Hope Springs Eternal, Damnit!
First published Aug 13, 2015
Hope ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve seen people invest their entire lives hoping for something that will never be when they should be making something out of what’s right there in front of them.
I wasted most of my best days chasing something I wasn’t ever gonna catch. I neglected my family. I neglected my finances. I neglected my health People in my church told me to “have faith…it will happen!” and they thought they were doing God’s work. I will tell you, they were doing the Devil’s work, because what did I get in the end? Nothing. Sure enough, not what I was running after all those years. My wife was long gone, hitched up with some guy who treated her a lot better than I did. My kids? They barely knew my name. I never supported them, not in any way. I had no money. I was living hand-to-mouth. I was chasing smoke.
When I was in my younger days, I would look at the guys who give up their youthful dreams (whatever they were), got married, found steady jobs, raised their kids in a decent place, in a decent way; I’d look at them and think, “Coward!” I thought they were all pussy-whipped, in one way or another, at least the ones whose marriages lasted. But I eventually realized that for most of them their wives made them better men, and they knew it. Without that steady hand at the rudder to keep them on course, they would have drifted off in a cesspool of booze, cheap women and no commitments to anything. They would have been like me.
Except I was taught it was a sin to stop hoping. I thought it was a sin to give up faith. I believed in myself. That was the most important thing. I had to keep plugging away, as a sign of my devotion.
I knew a woman with a very sick child. That little girl was sick for years, and the mother prayed every day. She hoped and she prayed. She counted on God to make her daughter well. But in the end, the girl died. And that mother was inconsolable.
Instead of eventually understanding that such things happen in life; that one must mourn and grieve and move on (which is not to say forget the person, but rather move them into our past) she was consumed with guilt.
She had, on occasion, sat in the hospital or fretted in bed at night, wondering what it would be like if the child died. Maybe it would be better for everyone. The girl would never be well; she would be a burden to someone all her life. Her care would be expensive. Was it terribly selfish to want a life without such a burden? She was only in her 20s herself, with her whole life ahead of her.
But everyone told her to “Never give up hope.” “Have faith!” “Believe in the lord!” They said it as if they were channeling Jesus himself.
When the girl died, the mother was consumed with guilt. She knew she had put aside her faith to think about herself for a moment or two, here and there. What a horrible mother she was! She didn’t deserve to have children! It was all her fault. God was punishing her because of her inherent selfishness.
You get the idea.
She ended up in a mental hospital.
That’s where faith got her.
She was never able to work through the untruth of all that.
Some things just have their time. We walk through the corridors of the maze of our life, only able to see what’s immediately around us We can’t know what or who is on the other side of that wall or what or who is around the next corner; certainly not what’s around the next three or ten corners. Sometimes, we come to a split in the path and we have to choose a direction. Sometimes we find ourselves at a dead end. Sometimes we are on our path alone; sometimes with others. But no matter when we die, it’s always one short corner from the end of the maze of that particular life.
Faith, by itself, it not a virtue. It can even be a vice when it’s faith in the wrong thing.
Maybe the best kind of faith you can have, that only one that makes any sense, is a belief that you are listening to the universe correctly… the faith to be open enough to allow the spiritual realm to guide you – not where you want to go, but where it wants to take you.
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