2019 is for Hope

HOPE
Image Courtesy of LifeWay Blog
2018 ended with the oddest mix of emotions. Overwhelm with the year we had experienced and the fact that it was already over, frustration, exhaustion, anticipation for a new year, excitement knowing God’s miracles are found amongst the mess, nervous for-yet craving change, and overwhelmed with  gratitude. It was very strange. My a-type so badly wanted me to identify with one perspective: sadness and pain while still healing or excitement and joy over a new year.  But no matter what I did or how I let time pass – I just felt this crazy mix of everything all at once. So instead of trying to figure it out or suppress one set of feelings over another I decided to embrace them all. What word could I select for 2019  that would somehow speak to both and sorta guide my heart and mind into the right space for the new year? I actually had to think a little harder this year…. pray a little more specifically….. and then in mass on Sunday evening, December 30 it hit me: Hope.
Initially I did not think of hope because it felt sorta like saying “wish”. Would 2019 just be a strange year of looking up at the stars and whispering my heart’s desire to the universe? That didn’t feel right. But as I considered it and read about hope in the context of faith, the focus wasn’t just dreaming or putting good vibes out into the world (not that I don’t love that sorta thing too) – rather it was the journey of preparing yourself to live in joyful expectation of life. Hope is not determined by the outcome, it is living in faith and peace while in the wait.  No matter what the future holds, change is inevitable – some good and some bad. How incredible if I can prepare my heart, mind, body and spirit to be full of joy in the wait? So much of what is influencing how I am currently feeling is from the experience of responding to what unfolded in 2018. Hope would lead me down a voyage of training myself to live in a more trusting state and accept that acclimating to what life has brought is not good or bad – it just is.  So that decided it….. 2019 would be my year of Hope.
Reading that paragraph, you may think the hope journey is about being more fluid or zen so that as you are thrown into life you can go with the flow – but that isn’t it. I am embarking on a very specific effort to cultivate peace and joy despite – so a little go with the flow – but more so learning to create a space in my world that gives me a chance to develop a healthy way to relate with the world. Which actually means taking more action, being more purposeful – but also recognizing that these things will be challenged – so as not to be thrown off when it happens, but to be accepting of the inevitable rough patches.
Beginning this journey I have had to start at the most foundation level. Work on clearing out the ugly that comes with change or disappointment or waiting and focus on the aspects that make  those experiences positive. And true peace and joy isn’t just learning to make lemons out of lemonade – its giving yourself the space to grow the good stuff. My focus on: prayer time, quiet time, turning off the TV, reading, going on walks, exercising, eating the life giving food, drinking the water, getting more sleep, avoiding gossip, monitoring what I consume,  cleaning up my word choice {do I speak to myself with the same kindness I do to others}, spending time with those who fill me up, putting my relationship with God and Danny as the most important parts of my life and letting everything else go, is not going to be my normal approach of I AM “good” if follow it and “bad” if I don’t. Rather it’s going to be trying to choose these options simply because these things give me the foundation to be the best version of myself. And good news? Every minute can be a chance to make a contribution to this version of myself – instead of figuring out how I can avoid the gym or eat just two more cookies if I run 10 more minutes. It will be trying some of those things I dream of like, someday I will be the person who has AM prayer hour or Danny and I will have more time together when we finally move out of the area. These things CAN happen right now…..  and if I at least try for them I will benefit from the experience of including even just aspects of them.
After building my little garden by removing the painful weeds and making the room for beautiful hope to take root … and bloom…. it will be about stepping directly into the crazy stuff. The stuff that my heart so desperately wants to believe will happen….. that our life has even been given the chance to experience but we talk ourselves out of ….. its taking the small scale I have practiced this on at the foundation and put into practice in real life. Moving has been something we really want, but at every attempt to step towards it something pops up: plan a site visit and Dan gets sick. Just as quickly as we planned the trip we cancel EVERYTHING and fear wasting the time/money/energy because if Dan remains sick and it can’t happen all that effort is wasted. This my friends is a loss of hope by not even being willing try for fear it won’t happen; contributing to our negative narrative that we can never move forward, and in practicality  stops us from ever actually achieving anything! Because you gotta start somewhere ….. even if the outcome ends up being different. Hope would be postponing the trip and then when it comes back up again – not talking ourselves out of it. Hope would be, well we aren’t moving to Chicago – but boy did we have fun visiting! Hope would be taking action and being at peace with wherever it leads….. because then nothing is really ever a waste.
Suddenly as I become bonded with the true definition of hope and excited about learning to clear out the uglies to make room for the beauty, peace and joy….. I realized this whole approach doesn’t have to be about just the big scale things. How many things in my world have I wanted to do…. or say its for someday….but I either talk myself out of it, run out of time, or say “is that the wisest way to spend time”?? It sounds so silly – but doing a few of those little things is a testimony to hope because you have the faith that you can become the person that does that thing – maybe not perfectly, but benefit from trying. For example…. I have stopped and started an online blog class ya’ll for 4 years…..FOUR YEARS.  This is no trip to California or running that marathon – this literally is carving out an hour or two a week. What have I been waiting for? So as you may have seen on social medial this week – we are automating our errands. Just a tweak and I have been given the gift of time…. and thus the chance to try the blog class experience. Hope is continuing to try and find ways to make new things grow into life…. and what a perfect way to start a new year.
Since selecting this word, ya’ll it has been CRAZY! I have come across it EVERYWHERE! I have learned how much of the true definition of hope I was missing and how much beauty it could bring to our life – even if things turn out completely opposite from what we envision. To be a whole person who loves big, lives presently, and exudes joy- I have to come to peace with waiting … it’s what humans do!! And who knew I just need a little more hope in my world! This post is already pretty long…. so I am planning to share my hope findings throughout the year – stay tuned!
Wishing you all beautiful 2019 with a lot of beauty, love, and peace during this crazy ride we call life.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!
Jackie

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