A guest post by Mark:
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13
Love is easy. At least it's easy to grasp why this is the greatest. God loves us. He sent his Son Jesus who loves us. I love Jenny, Vienne and Ivy in ways that I don't fully comprehend; with a fierceness and dedication that defies explanation.
I grew up learning about faith. Believe, believe, believe. For awhile I believed because I was supposed to and then when I got a little older I had the opportunity to challenge my beliefs. I chose to continue believing in Jesus and his message. I learned to pray. I practiced praying. I believed I was a good Christian if I was continually communing with God. I believed in prayer and that God heard me. I still believe he hears me.
Hope. This word, spoken in a soft, fierce whisper. This word, echoing in my car as I shout it while hurtling down the highway. This word, hope, brings tears to my eyes. I never knew. I never really knew what it was to hope until Vienne died. I hope so much now that my body aches. I hope so deeply my bones vibrate with longing.
Here is the raw truth - for me faith & believe used to equal knowing. I can't say that anymore. Heaven always had this mythical quality that seemed like the setting for a fantasy novel. I hope in heaven now. And truly I say, my hope is drastically stronger than my belief ever was. What does that mean? It means that I can't speak with the same confidence I used to about . . . well, pretty much anything. Vienne is gone. My daughter. No reasons. No explanations. Just gone. How can I possibly speak with confidence about anything but my hope, this new iron kernel of desire lodged in my throat that makes it nearly impossible to talk about.
So there it is. Love is the greatest but hope is what I live for. Hope is the smile on my face (as I am notorious for always smiling).
Hope for seeing Vienne again. Hope for Jenny and Ivy as well. Each day I hope for their peace, love and joy but each day is also a question mark. Each day is filled with doubt, wondering and some fear. So many times I look at my phone and am thankful it's not ringing because no news is good news. Hope is that I never have to live through a moment like losing Vienne again. And yet this is the life we live, this is the world we live in. Awful shit happens. Tragedy happens. If not directly to us there is our world of loved ones, there is always someone enduring. Not to oversimplify but it seems like every time I hear of something awful I believe less and am forced to hope more.
Here is the greatest hope of all: Jesus, please be true. I don't need answers if you are true.
I hope this Christmas is full of meaning for you. Caleb, our 8-year old godson, and one of Vienne's best friends, drew this just the other day and I think it sums things up pretty well: