Foremost, she is openly and joyfully in love with Jesus, and that is a beautiful thing. She is an optimist but is down-to-earth and readily admits her faults. Yes, I base much of my impression on social media, but let's be honest: if you were trying to look more put-together than you really are, why talk about how much you love your bed on Facebook? The girl is real. Her very public dismissal from American Idol by Simon Cowell, who snidely insulted her weight - as well as her immediate, gracious, and loving reply - were what launched her career, rather than canning it. While much of America looks to actress Jennifer Lawrence as their "everywoman" - unashamed to talk about food, prone to goofing around, and all-around decent, I relate more, I think, to Mandisa. I could actually imagine sitting down with her and joking about clothing a zaftig figure, loving Southern-fried food, and how there are a lot of days when Christians don't even feel saved.
So, when I heard her new song for the first time, I cried. The message, like many of hers, is both simple and essential. The theme of overcoming is mentioned a lot in the Bible. It can be found in 1 John 5:4, where is is clearly stated "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith."
The concept of living victoriously because Jesus triumphed over the grave is not, as some think, a "bonus blessing" only to be received by an elite few. I am learning that is actually a fundamental building block of the faith! If you have accepted the already pretty hard-to-swallow idea that Jesus is God's son, that He died for your sins, that He rose from the dead, and that He absolutely and completely adores you, then the next step is to believe that He actually wants you to live a full and fulfilling life. That doesn't, of course, mean that your life will always be comfortable, or that you will never experience stress, sorrow, or pain. But it does mean that you have the power and the choice to look past your circumstances into the eyes of the One who created you, who actually wants you to experience peace and joy.
Don't get me wrong, here. I am not preaching or promising a life full of warm fuzzies! I'm speaking from a place of, well, not a lot of warm fuzzies myself. I'm missing my mom. I can hardly believe it's been seven months already since she passed away. I mourn the loss of my children. Ross is having a very hard time finding a job that suits him better than his current one. His hours do not allow for a lot of quality time with me or our families.
I can focus on the things that make me unhappy, or I can focus on the fact that, in spite of everything that is painful and uncertain right now, God does have a plan for my future, and everything will be okay.
I listen to Overcomer most days during my lunchtime power-walk. It reminds me that, according to God's word, I'm not an overcomer when I see, feel, or experience victory. I am one now. I am allowed and even encouraged to hold me head high, smile, and walk joyfully through any situation with the knowledge that my enemy cannot destroy me. I am an overcomer, even though I have lost three pregnancies. God is bigger than miscarriage. God is bigger than the doctors' response of "we don't know what's wrong." God is bigger than the fear that threatens to rise up and suffocate me when I think about trying to conceive again.
|June 2012, at my sister's wedding.|
I have not yet seen victory in that area of my life, but I my spirits are lifted by the victory I am seeing in another area - weight loss. Like Mandisa, I have grown more conscientious of my health in the past several months. In the past year, I have (slowly!) lost nearly 20 pounds. I was a size 13 in Juniors' styles this January, and I'm now beginning to try on size 7.
That's the key to really accepting the fact that you're already an overcomer. It's to stop listening to the lies that whisper "you're not good enough, God doesn't love you enough, and he isn't big enough to help you." Once you finally understand that his grace is enough, he does love you enough and more than enough, and he is big enough to handle your pain and doubt, you can start to live like an overcomer - even if you don't feel like one.