Graduating from hope to faith

Sunflower.

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.”

Faith.

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.

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10 thoughts on “Graduating from hope to faith

  1. Knight,

    I stumbled upon your blog and forgot what an amazing writer you are!

    I think about you often and miss you dearly. I am so proud of the challenging times you’ve overcome. I had no idea. I’ve always admired you as a co worker, a friend, and female and you’ve always been strong and independent. Keep your head held high. If you ever need to get away for a weekend, you have a place in Phoenix with me 🙂

    Love and miss you!
    Mandy

  2. Knight,

    When we talked about this over lady brunch, I recalled a scripture I learned by heart once:

    “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.”—Hebrews 11:1

    As you said, faith is more than hoping, it’s knowing. It’s the assured expectation, it’s the realities you know are there even if you can’t see them.

    I’m still just a hoper. Someday, I hope to have faith.

    –A

  3. I have been thinking about this. Here are my thoughts, however poorly formed they may be at present. In my experience, hope does not rely on the actions of others.

    There can be no hope without faith; that is simply wishful thinking based on selfish desires for this or that, or upon fear that this or that will not be taken from us.

    When we have faith – whether it be faith in God, Allah, reason, community, or any power we concede to be greater than ourselves – we learn to recognize grace. Doing that, we have hope.

    For me, faith requires work, action. If I do not put myself in a position to receive grace, life becomes cold and hope fades. Or, as a person I know once said, “If you don’t put yasef out there, good buddy, ain’t nothin’ good gonna happen.”

    Nice piece, KS. Good luck on your journeys, and happy Sunday.

    • Kidd, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Sometimes when people are struggling with something, others are afraid to seek them out because they don’t know what to say, don’t feel it’s their place, assume you want privacy, etc. It may seem counterintuitive that the person in need should be the person “putting yasef out there”, but that’s often how it is in a culture (is it Southern or American?) that is so … demure. There’s probably another post in this.

  4. It’s a funny thing: as a non-religious, non-spiritual person I long ago rejected the word “faith” and continue to shy away from its casual use as it carries with it connotations of the trappings of a worldview not based on reason. But even I have to admit that there’s something different about using it to describe human nature, and the amazing capabilities we contain within us. I’m so impressed with you and your candor through this process, and it is no surprise at all to me to know that those closest to you have faith in you: to do the right thing, to overcome previously unimaginable challenges, to thrive and be happy in circumstances that may have previously seemed horrible. I don’t hope for you that you continue to rise above difficulties and changes; I know you will. And if “faith” feels to you like the right word for that certainty, I’ll go ahead and take it.

    • Brave Kate. Your kind words touched me first thing this morning and I’ve thought of you all day. I can be open about what’s happening here because there is much compassion and intelligent consideration from everyone around me, including you.

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