Down here, down under, we are full into the swing of the ‘silly season’. For some people, it is a deeply spiritual time – Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Pagans all have religious festivals in December. African-Americans and Japanese people celebrate secular holidays. For others, it is a season for family and traditions and for taking time out from the daily grind of ordinary life. For me, it is a time to reflect.
I don’t have a religious faith, but I do have a strong belief in the importance of spirituality, and so rather than fill the silly season with the frivolity of food and feasts, I want to reflect on faith, hope and love. According to google, the origins of the phrase are biblical: And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) – but like any beautiful quote, the message is universal and transcends doctrine.
After experiencing a categorically horrendous 2015, followed by an even worse 2016, as the year comes to a less-than-stellar close I have the choice of expecting 2017 to drag me further down, or to rely on a little faith, hope and love, to see the positives from the past two years and seek the best in the year to come.
Faith: Makes All Thing Possible
Faith: [noun] Complete trust or confidence in someone or something; Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.
I don’t hold a personal belief in the doctrines of any religion, but I do choose to believe in angels and I often think of those I have lost as still being “somewhere” – cleansed of their mortal imperfections. I have no evidence for these beliefs – nor do I need any. It is simply a faith I choose to have because it brings me comfort.
On a more earthly level, I want to develop a strong faith in my “team” – those people who have invested time and energy and expertise into assisting me with my mental health: my close friends and family, my health professionals, and support groups. I have repeatedly been shown they have faith in me – in my ability to heal and grow mentally, emotionally and psychologically – despite my regular setbacks and a lack of faith in myself. So as a seasonal gift to these wonderful people – earthbound angels – I will endeavour to have faith in them. To trust the messages, suggestions, ideas and homework tasks I am given, will be positive and fruitful. That my all-consuming fear of change is going to be worth the arduous task of doing what does not come naturally – of engaging in behaviours that make no sense to me, and endeavouring to change thought patterns that have been my only known belief systems for all my 50 years.
If others have faith in me, why can’t I? That is my resolution for 2017 – to believe in those who believe in me. If faith makes all things possible, then perhaps blind faith can conquer abject fear.
Hope: Makes All Things Work
Hope: [noun] A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen; A feeling of trust.
Hope is something I lost. If one word summed up the past two years, it is hopelessness. No matter how many times I fell over and tried to get back up, I would be battered and knocked back down again. And so I lost all sense of hope that anything might improve.
I love the anagram, Hold On Pain Ends. It is so tempting when feeling bogged down in pain – be it emotional, psychological or physical – to forget it will actually end. And even if perhaps that pain can’t or won’t end for some reason, it is likely to diminish or change or become manageable. It is also a very similar message to one I’ve been told on numerous occasions by my health professionals – feelings pass. Just ride the wave, sit with the feelings, they will pass and they won’t kill me.
Apparently all these things are true! So for 2017, here are a few things I hope for, that could (potentially) make all things work in my life:
- I hope to develop faith in myself
- I hope to learn acceptance – of what is and what has been
- I hope to have the strength to endure my burdens
- I hope to embrace the love that I am blessed with
- I hope to feel a sense of peace
- I hope to find the courage to face my fears
- I hope to be graced with the wisdom to live my life fully
Love: Makes All Things Easy
Love: [noun] A strong feeling of affection; A great interest and pleasure in something. Does love really make all things easy? Sometimes I feel it makes all things hard. Love is such an intense emotion. It’s wonderful – but opening yourself up to the intensity of great love, also opens you up to the intensity of great pain.
In childhood, we (hopefully) experience the security of unconditional love – no matter what we do, who we are, how we look, we should be valued and accepted. As we grow we discover the joys of friendship, replete with the comfort and warmth that comes with the familiarity of platonic love. Eventually we are consumed with the passion and fire of lustful love, that matures into a familiar and safe place to grow in adulthood. And for some, we get to experience the raw intensity of parental love. A love so unique and wild and soul-consuming that words cannot adequately define it.
In hindsight, I was indeed deeply loved and adored as a child, but I didn’t feel the security of unconditional love. I felt no matter what I did, who I was or how I looked, I was not enough. It was not the intended message, but it is unfortunately the message I heard. This had a profound impact on my early friendships – it took me a long time to understand how to love and be accepted. I also found it difficult to accept romantic love – I felt judged and inferior and unlovable. However, I was very fortunate in my university years to stumble upon friends who slowly taught me what my family could not – affection and acceptance. In turn, this led to me finding a life partner and discovering the joys and innocence of romance. And finally, I got to appreciate the true miracle of unconditional love when I had my own children.
It is the love of those same friends, my husband and my children, and the love I have for my family despite their failings (for none of us are the sum total of all that we get wrong), that inspires me to keep going – to challenge myself when the mountains seem insurmountable and the roads interminable. When all hope feels lost and fear consumes me, love keeps me going. When I can’t care for myself, others care for me. When I can’t love myself, others love me.
So, I don’t know if love makes all things easy, but I do believe that combined with faith and hope, it could just make all things possible.