What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Perspective of a Six-Year-Old

In my journal on June 5, 2000, I was experiencing an especially dire time in my life. I struggled with wanting not to be alive. I was so depressed and despondent that I asked “the question” of the pastor of our church: If I kill myself can I still go to heaven? I know some people are certain of the answer to that question based on their belief system(s), but I was undecided. I wanted to be undecided, because then, when I died I could tell God, “I didn’t know any better!” Thinking that way allowed me to blame my thoughts and condition on God. I was searching for a reason, any reason, to justify my leaving this world. I was hoping to get some reassurance from my pastor. Instead he asked if he could gather a group of people to pray for me. I figured it couldn’t hurt, so a date and time was set. And if prayer didn’t work this way, it would be another way to justify my actions and blame God.
The pastor gathered five or six church leaders, including my husband, at our home. My daughter, age six at the time, wanted to pray for “mommy” too. Everyone gathered around me, with my daughter plopping herself in my lap. The adults did their thing, praying God would give me hope where I saw none and praying God would give me strength to battle the war within my mind and heart. As they prayed, my thoughts were, “If God wanted to heal me and give me hope, He would have already done so!” I doubted this prayer or any other prayer would significantly change my life.

Then, when the adults were done, my daughter started praying, and the prayers of the adults were quickly forgotten:

“God, thank you for my mommy. She is the right mommy for me. God, I don’t want anything to happen to my mommy. Keep my mommy safe. I know she loves me and I need her. Thank you, God, for my mommy’s faith and her great love of God.”

She continued with a list of thanksgivings: mommy cooking, mommy playing games, mommy washing clothes, mommy being a good teacher, and mommy taking care of her when she was sick. She probably listed several more things, but I don’t remember. What I do remember most was the first couple of sentences: “God, thank you for my mommy. She is the right mommy for me.”

The pastor never gave me a straightforward, direct answer to “the question.” He didn’t have to. After my daughter prayed, I had a little bit of insight that maybe I was supposed to be “here,” in spite of how I saw the world. My daughter saw things from a six-year-old perspective, from the simple place of a child’s love for her mother. I can’t say I never thought about suicide again. I continue to struggle with wanting the easy way out. (Easy for whom? It would definitely not be easy for those I left behind; my daughter, my husband, my son, and many others.)

Recently, I was challenged to not consider suicide as an option. If it is not an option then I don’t need to spend time, even seconds, thinking about it. Suicide is not a viable alternative to living my life the way it is (just as God has it planned.) When I forget to discard thoughts of suicide, I see my daughter’s picture, or her belongings scattered around the house or I see her walking up the driveway after school with her unique aplomb. It puts my life in perspective for me. I see her as that six-year-old, remember her prayers, and recognize things are just the way God designed them to be.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What Is More Than Wishing?

What’s “More Than Wishing?” I was looking through old journal entries and old email notes sent to friends and found out that I was wishing a lot of things, for myself and for others. I didn’t use the word “wish” but that is what I meant. I wanted good things to happen. I wasn’t confident there was even a small chance that what I was wishing for could happen. Even if I had thought the good things could happen, I was skeptical they would happen. But, I wanted them to happen.

I used the words “hope” or “hoping.” I hoped friends would have a good day. I hoped the weather would be nice. I hoped illness would leave or not spread. I hoped no one was hurt when I heard sirens. I hoped my kids would behave. I hoped my life would change. I hoped I could lose weight. I hoped my husband would understand me. I hoped. I threw the word around like a farmer spreads seeds or like buckshot scatters. I was, in reality, wanting things to happen, wishing for things to happen, with no sense of assurance. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing.

When I looked at how I used the word hope I found that it was not based on a true definition of hope. Hope, as a verb, something we do, is based on reasonable expectations that the hoped for will come to pass. I looked up definitions and examples of this kind of hope. One thing they all had in common was the expectation that whatever it was would happen. One online dictionary put it this way: “1: to desire with expectation of obtainment, 2: to expect with confidence: trust.” [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/]

The best example and description I found is from the Bible verses of Hebrews 11. One version of the Bible put it this way: “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].” [Hebrews 11:1, Amplified Version] I also liked the way The Message puts it: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see.”

Ah. There is true hope. Knowing the facts. Knowing the only One that can truly bring things into existence gives me hope that what He did at creation He can do in my life. Of course I have to hope for the things in alignment with what He wants. But, He wants so much for us. Probably not the 1965 Ford Mustang Convertible. Definitely the hope that we can live in this life with a firm foundation that makes life worth living. He wants us to be able to look around and rest securely. We can hope in His lovingkindness. True hope can bring gladness. We can expect plans for welfare and not for calamity to give [us] a future and a hope. We can be filled with joy and peace. He tells us we can expect righteousness, eternal comfort, and grace. Paul, a follower of Jesus, sums it up for me: hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us.
I now hope in those things. I carefully consider how and where I use the word “hope.” When I’m just wishing, I say I’m wishing. When I’m suggesting, I say I’m wishing. When I want good things to come to people, I wish or pray for them. I try to hope in the things that I can reasonably expect with confidence to obtain. That hope, based on the certainty that God can and will give me what I need, and so much more, more than wishing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


This is my first post to my blog. I am going to write a regular "column" each Thursday: "Thursday's Hope." As I get going and am more nimble in using blogger, I hope to add another column or two.

Look for Thursday's note starting October 21st, 2010.