At 6, Hope had experienced more change than people 4-times her age.
Now another move was waiting at the front door.
Today, the family would leave the security of walls and roof, a 2-bedroom apartment Hope shared with her mother, stepfather, and 11-year-old sister, to a metal frame supported by wheels, a 2000-something SUV.
Four people, a dog, and all their worldly possessions crammed into this nomad’s dwelling. There was no room to breathe, much less room to be a 6 year old.
Mom had lost her job at a local restaurant. The recent virus surge forced the doors to close for the final time. Her stepfather could not hold a job for more than a few months. Life was complicated for a man that had lost his will and way on broken streets and distant battlefields.
The SUV was a gift from a local charity. It was meant to help with the transition from apartment to shelter to permanent housing but now it was home, parked at the end of a dirt service road in a clearing west of town.
Hope was small for her age. Yet, something about her demanded your attention. Her grandmother described her as a rare soul – curious, surprisingly optimistic, and remarkably empathetic. She had boundless energy, a precocious 6-year-old,
Living in an SUV,
Fighting to be a child.
Hope settled into the monotony of the day’s routine. She was up with the sun, navigated the complications of no physical shower, toilette, clean clothes, or warm meals. She worked hard to stay focused at school but homelessness is a distraction and children can be so cruel at this age. She returned each night, nestled into the backseat of her temporary home, nose-to-knees with her sister, resting her head on torn upholstery encircled by the warm belly of the family dog.
Given all she had to cope with, Hope remained sympathetic – walking with dad to calm his anxious angry heart, holding her sister’s hands when the pain of isolation and fear of tomorrow made them shake uncontrollably. Snuggling with mom when the burden of being super-woman became more than any woman should carry.
Small and innocent, Hope brought possibility; she modeled courage to a family on the edge – a people struggling to survive.
At 6, Hope could not influence her parents’ decision to live in the wilderness. She could not exercise any power to improve her circumstance. Yet as adults, we often move from the protective walls of God to cardboard shelters of our creation. Our souls and hearts are homeless as we drift further away from the heart of God.
Once in the wilds, we seek a safe place that provides a reprieve from the daily internal struggles. But to our amazement, each time we think we’ve reached home, each time our souls find calm, and our fists loosen their worried grip, our gaze drifts back to the empty roads of our wants, our perceived needs, our goals, and priorities and the wandering, the yearning resumes.
It is a vicious cycle. We try to insulate ourselves by wrapping our lives in a patchwork blanket of shame and guilt. We hope it protects us from the cold reality that is the truth of our lives. We make fear and doubt our traveling companions and then wonder why we can’t escape the relentless pressure of not measuring up or fitting in. Once we have experienced these pressures for a while, we pull out the moving boxes and old paper bags, throw all we are into the bottom, and shove them into the recesses of our minds – a move that transports us away from our disappointments and the world’s judgments.
We leave the safety of God’s sanctuary, attempting to outrun our frustrations, the pain of obsession and addiction, our emotionally numbing behaviors, and frantic self-control until we reach the end of our abilities, and experience an overpowering impulse to succumb to the lies,
You are not worthy,
God does not care,
You. Are. Alone.
But just as Hope offers life to her struggling family, God’s hope offers life for our vagrant souls.
I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people, and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world.
Ephesians 1:18-20 Good News Translation (GNT)
Hope shows up, sometimes indiscernible at first. But with a little encouragement and a small amount of courage, hope strengthens our faith. Faith, in turn, shifts our hearts and we become miraculously faith-filled. We are transformed.
Hope is a bright reminder, no matter how dark the night might become, how intense the day may feel, we can remain expectant – waiting on God to guide us back to His peace and rest.
Waiting on Him to lead us home.
“While our story may at present appear hopeless, often, later on, we can look back on history (His Story!) and discover God’s plan at work in our lives during that time.”
– Kathe Wunnenberg
Hope is the path we take to our eternal homes. Don’t be distracted by the wilderness, grasp hold, cling tight – God’s got you.
Be Blessed His BeLOVED,