Maria Niechwiadowicz


"Jia you,” my students say. “Fighting, fighting!”

What they really mean is “Come on, you can do it!”

This week has been a “fighting” week, one that I have constantly had to remind myself, ?? (jia you).

All month the foreign teachers have been preparing the annual department Christmas celebration. This year we are going full-out with a Christmas Performance, and so I was asked to both direct the drama portion and stage manage the entire production.

For the most part, it has gone great so far! It has been a blast writing a nativity-based drama, casting students, and rehearsing with them. Stage managing has been the normal China-challenge of difficult communication and planning things last minute, but after a year, I’d say I’ve adapted pretty well.

With a performance set for December 13th, we’ve been running hard all week to finish the set pieces, sew costumes, and promote the event. I had finally found peace with the fact that the theatre was not going to let us rehearse on stage until December 13th (which was initially a message of horror to my theatre ears), and I felt a new calm knowing that the Lord was going to help things fall into place, as they always do. Then the worst happened. The event was cancelled. No joke – on December 10th, merely 3 days before the performance, I receive a text message saying that we were being bumped. I thought it was a joke myself! Nope, turns out the University decided to hold a memorial for the Nanjing massacre of December 13, 1937. Can’t celebrate anything on such a day.

Despite the initial shock, within three hours I was able to reschedule the event and all is on track for a December 16th performance. This heavy blow made me realize that however much I think have adapted to the Chinese way of spontaneity, there is a level of stability that I need. With surrounding details constantly changing, having a performance date was the one stable detail in place. Once that slipped, I felt like all the hard work and long hours of the past weeks were crashing down on me.

Sometimes I wonder if this is how God felt in the Old Testament days as the Israelites turned to idols, raged war against each other, and chose selfishness over love. With the gift of free-will did God ever feel like his plans were falling apart or unstable? While I’m sure God was frustrated to watch life unfold on earth below, I doubt that God ever questioned the plan of bringing his Son to earth.

And so I am reminded of the purpose of providing this Christmas celebration in the first place – sharing the story of the One who brought stability to our life, Jesus. As everything seems to fall apart, as plans are changed, cancelled, and replanned, I don’t have to be the one to stay strong, our Lord’s got that one covered! So in his name, I will keep fighting – jia you!