I'm not a hopeful person by nature. In fact, I've struggled my entire life with "staying positive" and "looking on the bright side." My parents know I have the tendancy to feel "blue," and my poor, dear sister has served as my therapist for years.
I know plenty of amazing people to whom optimism seems to come naturally (a true gift!)- and I envy them. I really do. For me, hope, is a constant decision. And sometimes a bit of a battle.
The strange thing about this phenomenon, is when I look back on my life, I'm quite happy with what has transpired. I have so much to be grateful for. And I can easily see how difficult times and challenges worked to strengthen me and my family. But most often, I complained my way through those times instead of trying to focus on the positive.
Remaining hopeful in the midst of a difficult moment - that's where I struggle.
A confession: I find it easiest to stay positive when I've got a trip planned - when I have something to look forward to. Then somehow the daily grind, the frustrations, the annoyances seem more bearable. (I'm not rambling - really, I'm just putting all the pieces together to make a point soon).
I've been putting aside $20 a week for the past four and a half years to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary which occurs this October. (Again, not rambling, just building to a revelation.) For four and half years I've envisioned something grand. Italy maybe? A biking tour in South France? Or even a cozy bed and breakfast in New England with the autumn colors. Something memorable.
Yet, in the past two weeks, I've decided to spend the money on something else entirely. In nothing short of a miracle, Elise was offered the opportunity to travel with Madi to Hong Kong for the Amis choir. She was the alternate and was offered a chance to go just days before the actual event. Because our family is working on some other dreams (aka a new house in Virginia), funds were scarce. So almost without hesitation, I cashed in a chunk of my 20th Anniversary Fund to help pay for her to go. And you know what? I was happy to do it. (And a HUGE thanks to grandma and grandpa who also made it possible for her to go.)
Then last night. Owen and the kids were offered the opportunity to join dear, dear friends of ours on a Spring Break trip to north Bali. (I will be traveling with a high school service trip to Uganda - so won't be able to join them). Again, I cashed in some of the anniversary funds to make it happen. And again, it made me feel very happy.
The anniversary fund has now dwindled far below any dreams I envisioned. I gave it up, NOT because I'm selfless (far from it! I'm still very selfish). I did it because I know the power of an incredible trip.
And because I HOPE.
I hope my daughters' experience with music, culture, and travel will be as magically wonderful as the ones I've been blessed to have. I hope the memories they make together will carry them through future difficult times. I hope my family will enjoy their time in Bali. I hope they will look back at their snorkeling and beach adventures with joy.
(Elise and Madi in Hong Kong)
(The JIS girls in Hong Kong)
Somehow my hope for the people I love outweighed my own selfish desires. This is a rare (perhaps non-existant) accomplishment until now.
Maybe it's being 40 - I'm practicing being a REAL adult now. Or maybe I'm just starting to learn something that those people who innately live their lives with hope have already figured out. Sometimes hoping for others, and acting on that hope, turns into happiness.
"Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I know this is true.
I know this is true.