Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hope Revisited :: From the Archives

A few years ago, I had been writing about hope. I've been thinking a lot lately about the conclusions I came to, and I hope you don't mind if I share them with you again (I did tweak a few things). These days when hope seems so ephemeral and impossible, I need the reminder.

At the time, I was reading the love chapter--which means I really wasn't thinking about hope at all. I was thinking about how J.B. Phillips translated "love is not rude" to "love has good manners". (So stop talking with your mouth full! It's unloving! And if you don't change the toilet paper roll, you might as well just tell me you hate me!) And then I got to the very last verse:

In life we have three lasting qualities--faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of them is love.

All those years ago, I asked what we do when our hope dies. Now, I think the answer to the question is love.

When our hope is deferred, we choose to love. To love ourselves, to love the faulty humans who surround us, to love Christ, and possibly most importantly, to rest in His love for us, because we are faulty humans and consequently, our love also is faulty.

So, at the end of a long day when things have not gone as planned,
when the laundry has not been finished,
the dishes have not been done,
the floors have not been vacuumed,
the muscles of my body and mind have not been stretched,
all because of the tyranny of the urgent (also known as the tyranny of twins and toddlers),
and I look in the mirror and lose hope that life will ever be manageable again,
that my body will ever be, well, not saggy and flabby,
that my mind will be able to process more than lunch schedules and tantrum management,
that our home will ever be salvaged from the dust bunnies that have taken over,
that I'll ever get things rolling…

I must make the choice to love.

When the news is filled with death and hatred and pain,
when our reality is one of fear,
when each phone call or email seems to bring more bad news,
when we have no words but grief,
when we just want to fix things now
but there's no quick fix...

I must make the choice to love.

So I remind myself that I love my children and my husband,
and that a great part of love is service,
whether that means kissing invisible booboos
or choosing to do dishes with multiple children dangling from my legs
or leaving behind unfolded laundry to fit in some outdoor bonding with my sons.

I remind myself that I need to love myself,
which might mean cutting a little slack,
or crediting piggy back rides as an aerobic work out,
or believing the Man when he tells me that what I've done with my day is enough.

I remind myself that though I can't fix everything,
I can love my neighbor
and sometimes it's one small gentleness after another
that changes the world.

Most of all, perhaps, I remind myself that I love my Jesus,
and that means believing him
when he tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made--yes, even on the days when I feel like a failure,
believing him
when he promises to be near the broken hearted, 
believing him
when he promises more than this.

Because that's what love is:
believing the best
of others and of ourselves.
And when we can't hope any more,
when we find ourselves wondering if this is the best we get,

we choose love
(to believe the best even if this is the best we get).

Because love will always bring us back to our greater hope,
the one True Love who gave everything so that this
right here
right now
isn't the best we get,
but is only a shadow,
a taste,
a hint of what is to come:
forever with Him,
transformed to reflect Him,
completely satisfied in Him,
hope realized.