I’ve always been a quick learner. I was the kid in elementary school who could read the spelling words through twice and ace the test. Throughout high school and college, I was the student who managed to get high marks without studying for a test. I wrote lengthy papers at the last minute, with no editing or proofreading and pulled an A. I’m not proud of these things – mostly because I did nothing to deserve my good grades. Good memory genes – fluke of nature, gift from God – nothing I can take credit for.
Married life has increased the learning curve for me a little bit. For example, it took me all of 3 years of marriage to learn that “Love” is not a feeling that you fall into. No, Love is a choice. It’s the choice to act kind, loving and intimate all the time – on the days when I like my husband, the days when he’s being romantic, and the days when he remembers to take out the garbage…but even more importantly, it’s choosing to love him on the days when I really don’t like him, when he’s being a doofus, and when he’s eating chips two inches from my ear and I want to punch him in the face through the bag.
Through my extended course on Love (ie Marriage) I have been able to better understand God’s love for me (which is great, since that’s the whole point of marriage to begin with!). I have been able to better appreciate the moment in the Garden when Jesus said, “Let thy will be done” and chose to die on the cross and carry everything about us that was abhorrent to him (our sin) through that suffering and death in order to make us worthy of salvation.
Today, though, on what I’m referring to as “The Morning After” (imagine the 2001 Space Odyssey timpani drum beat underneath those words), I’ve realized what a slow learner I really am in life.
After all, I’ve been a voter for 14 years now, and I’ve voted in countless presidential, senate, state, local, and primary elections. I’ve watched the voting tallies roll in on the TV with my parents, at political party headquarters, at home alone, at bars, and (this year) on iPhones, iPads, and laptops with friends around my kitchen table.
Each time, amidst all the predictions and spin, percentage counting, map coloring, and vote counting, there has been one word at the center: Hope.
I hold out hope that the candidate I’ve elected for will win. I hold out hope that with the right politicians in office, things in this country will get better. I hold out hope that once the election is over we can all start to get along again. I hold on to hope…
This year, the lesson hit me smack between the eyes. See, Hope – like Love – isn’t a feeling. It’s not a nebulous state of mind. It’s not connected to whether Obama or Romney wins the election or which party has control of the House or Senate. It’s not something we can be given or that can be taken away from us. It can’t be intimidated by Republicans or Democrats.
Hope is a choice.
Hope is the knowledge deep down in your soul, that God has got it all under control. It’s the certainty that in the end, evil loses and good wins. It’s working toward my own personal holiness no matter what else is going on. It is choosing not to be a doomsayer or apocalyptic prophet, but to be a light of joy shining for everyone.
Many of my Republican and Christian friends have taken to social media this morning with their dire predictions about the future of our country, the future of our Church, and their own personal futures. Some are depressed and hopeless, some sad, some weary, some militant and ready to fight, some angry and bitter. Many have connected the results of this election with Biblical prophesies about the end times or the remnant Church.
I’m choosing Hope, instead. I’m choosing to treat others with dignity and respect even when they are being insensitive bigots – because Hope means living God’s Charity in an uncharitable world.
I’m choosing to be joy-filled even if bad things are ahead because Hope means my goal is to get to Heaven, not to get a certain person into the White House.
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
I’m choosing, amidst the hatred and divisiveness flowing freely among bloggers, pundits, and on social media today, to have faith in the innate goodness of people because Hope means understanding that all our souls are longing for community and unity with our fellow Americans – even if we don’t always act like it.
I’m choosing to act on my Hope by:
- curbing my impatience with my children
- paying for the coffee of the car behind me at Starbucks
- donating money to Hurricane Sandy relief
- telling my husband I love him
- being only positive on social media
- volunteering at my local homeless shelter and crisis pregnancy center
- challenging (publicly or privately) only those whose criticism I would also accept
I learned an important life lesson between last night and this morning. I learned that Hope is a choice. What will you choose? Regardless of how you feel about the election results, share in the comments below how you plan to choose Hope today.