I believe many of us would agree that we are more than ready to bid this year goodbye forever. But, here at the end of the year, there are moments when I do have hope. Maybe it’s a foolish hope, just the persistent and at times unrealistic optimism of the INFP, but if we had no hope, where would we be?
What is hope? Hope is Advent, the expectation of Christmas, which may be part of the reason I am reluctant to let go of the holiday season.
Hope is a bride and groom as they promise to love each other, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health… There is an immense lot of hope in the hearts of people getting married. After all, how many people are wed who expect the marriage to turn out badly?
Hope is Hannah, begging God for a son. Hope is Elizabeth, and Sarah, and Rebecca- all barren women who eventually felt the incomparable joy of life within their bodies. Hope is a mother who rocks her daughter to sleep and dreams of the woman that will be.
Hope is a child on his way to the ice cream shop, a farmer planting rows of corn, and a nurse administering medicine to a patient. Hope is an author with a pen and a blank sheet of paper. Hope is a teacher dishing out phonics like a grandma dishes out soup. Hope is a pilgrim with a Bible. These are snapshots of hope.
Hope is resilience. All of us have experienced some kind of heartbreak, but hope is us bouncing back and choosing to believe that there may still be joy. I was 21 when I copied the following lines into a notebook: “Hearts do not break, they sting and ache, For old love’s sake, but do not die, As witnesseth the living I.” I don’t know who first wrote these words, but there is some truth in them. I disagree slightly, for I do think hearts break, but there is very often recovery. Do you remember that time when you were in love, but the love was not returned? I do. It took me a while to get over it, but I did eventually.
I have hope for 2021. Hope and dreams, they walk together much of the time. Maybe this is the year I’ll find true love. Maybe this is the year that my purpose in life will be made more clear. Maybe this is the year I’ll find a healthy balance between work and rest. Maybe there will be tremendous growth in the still broken places in my heart. Maybe I’ll suddenly become the queen of organization and my room won’t look like a disaster (just don’t tell my sister I said that; she’ll hold me to it).
Or maybe not. Sometimes hope looks foolish. It’s like that scene in the LOTR movies, where Pippin is asking Gandalf if there is hope for Sam and Frodo. Gandalf’s reply is, “There never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope.” That’s what hope can feel like- just foolish and unrealistic.
There’s certainly that possibility of not. And that possibility stirs up fear in my heart. Yet ultimately, even if my dreams continue to not work out, there will still be hope. How? Because the One who enables me to hope will still be here for me.
Welcome, 2021. We are ready for you.