Monday, July 16, 2012

Hope a Little Hope

Artwork courtesy of Emily Berger Designs, Etsy.

I don't think that it would be too much of a stretch for me to state that most of us experience life as an ebb and flow of good times and bad, successes and failures, confidence and doubt, etc., etc.  The difficult times stretch and strengthen us, while the times of ease give us pause to breathe and to be thankful.

It seems as of late that I am stuck in the ebb of struggle, waiting for better, easier times to flow.  So much so, that I catch myself crying out in angst at the close of the day as I crawl into bed, "Well, that was a dandy of a day. Really, Lord?? Really?? Can it get worse??" Dumb, dumb question.  Yep.  It.  Can.  When it rains it does indeed pour. These days I need more than an umbrella, I need a serious deflector shield to defend my mind and heart from these crazy storms.  

Usually, the strength of my faith is enough to propel me through the tough times. I can run with confidence between the drops, dealing here and there with the spit and splatters life brings.  But, I have to say that when the drops pile up, they become very, very heavy. A sort of heavy that pulls me under. Drowning.  I'm not talking about trite inconveniences or discomforts like burning a supper I had worked so hard to prepare, the nerve wracking cries of squabbling siblings or a teething baby, not being invited to social gatherings or a son who always bats last in the lineup, I'm talking about things that hurt at the core...
Gossip in the community about our family  
     Honest handshakes in business that turn into backhanded lies 
          Broken bonds of trust, confidences cast aside 
               Threats of serious illness to family members loved so dearly 
                    Lack of moral and ethical standards from those in positions of leadership....just to name a few.

While drowning in all of this muck sends me reaching out for help, quite honestly it also makes me mad.  I really do want to be the wife and mom who has it all together.  You know, that perfect perspective...perfect trust...perfect confidence.  Bible verses running through my head and my heart, prayers set on repeat as I go through the day with a smile on my face, keeping time with the kids, cheerful inside, cheerful out.  But, on days like this I don't, I can't, or at least I feel like I can't.  What I feel like doing is throwing a nice little tantrum then plopping down with a bag of chips and a beer in front of some ridiculous reality show, so I can walk away consoled that my life isn't as bad as that.

And, it's true.  EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING, something difficult or painful in their life.  In my head I know that pain is there to remind us that this life isn't everything - it's not our end, our real home. But, I don't like it, the pain, it makes things blurry and grey. When my vision of life is distorted the easy choice is to curl up in a ball on the couch and hide under a security blanket while frustration, despair and self pity settle in to my soul and hope flies out the window.

That's when I know I need to get back to center, place emotions at bay, and reason through things a bit. Everything must come back into relationship to Christ, His truth, His teaching, specifically the roots of virtue, most especially hope and what hope really means - defined and lived. The church teaches that:
 Hope is the theological virtue by which we 
desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our 
trust in Christ's promises. 
Oh, whoops.  The truth is that I have an overwhelming desire for a clean house, kids that don't fight, a healthy family, ideal business days for my husband, girlfriends who have my back and many, many more things that I think will bring me into a better place, mentally, emotionally or physically. 

Silly girl.

Okay, so it's not as if my desires are purely evil or selfish, but they are perhaps rooted in an inward expectation that if they are fulfilled, I too will be fulfilled.  Let me take a moment to tell myself that that's backwards.  First, my eye has to be on the ultimate, eternal prize, which is heaven, and EVERYTHING else lived in relation to that.  Everything.  Everything.

So, the question then becomes, what is hope, really?  And, have I defined it for myself, or let God define it for me??  What is blocking that channel of proper desire - the one that is ordered toward the kingdom of heaven, eternal life and trust in Christ's promises, instead of the temporary desires of my flesh and blood?  Me.  My selfish self, that's what's blocking the channels of hope, of grace, of faith.

Faith opens the door to hope.
                   
Hope is tightly woven into the framework of our faith.  Because, it is by faith that we believe not only in God's promises, but we believe also in the suffering death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus.  And, every single bit of it was for us.  For you. For me.  When I fail to remember and to hold fast to the truth that God himself became man, and as a man suffered rejection, loneliness, fear, loss of friendship, physical and mental anguish, that's when hope in the eternal slips away, I slip away from God's grip.
Artwork courtesy of TankandTink designs, Etsy.
Rest assured I am looking forward to at least a little lull in this life storm, but until then I'm holding on to hope.  Real hope, the one that is rooted in a firm and unwavering desire for heaven, my ultimate happiness. So come what may today, tomorrow and the next.  

2 comments:

  1. Jenn McDaniel jdbagape@yahoo.comJuly 18, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Susan, I think you need a vacation...go north maybe Canada where it is COLD. I am with you on the fight to keep all things in prospective. I am reading a book and I cant exactly quote it but it's from Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe and a chapter about faith hope and love. Many say Charity is the greatest of the three virtues, but in practice Hope is the most important, as long as hope remains love develops....yet hope needs faith from which it gets its energy....all so needed. Prayers

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  2. Thank you for your honesty and perspective. I struggle with these same things. The "if onlys" of life. If only my house was immaculate, I could lose those last few pounds, we could buy a house, own this or that, and the list goes on. I know that I struggle with what society tells me will make me happy versus what God has in mind. I think that it is easy for moms to get bogged down as we go through our daily routine. We want so much for our children in a world that is upside down. It has always been upside down, although, we seem to think that it wasn't always this way, when in fact, it has been since the Fall. I struggle with trust. Intellectually I know that God has always carried me, but in the midst of the storm it is hard to remember. I am trying to learn to channel my St. Peter and walk out on the water. I will pray for strength as you weather this storm and for blessings on your family. Have a very blessed week!

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