Jessica was the one who followed me up after I newly repented. It didn’t matter that we were both second year undergraduate students, neither did it matter that she was so petite in size, the exact opposite of me. What mattered was that she had a deep and grounded understanding of God’s word, and she had a sweet intimate relationship with the Lord, something I earnestly longed for.
Jessica was beside me when I got baptized in the Holy Ghost. She was there when I won my first convert to the Lord. She was there when I laid hands on a sick girl and she was healed instantly. I remember the day we went for hospital evangelism and we met a woman weeping at the hospital corridor. Upon inquiries, we found out that she had just lost her six weeks old baby. As Jessica spoke words of comfort to the woman, I didn’t know where the boldness came from, but I heard myself say:
“Where is the baby?”
The woman looked at me, puzzled, but she pointed in the opposite direction. I saw my feet moving towards the room she pointed to. Jessica tapped me but I didn’t look back until I got to the table where the body of the baby had been put in a carton, ready for burial. Even in death, the baby had a peaceful look.
I placed my hand on the baby’s little head and burst out in tongues. I spoke in tongues for about fifteen minutes until the burden was lifted from my heart.
“Onyedika,” I heard the Holy Spirit whisper. “His name is Onyedika.”
“Onyedika,” I called out firmly. “In the name of Jesus Christ, wake up!”
Some of the nurses had entered the room and were looking at me like I had lost my mind. The mother of the baby looked on, too dazed to say anything. I could see Jessica muttering in tongues under her breath.
Nothing happened, and for the briefest of seconds, I almost doubted my prayers. I held my breath and waited. And then, I saw his little fingers twitch.
“He’s alive,” I screamed. “He’s alive!”
Almost immediately, his toes twitched as well as his eyelids. Then, he opened his mouth and let out a loud cry. There were shouts of jubilation among the nurses. The young mother was overjoyed, she kept thanking us.
On our way back to the hostel, I noticed that Jessica was unusually quiet.
“Jess,” I called. “You’re quiet. It’s unlike you.”
She smiled. “I’m just awed at what God did through you. I’ve never prayed for a dead person before.”
“God takes all the glory,” I said tenderly. “It is Him that worketh in us to will and to do, right?”
She smiled again but didn’t respond.
A few months after that encounter, we became roommates. At this point, we had become more of sisters than friends. Jessica knew practically everything about me, including my soiled past. She was the only one in the world who knew about my countless relationships, numerous heartbreaks and even the abortion I had before I repented. I didn’t have any fears opening up my past to her because I trusted her with my life. I trusted her even better than I trusted my biological sister.
Months into our final year, a brother named Jonathan proposed to me. he graduated from my university when I was still in my first year, so I didn’t know much about him. Besides, I was still a chronic unbeliever at that time, so it wasn’t my business that he was the Joint Campus Christian Fellowship president.
I was afraid at first, because I wasn’t sure I was ready for a relationship. I shared my concerns with Jessica and she encouraged me to pray. “If it is God’s will, then do not hold back,” she said. “God makes everything beautiful in His time.”
I told my Discipler about Jonathan’s proposal and she joined me in prayers. Not long after, I became convinced about him and so did my Discipler. Even Jessica was convinced that Jonathan was the will of God for me. I had just one challenge though: I didn’t know how he was going to react when I opened up about my past.
I gave him a positive response and we started off a beautiful relationship. I kept postponing the discussion about my past with the excuse that I hadn’t found the perfect time to talk about it. Jonathan was everything I prayed for- loving, spiritual, industrious, cheerful and more. He would sometimes visit my lodge and when coming, he would bring a lot of fruits and cookies for Jessica and I.
The sail was smooth and uneventful until one fateful morning. Jonathan sent me a text that we needed to see urgently. I was preparing to see my project supervisor, but the urgency in the text made me change my direction. I called him immediately and he told me where to meet him. His voice sounded aloof, and I wondered what was going on.
As I stepped into the eatery and saw the square set of his shoulders, I knew I was in for some bad news. Quickly, I sat down opposite him.
“Dear, what’s the matter? Is all okay?” I asked in one breath.
“I should be asking you,” he said with a sarcastic undertone.
“Me? I don’t understand.”
He leaned unto the table. “So when were you planning to tell me of your numerous relationships, even the ones you had with men old enough to father you?”
My heart stopped beating as my eyes widened in shock.
“Or you think I don’t deserve to know about the abortion you had?”
My mouth became dry. My heart beat so fast, I thought it would shatter my rib cage.
He gave me a questioning look. “Say something please.”
I tried to speak but my tongue clave to my palate as my eyes moistened. How did he find out about my past?
“Jo…Jo…Jonathan,” I stammered. “Please I can explain.”
“I’m all ears,” he replied, rather too quickly.
I let out a deep breath. “I planned to tell you, honestly. I just couldn’t find the right moment.”
“Really? You needed a right moment to tell me about your past? Did I wait for a right moment before I opened up to you about my history of sexual abuse, or of the trauma I suffered as a teenager?
A tear slid down my cheek. “I’m sorry Jonathan. I didn’t mean for you to find out yourself. I planned to tell you, honestly.”
He didn’t say anything for a while, and then he stood up.
“Please don’t go,” I pleaded. “We can sort this out. Please.”
“I need space,” he said, looking blankly into space. “I need to clear my head. I’m not thinking straight right now. I’ll call you when I’ve figured it out.”
As I watched his receding figure, my stomach squeezed tight in anguish, and I tasted bile on my tongue as realization hit me. Only one person could have done this.
“Holy Spirit help me,” I muttered as anger washed over me. Why would Jessica betray me? Why would she spill the details of my horrid past to my fiancé? We had always lived at peace without any quarrel or friction. Why would she hurt me this way? I didn’t have answers.
When I got back to the lodge, Jessica was not in. I lay down quietly on my bed and waited for her arrival. She stepped into the room about an hour later and as soon as she saw me, she flinched.
“Amara, are you back from class?” She asked. Her voice sounded forced and she evaded my eyes. If I had any doubt as to who was Jonathan’s informant, her present reaction dispelled it.
“Jessica, what did I do to you? How did I offend you?” I started, sitting up.
“I don’t understand,” she said, still evading my eyes.
“Jessica, why did you tell Jonathan about my past. Why?” I asked calmly. I was upset, but I could sense the Holy Spirit reining in my temper.
She didn’t respond. Instead, she pretended she was looking for something under the bed.
“Jessica I am talking to you,” I snapped. “Why did you give Jonathan such private information?”
“Because he deserves to know,” she said nonchalantly.
I sucked in a sharp breath. Did Jessica just say what I just heard?
“Jessica, you said what?”
She turned to look at me in the eyes. “I said he deserves to know. Jonathan is such a good guy; I wouldn’t want him to suffer the consequences of your past waywardness in future.”
I felt like I had been stabbed in the stomach. To say I was shocked at Jessica’s outburst would be an understatement. I stared at her, speechless.
“Look, it’s not like I’m judging you or anything,” she continued. “I just figured out you would be too scared to tell him yourself, so I decided to save you the stress. I was right anyway. Three months into the relationship, and you still haven’t summoned courage to tell him. When are you now planning to do so? On your wedding night?”
She stood up and walked to the kitchen. “I needed to tell him so he can count the cost well. We both know that it was a quack who performed the abortion on you. Who knows…”
“Shut up!” I screamed, cutting her off. She was taken aback.
“Shut up!” I screamed again, tears blinding my eyes. I was devastated. It was all beginning to make sense to me. How did I not notice the deep jealousy and envy that had eaten into my best friend? How did I overlook her sudden withdrawal and periods of long silence, especially after a date with Jonathan? How did I not pay attention to the silent competitive spirit that had crept into her, as she tried to outshine me in whatever we did?
I slumped back on my bed. I couldn’t see clearly because of the tears running down my face.
“Jessica, why have you let the devil take advantage of you? Why did you give him a foothold in your heart?”
She winced. “You’ve always had it all, Amara. Always. I brought you to the Lord, yet you try to outshine me. You raised a dead baby, something I’ve never done in my life. You started a secondary school outreach, something I always wanted to do but didn’t have the courage to do so. You worked your way into the hearts of the nurses at the hospital, such that my presence or absence is never noticed. A hospital I introduced you to! she spat.
I listened in awe as she poured out her resentments and pent up anger.
“When I pray for thirty minutes, you stretch for one hour. When I pray for one hour, you stretch for two hours. When I fast for three days, you go on ahead to fast for seven. To crown it all, you got the attention of Jonathan! Jonathan, the brother I have been hoping and praying that he would notice me, ever since I was in my first year. I have kept myself spotless and undefiled, yet, he chose to go after you. What do you have that I don’t have? What? Answer me!”
At this point, she was crying profusely. My anger melted like snow under the hot sun as everything became clear to me. My best friend had been swallowed up by the monster called envy and jealousy. It had gripped her so much that she was bent on ruining me, the object of her frustration.
“I’m tired,” she cried out. “I’m tired. I’ve lost my peace. I’ve lost my calm. I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know what to do,” she sobbed on the kitchen floor. I stood up and went to her.
“Jessica, you’re my best friend, and I’m very hurt by what you did, but I realize that you are not the enemy here. The real enemy is the devil, and he walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour. John 10:10 says the enemy comes not just to steal, but to kill and to destroy.”
“I’m sorry,” she muttered. “I’m so sorry Amara.” She was trembling hard. I wiped a tear off her cheek as I sniffed. My nose was running already.
“Forgive her,” the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart. I smiled through my tears. God’s way was always the way of love.
I touched her shoulder. “Jess, you gave the enemy a foothold in your life and he maximized it. But thank God, he has not succeeded. We are going to dismantle all his wiles in the place of prayer. Stand up and let us fight the real enemy.”
Reluctantly, she stood up and we walked into the room. My heart was still in pain because of what she did, but in knew that if I talked to the Lord, he would fix the pain in my heart.
Together, we knelt down and called upon the mercy of God. As we prayed and groaned like our lives depended on it, I felt the cloak of pain and heaviness lift. I smiled through teary eyes. Devil, you have lost this battle.
Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith… 1 Peter 5:8-9a (NKJV)
A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones. Proverbs 14: 30 (NKJV)
For where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil. James 3:16 (NLT)