Hope springs eternal

As I stood in the kitchen of our home with tears running down my face, I found myself profoundly grateful for the lessons of self care that I was able to live out in that moment. It is humbling and gratifying to realise that you are putting into practice something that you have been preaching to yourself and others. God’s grace is amazing. I’m a slow learner and often do things “wrong” a few times, usually at least three, before I seem to “get it.” So when I notice that I seem to “gotten it” there is a sigh of relief and gratitude to God deep in my heart and soul – acknowledged by my mind and body. Along with those emotions I find hope rising as I am slightly encouraged that maybe, just maybe I will “get it” sooner next time, “hope springs eternal” (see footnote for more on this mystery). Gratitude and hope, two positive emotions as well as sadness and regret, two negative emotions.

Over the years I’ve learned that a better way to talk about emotions is, “I’m feeling emotions, which really are neither good or bad, they are just emotions.” I’ve learned, slowly but hopefully surely, that the emotions I experience in my heart and soul are simply signposts, not good or bad. They are just ways my heart alerts my mind and body to the reality that what I’m going through is somehow impacting me at a level my mind and body are unaware of, yet. I believe that emotions are God’s way of saying, “Stephen, it’s time to be aware and pay attention that what you’re going through is affecting you.” Emotions aren’t judgmental like, “You should be more sensitive or aware of stuff, dummy.” They are just signposts alerting me to a reality that I’ve missed for whatever reason – denial, fear, busyness. I’ve learned not to be afraid of emotions and fight them, they are not attacking me, they just are. I don’t have to avoid feeling them, they just are signposts. I don’t have to totally stop my regular routine to “deal with this problem”, just take a short time out to acknowledge what they are telling me. In this case, I was being reminded that death causes sorrow.

The tears were a physical response to the news that I would no longer be seeing the smile of a person I’d been getting to know for the past year. Tears are welling up in my eyes as I write this. If I over analyze these emotions I find myself wanting to dismiss them as sentimentality over someone I barely knew. My mind tells me to get a grip and move on. But I’ve learned that emotions simply are. They are a gentle reminder that I had connected with John at a heart level – a place the mind really can’t understand. My mind has real trouble understanding how the connection happened and that losing that connection is sad, not bad, or something to be ignored or fixed, it’s a sad thing. My heart is somehow also glad we connected. So even though part of me doesn’t like being sad, I’ve almost taught my mind that it’s OK to feel emotions. I’ve almost taught my mind to trust my heart and believe that it’s good to care about others. Love is a good thing, not safe but good. My mind almost believes that tears aren’t bad things but a sign my body needs some relief and maybe it’s part of the mystery of “hope springs eternal”  –  spring = water = tears. Hmmm…sometimes I need to spell it out for myself.

So the sadness comes, tears flow and I’ve learned to take a few moments to acknowledge the emotion and the physical feelings. My mind gently reminds me that I need to go to work so I do the next thing I’ve been taught about what to do with sadness over something I have no control over – give it to God, the Source of Love. I imagine my sorrow over the lost relationship and the pain that this loss must be causing family and friends and give it to God. I know that a wife and son are planning a funeral and realise that my mind is imagining my own wife and sons planning my funeral and their pain and loss and my losing them is somehow wrapped up in this grief and give it to God. I could easily dismiss that as not yet and so stop worrying about it but no… it’s bitter sweet to realise that I will miss and be missed. Love is good. And I give it to God.

I’ve learned to give all that comes in moments like this to God. It’s not always easy but if I let the emotions go into God, somehow God absorbs them into the ocean of God’s love. God’s ocean of love absorbs my pain, the pain of John’s family, the pain of his friends. God’ pain at our pain somehow becomes one and somehow that pain is transformed by that mysterious powerful love into something beyond my understanding. I somehow know that it is transformed into something good, because God is good. That belief helps me let it go, let John go. I can let the sorrow go, even though it may return, like the tides of God’s great love.

All this is something the mind and heart can barely know, yet I hear the sound of waves of eternal love and “hope springs eternal” now and always. TBTG


Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
-Alexander Pope,
An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733

At first reading Pope seems a bit too future oriented and irrelevant seeing as my lesson is all about how to live into what emotions are showing me about the present. Yet Jesus resurrection shows us that there is hope for the future, because of what happened in the past – both / and. Love has a way of being eternal, out of time, beyond what our mind or bodies can fully understand. Thank God for the ears of the heart who can hear things …

About gsmurphy1

Husband, father, son, brother, listener, seeker, encourager, pilgrim, stained glass artist
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