As I mentioned in my last article, I am a bit of an idealist. God made me that way, and I have absolutely no issue with it. But let's face it, this is a less-than-ideal world, and when you believe things are supposed to be a certain way, it gets kind of difficult.
I've known many people who started out idealists, and then, after the world beat them down, again and again, gave up. They became bitter and lost the one thing that sets idealists apart: hope.
I was sitting in the kitchen, talking to my mom while she worked, as is so often our habit. As I verbally processed, I said, "Mom, I cannot bring myself to stop hoping. I've tried, and I can't. And that hurts sometimes."
I lack any and all ability to not hope.
This isn't to say that my ideals haven't changed over the years. They used to be very self-focused. My ideal life was to meet the guy I was supposed to marry while I was in high school, get married at nineteen, and start a family two years later. After all, that worked out for my parents. Did I take into account the fact that I was still hoping to go to college? Nope. I just figured it would all work out somehow.
Now, three years after high school I look back at myself and laugh, because I'm remarkably glad my ideals were wrong.
I don't really have an ideal life anymore. My expectations for myself are very neutral at this point. The thing is, my ideals are less towards life and how it should work out any more than they are toward the people around me.
I believe people should treat others with the respect they deserve as human beings.
I believe that love is stronger than fear.
I believe in loving the sinner and not the sin.
It is my firm belief that chivalry isn't dead, believe it or not.
I don't believe in love at first sight. Which is weird, considering the fact that I'm an idealist.
I believe that courage is inside all of us.
And these are just a few of my core beliefs.
So when these ideals get proven wrong, as they so often do, it kind of throws my world for a loop. Sometimes I myself am the one proving them wrong. I get angry, angsty, and question everything I believe. I even question God sometimes - though I never stop believing in Him, either.
But then I turn from the dark clouds riding over my existence and allow God to show me the beauty that I also happen to believe exists in every situation.
I turn from all of the #metoo posts and the depravity of what caused them and focus on the people rallying to stand for their sisters and brothers who have been silenced for so long.
I turn from the fears and anxieties I have about my own future and rest in God's perfect love for me and how much He's worked for my good already.
I turn from the shame I see those I love feel over their struggles and to the acceptance I see them receiving from those they've opened up to.
I turn from despairing that there are any really beautiful love stories and look no further than the ones God's given me the privilege of witnessing.
I turn from all of the objectification I see in the world and appreciate the people God is raising up to destroy that.
I turn from the fear, the anger, the hate, the inner turmoil, and see God's peace in my heart.
See, this is why I can't stop hoping.
There's a lot of crazy crap going on in this world. Hearts are broken. Trains are derailed. Fires destroy homes. God's image bearers die young and annihilate each other by the thousands.
Yet still, I hope. Because when I am most beat down by the darkness, curled up on my knees and utterly spent, a glimmer of light shines through. I reach toward it. The Light will always be more powerful than the darkness.
This I believe.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5
(Note at the end: It's Christmas! So if you want a Christmas song that I feel sums up this topic, here's my favorite: "Light of the World" by Lauren Daigle.)