Hope is a word the faith community uses all of the time. It has become almost cliche so when I did a simple "google" search for the definition, the obvious meanings came up but a secondary meaning caught my eye - a feeling of trust.
A feeling of trust. So simplistic and intricately disrupting.
In Over My Head (LIVE) Jenn Johnson/ /We Will Not Be Shaken
Every part of my life is being stripped down and it hurts. I want to run; I want to hide; I want to stop the spilling out of the insides of me and yet, in the midst, there is only God. God mopping up the broken pieces. But, lets get to the lighter things:
Today I went to a memorial service. I wore a black and white delicately printed dress, heals, nylons and the Kate Spade purse I only occasionally use. I was thrilled when I found it (and the tags that remained) at a second-hand store. My heart was humble, not only because another person died suddenly within days or of the overwhelming work-load this week but I was raw with the rubbing down of glass that is my life right now.
I arrived 15 minutes early but it seemed suspiciously quiet albeit the mariachi van with someone on their cell phone. I walked toward the open doors but the wooden pews seemed to be adorned with small bridal bouquets. I turned around and googled the date; I was one day too late.
I got in my car and drove directly to my friend's house - spontaneously, urgently. With abandon, I wanted her to know I had intentions of being present. My daughter had texted me earlier this day, that if she had not been out of the country, she would have been there too; I was to deliver her wishes as well.
I wanted the family to know.
Plenty of cars outside and the front door was opened (with a screen) this early morning. At first her husband was reluctant to respond and most of the house was still sleeping but sensing my sadness, he asked that I remain a moment. When his wife came out, tears brimmed past my lashes; explaining why I was dressed the way I was, her husband from the background said, "WOW - that is something I would do".
And, we all laughed. His words were a balm to my spirit; she and I laughed and cried and shared stories. I needed to laugh. I needed the momentary intimacy of a shared friendship in a world of disconnect. It is a subtle shift of not having everything together but being a mess in the midst.
The flight attendant holds up the oxygen mask and gives it a little tug; the piped in words across the speakers are a disconnect to the expression on the faces of men/women who have done this gesture thousands of times. I open the laminated card in the pocket in front of me and locate my exit point while expressing the same look of doubt whether a flotation seat will really help me if the plane goes down but I obediently follow along.
"I aways get to where I'm going by walking away from where I have been" Winnie the Pooh.
If we are in a constant state of motion: new seasons, new chapters, new doors then it is essential we practice endings well. But, where does the word trust stand in the midst of beginnings.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
In a tidy little gift, if we have been surrounded by people in our life who have consistently been trustworthy, then we are golden. If as adults, our circumstances and experiences have paved the road for a deepening of the roots of reliability then we are set. My maturity, however, has made me see with clarity how trust has been eroded through the years. It is only through a deeply trusting relationship, that a new lens emerges.
We are surrounded by the cross. Not just the symbolic esoteric type but the profound life-changing intimacy of faith intertwined with people and circumstances so when the words: have I not commanded you echo repeatedly through the chasm of bells rung: be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, the words are shouted through the battle cry of the beating of our hearts. Loss - have I not commanded you? Disappointment - have I not commanded you? Uncertainty - have I not commanded you?
Trust then has to be a part of the conversation.
"Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision."
While studying abroad in So Africa, my daughter bungee jumped the Bloukrans. For months she adamantly proclaimed it was the one thing she would not do but when push came to shove, she did not want to the the ONLY student not to go. As luck would have it, she was one of the last to jump and did not do it well as she heard loud gasps in a fall akin to an eternity but tied to a rope.
A rope, a life-line and a command to be strong and courageous:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not more valuable then they? Matthew 6:24
Trust mingled with our ability to make choices (some right, some wrong) and the painful reality that life is difficult and yet, we hear the words, "WOW- that is something I would do" and we laugh and cry and feel the community of imperfect people living in an imperfect world.
I love this time of year because of what happens in my backyard. Buried beneath the Creeping Charlie and ivy on the ledge of a slope are seeds nobody can see. For close to 365 days, I wouldn't know they are there until in late August I look outside and one tall stalk emerges with a stunning pink flower. It is the first one of the season and it makes my heart sing. Then over the course of the next 10 days, they will multiply until many, many tall gorgeous flower litter the backyard with the brilliance of the unexpected.
Hope - built upon trust that the seeds will take hold. Trust in a living God that is more concerned about the details and condition on the inside and trust to do ending and beginnings well.
A fellow point guard for the faith; a writer, deep thinker, music loving, jeep blazing ... follower of Jesus.