The Birth of Hope

September 11th, 2008

What does it sound like when hope is birthed?

Have you ever thought about that?

How do you know what to look for, to listen for in the worst of times, that lets you know that hope has entered the picture?

I believe it’s always there but we just don’t know what it is or how to recognize exactly what’s happening and what lies behind the emotions.  Those blind us and we miss the rope of hope that hangs and therefore often feel that we are just hanging by a thread, bound for a nasty fall which, unfortunately, sometimes happens and we end up lost, falling to a painful impact.  But it’s there none-the-less.

    Recently I was talking to a friend who is going through a divorce and had to break the terrible news to the children.  Of course they needed to be told but the execution of the notice took some time.  As can happen with tough tasks, we search for the best way to handle it and word it so that the emotional impact of it and the reality of what’s happening can be lessened.  The intensity of the emotional reality on the children would be no less, but to soften the blow is an act of compassion and love that requires the utmost of care and planning and after as much as possible had been done, like a terrible wound covered by a bandage, sometimes its just gotta be ripped off in one quick yank.  We try to plan for all the expected and unexpected reactions, questions and emotions but as you well know, it usually plays out differently and our planning seems to take a sharp turn and we can be left feeling clueless, helpless and ill-equipped to do anything that will “make it all better.”  We can’t.  We just agree that it stinks and try to be loving in the process.

    She gathered her thoughts and set aside some time to take her youngest child, a 9 year old boy, and tell him what he needed to know but reserve what had to be reserved in order to not unnecessarily burden his young mind and emotions.  She sat him down and broke the news in the most gentle and loving way she possibly could and gauged his reaction. 

Like watching a strong stalk of wheat standing firm in a field, full of the promise of a great crop, when the fire of the reality rose up around him, he slowly melted, and the charred emotions caused him to slowly bend and wither and the full head of promising seed began bending towards the ground as those flames consumed his mind.  The boy let out a wail that pierced her to the core.  His face contorted with the pain and tears flowed as he bent forward reaching for his mother.  His world was breaking and he was helpless.

    Each child reacts differently to news of pain and turmoil.  Most have no idea how to cope and have never been given a voice to express what they are feeling or thinking.  Some get quiet, some blame, some become passive and some completely shut off.  It’s difficult to tell what the reaction will be.  But this reaction, the wail, tears and physical reaction coupled with the emotional response, seemed to me to be symbolic of the birth pains a mother might go through as she brings a child into this world.  How so?

    Think. See what’s not there.  Think of hope and it will become clear.  Children of divorce hope for one thing: Mom and dad will get back together.  They long for that. They dream of that.  Wishes are made over birthday cakes and stars without number are lassoed with rhymes that dreams are tied to.  “Star light, Star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight……………..”  Prayers to our Heavenly Father are repeated over and over again.  All that comes out of hope.  When that young boy wailed and uttered that guttural primal cry of pain, his hope was birthed.  He has no idea but he is on a journey with no real ending that will satisfy the seed of hope that now lays dormant and dying in the soil of his life.  The seed, brought low by the flames of a trial and tragedy, must die in order that life begins anew.

    Your situation, whatever it is, no matter how painful, trying, tragic, helpless or hopeless, has in it the seed of hope that we all cling to.  Hope never dies.  It may bring things into our lives that appear much different that what we expected or imagined and we may even miss the link between the pain, the now and the then, but the hope has birthed change.  Nothing ever looks the same, feels the same, or is the same which is what we long for.  But our humanity holds us as captives of change and hope moves us forward, even blindly at times and tomorrow somehow gets a little brighter.

    Listen for hope.  Look for it.  It never dies.

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