Thursday, February 27, 2014

Victim or Victor?

I'm not a religious person but I know a good message when I hear it.  That message was delivered years ago by Father John Kefalas while I sat in church during one of his sermons that he was kind enough to do in both Greek and English, at a time when the English-speakers were but a handful in that community.  The message was clear: "Are you a victim or a victor?"

He was pointing to the depictions of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection on the church walls of

 St. John's Greek Orthodox Church

So I'd sit there on Sundays, in that church, looking at my watch, waiting for Sunday School to finish so I could take my children to our customary breakfast at Airport Diner -- a reward for sitting through what felt like a necessary monotony, before I dropped them with my parents and then ran off to work. Nick, having started his workday at five that morning, would collect them when he got home in the evening.

And I was sitting there in the pew, mapping out plans for term papers due and laundry that sat dirty on bedroom floors, of children's homework that needed monitoring and naughty behavior that needed addressing and the thoughts swam together in my brain among so many other worries as the choir sang  and the chanter chanted and the fragrant incense wafted through the air.

But somehow those words leaked through and the fatigue and the fear that I was feeling at not being able to finish the monumental tasks I had begun, began to melt and I heard it: "You are a victor, not a victim!"  Were those his actual words?  Maybe not, but that is the memory I have of that Sunday morning and the message that I would see on subsequent visits to the church with that visual reminder--Christ depicted on each side of the altar: one in defeat on the cross and one of empowerment in the resurrection.

That phrase--You are a victor, not a victim--has become my mantra and has gotten me through many a challenging time. It was a gift from Father John and I lay it out here for whomever feels the need to share it.

We were fortunate to have Father John perform my daughter, Nikki's, wedding five months before he passed away in April of 2012 at the young age of 68.

I'm pretty sure he had NO idea of the influence he had on me.

That being said, look around you.

Who are you influencing?

I'd love to hear from you!

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