I’ve noticed a pretty big trend in my life over the last year or so. It’s pretty easy to spot your friends who don’t know the Lord because they definitively lack hope. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re negative all of the time, or drag the room down… but there’s just something a little lackluster about their attitude towards life and the future and everything in between. I used to think it was a joy thing, but it’s becoming more and more clear that it’s a hope thing.
I have the requisite, God-given Jeremiah 29:11 hope. I know that there is more to this life. I get excited about things. I allow myself to feel hopeful about new opportunities, up-and-coming trips, flannel-clad boys… you get the idea. But I wouldn’t say that I am just bubbling over with hope. And my closest heart friends can tell you that there are certainly times when I all-out lack it.
That’s where Melanie comes in. I feel sorry for each and every one of you that doesn’t know Melanie, that hasn’t had a chance to spend a day with her curly-headed self. She brightens up every room she walks into and has the cutest little country accent when she talks about “momma and daddy.” (Hi, Martha & Randy!) But, just like any of us, Melanie has been dealt some bad cards, especially relationally. You’d never know it, though.
I realized in writing this that I don’t really know how Merriam-Webster would define hope. I know what it means, of course. And I certainly know how it feels. But how would I define it? I’m coming up empty… so I looked it up for us.
hope: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true
Now – I know what the bible says about faith, but as that definition settled in my stomach I started to realize that maybe hope is a bigger part of Christianity than I thought! God does specify that “He knows the plans he has for [us]… plans to prosper [us] and not to harm [us], plans to give [us] hope and a future.” Hope and a future. Of equal importance.
Melanie has shown me that. When she found herself in situations that would have sent me straight to my comfy bed for the day, she laced up her tennis shoes and put some pep in her step. Instead of wallowing she set her sights on the sunshine and took control of her life. She was so unequivocally full of hope that she never for a second took pity on herself. She never worried that she’d be an old maid, lonely in her rocking chair. She never gave fear or dread the time of day.
She and I “meet in the middle” for dinner every couple of weeks. No matter what topic I bring to the table – if I’m lonely in the midst of married and engaged friends, if I’m dreadfully miserable at work, if a friend seriously let me down… again – she has the perfect answer. Usually along the lines of “Oh honey!!! I’m so sorry! Go and get yourself a large Dr. Pepper… you deserve it! And you know what? Tomorrow will be a better day!!!!” She never makes me feel silly for my dramatic ways, but she also never lets me sit in them and get comfy. She pulls me right on up out of the mud, dusts off my shoulders, reminds me of God’s promises, and sends me on my way.
And let me tell you – over the last year I’ve needed someone to be the hope that I lacked. She has stepped up to bat and hit that sucker out of the park and I really, truly don’t know what I would have done without her. So thanks, Mel, for loving me the best way you know how, and for always showering me with your contagious hope.