“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
I had a friend a few nights ago who sent out a text asking for help. She was hurting, the darkness reaching higher than she seemed to be able to get herself out of. She was needing her people to battle this with her, and so she reached out and asked us to contend in the late hours of the night. And as I received her message and began to pray, I was filled with so much hope. Because I love this friend and I can see the hope and the favor and the grace that covers her life. I can see that heaviness and despair are not the defining marks of her story. I believe that what God says is true, that He is with her, He will not leave her, that His promises to her hold true. And so I prayed these things and I hurt, and in that quiet hour of the morning, I felt a stirring in my heart for a similar thing, only this time it was also for myself. I felt this small whisper that said, “Hey, Mary Cate, you can hope for yourself in this way too.” And that surprised me, because through this prayer for my friend I came to find that I am way more hopeful for others than I am for myself.
And isn’t that how it always works? We pray, and contend, and support, and see past our friend’s weaknesses and their struggles and grab hold of the promise of breakthrough, but when the table is turned and we’re the ones needing help, it feels so hopeless, like there’s no way we’re ever making it out of this. We can’t seem to see or believe that the same God who is working in the hearts of others is alive and active in our own hearts, and is willing beyond measure to help us heal and grow, too.
I’m so guilty of this–believing that my sin and my sadness and the messy parts of my life are never going to leave me. And in some degree that’s true, because we live in a broken world. But in this conversation I was having with God and myself, I realized that by denying myself the right to hope for my own growth and healing, by denying myself the belief that God cares about my freedom and my healing too, that I was not allowing myself to fully live into the promises of God. I was refusing to live into the healing and relationship and grace He was offering me right now. And I bet a lot of the time you aren’t letting yourself live this way either. Because we live in a world that says that you must fix yourself, and you’re not lovable until you do.
But the truth is that we serve a loving and compassionate God who will never leave us in our process. We can breathe. We can trust. We can hope.
What do you think would happen if you chose to believe that God and others care about you just as much as you care about others? What would happen if we chose to extend grace to ourselves, to breathe and to hope for what is to come, instead of shaming ourselves for being less than we thought we would be by this time?
As always, I don’t have all the answers yet. I’m just beginning to process this idea. But for today, I’m choosing to hope for myself in the way that I choose to hope for the people that I love. I’m choosing to rest and be kind to myself, to allow the scary and messy parts to come home and be welcomed into what God is doing in my heart. I’m believing that I will always grow, that I will always come to know and love Jesus and others more and more, that God cares about me deeply, and that He is helping me become.
And that hope makes the promise of change just a little bit easier. Even still, the change isn’t really even the goal, deep relationship with Jesus is the goal. For without Him and the revelation of His Great Love, the good that comes out of me would be entirely in vain. There would be nothing substantial about it.
Romans 5:3-5 is stirring in my heart as I think about this newfound hope I have for this process. It says, “ Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Hope is coming my friends. Hope is already here. Even in the process, even in the darkest places in your soul.
You will not always be where you are today. The Father is coming to rescue you, to breathe life once again into your weary soul. Like the Christmas hymn says, The thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. You can rejoice for today. You can have hope for yourself. Take a breathe, rest. And choose once again to trust, to believe, and to hope. Abba’s taking care of you. Amen.