When I first heard the term ‘Umbrella ministry’ I laughed, because I loved the sound of it. It captured what it meant well. However after some time, I discovered that umbrella didn’t describe it for some people, some had gone pro and what could describe them is ‘Canopy ministry’, hence the title.
Here’s a true story to shed light into what I’m talking about.
“I have always heard about things like this but I never thought it could happen to me. I have attended a number of seminars and have heard ‘define your relationship’ over and over, I thought I had.
We met in church. We attended workers’ training together so we just sort of got close. We were friends, he walks me home from church, then walks back to his own place which is in the opposite direction. We wait for each other after every service. We call each other a lot, we talk for several minutes. He invites me to family functions and I also do same to him. He has taken me out a couple of times too. I think I got attached to him. For about six months, I expected he was going to ask me out everytime he asked that we go out on a saturday evening, but it never happened. We talk about the kind of person we want to marry, children and all that. His text messages were usually signed with ‘I’m missing you’ or ‘you are loved’ depending on the situation. Maybe its just me, but I felt we had a connection, there was chemistry developing between us. I turned down a number of guys from my workplace, another error I made, I guess I should have prayed. But then we met in the church, it all seemed like God had set it up, all that remained was for him to ask. I knew it was not my place as a lady to go and ask but I really wanted to help him get it out of his mouth. So, I spoke with a brother and he advised that I asked him who I was to him. I felt it was going to cheapen me so I refused, initially. But after, I was convinced by this brother that I wasn’t asking him out, I was just helping him see things clearly as well as helping myself be sure, I agreed to.
The next saturday we attended a wedding of his cousin together. As we sat at a table alone, after a series of preamble about being around each other for a long time, I asked him as wisely and cautiously as I could, “Please who am I to you?” The answer he gave to me was a slap that returned my brains and feelings to factory setting.
“C’mon, you are my sister of life nah…” He said full of smiles, “abi what else?” He asked.
I was shattered, I had built my castles around his dreams, hoping he was coming for me. He then told me casually that his fiancee was in another part of the country and she should be returning soon. That punch hit me right in the heart. I managed to keep a calm demeanour but my insides were shattered.
I guess I should have been wiser. Did I tell you that he is married now and I am not?”
(A true story with just some fictional portions)
I hope that defines the title of this post. It just implies that when a particular is hovering around you without stating clearly his mission and you allow him, while you hope and wait for him to make it official. He finally does, by showing you his wedding invite or introducing you to ‘the woman of my life’. The difference between umbrellas and canopies is the size, some guys do this for more than a girl. As soon as its more than two ladies, it becomes canopy for me. And atimes it could even be a lady, but the guy gets some benefits from her as if they were in a relationship.
Now ladies, allow me state here that I am on your side, as long as you are on the side of the truth. So understand then that what I’ll be stating is for your own good. I am quick to fault the lady that allows herself be ‘canopied’, not because the guy doesn’t have his fault,he does (that’s not covered in this particular read) but because she usually is the one at the losing end, why then didn’t she take precautionary measures; some of which I’ll be stating below.
As you read, carry out introspection of all the guys in your life to know if you have been ‘canopied’. I know you’ll take the right step because you are smart and wise.
1. Define ALL your relationships continuously.
You most probably have heard this over and over at different relationship workshops, seminars and conferences. Note I added the word ‘continuously’. Defining the relationship continuously especially when you notice chemistry helps you both understand where you stand.
I’m sure you still remember the story above, you don’t want that to be you. Don’t wait too long.
It doesn’t mean you are asking the guy out, you are just asking for clarification of where you stand with him.
2. Avoid costly assumptions:
Don’t think he thinks of you or feel for you what you think or feel for him unless he says it. You’ll save yourself the headache.
“Let’s see how it goes” doesn’t cut it as an official asking out. It doesn’t!
3. Give voice to your feelings:
The value of accountability cannot be over-emphasized, talk to a trusted friend, mentor or someone who you know will watch out for you completely. Share your feelings with someone who has no obligation to the person in question, so the person can put you in check whenever you are fantasizing and getting ahead of yourself.
If she is a wall, we will build a silver barrier around her. If she is a door, we will barricade her with cedar boards. (Songs of solomon 8:9.GW)
4. Don’t cross the line.
Except he officially asks to be more than a friend, a brother or whatever the definition you’ve had before is, don’t cross the line with your actions, words or gestures. Even ‘let’s see how it goes’ doesn’t cut it. Your life is not a football match that you are not sure where it ends. Why? Because the main man might be watching and if you are acting like you are in a relationship with him already, you know hand on waist, hugs of life whenever you see and such, a gentleman would back off, making you lose out on both ends, because he is remaining in the ‘zone’ and still keeping others off. He’s keeping a terminal to himself though he’s not using it thereby preventing others from using it. Do you get the gist?
So ladies, be wise. There are so many heartaches around today that would have been avoided if only the lady decided to protect her heart and not allow herself be canopied.
Be a wall not a door.
PS: For the guys that read this, please let’s help the ladies don’t take them on a trip you can’t pay for. If you don’t plan to stay in their lives don’t act like it. If you plan to stay, let it be clear what capacity you are choosing to stay. Its the guy’s job to help the lady protect her heart, even if she chooses to play russian roulette with it.
Be a wall for them, that’s the job description of a ‘prince in shining armour’