What a beautiful life I have been given, full of dear friends, 35 years of living under my belt. I simultaneously feel young and old. The words of Solomon ring loudly in my ears. “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”(Ecclesiastes 1:18) The more life I live, the more people I treasure, the more I experience broken heartedness, financial strain, and anxiety. It seems 2015 was a banner year for those stressors. As my calendar neared it’s yearly end, I found myself feeling extremely optimistic about what 2016 might hold. I was hopeful that it would be a truly NEW year. My optimism bubble was promptly burst as I sat in the auto body repair shop waiting for an estimate on the 5th of January.
2016 didn’t start out shiny and fresh. I have heard more stories of hurt, divorce, loss, and worry. I look out my window to the grey, rainy day and feel like the weather reflects my spirit. I feel grey. The brightness has gone. It’s too early to think of summer, but to far into winter to feel excited about more snow.
I want a simple fix for this heartache, for this weariness. Why does it seem that I only find the daily drudgery of the routines of life?
I’m a person that needs to have something to look forward to. It helps keep me moving from one point to another. In the past I’ve been motivated by a girls weekend away, or trip to see family out of state. When I was in the madness of the littlest babies in my home, I would look forward to Fridays, when my husband was home. I looked forward to taking a real shower and even sneaking a nap. Having hope has always been a marker of my life, even when I was in extremely hard situations, but somehow I have lost that. Being an adult is not easy and it certainly hasn’t been fun the past year. In many ways it has felt like the things that I had pinned my hopes on were sabatoged by real life and responsibility.
Proverbs 13:12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” That was my 2015 in a nutshell. Heartsick.
The truth is, I still need hope. Likely, we all need hope.
Whether it is the hope that our child will finally use the potty consistently or that the amount we make will be enough to cover the expense of our essentials. We might hope our husbands see our needs or that we meet a friend that “gets” us. We might hope we get pregnant or that we can just keep the kids we have alive.
Hope is essential.
So I’ve started searching. (Cue thank you speech to Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts)
I search for hope now, more than ever. I’m like the greedy magpie that steals cat food from our deck. I am sneaking around, watching from my perch, looking for the morsel of hope in each day.
This week it has come unexpectedly.
- My 5 year old daughter, belly laughing in the car as she burps in the mirror, while we wait for her brother to get out of school.
- My son, reading with fluency one more chapter, willingly, while we snuggle, side by side on the couch.
- My husband, who has not always understood my subtle hints, bringing me a fresh, bright bouquet home from the grocery store.
- Two friends gathered in my home, seeking with me the good gifts in our lives and understanding the hard places in between.
Has being an adult gotten easier this week? Nope. In fact I just had 4 cavities filled and don’t have dental insurance. Adulting is hard, but maybe if I can look for just enough hope for this day, then I can become convinced, again, that God is faithful. He is, of course, I just don’t always feel it.
So, I keep my eyes open and I am beginning to see that he does bring enough hope for each day. And, if he can bring enough hope for each day, he can certainly bring enough hope for each month, each season, each year, and each trial. I’ve decided to put into practice Psalm 147:11, “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” I am certain He owes me nothing, He gave me all He had on the cross, but I can find hope in His steadfast love. I can find hope in the millions of little things that show His love to me each day.
Maybe 2016 won’t be the year I get my stuff together, or the year I make a large deposit in my IRA, or even the year that joy comes easily, but it is to be hoped that 2016 will be the year I learn to hope again.
Jesica Swanson is wife to Norse and mother to Boden & Isley. She’s a big fan of marriage, wholehearted friendships, and loud laughter. While still trying to figure out her marketable skill set, she spends her time goofing off in Montana and writing candidly about spiritual life, marriage, motherhood, fun books and music, and whatever else pops into her head at http://www.atleastwecanlaugh.com .
Thanks Jesica, for your vulnerability and truth telling! Sharing in these kinds of struggles is definitely a step in re-finding hope!