“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32
Back in February I was asked to present a section of our annual corporate meeting presentation to the rest of our company. I was nervous, because while the whole thing was on Zoom, there would still be over 50 people in attendance, many of whom I had only met once or twice. And anyway, I tend to get nervous before I need to speak publicly, even if it is virtual. I had seen the passage above the night before and for some reason thought it would bring me some comfort during my talk, so I pulled out my phone, opened the Bible app and searched up John 8.
I sometimes use scripture in this way, but it usually at least tangentially refers to the emotion that I am feeling at that moment. Passages about humility when I am feeling overconfident, peacefulness when I am feeling harried, simplicity when I am feeling overwhelmed, Jesus’s strength when I am feeling weak; they all seem to do the trick. But this time it wasn’t a passage about calming anxiety or feeling confident about myself that I pulled up. It was a passage about telling the truth.
As I think back, I don’t think I was looking for a reminder TO TELL the truth. I wasn’t planning to lie to my coworkers about interest rates or the capital markets. Instead, I think it was a reminder that I could be set free if I opened myself up TO the truth; the truth being that Jesus was standing right beside me in that moment, watching over me and helping to calm my nerves.
Nerves are a funny thing. I’m a big believer that the outcome of whatever I am nervous about is totally out of my hands; it is already determined by God. That’s the head part of it. The heart part of it, however, that’s a different story. Even though it’s out of my hands, it’s not out of my heart. There is still nervousness, anticipation, excitement, all the normal human emotions. Some of them healthy, some of them harmful. The gift of the athlete or performer or really any regular person who keeps it together in these moments is knowing the difference between the good and bad “nerves” and being able to use the good ones and release the bad ones. The difference is understanding the “truth”: it is out of our control.
Easier still, why not just give them all over to God. After all, it is He who has created the outcome, who has won the race. These human emotions that we feel are just our human nature trying to find control or comfort in that moment. It’s our humanity struggling against holiness, or worse yet, trying to BE holiness, when the real answer is release.