Writing about Hope

Weekly Reflection, Friday, February 5

By: Elizabeth Starling

Some of you may view me differently after I admit this, but for the sake of this reflection, I need to confess… Hanson is my favorite band.

Yes, Hanson of “MMMBop” fame. There, I said it. This will make sense later, but for now, let’s move on.

David asked me to write about “hope,” which is defined as “A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; a feeling of trust.”

My daughter is almost a year old, and it’s taken me a long time to admit that the first few months of her life were really hard on my mental health. I wrote early on about “letting go and letting God,” but I’ll confess that I never really did that; I wasn’t in the headspace to do so. I had a tough birth experience at the beginning of a pandemic during a contentious election year. And because of COVID, we were told that it wasn’t safe for anyone to help us with the baby for the first couple months. I was hurting. I was scared. I was anxious. What kind of world had we brought this sweet baby into? It’s tough to talk about now, because I was in a darker mental space than I’ve ever experienced, and I honestly don’t like to think about it anymore; I don’t want to go back there. I wasn’t hopeful, and I certainly didn’t trust that God would bring us to a brighter future.

Now, at nearly 11 months postpartum, I realize what an incredible world our daughter gets to grow up in, and she’s only going to make it better. The babies and kids growing up now are strong and resilient, and they make up a generation that will change us all for the better.

The political attack ads are gone, the election is over, and in that vein, I’m hopeful that friends can begin to have productive conversations that don’t turn into arguments. I’m hopeful that our very divided country might begin to reconcile, piece by piece and bit by bit. I’m hopeful that relationships can be mended and that we can all realize our shared humanity.

As for COVID, I’m so grateful to all of the scientists, frontline workers, and healthcare professionals who have worked tirelessly to keep us safe and give us some semblance of normalcy during the past year. We’ve learned so much about this virus and how to mitigate and treat it, and I finally see a tiny glimmer of light at the end of this long tunnel. I’ve learned to match my collection of masks to various outfits, and it no longer feels weird and scary to have to wear one—it’s simply an easy and inexpensive way to protect those around me and show that I care. And we have a vaccine being distributed as I type this. Hallelujah!

I know COVID isn’t gone; the pandemic isn’t over; political ads won’t be gone forever; we still have a lot of work to do on so many political issues; and 2020’s struggles didn’t magically disappear with the start of a new year. But there’s a light. There’s hope. Slowly but surely, life will get back to “normal.” And maybe the past year has taught us to be a little gentler and kinder with one another.

Anyway, when David asked me to write about hope, my favorite Hanson song called “Great Divide” popped into my head, so I just want to leave you with a few lyrics—

I find hope and it gives me rest,
I find hope in a beating chest,
I find hope in what eyes don’t see,
I find hope in your hate for me.
Have no fear when waters rise,
We can conquer this great divide.