It has been a tight race, and The Hard has often had the definite lead.
Nothing in my worldview prepared me to witness such an intense competition. I naively believed that I was one of the gifted few destined to float through life--accomplishing my goals and living out my dreams--with little resistance and adversity. While I am not entirely sure where this conviction came from, I am absolutely certain it was there.
So when The Hard pressed in on my life story--digging a path into the race track and stirring up dust in my face--the only way I knew how to cope with what was happening was to hide my face under the covers and wish and pray that somehow The Good would get a second wind, outrun its opponent, and save the day. SOON.
I spent hours, days, weeks, months fantasizing about how The Good would gain the ultimate victory. How it would trip up The Hard--leaving it gasping and panting and unable to take another step. I imagined myself watching breathlessly and then cheering wildly in the stands as The Good crossed the finish line.
I mistakenly believed that at some not-so-distant point, long before my life was over, the race--and my troubles--would come to an abrupt and definitive end. I thought I would walk away from the track holding hands and swinging arms with my favorite friend, The Good.
It's laughable to me now.
But I wasn't wrong about the ultimate outcome of the race. I was simply expecting it to come much sooner than it shall.
While I am still convinced that The Good will be the undeniable victor at the end of my life, I am learning that my emotional state cannot be dependent on which runner is in the lead during any particular stage of the race.
When The Good is sprinting more swiftly, it is easy to have sunshine and smiles and a heart filled with hope. But when The Hard is running faster, I have often felt trapped under an oppressive cloud of despair.
Since I am now opting out of hiding under the covers and ignoring what's going on down on the track, I realize that I need to watch the race with a different mindset.
I am learning to observe it all with Hope this month. And as I do, despair is fading into the background.
Hope has an unchanging message. It sits in the stands and waves a banner over and over, day after day; it says, "Everything is going to be okay."
When The Good is rounding a corner and The Hard sneaks up and takes up the lead, Hope doesn't gasp in horror with the crowds in their seats. Hope rests peacefully, grinning at the new development with a twinkle in its eye because it knows the end of the story. Hope knows that what may seem like a catastrophe today often turns into a grand opportunity tomorrow. Hope trusts the process.
Hope also redirects my line of vision. Even when The Hard is a few paces ahead, Hope sits poised and ready for The Good to catch up; it know that it's only a matter of time. But more than that, Hope's unwavering confidence isn't really based on the outcome of the race. Because no matter which runner wins the medal, Hope knows the bottom line doesn't change: It's still going to be okay.
I am learning how to see my life with Hope this month. And as I do, I like what is coming into focus.
"In all things it is better to hope than to despair."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Hope is the dream of a soul awake."