Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let's Talk About Hope

Like the gif? Yeah, me too.

Anyway, I for one have been having a hard time of it lately. What with one thing and another, it's seemed like nothing was ever going to get better, and I'd be better off in a pine box (no, that's a Doug Stone song, isn't it?). Hope was the only thing that kept me in place, and it felt more and more like a chain that had me tied down when I just wanted to let go and fly somehow.

It's amazing what a tour of your local homeless shelter will do for you  when you think you've got it bad. We took a trip downtown to the mission, and it was a real eye-opener for me. We were surrounded by plenty of fellow humans down on their luck. Some were there because life just dealt them a rough hand, some were there because of past mistakes, and some were there because they just had nowhere else to go. They were happy just to get inside and get a place to sleep for the night. They've had it hard, too, and they make it work. A good number of them there are trying to turn their lives around and make a change for the better, and thousands before them have already made that change. If they could do it, why not anyone else? If the ones still in that mission are happy to have a safe place off the street, why can't anyone else with even more blessings to their name be happy with what they have?

I saw a picture on the wall of a dove in flight, and beneath it was this verse: "Find rest, O soul of mine, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. (Psalm 62:5)." There was no wondrous flash of light or a rush of understanding, just a gentle, calm realization that I've had it wrong the whole time. Hope isn't what's been holding me down when something in me longs for flight. Hope is what's been keeping me going and helping me believe that someday I could fly, if I'm only brave enough to stick it out.

My experiences have given me the worldview of a much older person. Mankind is beautiful, but people will always let you down. You can't put your faith in anyone. They'll be there when they need something from you, then leave you high and dry when you need them in return. Pretty grim for a 2* year old. And at the same time, my upbringing has given me the ability to move around in the world like a child: lost, bewildered, afraid to talk to strangers, and wanting nothing more than to sit in a corner and cry because there's nothing else I can do. Pretty sad for a 2* year old. I've had the jaded sensibilities of an old-timer, and the total incompetence of a school-age tot, which makes for a very bad combination. I won't go into those stories.

Now let me cycle back to hope. It's one of the three greatest forces on earth. Can you name the other two? My faith has been shaken aplenty, though it's always sprung back. My love of self has slipped quite a bit, not to say anything of my love of people, but it's slowly reviving. The one thing that has always--always--been constant was my hope. It's stayed my hand when I've meant to harm myself. It's given me peace when I could only see misery around the corner. It's been what restores me when I'm just that close to giving up. I can't get rid of it; it's a gift that's saved my life more than once, even when it felt like the biggest curse of all. And after reaching that conclusion, I wouldn't want to get rid of it. Sure, things are going to get rough every now and then because that's how life works, but they'll get better again. And again. And again.

Do you hear that? That's hope talking.

Thanks for putting up with my babble, friends. I just needed to get that out there.

Your pal,

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