By Clara Benson
“It is my deep belief that in talking about the past, in understanding the things that have happened to us we can heal and go forward. Some people believe that it is best to put the past behind you, to never speak about the events that have happened that have hurt or wounded us, and this is their way of coping —but coping is not healing. By confronting the past without shame we are free of its hold on us.”
bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” –Emily Dickinson
Webster dictionary defines hope as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Aspiration. Desire. A wish, and an expectation. Ambition. A plan. Hebrews chapter 11 verse one says that faith is the substance of what is hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. If we are to believe this is true then we may conclude that we cannot have faith if we do not have hope.
Faith treats hope as if it is reality.
My name is Clara. I’m a storyteller and theologian. and I have a strong relationship with hope. And I’m not alone in that. I’d like to think that many of us have hope. We hope that it won’t rain on our beach day, that our children will grow up to be better than us, that our children will live to grow up, period. We hope to get that new job, the tape in hair extentions, a new car, or just hope that we don’t have to work this weekend. Hope sustains us and whether or not we believe in a higher power, an omnipresent being, or multiple divine beings or none we all have hope.
The time between the goals we set is so trying for so many of us. When we are so tired from studying that we can’t pull ourselves out of the bed, when we have been hurt in the spaces that are supposed to be safe, when the ones we love leave, and when our fear tells us that we are not good enough…something is there. It may be hard to find but hope is there. It may feel like desperation, or a command, or a prayer.
So what happened between your last two highlight reels? Did you break down? Build yourself from the ground up twice? Did you grow in love? Lose faith in yourself, faith in the god you believed? Identify wounds that never healed?
Maybe we flunked out of school after we thought all of the things holding us back were worked out. What is left over? It’s hope, my friends.
When we talk about our accomplishments, or the things we are proud of, we tend to gloss over the journey in Others tend to recognize us by our defining moments. So we start to define ourselves by those defining moments. And it becomes less about the journey and more about reaching a goal. Everything is in service to the goal. But who we are is made between them? In the ways that we struggle and persevere through the tears. In the ways that we find joy and laughter in the midst of the unknown. That’s faith working. Now whether your faith is rooted in God or maybe just in yourself, faith is what most of us use to make it day by day.
The things that sustain us during the in-between times are the things that reveal us to ourselves. And whether we recognize it or not, progress is sacred work.
Sometimes we say things like “I am in between blessings”. I invite you to reflect on that; especially if you are someone like me who says it. At what point are we ever between blessings? When we are cultivating faith or struggling with maintaining our faith, it may seem as though we have nothing to celebrate. But when we hold out for better days, for healing, for the full circle moments…that’s the hope that carries us. even having hope in the middle of a storm is a blessing.
I understand that optimism doesn’t come easy to us all.
I think that it’s entirely human to not be optimistic. Life is hard. But you know…we don’t get out of it alive. So what do we lose by investing in hope?
Well, I hope we lose some anxiety. I hope that we let go of insecurities, and the things that no longer serve us. I hope that we lose perfectionism, traded in for faith, and a deep knowing of our own holiness.