Dwell in Hope

LIFE is beautiful, but it is not perfect and easy. We all have our own burdens and struggles to deal with. Problems crop up, sometimes in the form of people and/or situations. At times, some things happen beyond our control which have the potential to ruin and dampen our day. That being said, all our days may not be good, but there is at least one thing good in every single day. Most of all, we are lucky enough to always have this chance for a new beginning with each sunrise. Waking up breathing is already a gift in itself.

The joy that Easter brings — which is a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice and love — is a promise of hope. As long as we live and breathe, there is time to make a better day and an opportunity to look forward to a better tomorrow. For those who don't celebrate this holiday from a Christian standpoint, the egg is still symbolic for new life. Even children look forward to Mr. Bunny and his eggs. Hope, gratitude, and happiness are definitely just a few key themes that resonate during this time.

Frankly, I myself know these are easy words to believe when people are healthy and fine, but the struggle is all too real when a person hits rock bottom. In 2011, that was where I was because my daughter was diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease, along with Sydenham’s Chorea (a neurological issue). Shortly after, I landed in the hospital for 5 days; it turned out I was 8weeks pregnant with early signs of pre-eclampsia. The doctor put me on bed rest, which left me a depressed, emotional, and hormonal wreck.

Back then, it was a daily battle with my own self because I did not feel like me anymore. I had to stop working and felt like a failure. I was unable to tend to my kids, feeling like a neglectful mother. I gained a lot of weight and my confidence faltered. I lost some fair-weather friends along the way. My entire identity was left hanging on a thread.

In retrospect, I realize that as cliché as it may sound, God indeed doesn’t give us what we cannot handle. He also surrounds us with genuine people who support us when we are in our lowest. They lend us their strength and help share our burdens, so we can continue to carry on.

It was during that period that my husband got me a new iPhone to keep me occupied. Trivial, it seems, I know. But it has tons of apps and e-books which helped pass time. Some people think that FB is the biggest distraction, but during bed rest, it became a lifesaver. It connected me to people, allowed me to share pictures, and let me take screenshots of things that brightened up my day. I logged them all in what I called a “grateful album” with corresponding captions.

It became really therapeutic to look for things that made me feel grateful amidst my brokenness. It was then that the adage “happiness is a choice” became tangible for me. Life is a combination of the events that occur, coupled with my attitude. Will I falter if life hits me with lemons? How I react to these events set the tone of my existence. No matter the weather, I finally learned that people can always choose to make their own sunshine. And if all of us willingly turn our faces into the sun and bask in its warmth, then we can no longer see the dark shadows.

Now, I realize that it is hard to feel negative if I live with an attitude of gratitude. So much later, even when my then newborn was in critical condition for neonatal pneumonia or my daughter had to undergo biopsy surgery; I was somehow able to sail through them without falling apart. Feeling thankful opened my eyes to appreciate what I already had and taught me to let go of those I cannot control. Indeed, the biggest blessing of waking up alive each new day is the chance to hold onto hope.

Moreover, I realized that even though difficult times are not welcome and wanted, there are many life lessons learned and nuggets of wisdom collected in the experience. It is through these events that shatter our peace and push us out of our comfort zone where people grow. Problems will come, but everyone can always surpass them with His grace. It also helps to purposely and intentionally live life seeking out inspiring and positive things, people, and experiences. Choosing to see beauty and blessings amidst suffering is rewarding. Just keep in mind that it takes more than the eyes to see, but an open heart is the key.

Before I close this essay, I would like to share that my last article, “A Medal Does Not Define You,” has 102k plus shares in the SunStar site. I can’t believe it. I don’t have grand illusions about myself; so, at best, I think my family and closest friends read my work. That was my most shared piece to date. The most I’ve had before was 1,500 shares. But then whether it’s zero or 1, the joy for me is in getting the words out of my head. It’s cheaper than therapy!

Now that I am looking at this massive amount of shares, (with friends sending screencaps that it was even translated to Tagalog) the thing that comes to mind is thank you for reading and thinking that what I say makes sense, worthy enough to share. Likes in FB are intoxicating, but the real inspiration is in knowing that God is extremely generous to gift us all life, along with various talents, which we can use to touch each other’s lives.

May the culmination of this Lenten season remind us all to dwell in hope. Let us always remember that we may each have different crosses to bear, and yet we are all still very blessed in different ways because He is good all the time. Counting blessings daily...my favorite kind of math. To all of you, my sincerest wish is to send out positive vibes so that you will all have a heart brimming with love and a mind filled with peace. Happy Easter!

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