Today, Victoria speaks to us about her love of apologetics, the impact Ravi Zacharias’ testimony has had on her life, fighting the urge to want to fast-forward parts of life and the things that have made her relationship with God grow.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born and raised in a Southern Californian town called Temecula. Contrary to many young people wanting to get away from their hometown, I absolutely love Temecula and look forward to visiting home any chance I can. I come from a mixed background, with a large (and pleasantly loud) Lebanese family on my mom’s side and a more reserved, mixed European heritage on my dad’s side. My mom was lucky enough to stay at home while raising us, and as a result we are very close! I’m the oldest of three girls. I like to describe my sisters and me as the points on a triangle: divergent but complementary.
We weren’t a “sports” family but rather a “music/arts” one. None of us were particularly athletic, but we all played instruments. I grew up doing musical theater and band, and then attempted to join almost every extracurricular under the sun, in high school. I unfortunately had the teacher’s pet/overachiever mentality, but I loved being involved and keeping busy!
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” Psalm 20:7-8. With all the chaos and fear present in the world, this verse reminds me that if we focus on the things of the Lord with an eternal perspective, we cannot lose. So often, we fall into the trappings of the world’s distractions and goals: “if I just pass this test,” “when I find a husband,” “when I land this job,” “if I forget what God says and just do what feels good,” “if I just get more horses/chariots,” etc. Trusting in God means you place the things He values (ex. loving and serving your neighbor) over the things the world values (ex. selfish ambition). When your goals line up with His, He replaces fear with joy because your victory is assured!
“If we focus on the things of the Lord with an eternal perspective, we cannot lose.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Being content with my current situation. I often want to fast-forward to having my career/husband/kids, instead of enjoying the freedom of singlehood. There have been some great sermons (most recently the Bridgetown Church’s God & Sexuality: Singleness sermon) reminding me that this time is truly a blessing. I get to focus on becoming more Christ-like and serving the Lord as He calls me without having to check-in with another person, which is quite nice!
Profession: Fourth-year medical student. Future pediatric neurologist (fingers crossed)!
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? I Knew Exactly What to Do: But In a Much More Real Sense, I Had No Idea What to Do. (Thank you, Michael Scott.)
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I didn’t necessarily grow up in a Christian household. My parents believed in God, but we didn’t really attend church. The first time I heard the gospel was at a church camp. For some reason, it just made perfect sense to my brain and my heart, and I committed my life to Christ during the camp. My relationship with God was confronted by an episode of major doubt in high school. I started seeing friends fall away from Christianity while I came across seemingly impossible questions on the topics of suffering, science, and faith. Wrestling with the questions through apologetics (the discipline of defending doctrine through systematic argumentation and discourse) helped considerably. However, being completely transparent in my prayers was what truly drew me closer to Him and helped me to understand His love for the first time. When I said “God, this rule is dumb,” “I’m not really feeling it anymore,” or “Why did it have to happen like that,” He lovingly revealed to me perspectives I had never considered, as well as the goodness of the boundaries He recommends through Scripture.
“Being completely transparent in my prayers was what truly drew me closer to Him and helped me to understand His love for the first time.”
How has your relationship with Him changed you? My default setting is one of anxiety. I constantly overthink things and try plan my future down to the smallest detail. Works great for medical school, not so much for life! But as I get older God has revealed to me His goodness in times of success and failure. I’ve become more secure in His plan for my life, even though I don’t necessarily know where I’m going. And when the anxiety creeps back up and I play the “worst case scenario” game in my head, I know I’ll never be in despair because I’ll never have a reason to be. God will be there in every best and worst case scenario. That helps my anxiety a great deal.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Practicing daily surrendering. I realize that the things I personally struggle with, whether they be obstacles to achieving my goals or sin struggles, can’t be overcome by my effort alone. I’ve practiced going to the Lord daily and just saying, “Hey Jesus, I can’t get through this on my own, I’ve tried and failed too many times. I need you to help me, and I surrender my life and ambitions over to your will.” Surprisingly, there is great empowerment with surrender because we can walk in confidence knowing the Lord is in control of our lives, and regardless of the outcome, He promises to do great things in and through us.
“Surprisingly, there is great empowerment with surrender because we can walk in confidence knowing the Lord is in control of our lives, and regardless of the outcome, He promises to do great things in and through us.”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I’m working my way through C.S. Lewis’ Weight of Glory sermon collection. I highly recommend everyone to read the Weight of Glory sermon itself. I’ve always been fascinated about why humans have a strong connection to stories, and why our hearts ache after experiencing an immersive book/movie/show/video game/etc. Lewis describes how God has placed in our hearts the desire to dwell within glory, and how He is the only one who can make that desire manifest. I’ve also just finished reading The Knife Man by Wendy Moore, which describes the life of 18th century surgeon John Hunter. I really love medical history!
Top three essentials: A glass of wine, a wonderful story to enjoy, and good company.
How did God speak to you recently? God has been using the recent death of Christian philosopher Ravi Zacharias to speak to me. It’s easy to sense Jesus’ heart in Ravi by his sermons alone, but when the people close to Ravi share stories about how his love and service impacted others, you fully understand what the harvest can reap by being obedient to God’s call on your life. God has been reminding me that the care of people far surpasses winning an argument, and that genuinely and intentionally loving those God has placed around us will be its own reward.
“God has been reminding me that the care of people far surpasses winning an argument, and that genuinely and intentionally loving those God has placed around us will be its own reward.”
Hobby: I like learning new musical instruments, although my first love is piano. I enjoy fantasy literature, Christian apologetics, and medical history books. I’m also a big TV fan (yes, I know it’s not a real hobby, but still!)
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Have a strong church community that can be your home base. Talk to God throughout the day: share your struggles, thanksgiving, and praises with Him, and take time to be still and listen for His voice. And of course, keep your Bible or Bible App handy!
Favorite person in scripture? Well besides Jesus (that would be a cheat answer wouldn’t it?), I would have to say Paul, who went from persecuting Christians to becoming one. When reading Paul’s letters, you can see the radical transformation he underwent, all because of an encounter with Jesus. I also love the father of the prodigal son; I can never hear a message on that parable without crying because the illustration of God running to us with open arms is arms is so beautiful.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? You can be both convicted by the truth and compassionate in your actions.
How do you engage with your community? There is no better way to form relationships with your community than over a meal or beverage.
Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving! I love the holidays that preclude the stress of gift-giving and instead focus on quality time with loved ones. And the Thanksgiving meal is the best meal of the year! I do love Christmas, but I’m always a bit sad on Christmas knowing the holidays are coming to an end. But with Thanksgiving I know I still have a month of celebration to look forward to.
A goal you have? To hike in the Scottish highlands and the German Black Forest.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We always go to the movies on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Also drinking wine on the weekends (Is that a tradition? Probably not lol!)
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Where’s the feast/banquet table? *wink* To be honest, I don’t think the answers to my questions would be of great concern to me after being in the presence of Jesus.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Today, there are roughly 20-40 million people enslaved in a $150 billion/year human trafficking industry. Many of these victims were at one time in the US foster system. The supply of slaves is present because of the demand for them. Sex traffickers make part of their money by selling videos of their slaves to porn websites. If our modern society took the dangers of pornography more seriously and focused on having a good sexual ethic, you can imagine the negative impact it would have on the trafficking industry, and how many lives could be saved!
“The supply of slaves is present because of the demand for them.”
What does your morning routine consist of? I’ll throw on a podcast as I get ready for the day, usually an apologetics, TV, or celebrity interview podcast. If time allows, I’ll make myself a nice cup of tea (splash of milk, one sugar) and avocado toast!
What is on your nightstand? A tower of at least 15 books I need to read (I’m not exaggerating), my Bible, lotion, earplugs, and eye masks.
Define Christianity in a sentence: The creator of the universe, and of your soul, desiring to be in relationship with you.
For more Victoria:
Until next time, keep witnessing!