In school, we learn the concept of Newton’s Third Law: that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. What if this law of physics has a spiritual counterpart, and what does that mean in terms of the weight of adversity in our lives?
I work part-time for a weekly television broadcast as a music reader. In a dark control room with the director and technical director, we sit facing a wall of screens, each showing a different camera view that might be used during the live broadcast. The two biggest monitors hold our focus: the left shows what is about to come on screen, or the queue, and the right shows what the TV audience sees, or the live feed. We’re in a secure area, not near the performance, but headsets and mics help us communicate with key people contributing to the whole production. When the countdown is given, it is my job to accurately show where we are in the music score or script every second, so that the director can call the camera shots exactly on time. He has studied and marked the score during rehearsals, and picked which camera angle would work best during each musical phrase. During the show, you hear a constant dialogue as the director readies each camera operator for their shot and calls “Roll!”…and then on to the next one, every 4-8 seconds throughout the entire show. The technical director is manually changing what is on the screen, on a switchboard that looks like it’s straight out of Star Wars. This job is very fast-paced and exciting, and I love it.
The more I work this job, the more I see the parallel that, just as in the control room, the way things will play out in our lives has an element of master direction. We may not know beforehand what lessons or help, specifically tailored to our needs, are on their way, or in the queue, but that doesn’t mean the Director hasn’t already put them in place. Sometimes, like toddlers playing peekaboo, we believe the only reality is what we see or don’t see, right now. But learning to have faith, trust in God, and pick up on clues that show He is in fact VERY aware and involved in the details of our lives brings a deep sense of gratitude.
On the day that I consider to be the most painful and difficult in my life, I was suddenly and forcibly ejected from my home, neighborhood, and church family. Because of the way things played out that day, I wasn’t able to take my children, had only a backpack of possessions as I was pushed out and felt an almost insurmountable weight of adversity crushing my spirit to its very limit as I faced the beginning of a starkly different journey than I had expected to travel. At that moment, I had nothing, not even a home to return to. All of the comforts and joys of life had been stripped away. But because I trusted in God as the director of my life’s experiences, I couldn’t give in to despair. In that dark and isolating well of grief, the only pinprick of light above was the thought that somehow, sometime, this injustice would be made right. I chose to believe that God would fight my battles…and He did. It was clear that there were more with me than against me, and in the coming days, weeks, and years, I saw an outpouring of love, generosity, and support that was equal to the pendulum of sorrow and adversity I’d been called upon to bear. It would take too long to recount all of the ways in which those who answered the call from the Master Director to reach out to me in love and support countered the negativity in an equal force. Here’s one example.
A few weeks after that terrible day, reunited with my children, I walked into a new apartment, furnished lovingly in every particular by women from my old neighborhood. There was nice furniture, bedding matched to my kids’ favorite characters, toys, towels and shower curtains, baked bread, several months’ supply of food in the fridge and pantry, and even four pots of daffodils on the back porch which eased the loss of not being able to see the bulbs bloom that I had planted with my son the fall before in the yard of my marital home. A kind friend offered me a job so that I could begin to support myself. Service-oriented friends and family watched my children for free so that I could go to work, appointments with my attorney, and therapy sessions to begin the long road to healing. And on the nights when the tears of grief flowed freely, I felt lovingly embraced and given the guidance needed for the next step of my journey—by grandparents and ancestors who were watching and concerned from their vantage point on the other side of the great divide.
From Isaiah: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers. And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” I love this scripture, because I have lived it. (Isaiah 30:20)
I believe that every heaviness we bear, every injustice we are dealt, every tragedy we encounter elicits a response EQUAL to the intensity of our trial. The Director of our lives is ready, prepared, and able to inspire givers to come to our aid; or to prompt us to help others in their time of need. Push that pendulum, watch it swing first to one side, then the other. It doesn’t ever stop after one side only. And so for every jaunt into the realm of pain, heartache, and maddening unanswered questions, coming towards us on the opposite spectrum are comfort, strength, and resolution. “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard?, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?…He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength…They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
Through it all, my Father has been my most constant companion, ever lifting, comforting, guiding, and directing the details of my life, and I rejoice in the thought of being able to thank Him one day for the perfect way He has shepherded me through the valleys and troughs of this earthly sojourn. There are still unanswered questions, and quiet griefs not yet healed, but because I know that He has provided answers and aid before, I trust they will come, whether in this life or the next. And so I say that when the fierce carving of your soul empties out a hollow that brings you to your knees, know that it is only creating a holding place for a joy matching its intensity. If we give up in the moment of adversity, we will never see the glorious resolution. But when we trust that what is being dealt us will have an equal, opposite, even sublime counterpart, I say let that pendulum swing.
Life is full of small and simple details, but added together, they bring a certain
greatness to pass. It’s all part of the well-thought out plan to direct us through the valley of the shadow of death, and though we may forget or fear that at times He’s abandoned us, remember–He’s already put something in the queue. Just hold on until you see it. Every move is carefully calculated to add to your eventual capacity for joy.