had a chance to repent. So fearful that like I stated above I technically contemplated giving my life to Christ and then taking my life as a quick strategic ticket to Heaven … all this at just 7 freaking years old.
I jumped around in church for the FEAR FACTOR. You know that “factor” … the one that you experience when the pastor says “where would you go if the trumpet sounds now now?”
But the problem with fear is that it distracts from the core principles of the Bible. It creates Christians that are scared of everything … the first ones to scream JESUS once the turbulence hits the plane … the ones that would tithe diligently but forget to give their needy neighbors a bite. Christians that are more interested in Heaven than what is happening on Earth. The ones that will criticize a pastor because his HELL word count is too low per sermon. And then those ones … the one who would show a hell movie to a 7-year-old child!
I guess what I am trying to say is that the church has to find a balance.
I understand the need to talk about hell … so knock yourself out. But let’s not forget childhood innocence and let’s not forget the LOVE aspect or else we end up with heaven desperate “revelation” loving Christians devoid of basic traits of love and affection for others. And that … that is dangerous. Because that is how extremism evolves. Because now people are more interested in where they go “bomb for virgins” than what they do to their fellow man in getting there. Let’s change the focus or at least diversify the message.
Written and Experienced By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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