Confession: If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a bit of an optimist. I see the world in a glass-half-full sort of way, and whether I realize it or not, there’s light at the end of the tunnel (along with euphemism after blessed euphemism).
I’m a listener of stories only to insert a charming – and perhaps disarming – “well, at least…” at its completion. I tell my own stories of heartache, naturally concluding tears with a Debbie Downer “wah-wahhh” motion of hands and voice, choosing to tie up sadness with a chipper major chord instead of its melancholy minor counterpart.
Be it a good or bad, positive or negative characteristic, it’s part and parcel of who I am; I mean not to be a braggart about it, but knowing that it makes up my being, I have a tendency to then approach situations – be it ministry or parenthood, or simply, life in general – with undeterred optimism.
In ministry, we’d lose another leader, or we’d have a hard time recruiting and retaining volunteers in general. We’d wonder if we’d make budget, and we’d hope and pray and ask for more people to come alongside us, cheering on kids in the name of Jesus. And over and over again, I’d then utter the mantra, Might we be encouraged by what we do see instead of discouraged by what we don’t see.
Ever the optimist.
I yearn to find beauty in the most unlikely of places, seeing an otherwise insignificant bloom in the cracks of San Francisco’s concrete jungle. Hard conversations of real life, like cancer and divorce and foreclosure as of late surround me, but my mind dots them with hopefulness.
Tears fill my eyes, but I hold on to hope and I cross my fingers that someday everything sad will become untrue. [Thank you, Jesus Storybook Bible.]
I cling on to and dreamily obsess over and seek out hope because, really, I don’t know any other way. And maybe, in this way, it’s a good thing that Hope is bigger than me.
I think that’s why the novel Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters fulfilled the depths of me in a Jerry Maguire “You complete me” sort of way – because through the stories and characters of his book, in the midst of the reality of life’s messiness, hope remained.
Hope persisted with a grace note of courage.
And so I bookmarked the following paragraph, and listened to it over and over again via Audible:
“We know what’s out there. It’s what isn’t that truly compels us. Technology may have shrunk the epic journey to a couple of short car rides and regional jet lags: four states and 1200 miles traversed in an afternoon. But true quests aren’t measured in time or distance anyway, so much as in hope. There are only two good outcomes for quest like this: the hope of a serendipitous savant. Sail for Asia and stumble on America. And the hope of scarecrows and a Tinman – that you find out you had the thing that you sought all along.”
True quests are measured in hope. And so we grab on to this hope, for what else have we to cling? This, this is what we realized we were seeking all along.
So go, buy and read and get lost in Beautiful Ruins. And then think some more on hope: what does hope mean to you? Should hope and optimism even be uttered in the same post?