Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Clinging to hope

Winter clings, nails dug in to the bitter end. Clings in the form of freezing temperatures and biting winds, whipping snow and slick patches of ice, lost mittens and snug winter boots, babies with croup and kids with cabin fever. Sleepless nights up with the baby, hacking cough, gums bulging with the promise, or threat, of new teeth, welcome crabby days where I look around this house and find all the things wrong with it. Where I search out all the things wrong with the people in it, too.

I eye everything, everyone, with a look that dares them to irritate or frustrate. The things that are always here, the mess and disorganization of the house, the breakfasts that last for ages when I really just need to start school, the miscommunication with the spouse, drive me bonkers. I take it in and stew on it and hold it tight in my dark, angry soul, clinging to it, much like winter.
It is ridiculous. Don't I know it.

But I, in all of my humanness and flaws, blast right past what my brain and my heart know are right and go with what temporarily feels good in my gut.

It is ridiculous. Don't I know it.

I'm in a bible study with some people in my neighborhood and we just finished up Ann Voskamp's video series, "One Thousand Gifts." At our last meeting we talked about these verses in Romans 7.Then my pastor talked about the same verses in church on Sunday. Methinks someone is trying to tell me something.

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, 
but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree 
that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, 
but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not 
dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire 
to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 

Is that you every day? Because that's me every day. All of them. I'll do this better or definitely, without a doubt, complete this list of things to do or act differently toward this person. I'll do what I want to do and steer clear of the parts of me that wound and disappoint.

But then I don't. I make mistakes again, often the same ones I made yesterday and swore I wouldn't make today. I hang my head in shame or I beat myself up over it or I make excuses about it.   

But, eventually, I come back to it every time. Maybe right away or maybe in a few days or maybe it takes months to really, really grab hold. But eventually, in my writing and in my life, I return to spring. Hope. Beauty. The reality of the ugliness that life holds, but then, like a gift, the promise of a new day. The fresh slate of forgiveness offered to me. 
We all cling to something. Addiction. Anger. Hurt. Our past. Expectations. How about if we cling to something else? Something life-giving instead of life-stealing. Something that builds us up instead of tearing us down brick by brick and day by day. 

How about if we, and I'm talking to you and me, too, cling to hope and beauty and a new day and forgiveness? 

Today, at the end of the day, I finally let go of the ugliness of the day and the ugliness I was clinging to in my heart. The baby was napping and I pulled my 7-year-old into my lap and we read Anne of Green Gables together. That funny, worrisome chapter where Anne plays Elaine and her barge sinks in the stream and she is rescued by Gilbert Blythe but she still hates him because she's clinging to the "Carrot" remark from two years ago. Two years. Girl knows how to hold a grudge. Then Marilla asks if she'll ever have any sense and Anne replies that she thinks she probably will because she has learned a lesson from all of her biggest mistakes at Green Gables and she thinks the lesson from this mishap will be some sense.

Isn't that how it goes? All of our biggest mistakes offer us the opportunity to gain something. So, let's cling to the learning and the starting fresh. That doesn't mean we won't make mistakes. We know what we want to do, but there is no way we'll do it all of the time. I'm pretty sure I'm going to read another Anne of Green Gables chapter tomorrow and Anne's going to mess up. I'm pretty sure I'm going to wake up tomorrow and mess up. Repeatedly, in fact. 

But spring and hope and beauty are waiting for me and I'm choosing them. In the form of books shared with my daughter. In the form of a 5-year-old boy teaching himself to wink, concentrating so hard his tongue wags back and forth. In the form of a baby boy who is so thrilled that he can chomp on his own sweet toesies. In the form of a 10-year-old boy home from handbells and choir who runs up to kiss his baby brother before bed. Sunsets. Full moons. Laughter shared between friends. The simple beauty this world offers, if we wipe the grime and anger of life away from our eyes. 

We all cling to something. Choose well.

**Excerpt from the book I read with Elliot before bed tonight. Guess God knows I don't take hints so well and prefer a swift kick in the behind. The thaw is always coming. Believe that.

"We all grew winter weary, this being California and not ordinarily so bitter. I could understand the passion of Prairie who from time to time slipped outside to her garden and scraped away the snow and ice to see and feel and smell the earth and crumble it between her fingers. A thaw came as it always does."
~The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman

1 comment:

  1. "But spring and hope and beauty are waiting for me and I'm choosing them."

    YES! This. Sometimes we can choose them and sometimes we can choose to hold onto the hope that spring always follows winter, no matter how bitter and cold and long it may be.

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