Many, many times during the last few months, I have said – to my friends, to my family, to people I just met, to people I’ve reconnected with, to myself – “Everything is going to be ok. I know it is. I know.” And many, many times during the last few months – as my status has changed from married to separated to divorced – a collection of very special others have said it back to me.
My parents: I’ve spent more time with them during the past several months than I have all the last few years. They have made me feel strong and capable of anything. My dad told me off-hand, during one of our mother-father-daughter dates: “You have always been driven. You have always achieved.” My mom: “This is no different.”
My ex-husband’s family: From the very beginning, his mom told me repeatedly she had no doubt we would continue to be great parents, and her family made sure to help us with that. His sister-in-law commandeered Christmas this year, switching up our established traditions and thwarting American concepts of custody and divorce so our daughter could be with both parents. It won’t be weird, she said. “Everyone will be cool.”
My grandmother: I avoided visiting her once I knew she knew. She’s 81, and despite being college educated and flamboyantly liberal, I assumed she would be disappointed in me and concerned for my future. But once I finally summoned the courage to drive down to Alabama with my parents (it was a fantastic road trip; me in the back with their giant dog, random rural gas station / liquor store for dinner, 70s rock on the satellite radio), I was instantly relieved. I didn’t say a word as she hugged me close and said, “You’re going to be alright. Andy and Lily are going to be alright. All three of you are going to be alright. I have faith in you.”
Among the many things I have learned these last few months is the difference between hope and faith.
Hope is what you want to happen. Faith is what you know to be. Hope is based on longing. Faith is based on trust. Hope relies on the actions of others. Faith is the rite of she who seeks it.
My former sister-in-law and I went out Friday night – drinks at Union Station, Amos Lee at the Ryman, pizza on Church Street. We’d each had fantastic weeks, and the night was filled with intense joy. She leaned across our Ryman church pew at one point and spontaneously kissed me on the cheek. “You bought these tickets six months ago. How did you know then that we’d be able to have a night like this?”
Faith is not passive. You must believe – and know what you believe – to have it. You have to dig within yourself and explore the world beyond. You must ask questions and more questions.
Faith is active and alive, a force within us and all around us.
I don’t know at what age my grandmother graduated from hope to faith. Mark the date for me: It was 2011 and I was 33.