“If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you.” T.S. Eliot
In the spring of 2006, the terms of my life were turned upside down. Life gave me anger. Anger at injustice and poverty and the overall suckiness of a broken world. After what I’d seen, I thought I had no choice.
I thought I had no choice but to wallow, to lash out, to leave the church that was complicit in the complacency that allows injustice.
But in the midst of this anger, I ever-so-painfully learned something. I discovered that faith and hope and love can be chosen. Not only can but must.
I learned this because I was choosing precisely the opposite: not to have faith, not to have hope, not to have love.
It seems like something you can’t choose. You’re either a glass-is-half-empty or glass-is-half-full type of person and there’s nothing you can do about it. But that’s not true.
You can choose hope.
I can choose hope.
There’s a part I didn’t choose: the suffering that I witnessed. The policies and politics that have been in place in Latin America long before I was born. The terms the world offers me.
But I can choose my response.
This weekend I had the immense privilege of being a part of something hopeful. I saw the fruit of choosing to love and serve and engage that has been years in the making.
This weekend I helped host an event at my church that highlighted many of the world’s injustices: poverty, environmental degradation, sex trafficking, and the obligation of the church to respond in awareness and compassion.
I heard testimonies of men and women in my church who have chosen to do something. Who have chosen love for our neighbor. Who have chosen faith in the redemptive work of a loving God. Who have chosen hope.
Planting a tree is an act of hope. Making a donation to a poverty fighting organization is an act of hope. Befriending our brothers and sisters who live outside here in San Diego is an act of hope. Delivering furniture to a newly relocated refugee family is an act of hope.
I am grateful to be a part of a church whose heart beats for justice. Whose heart beats for hope.
I can’t even express the humble awe I feel that God would use me to share this hope with others.
That God would use me to give people the chance to get involved in His work of feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and caring for the poor. That, years later, I would be working from within the church to reverse the complacency and disengagement that led me to leave in the first place.
I don’t mean this to sound like I’m tooting my own horn. I type these words in amazement that I am here. That I am leading. That the guilt and pain and anger that once engulfed me has been driven out by love. That the drive for justice and redemption grows stronger not weaker as I choose to engage a broken church and a broken world.
I am grateful for the strength I am given to impose my own hopeful terms upon life.
Most of all, I am grateful for the Hope that chose me.