Early on, my midlife divorce caused me to temporarily lose hope. I thought I would never really be happy again. I knew I would find little bits of joy now and then, but never the all-encompassing contentment and happiness I had most always felt in my life.
But hope dies hard. I hoped and wished and prayed that my marriage would be saved. I hung on to that hope longer than everyone wanted me to. My kids would ask, “What else do you need to see?” My friends would ask, “Where is your righteous indignation and your self-respect?” I thought if I held on long enough and “believed all things and hoped all things and endured all things,” my marriage would be healed. It wasn’t.
So I finally realized I was putting my hope in the wrong thing, and I started discovering a different kind of hope. A much more secure hope that no matter what happened in my marriage, or in my life in general, I would be okay because God promised that. I discovered a hope that said I could always make choices that assured my life would be good. And not just good, but really good.
Anne Lamott is a writer who touches a chord in my heart. She is a person who seems to be trying to make her way in life the best she can. Here’s what Anne had to say in one of her books: “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work. You don’t give up.” One thing that makes her work appealing is that she doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but she keeps showing up anyway.
Sometimes that’s all any of us can do. During my divorce, in those early days, it was often as much as I could do to get my body out of bed. Every morning showing up was a question. Staying under the covers was an appealing option. But when we manage to pull ourselves to our feet and face the day again, we gain courage as we go along. We keep making individual right choices. We continue to look for moments of joy. We keep doing little things to help others and ourselves. When we do that, slowly the sun shows itself again.
Anne mentions in one of her books that a preacher said that hope is “a revolutionary patience.” I love that thought. It’s radical! Hope is an active, obstinate assurance that God is in control and that your life will be truly good again. Not just sort of wishy-washy, make-do, so-so good; but extravagantly, wonderfully, incredibly good! I (and many other RADiCAL women) are living proof of that truth.
So even in the darkest divorce days, find your gutsy, inner rebel. Be stubborn and take heart. Your amazing new life is on it’s way. That’s guaranteed if you just keep showing up and doing the right thing.
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24 (NIV)