October 21, 2015

Redefining Victory ... by Jocelyn Faire

How did you find your way to victory?

And I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
Most of us can relate to that line from the well known U2 song. I still haven't found complete victory, because I think we will struggle in some fashion until the day we exit the planet.
I believe that survival is under-rated.

She came to a point in her life, where she realized that the victory story was most acceptable in church circles. Everyone in the wooden pews was happy to hear the testimony of she who had overcome, and she who was now back amongst the blessed. Kleenexes were taken from purses to dab at the corners of eyes as the story of how she had overcome was broadcast. And cowering in the corner was another she. The she who was still hoping for victory, praying for the miracle. The she who felt defeated, where could she go? They were waiting till she had crossed to the victory ring to welcome her back into the fold ... she was waiting too. Where could she go, after all the prayers spoken and initial signs of healing, the cancer still took the life, the marriage crumbled, the prodigal son had not returned. The scriptures taunted with hope not realized. It was safer to live in the comfort of despair, because she knew it. Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk to you again. But what of it? When she realized that she was still breathing, and that she had begun to see beauty once again, she had survived ... she who was still blessed, even though the blessing looked different.

Years ago at a church meeting, a discussion happened to suggest that perhaps we should not share stories of excessive hope, because it could leave us feeling discouraged, likely our lives were not going to experience the same miraculous turn about that this person's had. What good was hope, when it disappointed after giving a false expectation, a hope that did not materialize.
And to some extent I could understand both sides of that equation, but more so I thought, if all we hear is doom and gloom stories, added to a long list of thou shalts and shall nots, we get an overriding sense of grey legalism.
In his book The Journey of Desire, John Eldredge share the story of a man who lost his well paid job, due to down sizing. He never gets another good career opportunity, even after repeat positive interviews, and this man came to despise hope, because it set him up for greater disappointment. That is the danger. We accept that it may be easier to live with a sense of resignation, than to have hope bolstered only to be dashed.

And so I, along with many others continue to stumble along towards victory. And I think the concept of victory needs redefining. Victory implies winning over a situation. And sometimes the victory is the emotional battle fought, the learning to live with hope. Truly to survive and continue to put one foot in front of the other, and to put a smile on the face is a victory step. Holding on to Hope.

When Life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.  Lamentations 3:28, 29 The Message

Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking Out of My Head, Grief as an Out of Body Experience.
She blogs at: http://whoistalking.wordpress.com


  1. Very deep. As you point out, hope is still always better than resignation

    1. I agree Tracy, hope is always a choice, even though resignation is sometimes easier.

  2. Jocelyn: I so enjoy John Eldredge's books. Have you read, "Walking with God"? I found it to be encouraging and relatable as he shares about his seasons of life. And I agree--there is victory in the stumbling heavenward, in the persevering. Sometimes holding on to hope is the only thing left to hold on to--but it is good.

    1. Thanks Connie for that book recommendation-and have you read "Beautiful Outlaw"? Also excellent. My sadness in the above blog is that the "church" often does not know how to come alongside the person still in the down phase, we are excellent in welcoming them back when they are "through," but in my experience, I have run into many who feel they were forgotten in the dark times. And they themselves could not reach out. Something for us all to be sensitive to. Thankfully God does not abandon.

    2. Yes I have read, "Beautiful Outlaw" and yes, also an excellent book. It is sad when the church does not envelop the hurting ones. Thankfully, that has not been our experience this past year. We have received nothing but love and prayers and hugs. That being said, my husband and I were vulnerable enough to share enough so that people could understand and pray. Often hurting people feel too weak and exhausted to do that. These are tough situations. We found that any time we shared our story with someone, they could connect with a similar situation in their lives or in the lives of loved ones. It was interesting. Just goes to show how relevant 2 Corinthians 1:4 really is. And yes, thankfully God never abandons.

  3. Good discussion, Jocelyn. Thanks for your honesty. I think those stories of hope need to keep on being shared, but somehow those sad stories also need to be shared - we need both, but like Connie said, sometimes people are just too weak, or too depressed about the situation to bring it up and hash it out again. It makes you feel even more depressed to have to talk about it so we keep quiet and act like things are okay.
    I agree with you too, Jocelyn, that survival - that sense of keeping going, living life, is victory. It is triumphing over the temptation to give up. Yes, breathing is victory!

  4. Important, Jocelyn. Very important. You say, "...the concept of victory needs redefining." For me, this was the key in finding peace. What I imagined victory would look like, and what it truly looks like are vastly different. I believe it's different for each person, but the one thing in common will be a full and complete surrender to God in the midst of whatever happens. If I can live that, witness that to others, then I pray my hope story will be something they can grab onto, too.

  5. "And sometimes the victory is the emotional battle fought, the learning to live with hope." I totally agree with your message Jocelyn that victory doesn't always come in a neat and tidy package tied with a bow like we have so often been led to believe. I also agree that in the church setting there can be a form of rejection or abandonment towards those who do not 'look' as victorious as others. Your post is very thought provoking and so relevant.

  6. Thank-you to all who responded, this is a topic needing conversation.

  7. Thanks, Jocelyn, for this thought-provoking opener and to the rest of your for your additions to the discussion. I must make note of this good quote from Lamentations. I've read through this a couple times and I am confused about the part in italics, which seems well written to me. Is this an excerpt from one of your books, or is this a literary reference that I am unfamiliar with. I believe my knowing the origin of this part would help me understand your blog a little more. It is unfortunate if we as a church make it seem that a person's struggles are not allowed in church. Jesus would minister to the healthy and whole as well as the broken and downhearted.


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