|Always pack hope!|
There are boxes piled in my living room. Again. It can only mean one thing. That a move is most likely eminent. I say most likely because the final decision won’t be made until the end of the week, but the presence of the boxes is a good indication of what I think that decision will be.
A consistent theme of my life has been constant change and a lot of those changes have included boxes. Suffice it to say that I’ve lived in four provinces, approximately a dozen or more towns, cities or farms and something like thirty houses or more scattered amongst all those places.
My mother was a packer extraordinaire, most likely made easier by our simplistic lifestyle, not by choice, but due to our family’s meagre income. What was accumulated in our transient lives was often not considered of much consequence when our moves were last minute sometimes and the only moving vehicle was the family car. Furniture, toys, bicycles and more were left behind in the dust as my father tore down yet another road, looking for that elusive happiness. Mom however, seemed as if she’d found a way to pack up more than just our few treasured items and necessities. Along with her always seemed to come her can do attitude wrapped up in the package of hope. Hope that things could get better. Hope that things would be better in the next place. Hope for a lasting job for my father; one that he wouldn’t quit in a few weeks or be laid off from or worse yet, fired. Hope for new friends. Mom always seemed to have packed her hope.
And so have I. Hope has gone along with me with each move. In every life altering change, every culture shock experience. It’s been there in all the seasons of life and has seen me through many tough life circumstances. Along my life map are many new schools, new friends and even new bullies. Soon I would often say goodbye to those friends. Again. In spite of hope though, unfortunately strife and fear and dysfunction also followed my childhood family. My sister suffered an early eating disorder at the age of ten and later my mother was diagnosed with cancer at only 36 years of age. There was the eventual bitter divorce of my parents and a newly forged family, minus our father.
When I left home, I eagerly packed up my few belongings, a bit of pocket change and a big amount of hope to find a job in the city, eventually leading me to a farming community with my husband, where I would need all the hope I could get. Together we endured drought, grasshoppers and I dealt with in law problems and culture shock once again. And always, in the shadows, lurked my childhood traumatic memories, creeping ever closer into my consciousness. Yet hope was there through it all, in the help of our commitment to God, sought out mentors and counsellors and in the shining, bright eyes of my children. Those little eyes and arms wrapped around me were an anchor of hope for me when my mother succumbed to cancer at only 48 years of age and I felt hope seeping out of me.
Soon, we left the farm, but hope came with us into a new community, new jobs, new everything. We did build a life, juggling work, sports and family life, but my growing depression and anxiety along with the devastating loss of my sister to suicide felt insurmountable at times. Unfortunately childhood trauma is not something you can simply move away from.
Yet I did find and unpack hope again. I found it, after yet another two moves, in the form of a counsellor who specialized in chronic childhood ptsd (depression was most likely a misdiagnosis) and hope grew larger. No longer is it just a small glimmer in my life but its light has spread and reached into dark corners that I didn’t even know were there. Easy? No. But hope is most definitely alliances with truth and healing and with those three on your side, it’s a hard combination to beat.
And now I face another possible journey. This one will take me full circle back to that farming community. For someone who has always been able to leave my problems in the rear view mirror, this could be the scariest move of all. But I’m packing hope; hoping for more time with my grandchildren, a strengthened relationship with my son and daughter-in-law who could use the support and hope for new challenges in a possible job opportunity. I hope there will be new friends. Mostly I hope for more healing in my life.
Besides constant change, hope is a recurring theme in my life and is reflected in almost all of my writing. When it gets hard to write about it so vulnerably, I remind myself why I write; to forge a path for someone who has not yet reached this spot in their future, to walk alongside someone in the present and to shine a light back to someone caught in a dark past.
Wherever you go in life, always pack your hope. And don’t forget to unpack it when you get there.
I Hope to see you down the road somewhere! I’ll be the one with hope in my backpack ;)