Hope-kleptos

“If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.”

Portland weather is fickle. One moment, divine sunshine beams on evergreen covered hills. The next moment, torrential downpours send you running to the nearest overhanging branch. C’est ma cite.

In first grade, I lived less than a mile from my elementary school and would walk to school every day. On those days that the rain poured, I didn’t mind the rain. My jacket would get a little wet, and maybe the legs of my pants and my shoes. It wasn’t the worst thing the world.

Some days when it would rain, I would play outside on the cul-de-sac. The water would run off to the side of the road and head towards the drain. One of my favorite childhood activities would be building dams. I’d make them block off the street run off by using pine needles, cut grass, and whatever else I could find. Then, I’d hear an Asian-accented voice yelling my name through the front door of the house.

“Sean, stop that! You going to get sick!” shouted Mama Lewis.

Since living in sunny San Diego, I may have gotten a little spoiled by the weather. Each day, the sun shines on the campus, the gentle ocean breeze blows the palm trees, and somehow my already dark skin gets darker.

Coming out was much like Portland’s inconsistent climate changes. The scattered clouds that poured out self-loathing and bitterness had finally rolled away, and beams of hope shown through. They illuminated me:

“Sean, you are My son, and I still love you,” they’d speak.

They brought a hope, a hope that I am taken care off. This hope warmed my heart and dried my tear-soaked clothing.

But amongst the scattered rains, I could see the thousands of others crying out as I was. This suffering population is my ministry, taking them in and speaking for them. For my hope rests in God’s love and that God’s spirit will do as God’s spirit wants; but sadly, there are those who try to crush this hope in God’s goodness.

Soon after coming out I received a message from a mom. “You can unfriend me after this: my palms are sweaty. You tried so long to find a girlfriend, Sean,” it began. Whatever she was about to say, I knew it wouldn’t be supportive. I continued to read as she spoke about how my faith in God has fallen, up until her last words: “I will not suppress the truth in unrighteousness to you… Don’t go away! Wait for God!”

This past summer, I had coffee with an old teacher of mine. He expressed his opinions and had me question my decisions. As I drove away, I thought more on the words he said. Second-guessed myself once again, and felt the clouds rolling in. Gloom crept in.

No matter what, there will be those who try to steal my hope, who tell me I don’t have enough faith. It’s the greatest tactic of the force we call the devil. They’ll replace my hope with their hopeless beliefs, the beliefs that don’t trust God’s spirit. Unknowingly, they’re harming the Kingdom. They give me the beliefs that paralyze, removing worth. I can’t make sense of myself, my life, God, the world, reality with their idea of hope. How can we serve if we are so consumed with our own perfection? It’s hope in God’s love that keeps me going.

“What if you’re wrong, Sean? Make it easy. Take the quick route and make. it. stop.”

Where’s the hope and where’s the faith when our focus is on trying to be so perfect? We’re not going to get there. The beauty of the cross is that it washed out sin, leaving us free to do Kingdom work, free to shift our focus from our drive to perfection to our passion to serve.

Even still, their words creep in and their pseudo-hope take hold. The journey becomes a little soggy, and the steps becomes a little muddy. Shame and fear come pounding down on my rain jacket. I’ve gotten too used to the sun. Life will be rough. So I remember my childhood because it taught me how to walk in the rain. The rain will come and try to bring you down, but with your hope held right, you know you’ll be okay.

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