Hope is a tricky thing. It can be the best or the worst thing in the world depending on the “what” is it that you are hoping for. I spent about four months hoping my dad would not die from cancer. For about four months after his funeral I HATED the thought of hope. I spent about a year and half hoping that my marriage would be restored. For about six months after my ex moved out I battled hard to realize that I had simply hoped for the wrong thing.
I went to the doctor while I was trying to save my marriage because I was fighting deep depression. I told him that my husband had an affair and I felt defeated and destroyed. He asked me if anyone had moved out and I told him no, that we agreed to counseling and to work on things. He said “Good.” But he gave me two things to do. One of which I discussed in my last post. He said to move, in any way and for as long as I could. I started by going for walks with my ex after dinner each night. But he didn’t really like spending alone time with me so my walks were soon on my own. Those walks led to short stints of jogging in between the walking and then longer bits of jogging. I now run 2 miles about 3 times per week.
The other thing he said was to plan something that I could look forward to. He told me it would work wonders on my mood if I was anticipating a good event. I was thinking this morning that is all hope really is. Hope is anticipating a good outcome or event. As a Christian we have the hope of heaven. No matter what happens to us on earth, or how bad things get, we know that ultimately we will have our victory. When life is crumbling around you, it is definitely good to know at the end there is a good ending. But we still have to live in the world, survive, and get through our storms in life.
That day, when my doctor told me that I needed something to look forward to, I would never ever have believed the story of my life since. How I would travel to Europe multiple times, how I’d watch my kids graduate from high school, healthy and happy. How I’d meet and fall in love more than once. How I’d be hurt again. But how I’d be stronger. I would never have imagined that 5 years after my world came crashing down I’d be married again. And this time to someone who actually likes me and can handle me. I believed that being a single mom over forty with two teens meant my life was pretty much over. But I realize now, that it really was only just beginning.
When I think back on my life, I now can’t imagine who I’d be without the divorce and how much better I am because of it. Yes, it was a bitter, bitter pill to swallow. But it forced me to reflect on myself and who I wanted to be in a way that I never did while married.
And so with all that wisdom you’d think when life’s struggles crash into my life like waves on a rocky shore that I would pull from that knowledge that when things look bleak, hope really is just around the corner. There are good things coming to look forward to. But it takes me intentionally reminding myself every time.
I guess what I learned most of all is that growing older is hard. Our bodies betray us, people we love betray or leave us, life gets complicated and hard to understand. That is a given. So the hope has to be in finding good in the bad. Finding sweetness in the sour. It’s not hoping in a particular outcome. But hoping in the good that will eventually come from ANY outcome.
It is the single best lesson I’ve learned in all of this. And it works for the small things as well as the big. I care so much less about things happening a “certain way.” When something irks me, I remind myself that I will live, I shrug my shoulders, and move on instead of kicking a fuss. I save my kicks for things that really matter. It’s caused my life to be much more peaceful, happy, and allowed me to be much more content.
This weekend I’ve been reflecting a lot about hope as I anticipate my surgery on Tuesday. I’m grateful for the reminder. For what it’s worth…I hope it helps. It did help me.