I wonder sometimes if the world understands the word hope in its truest sense. How many people could tell you what it means? I looked it up in my thesaurus and found the following synonyms: expect, trust, anticipate, wish, and look forward to. My entire life has been about these concepts. As I write this I pray that the reader keep in mind that this is about hope, not pity.
At the age of nine, when my life was filled with fear, confusion, sorrow, pain, loneliness, and loss, God gave me hope. Until that day, what I expected from others was anything but hope. I had no one or nothing in which to trust. I didnít bother to wish for anything, and I most definitely did not have anything to look forward to. Every day I lived in fear of my father and my stepmother. I felt sorrow, loneliness and loss for my mom. I missed her terribly, and was very confused on why all the terrible things were happening to me. I felt helpless to make it stop, and watched the same emotions in my little sister, unable to take from her that pain.
We attended church often, to keep face with our community I would think. Whatever my parentsí reasons, I now know that it was part of Godís plan. When I listened to my Sunday school teacher talk about being saved, I began to feel a glimmer of hope. Of course in my nine-year-old mind, I thought perhaps God would really ďsaveĒ me, and magically return me to my mom. Part of me knew that that was not realistic, but the hope had already been introduced into my heart. I knew that I needed God. On the most sub-conscience level, I knew that I was not going to survive my life without Him.
I asked Jesus into my heart, and asked that He forgive me my sins, and thanked Him for His sacrifice upon the cross. And it truly was as if scales were lifted from my eyes. In that moment God gave me a tremendous gift: HOPE! My life did change that day, but not in a way that most would have desired, but Godís way is perfect.
The abuse didnít stop. It didnít even lessen, and there were times when it would get worse. Though the details didnít change, my heart did. God made my heart my eyes. Eyes through which the world became a better place. In the ugliest of places, God showed me beauty. In the most hateful people He showed me their loneliness, even in my parents. In each desperate situation, he showed me perseverance. He replaced fear with calm, resentment with understanding, and anger with love.
We moved around a lot when I was a child. We lived in both cities and small rural communities. After having been beat or tormented, I would escape outside of my home, to get away. No matter where we were, God show me His beauty. Even in the city. As a matter of fact, it seemed that His beauty was best viewed in the worst surroundings. A perfect flower in a field of gravel and broken asphalt. A single warm ray of sunshine on a cold and dreary day. The beauty of an individual snowflake in a blizzard. There was something about that concept that provided me with the most profound hope. It was as if Godís message to me was to see that at our darkest moments His miracles have the most affect. I held that with my entire being.
To this day, I believe that if God had not come into my life when He did, I would have sought solace elsewhere. I would have taken to drugs and alcohol. I would have gone on and entered abusive relationships, believing that was what I was meant to have in my life. I would have continued the cycle, abusing those around me in order to feel better about myself. But Godís hope showed me that I was in His care, and though bad things happened to me, I need not despair. He showed me what He saw in His creation. He helped me understand and have compassion for those around me. I began to see the hurt my parents experienced in their lives, and how empty they were, how lost they were. I began to realize that God had a design, and that He was training me for my part in it, as He did David in the Bible. I learned to expect God to love me. I learned to trust that God knew what was best for me. I began to anticipate His miracles. I could rest in the knowledge that God heard my wishes and wants. I began to look forward to His plans for me. All the things that stand for hope.
My life is still full of trials and tribulations. Yet, when my eyes are set toward Heaven, I have no fear of the hardships that beset us. I am confident when I allow God to be in control of my life. With His hope, God has provided me with many wonderful things that far outweigh the bad. My three children are products of that hope. As I watch them grow, God has given me a peek of what a perfect world would be like. The love of my husband, the support of friends and family are other avenues of hope in my life. Due to my past, I cherish their support more than I ever would have without Godís lessons in hope and tests of faith. Before I was saved, I never dared to hope that I would ever be surrounded by such tremendous gifts of love and friendship. Hope is what my life is about. I seek to live my life as an example of that. I believe that others can best see Godís gift of hope in my life, because it stands out brighter than the darkness that surrounds us.