It was an ordinary work day for me back then. In my mid-twenties, I felt recently directionless – my only marriage prospect, a man I’d dated for four years, vanished from my life and started over with someone else. I had a college degree but no veritable work in my chosen field of psychology. The temp position at the Lutheran church office paid the bills, but the dreamer in me never died. I longed for more. That age-old restlessness grew stronger with each passing day.
My boss (the Executive Director) and I held a standing appointment each week that served as a check-in. She usually took the time to gently mentor me, more personally than professionally. I took no offense.
But on that particular day, she wasted no time with idle prattle. Instead, I’d barely sat down when she declared with the confidence of a prophetess, “God has a word for you that he wants me to share. Read John 16:33. God has big plans for your life. BIG plans.” She emphasized the word “big” as if it meant something neither of us would grasp then and there. I understood its weight.
Hardly able to contain myself, I eagerly looked up John 16:33 upon returning to my office thirty minutes later. “In this world you will have trouble, but take courage. I have overcome the world.” The words stung. I could only focus on “you will have trouble.”
Wasn’t it trouble enough to fully commit long-distance to a man who detached himself from both God and me? Enough that I’d stayed faithful to him while he cheated on and deceived me several times over the course of four years? Enough that I’d lost too many friends over the years, never truly felt I’d found my way in life, struggled in relating to my OCD/bipolar/recovering addict of a brother?
Because I’d never really chosen the Cross at that point. I didn’t live the sacrificial love about which I was taught. Suffering always gives way to Love when it is chosen for the Good of the Other, but I didn’t know that yet.
Today, almost fifteen years later, I revisited that incident. It came to mind a few week ago as fresh as spring rain. Why, I have no inkling. Except that maybe now is the time.
It’s nearing time for me to actualize the words I read in Scripture, to move from “trouble” to “overcome.” Jesus is the bird on whose back I soar. He hides me, shelters me, yet permits me to be exposed to harsh realities of loss and betrayal and pain. But he’s always there, and this is why – how – I overcome anything at all.
It is not by way of human thought or strength. It is in the spirit, the depths that are reserved only for the soul to understand. And there is where I find my muse dwells: the song, the lyrics, the melody have resided there all along, but they lay dormant, forming their beauty in some hidden place within me.
It is not truly I who overcomes, anyway. I acquiesce to God, yielding to his movements. But is it he who acts in and through me. It is God who overcomes.