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One Who Has Hope Lives Differently

Greer departed for Afghanistan exactly one month ago.  It seems that we have both gotten our footing in our new environments, and our FaceTime conversations have been less teary/forlorn and more about the work we are doing and whatever we're reading.  Just like the old days, in a way. 

I confessed to friends over dinner last night that it feels strange to focus solely on my professional development instead of using my work to enrich my family.  I have lost a lot of the richness of my academic inquiries now that I no longer share them with Greer every day.  I miss my conversation partner, and I miss building our life together. 

However, as I hear one amazing story after another about Greer's time overseas, I can't honestly continue to feel that we are simply "on hold."  Greer is working incredible hours over there, and each one of them seems to make history, both in his own life and on the current geopolitical stage.  The demands placed on him these days are cultivating skills and virtues in him from which he will reap dividends for the rest of his life.  For both of us, things are hard, but they are not entirely other than good. 

We have no idea when he will return home, but we constantly hope for it.  Both of our lives are oriented completely toward our reunion, be it in three more months or eleven.  We don't know where we will live or what we'll do, but we do know we'll be together again. 

I recently came across this simple line from Pope Benedict XVI: "One who has hope lives differently."  We lost a lot of the joy of our collective life when he left, but, as the dust settles, that void is being filled by hope, the sister of joy.  The hope for our future together has taken on a magical quality in my mind; it seems too wonderful to imagine and yet I am entirely certain that it will come to pass.  The anticipation of my future joy carries its own pleasure, and it is more intense and exciting than the day to day happiness we knew while living together.  While my new life in Texas grows richer by the day, I live in the certainty of wrongs being made right sometime in the near future - and it changes everything. 

What a powerful metaphor for Christian hope.  On my best days, my missing Greer is linked to my expectation of the joyful life we will resume when he returns.  When I live in that expectation, the pain of our separation and my isolation softens, and I am able to forget about it for a time.  It's not ever easy, but occasionally I receive the extra measure of grace that allows me to linger there, to feel the certain hope of restoration and let it cover every aspect of my life here.

All of this shows me a new way to feel hope in Christ.  Hope is about wanting something with the expectation of receiving it.  I hope for restoration, forgiveness, mercy, blessing, justice, and comfort - and, in Christ, I wish for these things with the expectation they will all come to pass in some way or time.

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