As I’ve thought and prayed about what I would write for our Voices of Laity this lenten season, I’ve continued to come back to the thought of hope. Lent culminates in the Resurrection. What greater hope?!
But hope doesn’t come without weariness and struggle. When all is going well and as planned, we don’t lean much on hope. We don’t speak much of hope. But when we’re weary and discouraged, we look for hope like a life preserver to keep our head above water in the storm.
I’ve learned some lessons in hope from my daughter in this last year. Isn’t it an ironic thing that God gives us these amazing creations to raise and teach, but they end up teaching us so much?
Weariness and discouragement hit us all. There’s none of us immune. But what do we do in the middle of the weariness to help us get to hope? Here’s what my girl has taught me.
Through her 7th grade year, it seemed that every effort she made to improve and participate in her favorite sports was met by an obstacle that pushed her further back. School volleyball season saw some injuries that kept her from getting on the court. School track season saw countless frustrations that kept her from ever getting on that track. So many tears, so much frustration, some angry moments. Lots of questioning, lots of wondering if it was worth it to keep trying.
But then the first glimpse of hope. Her 13’s club volleyball season. She cried on the way to tryouts because she didn’t think she was good enough to make a team. But she went. And she made a team. She had a coach and a team that believed in her and helped her grow.
Fast forward to her 8th grade year and she found more playing time on her school volleyball team. And had a coach who pushed her HARD to try new positions on the court. She was terrified. But she did it. And grew. 14’s club season has been a continuation of the growth. Coaches that see her potential and believe in her ability, that still push her to be better. Hope realized.
But 8th grade track. She worked so hard. She wanted to earn a spot on that track this year. Her practices were phenomenal. But the practice meet for spots on the team just didn’t go well. Leaving that meet, she was sad and discouraged. At time for the first meet, she wasn’t on the roster. She text me from school sad and defeated, feeling that 8th grade would be a repeat of 7th grade track. But she still went into that practice, knowing she wasn’t competing, and put her best effort on the track. That afternoon I got my favorite email of the school year. Her track coach emailed me and told me that they’ve seen the effort. They’ve seen the work she’s put in. They wanted to give her a chance to compete. They changed the roster and put her in 2 events for the first meet. To say our house was over the moon is an understatement. Hope! But then a lovely winter storm cancelled that meet. Hope deferred. Another week of practice and she finally took the track. And has improved week over week with hard work and determination. Last night we saw the fruit of that. She qualified for District in her 2 events. Hope realized.
While I’m a proud mama, this isn’t about bragging about her accomplishments (but I’m happy to do that if you want to chat!). This is about what brought here here. She was weary. She was discouraged. She was sad. She was hopeless. There were a few times that she thought about giving up. But she didn’t. In the hardest moments, she didn’t quit. She kept working. She stayed disciplined. She stayed focused. Every glimpse of hope she was given, she latched onto and used it to push her forward. When a new setback came, she just clung to the hope. Until the hope was realized.
Our lives will always throw curveballs our way that cause us to grow weary. We will have days where we feel hopeless. We’ll have days that we wonder where God is in the mess. And maybe even wonder if it’s worth it to keep moving forward in whatever it is. Hope rarely just shows up on its own. Hope often is the reward for our discipline in staying faithful to what we know of God and His faithfulness to us. When life is hard and we wonder where God is, when we don’t see Him or hear Him or feel him. That’s when we have to dig in. That’s when we have make the decision to either stay where we are in the hard, or do the hard work of practicing our faith until we get the glimpse of hope. Then grab onto that for dear life until we see our hope realized.
I’m proud of what my girl has accomplished. But I’m more proud of her discipline, commitment and determination to move from weariness to hope. I’m more proud that she didn’t give up when that would have been so much easier. Are you weary? Don’t give up. What’s the one thing you can do today to move you towards hope? Turn off the tv and turn on some worship music. Reach out for the encouraging voice of a friend instead of the discouraging voice of the enemy in your head. Close that book you’re reading and open your Bible or a devotional. Put down the phone and talk to the Father who is so ready to meet you where you are. There is hope.