Hope

   This has probably been the longest I’ve gone without blogging in a long time. I only blog when I have things I feel the need to say, or to organize my thoughts, or inform you of something. I’ve really had nothing I wanted to report and thus explaining my blogging silence. God has been teaching me a lot lately, but nothing specific enough to blog about. There have been so many topics that I haven’t been able to narrow it down well enough. I mentioned last time that I was learning about hope; so today that’s what I want to get at. Honestly, these past two weeks have impacted me a lot. I’ve really felt God and felt Him speaking to me. Hearing from God is always an exciting thing.

   “Hope” has been repeated a lot, and through a lot of things and so many movies. (X-Men: Day’s Of Future Past anyone?) So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I went to bible study to have the topic be “Hope Vs. Despair.” I had to give God applause for that one. So perfectly timed, as usual. One thing He has been using to speak to me, is Lord Of The Rings. Of course, the book we’re doing in this group I have is called Walking With Frodo: it’s A Lord Of The Rings devotional. (Again, well played Sir.) One of the questions was “What is despair?” and my friend, Megan, answered something very wise. “It’s not focusing on the right thing.” That hit me hard. We despair when our focus is on something that it shouldn’t be. If our eyes were on God, we wouldn’t worry because we would see Him and know He’s got this. So when we are in despair we know that our focus is off. That gave me a lot to think about. I’ve felt despair before; and looking back on those times, I realized that my focus was always on fear. Not God. I felt afraid of something, and that caused me to despair. But hope is the opposite of that. I wasn’t sure what God was telling about hope but I knew it was important.

   The next part of group was our camp fire. Now, camp fires have a way of making people get real with each other. I don’t know why this is. It has the same effect that staying up late into the night does. People are just more honest and open over a camp fire. Our group leader, Jake, had us write down the things we were struggling with and needed to give to God. We would write them down, pray about them, and when we were ready, throw them in the fire and watch them burn. There is something powerful in the physical act of throwing something in a fire that just makes you feel free. I wrote down one single thing on my paper. I bet you can all guess what that was. If you guessed fear, than you are correct. Fear has dominated my whole life. Even after getting saved, overcoming fear was never an option. I’ve mentioned this before, but last year two people suggested to me that I fight fear and beat it. I was so taken aback. I never thought I could. I had accepted that fear was my master and that I would fight it the rest of my life. I never thought I could ever be free of it. But these two people actually believed in me. That’s all I needed. I needed someone to believe in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. As I wrote down my struggle on this paper, I prayed and did some reflection.

   Last year at camp I had a breakdown on the first night. My leader was able to talk to me and help me. I struggled a bit throughout the week and I had one final breakdown at the end of the week that my leader helped me through and she talked to me about planning a way to kick fear out of my life. I look back and see how much that week really impacted me. It changed my life. I would like to say that I haven’t dealt with fear since, but that is not the case. In fact, my fear has probably gotten worse. In a weird way, it’s gotten worse and better at the same time. Maybe I just know where its coming from. The enemy. I know its not just me I suppose. I prayed a lot and looked back on all I had been through and all God had brought me through, and I was finally able to let it go. I tossed my paper in the fire and watched it burn. Healing feels wonderful. Being released from a bondage that held me for 17 years was remarkable. I was able to acknowledge that yes, I would still have moments of fear and I’m sure they would get bad, but I didn’t have to let it control me anymore. I realized I was free. After struggling for so long, I was finally free.

   I recently re-read a letter that my good friend wrote me and one quote has been in my head a lot. “I’m not drowning anymore. If God could bring me from where I was, to a place where I could be happy, then the least I could do is proclaim my love for Him.” I’m not drowning anymore. That has been another theme. I realized so many connections with this. All the themes began tying together. There is a song called Over My Head (Cable Car) by the Fray and I had always said it was my song. Because “everyone knows I’m in over my head.” But God has shown me that He will keep me afloat. A Building 429 song says “If you’re in over your head, lift it up.” I heard that and was in awe. I had thought I was in over my head. I also let that become my reality. I would dwell on that thought and really, its a depressing thought. I accepted my fate. I doomed myself to drown in the waves that were consuming me instead of trying to fight it. But those waves would consume me because I couldn’t stay afloat on my own. I needed a rock. I found that Rock.

   That was when I realized just what hope was. Because looking back on all I went through and seeing how God brought me through that…what does that say about my future? If He could rescue me from the mess I had made of myself and re-create me into something beautiful, couldn’t He take something beautiful and make it golden? You bet He can. That is was He was teaching me about hope.

   After throwing my fear into the flames, Jake shared a few bible verses and offered us the chance to do the same. Today I just feel like flooding you with amazing things my friends say so I want to share one last quote from the evening. Jake said “Now that you guys have given your struggle up to God, there is going to be a hole in you, and what better thing to fill it with than the Word of God?” That was a strange thought at first; fear leaving a hole in my life. But it would. And God wanted me to fill that hole with Him. God’s will for us is to take out all the things that aren’t from Him. He wanted the things that hurt us to be gotten rid of; and since then we would be broken, He would come to fill in the empty spaces. We would be filled with Him. Whole and healed.

   I had been really worried about camp for a while, because I knew how triggering it had been last year. But I’m not anymore. I leave on Sunday for a week and I couldn’t be more excited. I feel like God has a lot for me to do up there, and for once, I’m not afraid. Usually I’m very timid in group settings, but on Friday at group I wasn’t afraid. There wasn’t an ounce of anxiety in me. I don’t want these things anymore. I wanted Christ. I realized that once I was healed, I could help bring healing to others. For so long I had been straining trying to help others without first helping myself. Now I can help people to the best of my ability and do so with sincerity. For once, I’ve not been stressing about the things I usually do. I know that God’s got it. He told me its okay, that He would take care of it.

   You are not hopeless. Look back on all you’ve gone through and know that God did all that, and He didn’t bring you this far to ditch you before He finished His good work. And just because you failed in the past doesn’t mean you are doomed to fail in the future. It’s all good. If God brought you to it, He will also bring you through it. Just keep your focus on Him and He’ll work out the details.

   *Spoiler Warning: I quote a big part of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ahead*

   “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.”-Hebrews 6:19

   “Please, we need you to hope again.”-Charles Xavier

   It’s easy to feel hopeful on a beautiful day like today, but there will be dark days ahead of us too, and they’ll be days where you feel all alone, and that’s when hope is needed most, no matter how buried it gets, or how lost you feel, you must promise me, that you will hold on to hope. Keep it alive, we have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you, is to become hope, people need that, and even if we fail, what better way is there to live. As we look around here today, and all the people who helped make us who we are, I know it feels like we’re saying goodbye, but we will carry a piece of each other, into everything we do next, to remind us of who we are, and if we’re meant to be.”-Gwen Stacy

Published by faithmariephoto

follower of Jesus. Artist. Feminist. Life enthusiast.

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