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Confessions: Daring to Hope

I am not exactly what you would call an optimistic person. My husband reminds me of that quite often, lovingly pointing out some specific examples of absurdity I have worried about before. Sometimes I envy his ability to envision the future without preparing for all the things that could go wrong. It's a reflex I try to interrupt, but I am not very good at that quite yet.

If you have followed my journey at all, you know I had to have a surgical procedure. Terror doesn't even begin to describe the amount of fear in my body. "What if this doesn't work?" I asked Matt at least four times a day until it happened. He always said the same thing: "I don't know, but we will figure it out together." (This man is truly a gem, and I am so thankful for his love.) His hope made me angry at first. Didn't he know that even the doctors couldn't guarantee this would work? Didn't he realize how many random, rare health conditions I've had to deal with over the last two years?

I sat with my anger long enough to find the grief and fear hiding just under the surface, and it has been a bumpy ride discerning how to move forward. I have spent the last month recovering from the physical and mental toll the last two years have brought. I have been waiting to see just how effective this Hail-Mary treatment would be. The terror of waiting was heavy. What if walking my dog makes the pain start again? What if vacuuming my house, or lifting heavy things makes me spiral into the chronic pain abyss? What if one day, without warning, I am forced into merely surviving the day rather than being able to really live?

Prolonged suffering, of any kind, breeds insecurity. It's probably what has helped keep humans alive for millions of years, but it makes hope incredibly difficult. It is much easier for me to wait for the worst than it is to hope for the best. Here I sit, typing this post with an amazing amount of improvement, and my fear keeps me from both hope and joy.

I have often wondered if my anxiety/fear is sinful. I don't have an answer, but I do know that it is incredibly human. It's how I make sense and stay safe in such an unpredictable world.

One of the things I love about the Holy Scriptures of my faith is that they were written by imperfect people and contain stories about imperfect people who also held in tension fear and faith. Most of the time, the people in the narratives cave into fear. If they didn't why would they be strongly encouraged to be courageous, have hope, and move through life without it?

Keeping myself from hoping does not protect me from disappointment and pain--the thing I might fear most. The thing is, I don't think that courageous people are fearless. I think fear and courage, just like fear and faith co-exist; one leading me to another and back again, much like the healing journey itself. I'm not sure what the ultimate outcome will be, and I am thankful for how much healing I have experienced these few weeks. I am scared, and I am beginning to defiantly hope for a future better than I imagined.

In the world we live, I wonder if hope is the most daring thing any of us can do, because hope leads to faith, which can only become love. And love, well, now that is the greatest gift of all.

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