As I emerge out of the dark stairway, I close the door quietly behind me and attempt to walk lightly down the next flight of hopelessly creaky stairs. After making far too much noise for 6:15am, I arrive at entrance to the kitchen. Ah, the kitchen. This is where my day begins. I rinse, I dry. I fill, I wait, it boils. I press the button, I wait, and in a few moments, the French press is clean, the water is boiling, and the coffee is ground. I pour, I stir, I wait. And then I press.
I go through the motions and it’s almost like my brain doesn’t even need to tell my hands what to do. My hands know what I need. My hands know how to help the rest of my body spring to life on these cold, dark mornings. It’s somewhat mindless, I suppose – but then again, my brain is too busy thinking to tell my hands what to do, anyway.
Thinking about today. What do I want to accomplish? Thinking about tonight. What will I actually succeed in accomplishing? Thinking about tomorrow. Come tomorrow, will I be the person I want to be? Thinking about next month. Next year. And years after that. Will I accomplish things? Will I be wise? Will my children love me? Will my husband adore me?
It’s not hope. I wish I could say it was, but it’s not.
I stand in the dark kitchen. I hold my mug of steaming hot coffee and I may just stand in the same spot for minutes or hours or maybe just a few seconds. I’m paralyzed by fear. Not exhaustion. Just the fear of the unknown, the unable, the incapable, the what-ifs, and the almosts.
Fear is the opposite of hope. And yet, it structures my life and gives me clear guidelines: don’t go there, don’t invest in that relationship, don’t sacrifice, don’t dream, don’t assume. Live in fear. Live in predictability.
And just like that, I move forward. Unresolved, but still moving forward. I’m full of fear, I’m desperately seeking hope, and there’s some kind of invisible something that has clamped shut on me, like a trap, or a cage. I know what it’s made of and through the bars I can see where I’d rather be. But how do I get there? How do I get hope?
Who am I? Who will I be? Will I be lovable? Will I be loving? Are my dreams worth anything?
I know what hope is. I believe it exists and I long for its peace. I look for it the way an injured child seeks the comfort of her father’s embrace. I’m a bit frantic, and it seems that all is lost on me, but in the back of my mind, I know it’s there. I’m searching my surroundings and I’m seeking that place of comfort. It’s there, it’s there, it’s there.
And maybe it’s just a question of am I willing to try? Do I want it so badly that I’m willing to break out of this structured, predictable cage of fear? Will I open my heart? Will I choose vulnerability? Can I allow myself to be affected?
And it all becomes clear: I have no choice but to love. I have no choice but to pursue relationship, accept change, embrace unpredictability and relinquish control. I must act with power and courage.
I will hang onto hope because there is no other choice.
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7