Where is the Hope?

Stacee and girls at Lake Hefner Today, as I am writing to you, I am sitting in my dining room beside a big window where I can look out and see our pretty little purple, pink, and white flowers. They are small but so strong to withstand our Oklahoma wind. It’s a beautiful fall day and the leaves are an indescribable color somewhere in the orange family. I am choosing to ignore the weeds I see because they are just frustrating and ridiculous. However, every time I look out the weeds do seem to have moved closer to the window. Creepy! In spite of them, I look out and what I see absolutely reminds me of hope. Hope, in my life, shows most when my fight can be the most difficult. Like white chalk on black paper. Offering you substance does not come from my mind and heart alone…by far! My mind can fail me, not so much in my memory, but in remembering that I have hope. I can lose sight of the many things the Father has carried me (us)through, so recalling a few of them daily as an accountability that cannot be avoided or discounted is essential. God’s faithfulness in my life deserves to be shared because it is real. This is awesome because the enemy wants us to be hopeLESS, so let’s do this!

I have evidence of God’s hope walking around my house, eating all of our food, singing, dancing, watching vines and TV. I have hope asking me if they look okay before meeting up with friends, and I have hope sitting on their beds at night spending time with Jesus. I see hope sleeping late on Saturday mornings after a long week of school and activities. I have hope looking at me across the sanctuary at church on Sunday to smile at me because I made it to church that morning because sometimes I haven’t. I have hope encouraging me to eat so I can feel good and be fully present at an event like some of the other moms. I have hope in the imperfections of their lives because they don’t evoke the same response from them that mine have in me. My two “hopes” are full of joy and passion about life and for God. I can see hope, and it makes me speechless.

Since God alone can see the big picture of our lives, He knew part of my healing would involve two precious redheads. Our hope is not in their performance or achievements in this life, but in the truth that there is evidence of Jesus living in and through them. It’s a miracle, really. When I see them actively seeking God, I see that some of the family cycles passed on to me aren’t there anymore and that… is hope! To my knowledge, I come from three generations of women struggling with depression on my mom’s side of the family alone. My dad’s mom struggled greatly with mental illness also. Amazing women who sought relief to the best of their ability, but suffered and struggled greatly. So when I see my sweet girls thriving in this life, all I can do is thank God for the hope I see in this cycle of mental anguish releasing itself from our family. Two blog posts ago, I referred to my parents’ divorce during my senior year in high school. This year, our oldest daughter is a senior, and so many memories have been flooding my mind of my experiences during my last year at home. Can you imagine my thankfulness, that because of God, her experience does not compare with mine? That’s hope! She is okay and full of joy and hope for today and for her future, and her younger sister is following her lead.

I have written about “restricting “in my life several times, and this way of life naturally seeped in and stole my hope. For years I did not allow myself to hope because all I had to do was look at the path of destruction I was leaving, and I was instantly hopeless. If I stop and focus on the people I have lost, and the strain on my family and friends which sickness and addiction can leave, I don’t feel good at all. It’s too much to take in. My hope is not soi temporary most days, but I still have work to do here with God’s direction. So many who have eating disorder and self harm problems aren’t the unmotivated and self-absorbed, contrary to what many believe. Not at first anyway. They are often over achievers who have grown exhausted and perfectionists who’ve experienced one too many failures. Those are the more common to get sick.

Here is where I have to go straight to what God’s words to me say, or I get overwhelmed with sadness and hope starts to wash away. 1 Peter 5:8-11 serves as both a warning and a reassurance. It says, “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (That part is viciously true... but it gets better) “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen.” The struggle is real! Do you want to get better? Whatever your problems may be, do you want to get better? God would never downplay that being here is hard, but His grace and mercy are strong and therein lies the hope. The enemy wants us to grovel and fail, so anything resembling this is not from God. How different would today be if you and I went to Jesus with our hurt and guilt and fear, rather than to our addictions which seek to “devour” us. Please know, friend, to deny the hope which is truly from God is to literally hand our freedom to the enemy. Hope placed in anyone or anything else is lost.

Consider this action…I often have to write down what is hurting me and what is keeping me from accepting hope. After I write these things, I hold the paper in my hands and lift this list up to God asking Him to take it, and then I tear the papers up and throw them away. When I hold these things inside, I get worse; so this, although simple, is a physical act to give them to the only One who can heal my heart and make room for a little more hope.

I have a final plea for you today. If you have never asked Jesus to come and live in your broken heart, would you please consider Him? If you have not, this hope (my lifeline I refer to) likely seems foreign. This does not have to be so! Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and him with Me.” (Revelations 3:20). There is no catch, no judgment no matter what your life looks like or who you are. I have been honest with you since beginning the Speak Out Loud blog, and my honesty won’t stop. But for true life and freedom to fight for our lives, Jesus is the key. Wherever you may be as you read this, in the U.S. or another country, Jesus translates the same. He died on the cross a criminal death for you and me, to pay the penalty our sin (wrong doing) deserved. That’s the truth, and His gift to us is His leadership and love in our lives and forgiveness when we do wrong. I have found that I lose everything without having a relationship with Him. I give Him my life and there is meaning beyond the next restriction or next cut. Jesus is hope.

“Jesus, I do not have to know where the people who are reading these words are spiritually, but I do care where they are. I care deeply. Things and choices and patterns of addiction, and the things we buy into, can be paralyzingly wrong and not of You. So Father, thank you for being so willing to meet each of us right where we are, without judgment, and with eager anticipation to give us the hope which is only found in You. If anyone who has looked at these words of hope at this time does not have a personal relationship with You, I pray in Jesus’ name that he/she will desire You more than anything else in life, and invite You to inhabit their heart. In Jesus name, Amen.”