Editor’s Note: This week our contributing writer on faith is my friend and writing collaborator in our book Bill and Lois Wilson: A Marriage that Changed the World. In this post, Joy shares her ongoing musings and struggles with believing.
If you were to ask me if God is all-wise, of course I’d say yes. But if He’s so smart, why can’t He give me a straight answer when I pose questions about life’s problems? Where’s His wisdom when trying times confront me? It’s stressful when I ask God a question and don’t get a response. “I know I need a different job, but what should I do?” “Why is this person acting like that?” “How am I going to pay this bill?” Why can’t He respond to a simple question? Doesn’t He know the answer?
Then there are the weightier matters. The relationship I thought would end in marriage. It did—he married someone else. Bad news from the doctor. What about the Black man sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Or the man imprisoned for the crime he did commit—but when you hear his backstory—Mom died young, Dad on drugs, brother killed in a drive-by—you can understand why he broke the law after so many experiences broke his heart. God is good—yes, I believed that, but sometimes I questioned His judgment.
Yet most of the time life is good. When I’m on the dance floor, life is delightfully, deliciously good. One of my favorite things in life is hand dancing. That’s the term people in Washington, D.C. use for our variety of swing dancing. My dance partner, TJ, and I were dedicated hand dancers. We’d meet up once a week on Fridays at our favorite spot, The Chateau, and dance away the week’s stresses. Most evenings, we dance-dance-danced nonstop but between sets, we squeezed in a bit of conversation. One night, I mentioned to him in passing that my sister, Lorraine, had just completed a course in event organizing.
“TJ is planning a party. He wants your phone number,” I later told Lorraine. His request had surprised me a little because as someone who ran his own company, he could easily assign someone on his staff to organize an event.
“Great,” said Lorraine. “Have him call me.”
About a week or two later I asked her about TJ’s party plans. “He never called,” she said. But I was pretty sure he had mentioned that they had talked. Whatever.
“Are you close to the people at your job?” TJ asked me one day out of the blue.
“I like them. We get along pretty well,” I told him. “Why do you ask?”
But he grabbed my hand and led me onto the dance floor and he never got back to explaining it.
One day while chatting on the phone Lorraine asked, “Can I have Beverly’s phone number?” I didn’t even realize my sister remembered my neighbor from three addresses ago.
“Sure. Why do you need to call her?”
“A girl at my job knows her and wants to get in touch,” Lorraine said.
That seemed peculiar but I passed the number on to her.
All through October, there were little things that she said or did that made me think, “That’s odd.” And come to think of it, TJ had done and said a couple of things that were off. But I shrugged it off at the time. Who could explain Black folks’ behavior? God Himself did things that puzzled me. Why would people be any different?
One Friday in November, TJ said to me, “Are you dancing next week? A friend of mine is having an event here at the Chateau and I’d like to support him. Will you come?”
“Sure,” I said, privately wondering what the big deal was. I came every Friday.
When the next Friday arrived, I showed up at the Chateau as I always did. TJ was there already; usually, I was first to arrive. As I settled into my seat, I spotted my former supervisor, a dignified older lady, seated across the way.
What was this devout Christian woman doing in a dance joint?
I got up to go greet her and when I got to that section of the room, “Surprise!” rang out. It was the Friday before my birthday—and this was a surprise party thrown in my honor. And boy, did they pull off the surprise. There were friends from my old jobs, former neighbors, fellow artists, Mom and Dad, and of course, all my favorite hand dancers.
And then the lightbulb switched on over my head. Now, the odd comments made by TJ and Lorraine made sense. In the middle of a dark dance floor in a dark nightclub, I had an illuminating thought.
Sometimes God can’t reveal to me in the moment everything that’s going on. Just like TJ and Lorraine couldn’t tell me about their party plans because that would have spoiled the gift.
Things that seemed wrong at the time were actually working to my benefit. People who loved me were working something out that would eventually bless me.
And that’s what I now extrapolate to God. That although I can’t understand why things are happening to me the way they are—especially things that seem unfair, unpleasant or even evil, I need to remember that God is managing the big picture and that ultimately, He is unfolding plans meant for my good. I have to trust that the Master’s plan is a wise one, even if I’m not in on it.
After all, I’m pretty sure that God is at least as smart as my sister and my dance partner.
First published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now. (c)2021 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.