“We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint.”
Wow, how beautiful is that. Maybe you doubt these words, but I can promise you this is the amazing truth about trials.
This had me thinking back to August 25th, 2005 — the day hurricane Katrina made landfall in my beloved hometown.
It was dark. I completely lost hope. I remember telling my mom:
“I don’t ever want to live in our house again. It will always give me bad dreams.”
Little eleven-year-old me just couldn’t understand. I remember sitting in the hotel room so confused about what was happening. I looked over at my mom who burst into sobs, saying, “That’s our house.” She was pointing to a house on the news channel that a boat had gone through the back of. There was water everywhere. How could that be my house?
I came home to a house where nothing was salvageable. Everything I had was lost. My dolls, my clothes, my bed, my pictures — it all lay in a big pile in what had been our front lawn, waiting for the trash men to take it away.
But through all of this, my sweet mom, who is definitely the most amazing woman I know, never gave up. She worked full time, made sure we lived as normally as possible, and on top of that, spent two years rebuilding our house while my dad left for a year to work across the country.
TALK ABOUT PERSEVERANCE.
I remember thinking:
“Okay, how hard can it be to not give up? My mom never gave up.”
Well, the answer is pretty dang challenging when you feel like you are in a dark never-ending pit. When your mom looks at little eleven-year-old you and says, “Your old school is gone. But it’s okay, you get to go to a new school and meet lots of new friends. Isn’t that gonna be fun?!” I wish I could tell you it was easy. I wish I could tell you that in the moment I didn’t think drinking and partying weren’t the only way out. Because for the four years after the hurricane, that the only coping I knew about.
This is where the proven character part comes in. I remember looking up the definition of character after several people in my life whom I looked up to began to call me out on how I was coping. Something along the lines of ‘your morals and qualities distinctive to you’ came up, so essentially my character wasn’t doing to great. My morals had clearly gone down the drain.
SOMETHING HAD TO CHANGE.
I remember promising my parents that I would have a change of character. I would strive to be the best version of myself. I would give to others more than I took. I would meet and love people where they were at—this gave me all the hope in the world.
This change of character was like removing blinders from my eyes. I was able to see the hope others had for the future, such as the excitement my mom had for our new house and for everything to go back to normal. This lit a spark in my heart. That spark allowed me to believe everything was going to be okay. Ever since this moment, I truly learned hope does not disappoint.
Friends, in the darkest of nights and in the hardest of times allow yourself to learn. Allow yourself to be changed for the better and grow in character. Allow hope to carry you through.