Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Funny Thing About Hope

From the time I was a teenager, I can think of a handful of talks that were so memorable, I can recall where I was, who was with me, and what was going on in my life at the time. The very first of such talks was given in a Sacrament Meeting in my Grand Coulee ward by Sister Lyn Strocsher. While I don't remember the details of the talk, I remember her topic of Hope hit me really hard, and I left that meeting with an inexpressible feeling that has followed me to this day. Whenever I approach the topic of hope, I can feel its importance. I can feel myself on the precipice of putting together all the pieces of the puzzle that make hope so important. In fact, I crave that understanding, but my muddled mind keeps understanding just out of arm's reach.

Tonight I feel as though I'm bridging that gap.

Life has been tough lately. I don't mean that it's hard having 5 kids to take care of (who aren't always well, really). I'm not talking about the 5 loads of laundry I do every other day, that clutter my living room because I don't have the time to fold it and get it put away because I'm cleaning up one of the other 5 messes scattered about my house at any given time. I don't even mean all the running around I have to do between carpool & errands & appointments, or the fact that I haven't had a decent night's sleep in over a year.

I mean life has been really hard.

I'm by all accounts a control freak. It's something I'm trying to curtail, but it's difficult to try to manage something so innate. So, when Mike wakes up every morning for the last 2 months with no job to go to, my natural inclination is to freak out. I hate feeling helpless. I hate feeling like I'm just holding on by the skin of my teeth. I hate feeling out of control. But...I can't help but believe that the Lord is trying to teach us (or maybe just me) to be more faithful.

To trust in Him more.

To let Him lead.

It's a difficult thing to do when feeling stonewalled at every turn. We've been trying so hard to do EVERYTHING that we ought to. We're magnifying our callings, we're praying & reading our scriptures individually and as a family, we're paying our tithing & fast offerings, we're serving at every opportunity we get, we're holding family home evenings, we're attending the temple monthly, and we're honestly searching for job opportunities. We're doing everything we know to do--we've even started hocking stuff on the internet just to bring in a few dollars to pay bills--but nothing seems to have changed our situation. So where does that leave us?

I found a talk from the Oct. 2008 General Conference by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf called The Infinite Power of Hope, and this excerpt eerily correlates with my feelings as of late.

"The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward."

When I read this, my first thought was, "That's me!" Then my second thought was, "That's me." Wow. I really let him get to me this time. My inability to trust in Heavenly Father has allowed the adversary to plant that seed of despair, and he got me good. He got me good.

Fortunately, I do have quite an arsenal at my disposal to draw from, now that I'm keenly aware of this attempted siege taking place. I keep coming back to the scripture in Abraham 3:25

"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."

I know we're going through a refiner's fire right now. We all know this world is getting scarier by the minute and the Lord needs "the best and the brightest" on His side. We are definitely being proven right now. And it's hard. And it hurts. And it's strangely exhilarating.

After a long conversation tonight with Mike about our future and where we're headed, for the first time in months, the despair lifted and I truly felt hope. It seems as though our life's path isn't what we'd pictured at all. The Lord seems to be taking us in a whole new direction, and that realization has brought an ounce of peace to my soul.

Pres. Uchtdorf continues, "Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear."

That's the funny thing about hope.

Even before the change has come, hope is the bridge that connects you to the light on the other side of despair.

Now it's faith's turn to make that first step.

And it's a doozy!


Kate said...

I am so sorry you are having to go through this! I wish I had some money to finish my basement and pay Mike to do it (especially since my boys are sleeping down there brrrr!). It is hard when we can't see the whole picture. Have you or Mike thought about going back to school? I am sure you could get some good grants and maybe scholarships to bring money in??? Just a thought I had and thought I would pass it along. Hope something comes along soon for you.

Tasha said...

That was so well-said Amanda. Thank you for sharing something so personal. I hope things begin to turn around soon and that Mike can find some work. I know how terribly frustrating that is and what a drain it can be on family relationships. But it has to be so comforting to know that you are doing everything that the Lord expects and you can put it fully in His hands. Refiner's fires are defnitely on His time-table, but I'm sure your family will become even more brilliant from it.

Fiddlefish said...

Beautiful post. Cherie Call has a great song, "Where Faith Lives." You'd find a lot of peace in it right now. ((Hugs))