Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Psalm 43:5 (NRSV)
I wanted to end HOPE week with a story about why I have hope. Like I have shared previously, hope is not easy for me to come by. For decades I have equated hope to optimism and happiness. This is not truth. In the ancient Hebrew, the word used for ‘hope’ in this scripture is a verb that is literally translated to wait. This same word is used in Genesis and Job and throughout the book of Psalm as David wrestles with the Lord.
In addition to being primarily pessimistic, I am also wildly impatient. I am by nature a fixer, so patiently standing aside or allowing something to play itself out in the timing of the universe, rather than my best laid plan, is annoying. It is also stress inducing and so impossible for me. Therefore it is vital for me to deliberately choose to lean into hope and discover what God has for me in this practice of faith. When I identified hope as an action word rather than a feeling word (I know, I know) somehow it inspired me to work at it. In my results driven brain, doing something is easier and more productive, so I can PRACTICE hope.
I have had many seasons where tending hope and sitting in waiting has been vitally excruciating. Even as I have matured in marriage and as an adult child, this practice has been hard but important. I cannot say the same for the journey of parenthood. The single hardest place in my life for me to practice hope and waiting is in the times that my kids are hurting. I want to jump smack in the middle of all of the trouble and get to fixin’.
I have battled some very real hope demons in the last year. Both of my kids have been through major transitions and each of them have encountered significant pain in the process. Both my life experience and natural wiring have given the above average ability (if you are not reading the sarcasm here, please do) to know exactly how to intervene in these dilemmas of life. And yet as I have honed my hope skills, I have required myself to stay the heck out of meddling. Now, if you know me well, you know that this is a constant battle. And some days I don’t win the skirmish of stay-out-of-it. But I can honestly say that my ability to fight the war of hope is paying great dividends.
Hope has required me to allow them to learn to fight for themselves. Hope has required me to stop emailing teachers and coaches and counselors and instead has strengthened my prayer life as I wait for them to take care of the day’s crisis. It has freed me to believe that the motto my husband’s family embodies is true…most days… “Everything will be okay in the end. If it not okay, it is not the end.”
We have had a full 24 hours. Yesterday was dedicated to a fundraiser to support my oldest daughter’s charity. As we worked all day to get ready, I had a moment that brought tears to my eyes. As she scurried around helping with snacks and errands and set up, I looked at my mom and said, “Who is that blond, beautiful, happy girl?” A year ago, we were in a very different place. She was not smiling. She was disengaged. Life was heavy. But we had hope. And we took steps of love and joy and peace. We have had an Advent year.
But she was not the only one. Her strong, brave sister was walking though her own heavy road and because she is fiercely her Daddy, she was determined to work and fight on her own. But there reached a day that she could not do it. And we had to trust in a hopeful state of waiting. But today brought a scene that we all needed. With all of the excitement and love she embodies, she spent this morning at her new swim team’s intrasquad meet. She shepherded little swimmers to their first ever races. She competed with dear friends in her favorite events. And the cherry on the top was racing her coaches in a relay. The smile was enormous, as she too has experienced love and joy and most of all peace in this season.
In the many hard places of this year, my girls are living hope right in front of my eyes. They are my hope bearers. I’m so very thankful for the hard times (I know this sounds SOOOO dumb), and even the super painful ones, because this season is freakishly sweet. When you have had darkness surround you and someone strikes a match of hope, it is truly miraculous.
So I will wait. In great hope. With all of the gladness I can possibly muster.
HOPE HAS COME