Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For Hope

There was something about her that caught my attention.

At first, she posted anonymously at Cecilia's blog. Then she took on the name of "Hope."

She is married, with children. She is deeply closeted, and in love with her best friend. She is an evangelical Christian, who sees no way out of her marriage or the straitjacket of her life.

We are not so different, Hope and I.

Her posts probably resonated so deeply with me because it was not that long ago that I was where she is. I am straight and a very progressive Christian---but I, too, could see no way out of a marriage that was destroying my soul, and death seemed preferable to remaining where I was.

(For the record, evangelicals are not the only ones who take their commitments to both marriage and God seriously...)

I worry about Hope these days. She started a blog, where she began to talk about her attraction to her best friend and her sadness over her life. Despite the moniker she assumed, she felt hopeLESS and trapped--emotions I know far too well.

What worries me is that she deleted her blog. I think I know why. She was getting too much affirmation from people who are NOT closeted--and probably from people like me, who have lost all hope, only to find it in unexpected places.

It can be disconcerting to find people of faith and goodwill telling you that you do not have to be miserable. That being miserable is not necessarily God's will for your life...

I think about the living, breathing Hope a lot. And I worry about her---about her safety, about her happiness, about her dreams.

To find hope---REAL hope---can be the most frightening experience in life. The "small H" hope is a dangerous thing, I think. The flare of hope causes us to catch our breath and ask difficult questions. It causes us to dream dreams and wish for a different future than the one laid out before us by the expectations of others.

Joseph Campbell, the noted mythologist, once said "“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path."

That is the truth I came to know about my own life...and
I suspect that Hope saw the possibilities of another life and was scared to death by the prospect.

I understand, but I wish it were otherwise.

I doubt Hope reads my blog, but, if she did, these are the things I would tell her...
  • On a lonely road, I heard God say "You do not have to live this life. There are other options." I'm not really very good at listening, as a rule, but I'm glad I did that time...I suspect that God would like to say the same to you.
  • I believe that Jesus meant it when he said "I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly."
  • Children adapt---and a healthy and sane mother is a great gift to any child.
It is a difficult thing to be true to yourself--especially for a woman. Most of us have been taught from infancy to give of ourselves until the needs of others are met---and only then to give what remains to our hearts and souls.

Mostly, I've got no issue with that. As a Christian (albeit an imperfect and struggling one), I think we are all called to do this. As I noted in my post below, I think Jesus had a rather feminine way of looking at life---and he barely hesitated to make the ultimate sacrifice for an ungrateful world.

This is exactly what almost any mother would do.

But I also believe that we serve and honor God best when we are true to ourselves. I know that my relationship with God is on a whole different level since I stopped embracing misery as my lot in life. Misery actually became my shield against God. It became my shield against feeling and love. I cannot believe that honored God--the God of love, mercy, and grace--at all.

Hope, if you are out there, please let us know you are still hanging in. Where there is life...there is Hope. You are not alone...and joy can come in the morning.

I am praying for you, my friend.


Doxy's note: It was late when I wrote this post, so that is my only excuse for forgetting to add one of my favorite poems...

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

---Emily Dickinson