This morning in church, I remember the day a wise friend told me that the Holy Spirit is always a voice of hope. “Don’t listen to any voice that isn’t hope,” she said. I was still a teenager, and my heart felt like a storm every day. I thought nothing would ever change. I thought God could never heal someone like me who had strayed too far. I thought God had no future for me. Sadness was my skin.
But that day with my friend, I remembered hope. It was a little whisper, a flick of a thought, a color that flashed across my soul. Hope was in there; I just had to hear its music again. It was settled deep in there, and I had to stir it all up like snow in a snow globe.
I remember that God is a Spirit of Hope (Romans 15:5). Some mornings, the old despair returns, and I have to choose hope. I cannot listen to discouragement or fear. And I’m trying to teach my daughters how to wear hope like skin. I’m trying to tell them that they must always listen to hope and no other voice.
My daughter reports with joy her Sunday school lesson on John 15 and how, if she stays close to Jesus, her life will bear fruit. She sounds so hopeful as she explains the gardening metaphor. “If I’m an apple seed, I will bear apples. I don’t need to be an orange or wish I were a banana tree if I’m an apple.”
I think about self-acceptance and surrender. I think about how God ordains the life we have and how it took me 40 years and a book to articulate this very thought. She is talking about comparing her life to others, especially in school and when she sees other girls excelling in so many ways.
I see hope in her for the first time in days. Then, later, as we’re walking the neighbor’s old dog (the one we have to walk so slowly because she’s so very old), she says, “And do you know what? I shouldn’t worry if other girls seem so happy and have wonderful things happen to them. It’s like they have sunshine in their lives every day. I get jealous of all that sunshine. I have dark days. And then I thought of the gardener and vine. When I am having dark days, I remember that some plants need shade to grow best. My life may need more shade than others, and this is how I’ll grow.”
Some plants need more shade to grow.
Yes. I’m crying as I type this because she is already listening to hope. She tells me I can share her hope with others. If it’s a sad day, remember that some plants grow best in shade.