HOPE is cultivated.
I used to think hope was immediate. I had to learn that hope is not something we wake up and instantaneously have.
The images and the pain of that process 20 years ago are all still present with me. I am filled with a joy for the present and future, and as I reflect, I’m not full of regret but of thankfulness. Though the sting is gone now, the past DID happen - and it is a real part of my life:
I sat in the depths of my sorry soul. Everything seemed desolate and without hope. What hope was there for the future of my kids?
I looked at my past and the history of my family: cycles of fornication, of pregnancy before marriage, of divorce, of raising children without a father. This was my inheritance -- the road that had been paved before me -- and it seemed the road that I had chosen to take. Not because I chose it. Instead, as if it was chosen for me; I was just blindly following a track that had already been laid.
A deep darkness surrounded my bright vision of the future - a HOPE-FILLED future for my children and myself. How could I ‘make’ a different future for my kids than the future I found myself in? Would their marriages (if they chose to be married) be riddled with chaos, with pain? Would their relationships begin in fornication and end in divorce?
Facing the Numbers
I wondered if, as my children walked down the aisle, they were on their way to divorce court…
Statistically? The answer was YES.
During this bleak, black period of time, I became aware of the passion I had for the future of my children and grandchildren. I didn’t want any of my children to suffer the agony of divorce. I didn’t want my grandchildren to grow up with an absent father; I wanted my children to be committed to covenant marriage and find partners who had that same commitment. Instead of anxiety, fear, and depression, somehow, the Lord got me to ‘look to the birds of the air’. He lifted my eyes up to see HIM and believe that He could make something beautiful out of the ashes.
could I begin a new path?
would I have the strength? The wisdom? The perseverance to stay the course?
Cultivating a Vision for the Future
First, I began to dig … literally, dig. I read in Isaiah 61 that God brings beauty from ashes and I felt like my life, our family, and the lives of my children were nothing but ashes … EVERYTHING had been burnt up. So, I got my spade and I started digging.
Every weekend, when my children would go visit their dad, I would spend time in the yard digging, removing the layer of grass and weeds in areas of the yard where I would build flower beds. I wept sorrowful tears, releasing the pain, telling God how unfair it was. I learned to believe that God could make something beautiful out of it all
Hard shovelful by hard, weed-ridden shovelful, I dug.
And each drop was a prayer.
I hauled rock. I wanted solid boundary lines around the new flower beds, so I visited construction sites, old, broken-down limestone walls, and other places – all to gather stones for my garden. Oftentimes, the Lord has what we need - we just have to look and be willing to go the extra mile to get it.
Partnering with God to bring forth beauty oftentimes requires heavy lifting.
I brought in dirt. Again, I searched out the resources to build according to what I envisioned, all the while praying and believing that my labor was not in vain. If we till the soil - in our yards, in our hearts - if we bring in the resources we need to fill in the gaps, beauty will come forth.
We are building WITH God. He shows us what we need. Graham Cook says, “God has all we need; we have to STEP into it”.
I relied on friends and neighbors as my resource. Community was important in the development of beauty. Others had cultivated the beautiful flowers and ground cover I wanted in my flower beds, so I ASKED them how they did it.
As single mothers, we need to have insightful hearts. Asking for help in bringing forth the beauty we desire is necessary.
I bought annuals and some mulch. Some flowers, like annuals, are for one season only. I wanted those seasonal flowers to flourish in my flowerbeds – however, I had to be willing to investsomething in the development of beauty. Even with this determination to invest, I found ways to get things at a discount; I discovered that God makes a way.
As I partnered with God in preparing the soil, setting up the boundaries, relying on friends and neighbors, and cultivating beauty … it was if I prophesied that BEAUTY will come forth out of this season.
I wept, sweat, and bled -- with each, my hope in the Lord grew. As my flowerbeds filled out over the next 3-4 years, so did my hope that God is able.
This cultivating ritual became my prayer, my intercession. Through nurturing these flowerbeds, HOPE was born.
Hope is necessary if we, as mothers, want to raise sons and daughters who fulfill their destinies.
How are you cultivating hope in your home?