The Burden of Hope


sunLike many, I’ve had a tough time with this election, my worry and fear culminating in the late night text from my best and typically most unflappable friend that read simply: ” May God Help Us All.”

Images from the Hunger Games and the Senate scene in Star Wars (complete with Emperor Palpatine’s smirking glare) have been dancing through my brain all night at the voting results…possibly a result of all the mainlined sugar. I woke up this morning with a horrible feeling of dread and a post-election hangover.  I didn’t want to get out bed.

I’m slowly moving out of shock. I’m saddened and sickened at the thought that so much anger and hatred exists within our nation, and I’m deeply worried at its direction and what the outcome of this election really means. I hate the thought of trying to find the right words with which to talk about it to my children.  I hate the thought that perhaps I am being overly dramatic, but somehow this really rocked me at the level of the soul.

I also feel guilty: none of this is new, none of it should have this power to shock me, and yet it does.  As someone who has struggled her whole lifetime with depression and anxiety, I’ve purposely shielded myself from a lot of what is going on in the world as a way of self-preservation.

And honestly, I have been able to do that as a straight, college-educated, white, middle-class female. While I’m aware there is a glass ceiling objectively, I’m not smart enough or driven enough to have hit it too hard myself.   I have suffered neither racial nor religious persecution.  I have not been a victim of violence.  I can still turn off my TV and my social media outlets and keep much of the ugliness at bay much of the time.

Breaking that habit over the last two days, in allowing CNN and the media and my own fears to turn me into a terrified, fearful and depressed little girl is on me.  I allowed that hated, those horrible words, and accusations to penetrate.  I allowed in that anger.  I listened to those speeches. I own that: both the shame I felt for our country and for my own helpless indignation.  Yes,  the stomach-churning anxiety and the generalized sense that something is horribly, terribly wrong is still here. But, post-Xanax and a few pounds heavier, it’s also opened my eyes and I am forcing myself through.

I’m a Christian.  I’m a Catholic.  I’m a Mother.  I’m imperfect as all heck at all three, but I know for sure if I search my heart I know there is more than this.  Not only do I believe there is the world beyond this one, but also I believe there is a better world *within* this one. We have fallen.  I have fallen.  I need to give more, take action, and speak up.  I need to use my hands to help.  I can’t hide from this any longer and still expect things to be different.

At the end of the day, hope is a verb.  Hope is a step taken.  Hope feeds the hungry, clothes the naked and protects the vulnerable regardless of race or skin type.  Hope is being uncomfortable in the unknown,  fighting the fear and being faithful that there is a plan.  Hope is getting up in the morning and taking a step and doing something. I can do more. I cannot expect more of my leaders than I do of myself.  I cannot change our culture, only my part in it.  I will be more.  I will be grateful that no matter what I think of the choice we made as a country last night that we had a choice…and that we can make better ones.  

So, I’m throwing out the Halloween candy I binged on last night, closing the wine cabinet, and putting on my big girl pants.  It’s a New Day.  I choose Hope.

 

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