an apology to hope
Hope has not been my favorite friend over the years. I am apt to wonder if Hope is a liar. There are two mugs in my cupboard that bear the name Hope. The mugs were gifts that spanned years, and the friends who gave them came from two very different circles. However, they both shared that they associated me and Hope. How is it that we are hitched together when I often do not like Hope?
Hope is waiting for something good to happen. Hope is trusting something better will bloom. Hope is believing in the yet-to-come, for hope that is seen is no hope at all.
One of the reasons my relationship with Hope is strained is because it can be exhausting. I became weary of loving people when it seemed pointless. It also feels embarrassing to keep believing the best when ugly behaviors permeate life. I sipped from a Hope mug a few times a week.
It kept me from becoming overly cynical.
Andy and I affectionately describe our parenting experience as a black-diamond run. A black-diamond run is a ski term and signifies the steepest runs that have many hazards. We’ve navigated narrow runs and ridiculous perils and have faced many battles that have been accentuated from adopting older children.
It’s been heart-wrenching.
In order to ski a black-diamond run, one must be confident and throw caution to the wind. The same has been true for our parenting journey. We’ve had to let go and believe that love would be enough. We’ve had to keep showing up with love and hope that one day they would be whole.
A few weeks ago our oldest daughter became a marine. We were there for family day and graduation. After not seeing her for months, we were excited to be there for this milestone. We weren’t sure what to expect. She was angry when she left. She was pushing away when she left. She slung some stinging words when she left.
I said to Andy, “Even if she’s still angry, even if she ignores us, even if she spews unkindness, I’m still glad that we are showing up.”
“Let’s hope for the best,” he said.
On family day, she was standing with her platoon and needed to wait until we went to her. Because of my broken ankle, I wasn’t able to go to her. I waited at our seats.
She hugged Andy and asked, “Where’s Mom?” Andy watched her move through the throngs of people and when she saw me she ran. She grabbed me in a tight hug and leaned wholly into me.
My dad snapped a picture of her hugging me. It may be one of my favorite pictures of all time.
She held on tight and said, “I’m glad you’re here. I missed you. I’m sorry. I love you, Mom.”
In that moment, Hope reigned. Every hardship, every angry word, every senseless rebellion was wiped clean. The words of the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel, whispered in my heart:
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you. [Ezekiel 36:26-27]
Hannah’s heart of stone was gone.
After years of the tug-of-war that comes with attachment disorder, it can be hard to believe that healing has happened, that a child has become a wholehearted adult. Sometimes it feels like a dream. I keep sipping from my Hope mugs because they still keep me from becoming cynical.
I owe Hope an apology.
The healing that I wanted to happen in a blink of an eye took years. The healing that I prayed to happen in childhood took a little longer. The healing that I longed to happen so she could be whole turned full circle and allowed for her to be in a healthy relationship as a forever family.
Not only did Hope allow for healing to happen, but she opened the doors for more. I look at this photo, and I know Hannah is confident and whole. She is able to love back. And she’s glad I kept showing up.
I am so grateful Hope never wavered.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
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