The Anchor of HOPESep 11, 2019
It’s almost time to pick the kids up, and I haven’t finished cleaning up the basement. I have failed again.
I can’t believe I forgot to pack their lunches last night. I have failed again.
Wow, she is doing such incredible work for the Lord, and I barely manage to find time to shower most days. I am such a failure.
I want so much to be thin and healthy, and then I eat 4 pieces of pizza for dinner like a total slob. What a failure.
She pulled that off so effortlessly. When I tried to do something like that, it was a total failure.
Do any of those sound familiar? Maybe not the exact words, the exact struggles, but the sentiment. I am not good enough. I do not do enough. I am not enough. Thoughts like these were the soundtrack of my mind for months, and I have talked to enough women to know that I am not alone. We ladies are experts at finding our own faults and shortcomings, and we know how to use them to wound ourselves in ways that no one else can.
If we’re not careful, focusing on our faults can become almost addictive, like picking at a scab—it hurts, but you just can’t quite make yourself stop. And the worst part is the lies we tell ourselves often begin with something true. I don’t think my inner monologue has ever whispered something dumb, like, “I don’t even know how to tie my shoes!” Because really? That’s just ridiculous. But if it starts with something true, like, “I used to scrapbook and now I don’t,” then my mind can absolutely run with that. One simple statement suddenly turns into deluge of personal failures: “I have a first-year scrapbook for one child but not the others, and they are going to resent me if I don’t get it together and get that done!” “I never take time to do things for my own enjoyment anymore! I am going to shrivel up inside and be miserable forever!” (Notice how we started with a simple statement and have now moved into words like “never” and “forever”…) “I used to have a group of friends to scrapbook with, and now I never see them anymore—I have no friends! Nobody cares about me!” “How can I ever find time to scrapbook again? I can’t keep up on cleaning and cooking and grocery shopping and basketball practices and piano lessons and… I am completely overwhelmed!” And on and on and on it goes… and before you know it, you are drowning in a sea of self-condemnation… And your mind justifies it all as true because the first statement was true.
What is a drowning person to do?
Grab the anchor.
Picture yourself sitting in a movie theatre. Close your eyes and imagine the movie playing on the screen. Well, maybe don’t close your eyes, since you’re reading and all, but… just do your best here. It’s a film about a girl on a boat. It starts raining… then pouring… then storming. The boat is tossed by the wind and the waves, and the girl is thrown out. She is fighting for her life, struggling, drowning… and then she finds it. A tree root, growing out of the bank. It is strong and tethered to land, and she can ride out the storm holding onto it for dear life. Can you picture it? Does she look peaceful and happy? Mmmmm… Probably not. It’s still storming all around her. The wind is still blowing. It is taking all of her strength to hold on. But she puts everything she has into gripping that tree, and it anchors her to life. It keeps her from being lost in the storm. It isn’t easy, but she knows that she will eventually be safe. It is her hope.
Sometimes we feel like hope should be a magic cure. If I had hope, I would be happy. I’m not happy, I’m miserable. Therefore, I must be hopeless. But hope doesn’t magically transport us out of tough circumstances, hard days, or even negative thoughts. It just gives us a secure place to ride out the storm.
When we cling to the anchor of hope in the middle of our own storm of negative thoughts, we gradually hear fewer things like “I’m such a failure” and more like “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” It takes thoughts like “nobody could possibly love me” and replaces them with “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And gradually—gradually—the storm subsides, and hope remains, firm and secure.
Hope, my friends, is not a quick fix. It is not a guarantee that everything will turn out exactly the way we want it to. It is not a promise we will never experience life’s storms.
Hope is the anchor that we cling to with all our might in the storm’s midst.
Over the next several weeks, we will be digging deep into HOPE. What does it look like? Where do we find it? How do we hold onto it? I’ll be sharing more of my story, and I have some friends who will be sharing what hope looks like in their lives, too. Do you have a story of HOPE that you would like to share? I’d love to hear it! Post in the comments below, or contact me if you’d like to write a guest post on HOPE in your life.
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