That’s the word I used tonight to describe myself to a friend in a Marco Polo message I meant to send a week ago as a check-in but simply could not. This isn’t the first time I’ve used the word, and it’s not necessarily quarantine-specific. It’s been a year or more since I told someone I was suffocating under a pile of small humans I produced, and at that time, I still had the ability to go places and do things. My current really exciting outing is sitting in my husband’s truck in the library parking lot by myself. (And I don’t mean to minimize that—it’s fabulous.) Please hear me: I love my children. I especially love them one and two at a time. But when they all pile on and they’re bickering constantly, words like “buried” and “suffocating” are the ones I feel.
I read an article just now that quoted John Piper: “Hope governs our behavior” and went on to talk about the very in-the-moment nature of motherhood and how that can squash it.
This resonated as completely true. I have become so myopic—all I can do is count down until lunch after which I will send the children outside after which they will have screens: a rest. Then after that, it’s checking the clock with constant calculation of “time until 7:30.” My day comes in chunks of, at most, a few hours at a time. Things that normally involve hope for me are ones I work on in the breaks—planning, learning, Bible study, creativity. And mostly, I’m just in need of rest.
The quote sent me on a rabbit trail looking for the quote by Piper which I could not directly find. He said:
In fact, fear itself is not wrong. God actually designed us to be fearers. Fear is a faith-revealer. What we fear reveals what we trust. It’s a strong response to a perceived threat commanding us to protect our hope. In that way it governs our behaviors.John PIper, The Only Thing we have to Fear (emphasis mine)
Hope is not an add-on to Christian experience. It is part of the first things. The essential things. It is a vital component of saving faith, because part of what we believe relates to our future. It is impossible to be a Christian and keep on believing that your eternity will be bleak. Saving faith is the “assurance of things hoped for,” and such faith believes that “God is the rewarder of those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:1, 6).John Piper, Why Would the World Ask About Your Hope?
Welp, so much for the quote. But all this got the wheels turning: did I really lose my hope? No. I still get all kinds of fired up about all things being made new. I just forget it when I’m going from one snack request to the next. This reminded me of Romans. (Aren’t you excited about this canoe ride down the stream of Robin’s consciousness?)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:1-5 (ESV, emphasis mine)
And here’s the payoff. Our sufferings lead to endurance which leads to character which leads to hope. My (relatively light) suffering—the regular daily struggles of life with four children, currently in quarantine—is working on my heart to produce endurance, character, and hope. I didn’t lose my hope, but it’s not complete yet, either.
I have no brilliant tie-ups here. I’m about to drive home (later than planned) to my very sweet and longsuffering husband and my four delightful-but-noisy children. I will still be tired and overwhelmed and will very likely lose sight of my hope yet again. I don’t know the fix for that. But it’s on my radar now and this all is producing endurance and character for sure and Paul seems to think (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so, you know, pretty reliable) this will lead to hope.
Addendum: I wrote this last night and did not get home before bedtime, hallelujah. Currently my seven-year-old is making banana bread with her five-year-old brother. She is wearing roller blades and a helmet. Little Lilly (3) is throwing flour around. Jenna’s on a zoom call with her class because the world is weird right now. Just thought I’d give you a real-life update. I am, in fact, fully overwhelmed, but keeping hope in mind.