Saturday, June 14, 2014

June Hope Chest- HOPE- Healing, Opportunity, Peace and Empowerment by Renee Mullins

I am a 46 year old mother; my daughter is a freshman in college and my son is a freshman in high school.  I have been married for 24 years in June, not all happily I might add.  I am nearing the end of my second year of a graduate degree in Social Work.  I can remember applying for the graduate program in June 2012.  “I hope I get accepted”, was the phrase used most often until I received the letter of acceptance.
 The word hope is used and over used but what does it really mean? 
 I often heard and used the word hope as I was growing up, and throughout my life, but never really thought much about it.  I would say things like, “I hope you feel better, I hope you have a great day or I hope it doesn’t snow today”.  
What is hope, really?  The definition is “the feeling that what is wanted can be had” and I will add only by faith.  
I thought that getting married, buying a home, having children, nice cars, “stuff”, a lot of friends, and putting my kids in “The World of Sports”  would bring me what I hoped for most in life which was inner peace and happiness.
After 17 years of marriage I grew tired of myself.  The things in life, the stuff in life, the people in life were just not providing the peace I searched for and I was in a continual state of anger, anxiety and frustration trying to cope with life and fulfill that void with busyness.  We began to struggle a bit as a family.  I had quit my job to stay home with my children after we had bought a home more than we could afford at the time.  I would say “God will provide for us” and He did. My husband would receive a promotion or receive a monetary gift from his family.
I knew that God would test us, and that He would provide a safety net, but I was just going through the motions of a relationship with God.  Our hopes and dreams were tied up in a home, in stuff, in people.   Where was the inner peace I hoped for?  
Looking back, I know God provided for us each step of the way, however my hope was not in Him, it was in “life”.  We had what you call “the American Dream”.  That is what I hoped for before marriage.  That is what I thought would bring me peace and happiness.
I was baptized at age 30.  It was a ritual of sorts if I am being honest.  I knew I wanted to love God, love my neighbor, be a good person and have my kids grow up in church, doesn’t everyone?  Isn’t that what we all hope for, isn’t that what going to church is all about?  If we accept Christ,  doesn’t everything we hope for come true? That’s what I thought.
I quickly got involved in my church.  Life seemed to be going along quite well, however the anger, anxiety and frustration began to take a toll on me.  I was baptized, I wanted to know why was I not experiencing a “different feeling”?  
In the fall of 2007 I began praying for change, and in February of 2008 my life was turned upside down and all around.  Much of my traumatic past had been suppressed for 40 years and it came back to me in a fury.  God answered my prayer – He does listen; change was happening and He would not stop until I received what I hoped for; inner peace and happiness, however not without much struggle, personal work and pain.  
I began seeking therapy.   I turned to friends, and I used writing as a coping mechanism. I experienced major depression, anxiety, fear, loss, betrayal, dishonesty and I am here to tell you it was a living hell.  I had thoughts of suicide. I prayed to die, and it was painful. At times I felt as if I was going crazy, my mind would not shut down but Romans 5:3-5 kept me going “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces “hope”, and “hope” does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us”.  I now have a new found character.
After a 6 year journey, I can now see the light; God’s light. I lived in darkness for a very long time.  I would see the light then it would get very dim and often almost snuffed out.  I never stopped talking to God, however I doubted Him, and I grew very angry at times.  I was much like Peter, I denied Him more than once.  
My mentor continually reassured me “I was not crazy” and “God was in this”.  I read scripture and many different authors,  began working with a mentor/spiritual director, continued in therapy,  got involved in ministries at a new church,  began working towards my graduate degree, and practicing yoga and meditation.  
Now in 2014, God’s light has shined on me to stay. I am committed to work for Him and for his splendor, not my own.  Colossians 3:23 “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people”. 

 His Spirit has brought me the hope I always searched for, prayed for and desired in my life; inner peace and happiness…this is not my final chapter, it takes many chapters for a good book; I will continue working with God’s help; the best is yet to come for HOPE has provided me healing, opportunity, peace and empowerment. 

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