Whenever Labor Day comes around, I always think of my time as a Poster Child for my local chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which then leads me to think about my disease, my disappointments, and hope. Hope has often been, as I wrote about in It’s Good to Be Here, something of a four-letter word to me.
Now that I am maturing as a Christian, I can see that what I’ve had all along is hope.
I have never lacked self-esteem. I have certainly been embarrassed, felt awkward, even loathed myself at times, but I’ve been able to quickly recover to my default mode: the knowledge that I am inherently good, lovable, and worthy of life. As much as I have longed for my crippled body and life to be different, I have a loving affection for this little body of mine. Sometimes I push it, and ask more of it than I probably should, but I have never and will never curse it. My body is the best that it can be in this moment. Soul and body united in one person — me — I simply need to be a good steward, never abusing or misusing.
Being human, I often fall short of that responsibility. I strive to do better, to live better — with hope. Not the kind of hope that I disliked in my youth, the kind where you just sit back and wish things would be different, wishing really hard against reality. No. The kind of hope that I possess, or that has possessed me, is the confidence that good will out, that the essence of life is beautiful and will be as it should be as long as I cooperate.
Real hope comes from the truth of being created by God, endowed by my Creator with love. “Love never fails.”
Currently, I’m praying the Rosary for 54 days with Queen of Peace Media, asking for God’s blessings of peace surrounding the upcoming US election. The political climate is tense here, to say the least. People have differences, as we always have and always will, but it seems that our differences, lately, are leading to building hatred: shouting matches, name-calling, as well as violent riots in the streets. Some postelection predictions are dire, whoever wins. I’m not writing about the actions or inactions of my countrymen right now, but about what my nation fundamentally is.
We are a nation of hope. Not the kind of hope that’s a four-letter word, the kind of hope that’s like an anesthesia to mollify. No, I’m talking about real hope. Active. Courageous. Untiring. Vital. We would not be a government of the people and by the people without hope. It’s the kind of hope where you are willing to accept the things that you cannot change because you take up the courage to change the things that can be changed, that should be changed for the better, with confidence in success.
With American hope, we know that no matter what happens in the general election, no matter who is elected as president for the next four years, bitterly disappointed voters can regroup and work together toward their ideals, finding ways to reach across party lines to bring improvements for the whole of the nation. Kind of sounds like wishful thinking though, doesn’t it? It’s not. Our nation was built, it’s independence made a living, sustained reality, by human beings who did not all agree on points of policy or even in philosophy. They found and held common ground, working together with an eye on long-term good.
Along with much to mourn and improve in our nation, there is much to love.
Some say that there is no common ground today, but there is always common ground because we are all human beings. We are far more alike than unalike. As long as we work for our shared humanity and not for scoring personal points, we can make our nation greater than it’s ever been. Working hard with endless hope, we can progress on that long march to a fair, free, and just society, amazed to see our “opponents” heading in the same direction.
Threats and riots, like embarrassment and self-pity, do nothing to change or improve what is undesirable. They are products of despair that only produce more despair and destruction. If we believe that our ideals are true, are truly good and beautiful for all of humankind, then we need not despair. The truth will out. Good will out. What we need is hope, hope that breeds honesty, humility, wisdom, patience, bravery, justice, mercy, and hardwork. With real hope, we can have confidence in our success — because that faithful hope fuels our successful work.
“Threats and riots, like embarrassment and self-pity, do nothing to change or improve what is undesirable. They are products of despair that only produce more despair and destruction.”Tweet
I could have lived my life fuming and wailing but, instead, I chose to be a good steward of my faulty body and to work courageously to bring about the change that was needed in my life. With true hope, I pushed myself to work hard with what I have to bring about good. It took longer than I wanted, but my life changed and a dream is fulfilled.
With faith in our inherent goodness — as freewill human beings and as a free nation — may we all take an honest look at ourselves and take stock of what we truly believe. And then, knowing that we are frail and faulty (for no honest examination of ourselves will reveal perfection), I pray that we are willing to listen to different ideas, earnestly seeking common ground to work toward virtuous good, never succumbing to despair. Let’s pray for our fellow countrymen and show them the way.
© 2020 Christina Chase
Photos of me © Dan Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.