"...suffering is one of the universal conditions of being alive. We all suffer. We have become terribly vulnerable, not because we suffer, but because we have separated ourselves from each other." -- Rachel Naoimi Remen

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Afraid to Hope

In my last two pregnancies, I've experienced a fear of hope.  It's a hard concept to articulate, but if you've been there, or are here with me right now; I suspect you understand as quickly as you read these words.  

I'm not claiming to be a good disciple here, just a real one.  So, that's the truth... for a little while now, I've been afraid to hope.  As well-meaning folks say, "don't give up hope," or "I just know you'll have a healthy baby soon," it falls on deaf ears with me;  I just do not feel that hope is well placed any longer...  But then I feel guilty for 'not having hope.' 

I wonder, is being afraid to hope the same as having doubt? 

Is doubt not trusting God?   I surely don't want to be there
So, what is this feeling of mine?  Is it something I need to work on, or not? 

"To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence," is what dictionary.com has to say about hope.  And as Christians, that confidence comes through Christ. 

The Catechism states it well, "The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them... to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment..."

So as I interpret this, the origin of my hope - that longing for more children, since it's how I've envisioned familial happiness for some time now - is something natural in my heart.

But neither this statement nor Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit," suggests to me that I should hope and trust that God will give me everything I ever dreamed of. 

Looking up doubt in the Catechism brought me, interestingly, to the virtue of prudence, "the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to chose the right means of achieving it... With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to ...overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid."

Practical reason, and my life lessons thus far, are teaching me to be cautious.  I may not have another viable pregnancy.  More biological children may not be in our future.  I may long for this, but it may not be God's plan for my family and the prudent, scientific me can interpret the facts I have before me.  Although no serious disease has been diagnosed, there may well be something modern medicine cannot identify that is "wrong" with us.  On the other hand, perhaps my next pregnancy will produce the next member of our pack.   All this to say, that my losing 'hope' on the possibility of healthy pregnancies, isn't doubting God's providence, it's actually accepting it. 

I have hope... yes I 'look forward to with desire and Great confidence', that we will be okay.  I have hope in eternity as well as this present life being abundantly blessed.   I don't need another kid for that to be true.  In ways I cannot imagine, I am confident there's a beautiful future ahead.  I may need to adjust my expectations to catch up to the Good Lord's design... but here I am, deliberately choosing to do that.  I don't want to dwell in my own dreams.  I must look forward with strength and confidence that we can face whatever comes, together. 

So my prayer today comes from Aaron Shust, "My hope is in You"
(click the link on the top line of this blog to listen to his music video)

...I will wait on You
You are my refuge
My hope is in You, Lord, all the day long
I won't be shaken by drought or storm
My hope is in You, Lord
A peace that passes understanding is my song
And I sing my hope is in You, Lord...

~ I trust You today.  Help me trust You everyday. 

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