This morning, I noticed that I have been writing a lot about hope lately. Often, I write thinking of the audience. I think of what people would benefit from hearing or reflecting. I think of what I would benefit from if I were in their shoes. I think of how to best share my personal experiences or thoughts to make a universally understood post. I spend so much time thinking about the audience, that sometimes I forget about my own participation – my own perspective.
As I began writing, the thought that I was writing to and for myself started to creep in. I ditched many different drafts of what I began, mostly because they began in clichés, like “another year begins, and so does another opportunity to reflect” or “A new year brings a new opportunity to start again”. I also was not pleased with the direction they were taking. I explored different ways to say what was essentially the core of what inspired me to write today: the idea that I always greet the New Year with hope. Frustratingly, every single way I ventured in my writing made it seem inauthentic, somehow. It sounded manufactured, like I was trying to craft some perfect reflection on the idea of hope that was lofty, inspirational, and poetic without being rooted in concrete experience. I began drifting away from myself and my own experience and found my writing trudging through muddy quasi-philosophical waters. I was taking too long to get to my point, and I deleted and started over more than any other blog post to date.
I finally found what I really wanted to say. The central point I want to share is this: My favorite definition of ‘hope’ is ‘faith over time.’ That’s it.
My favorite definition of ‘hope’ is ‘faith over time.’
I think I have written about hope lately because I have noticed a lot of attacks on hope recently. It seems many more people are feeling hopelessness and sorrow these days than I remember in times past. Perhaps it’s just that I am now noticing them more, or that they have a larger spotlight than others. Perhaps it’s that I was too caught up before in my own hopelessness or struggles. Perhaps there really IS more hopelessness now than before. Whatever the case may be, it’s hard to dispute that there is a great deal of hopelessness around us.
If hope is an exercise of faith over time, then hopelessness must come from a lack of faith, or from a lack of patience. I think that, more often than not, it’s the latter, not the former.
I struggle with being patient all the time. When I was in middle school, I couldn’t wait until high school. When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait for college. When I began studying in college, I couldn’t wait for the career that would blossom from my studies to begin then and there. Every relationship that I was in instantly became a candidate for marriage. I was so impatient with my manager in my first serious job out of college, who wanted me to work for at least couple of years before a promotion (the AUDACITY of that idea!), that I quit after just a few months of working there. I was so impatient with finding my career that I took 9 different types of classes and trainings in different fields over the course of 10 months of unemployment, all the while without getting a part time job or settling into a routine.
My impatience kept me from enjoying my life. It kept me from trusting, waiting, listening, and being present. It provoked my faith instead of supporting or nurturing it. It stressed me out and clouded my mind, misled me down distracting paths, and even led me to question my faith and consider the merits of even practicing my faith.
Trusting in God, waiting for His plan, listening to His words, and discerning His will in my life require me to be present and to be patient. As we begin the new year and look forward with hope and expectation, let us not forget to be patient with ourselves, with others (especially those who think and act differently than we do), and, most importantly, with God. I pray that 2021 will give us all ample opportunities to continue to grow in faith, love, and in hope.