In college I had a professor who taught me a great deal about finding my voice in my writing and about having confidence in the value of what I wrote. I'm not sure whether that was her intent as she set out to instruct her journalism students, but in reflection, that is precisely what she did.
She had won a Pulitzer, so to me it was akin to sitting at the feet of a rock star. She gave me A's which meant validation and freedom from the high school English teacher who told me I would never be an "A" writer. (I try not to hold a grudge about that. lol) Maybe I am not an "A" writer, but in Maddie's class I was, and that made all the difference. She gave me...hope.
It was my first J. class. I remember reading aloud from what I wrote and feeling naked right down to my soul and here I sit at my counter writing naked from my soul for strangers; something that made me physically ill all those years ago, hands shaking, mouth dry, wishing to be invisible I do willingly though faceless now....and back then I got positive feedback, constructive criticism...and an "A" that gave me...hope that someday I maybe would really be a writer.
A dream and a hope I still hold tightly in a cautious,closed fist, lest I open it up, toss it in the air..and instead of flying, it falls to the ground like lead. And then I will again hear those words repeat in my head, "You will never be an "A" writer."
One of Maddie's books is about a girls' high school basketball team. I thought of the title today, though I've never read it, In these Girls, Hope is a Muscle. I love the title. I love what that means.
In me and you and everyone, hope is a muscle. It is the hope we hold that pushes us forward. It is the hope which motivates and energizes and stirs us to action. We can be builders of hope. We can give false hope. We can dampen or even destroy hope.
One of my "go to" verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)
Remembering this verse reminds me that my hope does not rest in another person's subjective judgement of me or my abilities. My hope rests in God who can use all things for good. My hope rests in knowing that I am resting securely in the arms of God, even when things feel uncertain. I can bring the gifts I have to God, and he can use them.
My hope rests in knowing that if it is God's will, I can loosen my grip on my dreams, set them free to fly and I will be okay whether they sink like lead..or fly like eagles. My hope is a muscle and God is my strength and comfort.
My prayer is that you have hope in God and in your life; that you may find comfort and peace in using your gifts to reach your dreams, whatever they may be.