For this I was born

April 2007 - Joan's statue stands inside the Basilica of Bois-Chenu,near the tiny village of her birth at Domremy, France

April 2007 – Joan’s statue stands inside the Basilica of Bois-Chenu,
near the tiny village of her birth at Domremy, France

“I do not fear the soldiers, for my road is made open to me; and if the soldiers come, I have God, my Lord, who will know how to clear the route that leads to the Dauphin. It was for this that I was born!” Joan of Arc

“If Joan of Arc could turn the tide of an entire war before her 18th birthday, you can get out of bed.”E. Jean Carroll

Whether you see Joan of Arc as a leader sent from God, or a delusional country girl whose power lay entirely in the imagination of her people, her story is remarkable and bears close scrutiny.  When I was a young girl, I was captivated by her role in history — a fascination that remains to this day — and the more I read about her, the more interesting she becomes. Even crusty skeptics such as Mark Twain have become ardent admirers.

Through writing a novel, I have experienced the magic of creating a world entirely in my own mind, and then spending time there among characters who became quite real to me.  I can easily understand how Joan’s trance-like visits with the saints may have been entirely a product of a self-constructed fantasy world.  What is harder to explain is how she went on, against all odds, to change the course of a seemingly endless conflict.

Regardless of what other forces were at work, Joan’s absolute faith in God and the purpose she believed to be her calling led her through perils, injuries and ultimately, a ghastly death at the stake.  Among many other lessons to be drawn from her life, her resolve is an inspiration to me as I negotiate daily difficulties that seem laughably minute in comparison.

That second quote grabbed me because, frankly, I’ve been struggling quite a lot lately, and there are many days when it’s an effort just to get out of bed and face another day.  Still,  when I look at my life, despite numerous disappointments, heartaches and failures, I honestly believe that I am doing what I was born to do.

Chances are, if you examine the many roles you play and the people who depend on your faithful diligence, you will be able to say the same.  Most of us were not born to be remembered in the history books, but that makes our calling no less important.  We can rest assured that when we answer a divine summons to a life we may or may not have chosen for ourselves, our road will be made open.

26 Comments

  1. Linda Blackford

    Good Morning, Julia! Every morning for the last couple of years, I’ve begun my day reading the Upper Room online, and I discovered this website there. I’ve never posted on either site, but before getting ready for church, I just had to let you know that you are in my prayers and have been daily for quite some time. I’ve been blessed by your photos and thoughts, and I’m asking God this morning to bless you and your family in the midst of this difficult time. I’m sure there are many others like me who are doing the same. Just know you are surrounded by God’s love and by the love of more online friends than you can even imagine!

    • Linda, thank you so much for taking the time to let me know you are praying for us. Each time I hear of someone who enjoys the blog, or who is remembering us in prayer, I feel encouraged and strengthened. I really appreciate the love and support, and it has helped me in so many ways over the past year. I am happy to know you are part of the community here and the online fellowship at Upper Room. I hope you have a wonderful week, and thanks again for letting me know you care.

  2. Well said. Love you, Friend!

    • Thank you Barb! You may not know this, but you were my introduction to both Facebook and blogging, so you can take credit (or blame!) for much of what goes on here! Love you too, and I appreciate your encouragement!

  3. Patricia Soledade

    Julia, I read your post on Upper Room today. How I can identify with Jeff. I’ve mentioned my RA which has been controlled well by meds. However, I’ve just begun a two month sub job for the head of our English Department who is having a baby Wednesday (prayers as it is a heigh risk pregnancy). The last two years for only a few days a week I’ve been the writing consultant for the ninth grade. Full time teaching a curriculum I haven’t taught in thirty years is taking its toll. My feet and hands are very bad, mostly my feet. I’ve found that I must not try to walk if I can avoid it some way. This is hard as I don’t like people waiting on me, much less high school students in a classroom I’m supposed to control! It’s very difficult for some people to let others “do” for them. I don’t know I’d this is helpful for you and Jeff, but I was led to communicate.
    Your blog about Joan is timely for me as well. I believe I’m meant to teach. It’s very difficult in the face of physical limitations, but definitely possible. I just need to get out of the bed each morning :).
    Know that I admire you. Not only are you the example of the Christian woman to which I aspire, you are an excellent writer. You mention a novel. I’d love to know more.
    You and yours are in my prayers.
    Patricia

    • Patricia, thanks so much for writing. I believe I had seen the prayer request for your colleague who has the high-risk pregnancy. It sounds as if you can identify with Jeff in a way most of us cannot. Like you, Jeff finds it quite hard to ask anyone to do anything for him, and because of this, I think he over-extended himself somewhat and is now dealing with the backlash of that. He would sympathize totally with your need to be at work, because he feels the same way (he is the director of two classes of residents in an Advanced General Practice residency for Air Force dentists, so he is an educator as you are and I think most teachers always feel a sense of responsibility toward their students). I also believe education is a tough field that relatively few are truly called to do for a lifetime, and our schools are sorely in need of dedicated professionals. I pray you will be blessed with the stamina, energy and relief from pain to keep teaching for as long as you can.

      Re: my novel, I wrote it in 2005-2006, but only started serious efforts to get it published in 2010. Barb, a fellow writer whose comments often appear here, has read it and helped me polish it. 🙂 If you want to email me at defeatdespair@verizon.net, I can tell you more about it. It’s Biblical fiction, but with a sort of unexpected take on things– nothing contrary to scripture, but definitely my own imagination filling in the gaps by asking “What if…” I have had some flattering critiques from professionals in the publishing world, but the general consensus is that it needs to be longer to have a shot at traditional publication. (In its original form it’s in the 45,000 word range.) On the advice of several industry insiders, I did add over 15,000 words to it, but I am not sure that it wasn’t more powerful before I did; the pacing was very important to me and I wanted it to hit hard. In any case, digital publishing is revolutionizing many of the former rules about factors such as word length. Shortly after I started trying to get it ready for publication, Matt’s health and Jeff’s diagnosis intervened, and I’ve all but forgotten about it for the time being. Suffice it to say that the main character would understand our problems with getting through each day! I appreciate your comments and will pray for you to have some relief from your RA, and for your co-worker to have a safe delivery of her baby. Thanks again!

  4. Mike Bertoglio

    Not that familiar with Joan’s life story. There is a beautiful little Catholic church close to the hospital I was at this summer- Church of Notre Dame off Amsterdam Ave In NYC. They also have a statue of Joan holding her sword. And nearby Church of St. John has statue of St. Michael holding the Devil’s head. I was not aware of her visions of St. Michael.
    She did have a vision which reminds me of the verse-“Where there is no vision the people perish.”

    • Mike, Joan’s story has been re-told by many authors, including Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw. One that I recommend as a sort of definitive work is Joan of Arc: By Herself and Her Witnesses by Régine Pernoud. Her account seems to have the closest connection to original sources, as the title would suggest. I believe she has at least one other work pertaining to the trials. I also thought Mary Gordon’s biography of Joan was quite good, going well beyond a dry accounting of the facts. She amplifies the narrative with a discussion of historical and cultural influences of that time period, along with the mythology that has grown up around Joan over the centuries (and the agendas of those who have pushed various versions of her story). Many works about Joan, including Twain’s version and the actual transcripts of the trials, are in the public domain.

  5. Julia, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling. You put on a brave, strong face every day, and manage to consistently post through your personal adversity. Some days are truly hard. My heart goes out to you.

    • Thanks Alys, I so appreciate your visits here and your kind thoughts and words!

  6. Jenelle

    Jean Carroll’s quote hit the nail on head. Such powerful inspiration in those simple words. The Lord has gifted you, Julia, with words and His timing is always perfect. Even in the eleventh hour, fifty ninth minute and fifty ninth second He isn’t late. What a comfort! You have a story to tell, well all do, so let’s keep running the race together. Eternal perspective has helped me get out of bed when I just don’t want to. Thank you!

    • Jenelle, thank you for your gift of encouragement today. We all need to keep each other going (as Paul writes in Hebrews 10:24) and I so appreciate your reminder that “waiting on the Lord” guarantees perfect timing! I hope you have a beautiful week!

  7. Sheila

    Julia, I love the quote,”The road to a friends house is never long.” My thoughts and prayers cross the miles between us. I’m sorry this didn’t post last night, since I was thinking of y’all and wanted to convey that I realize your days are not easy. So many care about you! Love,
    Sheila

    • Thanks Sheila, your presence here has been so steadfast that I feel your support even when you aren’t able to post comments. I am so grateful for your wonderfully consistent support of this blog! It means a lot. Hope your holiday weekend leaves you refreshed for a good week ahead.

  8. Mike Bertoglio

    That is the problem with retirement. Still having a reason go get out of bed.

    • Wow, this gives me some perspective. I had always supposed that my reason to dread getting out of bed was having too many UNfavorite tasks to do when I got up. I have this fantasy idea that if Jeff and I were ever retired empty-nesters together, every day would be full of pleasant, fun tasks such as gardening, or adventures such as picnics and vacations. Of course, as with all fantasies, it’s probably never going to be that way. Maybe you need a treat to start each morning (a cinnamon roll? or fresh fruit? or some favorite music? or a fun library book on travel, or gardening, with lots of gorgeous pictures? or all of the above?) Sleeping in is so much fun, it really can be hard to get up no matter what!

  9. Mike Bertoglio

    I have heard so many repetitions of the story of someone who retires- gets sick, starts drinking, doing unhealthy behaviors, does not take care of themselves, and quickly declines to disability. So many in our career driven, success obsessed culture don’t know what to do with unlimited time and unfamiliar goals.
    Contrast this with the life of Albert Schweitzer who at the age of 90 was out doing physical labor, working in the clinic garden, visiting patients and playing Bach. Seems like he had part of the puzzle. Like Joan he had some big goals.

    • Jeff’s aunt, who is a psychotherapist, said that many “workaholic” types who feel defined mostly by their careers have a hard adjustment after retiring, and from what I’ve read, a frighteningly large number of them keel over with a heart attack not long after retirement. A couple of years ago I read a very interesting article that said many in our generation have done a good job of preparing financially for retirement, but there seems to be very little emphasis on preparing emotionally and psychologically for retirement. I thought the article made a good point when it said that those facing retirement within a decade or so should start developing hobbies, interests and volunteer opportunities (or similar productive activities) with the same degree of serious intent that they give their financial portfolios. Albert Schweitzer and many others have provided great examples of how productive the “senior” years can be. Our generation has many advantages his did not have, and our life expectancy is probably a good bit more now than it was during his life time. All the more reason to get ready for “Phase 2” (or 3 or 4)!

  10. Mike Bertoglio

    Yes well said. An encore career or volunteer opportunity.

    • Yes, and coincidentally (or maybe not?) that is part of the them of today’s post! 🙂

  11. I would hardly refer to your daily challenges as ‘laughably minute’ Julia. The grace you live your daily life with are a reflection of a strong, capable and giving woman. We are all the lucky benefactors of that grace, thank you for all you share and bring to my life. I’ve read your other message about your book and would love to read it when you have time to get to publishing it in the future. While I’m not extremely knowledgable about Joan Of Arc, I remember seeing the film starring Florence Delay when I was very young. I’ve always had a keen interest in history. I should try and see it again.

    • I appreciate your kind words so much! You have brought real joy to me during these hard months, with your interesting posts (from which I’ve “stolen” more than one or two ideas) and the lovely crafts you share so freely, and your sweet and caring spirit. I really appreciate your support more than I can say!

  12. Susan

    OK, OK, I’m getting out of bed!
    Thanks!
    😉

    • Hee-hee, I slept in this morning and had a really hard time getting motivated to get up! I need to follow my own advice.

Trackbacks

  1. Where you’re meant to be | Defeat Despair

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: