Cultivating Hope

What a year it has been: a lot of accomplishments and dreams being realized, as well as growth in my faith and in the relationships in my life. But there also was a lot of change, two transitions (at the same time) to be specific. And while those changes were necessary, they were no less emotionally exhausting. And with that being said, I’m glad that 2014 is coming to an end. 

With New Years comes the talk of starting over, which realistically can happen whenever you decide that you want to begin again. I do believe that God’s mercies are new every morning, but there’s something beautiful about the turning of the calendar year, knowing all that happened is truly in the past. It’s a formal permission to move forward, but without the dryness and heavy heart that I’ve felt when trying to do so at other times. It feels natural, welcoming, and fresh. 

This also marks the end of my Reverb14 journey, which I did somewhat differently this year. I chose not to purposefully write every day because I’m still processing a lot of what 2014 has brought me and I wasn’t ready to put my thoughts out there while still in the thick of things. In some way certain changes will carry over into the coming year and I hope to reflect on them when I have a broader perspective, and can share from a place of gratitude rather than hopelessness. 

Going off of that, I want 2015 to be all about cultivating hope. 

May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).

That verse has slowly become one that I want to live by, despite the fact that I don’t always show it. As I began the process of transitioning out of college, I was honestly such a wreck and overwhelmed enough to where I was barely able to function. I couldn’t think, let alone do anything without feeling crippled by what was about to happen. The unknown, the concept of going out into the wilderness and trying to find my own way with less structure and fewer milestones to look forward to was terrifying. Worrying and wondering about it was my way of trying to prepare myself, as though it would hurt less and be less heartbreaking when it was time. 

And yet, the anticipation and going through the what-if’s was what made it so depressing. You think you’re doing yourself a favor by being pessimistic or ruminating in the worst-case scenario, but you’re not. It’s more a waste of time than it is a way to make things easier. If I could pick some kind of mantra to include in what I’d like to accomplish, it would be that worrying isn’t worth it. 

Worrying ain’t worth it, OK? 

But I can’t do it on my own, which is why I’m making a point to fill myself emotionally and spiritually. When I do that, engaging with others is easier because there’s no pressure to prove myself (at least in the way of friendship); I can rest in the fact that I am loved unconditionally in a way that no human being can fathom, and that is enough. It gives me motivation to exercise and eat healthy, as a way to honor and take care of the body that I was given, rather than solely wanting to have a nice figure. In other words, when you feed yourself, you have more of an ability to love yourself. And once you recognize what self-love is, it helps you to give and receive love with others. 

Leaning into hope does not mean ignoring pain, but finding another purpose for it. I’m willing to acknowledge anger, frustration, and even depression, but I will not despair in it. If I stress or worry, I will ask for peace. 

Live lighter, and leave what isn’t needed behind. 

Choose joy.

photo credit: Martin Huml via photopin cc

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