Hope that Hurts – By MVC Guest Author, Lisa Cox
Hi! My name is Lisa and I’m the type of person who just mentally waved at you as I typed that! I’m a wife and a mom of 3 wonderful kids. Since I got married 18 years ago, I have been a housewife/ stay at home mom. That phrase, stay at home mom, makes me laugh every time I say it because I am never at home. We often joke that we live in our car. Between school, church, dance classes, sporting events, and general life stuff- we are always on the go. So, as you may have guessed, sheltering in place has been a bit of a transition for us.
Before all of “this” started we were gearing up for an amazing spring season for my oldest who is in track. He is a junior. This is the year when coaches from colleges start really looking at you. It was supposed to be his year to shine. All the older athletes in the league, who were just a step ahead last season, had graduated. His body had been trained and molded in the offseason. School records were set to be broken. Big invitational meets were going to happen. Getting under 50 seconds for the 400m (that’s a quarter-mile or 1 lap around the track) was a possibility. Letters from bigger colleges were sure to come. The first two races of the season looked… hopeful.
Our daughter is a dancer at Westside Ministries CUPS program. This spring was to be the 21st anniversary of the dance program. There would be a revival of the first production ever- “Moses” (aka The Prince of Egypt), a production that I had danced many years ago. She had aerial solos and pointe duets and amazing choreography. I spent my evenings fitting costumes for the show, sewing and was going to make an appearance as an alumni dancer. Long hours were put in by both of us (and many others) and just as the time to start all cast rehearsals was to begin, the dancing stopped.
She’s also an 8th grader. I remember the look on her face, as I had to keep walking in her room and letting her know of something else that had been canceled. I felt as though I had been flogging her for weeks as she slumped in her bed. We both held onto the HOPE that at least there would be graduation and she could say goodbye to her friends.
Our littlest is 5 and started Transitional Kindergarten this year. (It’s basically Pre-Kindergarten for the kids whose birthdays are really close to the cutoff date.) I know what you’re thinking. Everyone in school equals freedom for the stay at home mom! Wrong, that’s not how I roll. I decided to go back to school myself! It was great! Our little guy was really excelling and making friends. He had just learned all 25 of his sight words and got a shirt! I was volunteering in his class once a week and working in another class as part of my college course work. I felt fully alive even amongst the tiredness and stress. Things felt hopeful for me- that I was finally on the course that God had been calling me to for a long time.
The Monday before the schools closed our little guy had developed a bad cough. It’s pretty common for him during that time of year but in an abundance of caution, I kept him home from school. He never got to say goodbye to his classmates. In fact, despite several zoom meetings with his class, he asked why he couldn’t go back to school with his friends now that he was better. He thought they had been meeting with him from school and was very concerned about his little friend who gets upset and cries when my little guy isn’t at school. It took a little explaining, but he finally understood that no one was at school.
In April, my oldest was supposed to run in the Stanford Invitational. It’s probably one of the biggest races for California High School Track. I took him to an open track in Merced to run a 400m to commemorate what would have been this big event. He was mad and confused as to why we were doing it at all. I told him to do it for me because I love to watch him run and so that we can grieve the loss of the season. The hope was gone and only the hurt remained.
Several weeks later dancers from the ministry worked together to create a beautiful piece to commemorate what was lost. (HERE is the link if you want to watch). I could tell it hurt my daughter to dance in the piece we filmed in our backyard. It was wasn’t good enough in her eyes. She was out of practice and hadn’t danced in weeks. It hurt her heart to dance. Dancers have this unique ability to be able to turn feelings into movement. I saw it in her frustration and stumbles and tears- the words she could not say out loud. I cried several times too- struggling through what should have been simple and joyful but felt heavy.
The hope of a graduation ceremony has been lost now too. In just a week she will walk across the grass alone to pick up her diploma and leave the only school she has ever known for high school. My eyes are welling up just picturing that.
Checking in with my Journey group this week, I mentioned that we all sound a little like Israelites in the wilderness. Afterward, I thought I should amend it. We sound like Israelites in the desert after 39 and a half years. We’ve been through it. There was the hope of the Promised Land but it was withheld from us. We were sent to wander and remember. I don’t know how well my household has done with the remembering but I do know there were times that I was that one annoying Israelite who cried out, “Why have you brought us to the desert to die? We were better off in Egypt”.
During this week’s group, we were also encouraged to be inspired by a book of poems, verses, and readings about grace. I was inspired to paint a picture based on Isaiah 43. This chapter has always been a favorite of mine but being in this place of hurt and emptiness the words seemed to ring truer and louder this time. While I sit in what feels like a dry wasteland, I hold onto the HOPE that God is doing a new thing and refreshing will come.
“But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
the jackals and owls, too,
for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
so my chosen people can be refreshed.”
Isaiah 43: 18-20 (NLT)