Taking Possession of Hope
This post was originally published on the Integrity Blog.
It’s really tough to live with authentic hope when complaining and worrying and pessimism come naturally to you.
Over the past year, I’ve dealt with a few bumps in the road. I’ve weathered scary job changes, two cars breaking down, wailing in distress over student loans, learning how to live with a human being that is so entirely unlike myself, etc. The challenges of adulthood can get really ugly and feel extraordinarily overwhelming in the moment. Hope seems like a cliche and not very much like a practical solution.
Hope, though, has a lot to do with trust..
I’m distrustful about money and adulting and “having it all figured out”. I don’t like surrendering the essential facts of life to God’s timing and I am such a far cry from the birds of the air and the flowers of the field that rest in the simplicity of His providence.
Sometimes I’m just a cynical, joyless hot mess.
But what I am realizing is that I am far superior to the birds and the flowers. Because I have the ability to intentionally , objectively chose to trust in the very midst of those riding the struggle bus stretches, and that is a powerful thing.
Thinking objectively about life in general has helped me in the darkest, most despairing moments when hope doesn't come naturally.
I can know: In less than eighty years, I will be dead. I will finally know what that moment of leaving the body feels like. I will be utterly alone in that moment, and when it comes, my debt and my clothes and my worries and spread sheets and planners won’t be following me. My long hair and familiar hands and crooked teeth and my body won’t be coming either.
What I will be taking with me is the memories and actions of my life which are ensconced permanently onto my soul. The people I chose to share my life with, the moments in which I chose the higher good, the moments I prayed and suffered in self sacrifice, the joys and tears of my life, those all come with me because they are….me.
Money, things, possessions, control? I can’t count on those, for security or for happiness.
I have control over whom I love, how I embrace the cross, and in what I choose to fill in the moments of my life.
Objectively, I think that upon the thousands of years that I could have been brought into existence, God did so at a time when I have the ability to know Him in a tangible way and to have Heaven within reach. When I look at the cross of my life without Him who is Easter and life and truth, I cannot have hope.
I cannot be at peace.
With Him in mind, I cannot not have hope. I cannot not have peace.
As Henry Miller says, “If there is to be peace, it will come through being, not having.” The being is what makes up the very stuff of life, and the things that I worry about are all but passing away.
I have long pondered the happiness of saints in painful suffering. Still joyful, still energetic, still full of radiance. They have this gift of hope that is never dulled. Because a joyless saint is a bad saint, after all.
Look to the source of your hope; nailed to a cross and lying in the coldness of a cave.
If Christ can look Calvary in the face and walk on, you can get out of bed in the morning with confidence.
If saints can forge ahead in the path of prayer while feeling trapped in utter darkness, you can mutter words of thanksgiving.
If saints can sing and praise and dance amidst the persecution, you can take a few deep breaths.
If saints can smile on their way to martyrdom, you can smile through your mess.
Amidst the growing pains of life, there are tender moments full of laughter and friendship and good food and family and inspiration and kindness….and hope.
Take courage, dear heart. There is so much lovely hope to be had, if we but open our eyes and hearts to see it. Open your mind to the concrete reality that is bursting with hope around you, and open your hands to free yourself of the insignificant, worrisome things that distract you from His blessed assurance.
“HOPE. Make me possess You, O Eternal Happiness of our minds; to see and feel you.” St. Augustine.