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The Observer

Travel with no purpose other than seeing how big the world is. Look at the mountains, see the shores of a new ocean, eat strange and crunchy foods, talk to people in a language that is different than your own. Look at the city streets with big eyes. Take in all the savory (and sometimes revolting) smells. Cover your ears when the screeching buses drive by. Travel far beyond the land you know and learn how to exist in a new place. 

It’s easy to minimize the value of travel for the sake of travel. If you are a global-minded person like me, you might feel the need to travel with a very tangible purpose. You know, the classic mission to save the world kind of thing, build the new school house, teach the English class…

But why not travel just to see new places and faces? I don’t think we realize how wonderfully transforming, rewarding, and even generous it can be to enter a place as nothing more than an observer.

I just got back from a two and a half week backpacking adventure around Peru, and I think my eyes are still trying to come to terms with the beauty that they saw–everything from soaring mountains, rolling sand dunes, and waves over the Pacific Ocean to the sweetest of kittens, people with overwhelming pride for their country, and plenty of honest conversations about the world’s struggles. This trip as an observer was something special. Here is my best attempt to explain why that was the case:

  1. Marveling at the earth’s rugged, dangerous beauty. On this trip, we did many activities for the sole purpose of seeing more of the planet. We hiked canyons and climbed mountains and crossed streams while looking up at dazzling waterfalls, and we did most of this at elevations that would (seriously) take your breath away. It was truly amazing, and as cliche as it sounds, I really did gain a whole new appreciation for this amazing planet and the awesome power of the God who made it. I don’t think I would have come away in the same amount of awe if I didn’t take these hikes just so I could see more beautiful things.
  2. Seeing and appreciating a daily-life different than my own. I’ve been on several international trips that allowed me to participate in the day-to-day tasks of the locals. This trip gave me the chance to watch the daily activities from a distance, and in some ways (although definitely not all the ways) it was more authentic. This time around, people weren’t hosting me. They were just doing, and I liked to watch that. There is something to be said for simply watching how a person lives, noting the differences, and coming away with a better understanding of the person or people involved. I was able to remember how good I have things in the US (flushing toilet paper, drinking tap water, and air conditioning), while not getting stuck in the mindset of “oh these poor people are so impoverished and they have no idea what luxuries are out there in the rest of the world.” There was no looking down on the people or the situation, but there was plenty of learning and appreciating.
  3. Not being the hero. Going off of simply appreciating another way of living, I did not leave this trip feeling like I did something amazing for the people there. I was not the hero. I did not want to be the hero. I interacted with plenty of locals, heard their stories, and shared smiles. Without me coming with something to offer (in the form of English classes or donations) we were equals, and we got to share in the human experience of being equals…honestly, I wish I had the words for how insanely valuable this kind of interaction is. I don’t today, but I do know that it gives worth to everyone involved.
  4. Global conversations with global friends. Finally, one of my favorite parts of this entire trip was the may conversations I had with people from every corner of the world. Staying in hostels and going on group treks left me with friends from Brazil, Israel, Malaysia, Germany, Switzerland, England, and Canada. While observing all that Peru had to offer, we also had plenty of conversations about our own countries and their advantages and shortcomings. Getting an outsiders perspective on the American education system and Trump’s current presidency was a very enriching experience. It was even more enriching when you consider we were having such conversations while hiking through some of the prettiest mountains in the world. Sharing the journey with other observational traveller is one of the best parts of this kind of adventure.
  5. Getting dirty. You can’t do much observing from the comfort of a hotel room. This trip allowed me to fully embrace the joys of confusing grocery stores and jam-packed vans, but it also allowed me a real and true, up-close view of the country I was visiting. I wasn’t watching through a window, I was negotiating with taxi drivers and talking with the lady about her alpaca sweaters. Observational travel doesn’t mean ignoring the people, it means interacting without gifts or advice, just allowing yourself to live life alongside them.

Let me conclude by saying that this post isn’t written as an attack on mission trips or cruise ships. It’s just an attempt for me to reflect on my overwhelming thankfulness for this adventure I just experienced.

I know traveling isn’t easy or cheap, but if you ever get the chance to go…buy the plane ticket and the cheap hostel rooms, scramble along the mountain path, walk through the market, learn how to live in a new place, and look with wide eyes on the world in front of you. Its beyond worth it.

 

Adventure near.

When I tell you to think of ADVENTURE, I bet you see mountain tops, airplanes, foreign markets, boats on big oceans, and weird foods (well, that’s what I’ve always thought of). However, as any big life event always does, graduation has caused me to revisit my definition of this sweet word that I love so much.

I just graduated–I’m going to keep saying that until the truth actually sets in–and with graduating, I wished a lot of special people good luck with their next adventure. Medical school in Kentucky. Graduate school in Georgia. Missions in the Middle East. Teaching in Colombia. You get the idea.

Leading up to the big day, I had countless conversations with friends that went something along the lines of “I can’t wait to get out of here! I’m so excited to start (fill in the blank with their next step). Can you believe we finally made it?!” And I sat there nodding along with a smile, because my next step wasn’t taking me very far.

I chose to stay. A few days before graduation I was offered my dream job. It just happened to be at the exact same school with the exact same department I had been working with for most of my undergraduate career. This job also gave me the opportunity to get my masters…in the same subject I had been studying for the last four years. As everyone was preparing to depart for the ends of the earth, I was preparing to invest even more deeply in the same community I had come to know so well. I was thrilled, but I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to express this thrill to others.

With graduation comes the pressure to move on to new things. You see, leading up to the big day I also had some conversations with friends that went along the lines of “I feel like I should do something different, but I really just want to stay where I have community. Is it wrong to stay here because I have connections? What if I am just staying here because it is comfortable? I have a good job lined up, but what if there is something better that I am ignoring because it is far away?”

Graduation is the time to start new adventures, but I think we are being foolish if we say adventure has to be far away.

My next step is an adventure. Again, I am someone that loves thoughts of airplanes and mountains and weird foods, but now I am also someone that believes it is possible to adventure near.

Investing in a community is adventure. Taking on a new role with more responsibilities is adventure. Diving into one’s studies is adventure.

I’m not one to argue that staying in your comfort zone is a good thing, but I also don’t think that the only way to get out of your comfort zone involves moving around the world. It is absolutely possible to step out of your comfort zone through daily actions–seek friendships that challenge you, do your job with excellence, ask the big questions–this is adventure too.

So friends, don’t limit yourself, but also don’t be afraid to adventure near, because you never know what discoveries that might hold.

 

 

Rest

Rest is important, but rest is hard.

I’m coming off of a year with very little rest. Seriously, very little rest. We are talking about no more than 6 hours of sleep most nights, being with people from 7am to 12pm, taking classes and working and teaching. I was busy, but I was happy. I was also dreaming of rest.

Candles. Books. Finally enough sleep. Crafts. Friends. Rest.

I just graduated college. I’m home for a few weeks and I am sitting here amidst an abundance of rest. I’ve been reading and sleeping. I even started reupholstering a chair today (I’ve never done that before, but it sounded like a good idea and I have the time, so why not?). I’m doing anything and everything to fill my days with rest. But I am sitting here restless. I don’t like it.

Why do I feel the need to make my day busy with “restful” activities? Oh the irony.

Why is real rest so hard?

…Questions you ask yourself when you have the time.

Well I can tell you from my restful musings that rest is hard because we don’t really know how to do it. We live in a time that honors the busy, the achievers, the people who never waste a second of their day. I am a part of this. Side track for a second–I was in class a few months back and my professor said something along the lines of “I really am a better person when I’m busy.” That resonated with me. I truly do feel best when I am doing, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, especially if there is purpose in what we are doing (this makes me want to go into a whole other conversation on purpose, but I’ll save that for another day).

All of this being said, my point is this. While there is purpose in what we do, we must also realize that there is purpose in the rest that comes after doing. Sure, it’s easy to see the results of our doing, but rest is where some of the greatest changes can occur.

Times of rest are when we get the chance to reflect–to look deep into ourselves, to dive into beliefs, to dream, to reevaluate and work through things that we don’t like. Of course, reflection is rarely comfortable. It’s much easier to stay busy, to avoid thinking because thinking can be scary.

But it’s good.

Rest is what keeps priorities in check; busy schedules rarely do that. Rest has purpose and it also teaches us about our purpose. If we feel purposeless in the season of waiting, what then are we drawing our sense of purpose from? Things to think about.

So “embrace the rest” I say to my antsy, impatient, restless self. The rest I take now can only prepare me better for the joyfully busy seasons to come. The rest of now can only help me to see purpose in all the seasons.

 

 

Dare to…

In a month and a few days, I will be travelling to Peru with my best friend. We will spend two weeks there exploring the Andes and Machu Picchu, looking through markets, trying new foods, speaking with locals, hiking though canyons. We will figure out hostel situations and work through bus schedules. We will experience altitude. We will do all of these things that we have done before and love all the more because of it.

We love it. Our explorer hearts rejoice in this kind of thing.

But with the announcement of our summer plans comes the usual, well-meaning questions.

But aren’t you scared to travel just the two of you? Are your worried that the hostels won’t be very nice? Are you concerned about safety?

The answer is yes, but we dare to go anyway. Let me explain why.

There is this quote by Donald Miller that I love:

The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is “Do not fear.” It is in there over two hundred times. That means a couple things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn’t let fear boss us around.

No one should deny that travel (especially travel to foreign countries) can be scary, and it’s scary for a reason. There are legitimate dangers that need to be considered, and I do not want to minimize that in any way. Nevertheless, I argue that these fears/dangers/scary things should never keep us away from travel as a whole.

Fear should not rule our lives. If fear ruled my life, I would never have gone to Mexico with a group of 40 strangers. I wouldn’t have planned a trip to Colombia and Ecuador for me and my best friend. I wouldn’t have traveled alone to Colombia to teach English. I wouldn’t be planning for Peru this summer. But I dared to. I dared to take the risks. I dared to talk to strangers. I dared to try new things. I dared to be friends with people very different than me.

Can we be even more real about this for a second? If I let fear rule my life, I honestly doubt I would ever leave my room. Fear is real and crippling. I can look back and see many times in my life that I allowed it to control me, and those were not pretty times. Fear is real and scary. Fear itself is scary.

But you know the thing about fear? Even when we cannot get rid of it (if anyone has figured out a way to do this please let me know, because I haven’t been able to do that yet), we can look that fear in the face and dare to step beyond it.

Dare to live life in spite of fear.

Dare to travel.

Dare to make new friends.

Dare to speak in a new language.

Dare to explore a new place.

Dare to hike the mountain.

Dare to take the hard class.

Dare to speak up.

Dare to…

At the end of the day, dare to trust that there is a God who is greater than any fear we can ever encounter, and dare to believe that He wants you to live a life bigger than that fear.

Dare to.

Photo above: reaching the glacier on Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador. Elevation apprx. 16,000ft. 

All that YOU have done.

“When I look around…I am overwhelmed…by all that You have done.”

It’s funny how God likes to surprise remind you of how good he is. For example, at a cold, outdoor concert that you really had no plans of going to. As the performer sings out a simple verse of worship, “When I look around…I am overwhelmed…by all that You have done. When I look around…I am overwhelmed…by all that You have done.”

When I look around

Lee’s soccer field. Bright lights and a large temporary concert stage. Some apartment buildings. A sunset. Sweet friends. Strangers. Parents. High school students. College students. Hands lifted up. Eyes closed. Jesus.

I am overwhelmed…

How much this place means to me. How much these people mean to me. God’s presence and good work on this campus.

By all that You have done…

I am here. Why am I here? I didn’t want to come to this concert…four years ago I didn’t even want to come to this school. But I am here with hundreds and hundreds of friends and strangers praising the Lord at the place that I call home.

I stand here with a strong faith…full of questions and wonderings, but still trusting that God is good, that He is there, and that He knows me. I stand with my hands raised in an outward display of praise. I stand here recognizing the power and joy of communal worship. I am here, but without God I wouldn’t be.

By all that You have done…

I think back to the earlier stages of my Christian journey, to the times when I thought everything was meant to be private–doubts were meant to be battled alone, lifting up hands was embarrassing and awkward, talking about God was reserved for formal church gatherings, and praying out loud happened in church and before holiday meals.

I was raised in a Christian family, but a very private Christian family. We didn’t talk about God, not really. I learned that this thing called a “Christian walk” was meant to be your own journey, not something to be shared with others. Spirituality was for the individual. Reading the Bible was rare and in private. Prayer was in the space of your own bedroom. Sharing this with others was awkward.

[Let me take the time to insert here that my parents are wonderful people and they raised me so well. Looking back, I believe that their own experiences with church and spirituality led to this environment in our house. I believe they did the best they could with guiding me and my brother in our faith, and for that I am deeply thankful. But that is a different conversation, and maybe I’ll dive into it one day.]

By all that You have done…

Yet I am here, truly thankful for faith in community.

I look around me at all the people. For the first time, I truly ask the question, “Why am I here?”

The answer is Jesus, and before this time that never seemed a satisfactory answer. If I am being honest, I always thought that answering a question with “Jesus” was the Christian fake and easy answer for “I’m not really sure” or “I don’t want to tell the whole story.” But as I sang out again and again “by all that You have done”, I was positive that this time the answer was actually Jesus.

By all that You have done…

When I was younger, there wasn’t anyone in my house encouraging me to pray. There was no one telling me to read the Bible every day. There was no one telling me about how good God is.

But I did pray in the privacy of my own room. I did read my Bible. I did ask God questions. I did try to know Him. WHY? Why would a child do that on their own?

Jesus.

When I look around…I am overwhelmed…by all that You have done…

Truly overwhelmed. I see so clearly the image of God pulling little me closer. Putting in me a curiosity to read the Bible, to pray, to know Him more. Putting people in my life to guide me further.

I should not be on a soccer field, worshiping, at a school that puts such an emphasis on spirituality.

I should not have faith.

I should not be willing to share that faith with others.

On this soccer field, I am so overwhelmed and humbled and glad of your goodness. And I feel it so deeply. I am amazed and overwhelmed and thankful, that such a big God could captivate such a little child and bring her to such an amazing place. As I look around at this place and these people, I am reminded once again that You are good. And I know that I am here just because of all that You have done. 

[See picture of baby, freshman me above. It seemed appropriate.]

Repeat.

Wake up. Make coffee. Dress nice. Out the door. Drive to school. Teach some things. Home and friends. Lesson plans. Late to bed.

Repeat.

Weekend. Sleep some more. Friends. Rest. Breathe. Goes too quick.

Repeat. Repeat again.

How easy it is to get caught up in the busy, the obligations, the stress. How easy it is to go on autopilot. How easy it is to miss the little moments that really do matter so much. How easy it is to get stuck on repeat and lose passion and purpose that are so important.

This is my fifth full week of being a full time teacher (my seventh if we are counting the weeks that were broken up by seminars and spring break). I have slowly slipped into the cycle of repeat–each day is part of the checklist, each lesson something to get through, each sassy teenage comment another annoyance, each activity a responsibility. I wait for the weekend when I get to breathe a little and sleep a little and then I repeat.

Today didn’t go so well. When I walked into first period and prepared to greet my students, I found myself stalling for a few extra minutes just to not have to start the lesson. I lacked the passion that I had when I first started; the desire to give fun lessons that made language more than grammar; the hope to impact lives. It showed…I felt it and I bet my students did too. They definitely acted like it. I mean, if I’m standing in front of them bored they’re definitely going to be bored too. By the end of the day, I new something needed to change.

As soon as my last class ended, I went to the open door, took off my shoes, stepped on the grass, picked a flower, and took a deep breath. No more repeat.

Friends. It’s so important to break the pattern of repeat. It steals our joy and passion and we lose every opportunity to truly invest in the moment. We lose the chance to make our community, our lives better. We get tired and we completely lose track of our purpose. Instead, we need to be present in the moment we are living. Even more than that, we need to take time in our day and we need to appreciate the small things. Pick the flower. Look at the ladybug. Smile at the clouds.

Yes. The responsibilities remain, but that doesn’t mean they have to rule you.

For the record, soon after picking the flower one of the teachers said “You look so comfortable right now, but think about all the kids that spit on the grass out there!” I came inside and started lesson planning, but my heart was a little more joyful. Then, I went home, grabbed some good cold brew and a blanket, and sat in the sun for hours. I rested and I enjoyed the warmth and thought about how lucky I am for the life that I live. I thought about all the beauty around me. I broke the cycle of daily tasks.

No more repeat.

Language is…

LANGUAGE.

Language is…a graduation requirement.

Language is…something to boost your resume.

Language is…a job opportunity.

Language is…meant to be so much more.

I recently attended a conference  for Latin American and Iberian Studies, and the main speakers talked about the value of language. This wasn’t a new topic for me–I wouldn’t have spent my entire college career studying to teach Spanish if I didn’t believe it was important–but I still got chills when Emily Bricker said:

“When I tell people I was a Spanish major, the first question they always ask me is ‘So you speak Spanish?’…Yes. I speak Spanish, but that is not what is important to me. I can listen to and understand Spanish. I can listen to people’s stories in Spanish. That means more to me than being able to speak Spanish.”

Wow. I think we’ve missed the point of language.

To ask for things. To advance. To impress. No.

Language is the ability to listen. To listen in a way that demonstrates the truest form of hospitality–meeting and welcoming the stranger, listening to their story, welcoming them into your home through an exchange of words.

But we do not see language this way, because we live in a world that is resistant to the other. We are told that the other is too different and dangerous, and we learn very early on that we are better off keeping to ourselves. Little by little we start buying into that idea that we don’t really need relationships out of our people group; the others aren’t our responsibility after all. We start to learn they are just too different, and we would never understand each other anyway. No, it’s better to stay with what we know. We build our personal wall and we stay there.

But language. It breaks down walls and it connects people and cultures that shouldn’t be connected. I have seen it in action. I have watched high school students use broken language to make friends with people from a “dangerous” country. I have seen people realize that different isn’t so scary after all. I have witnessed the look of relief on an woman’s face upon realizing I could translate for her in the US customs line. I have seen adult’s eyes sparkle as they are finally able to share their stories and dreams in their heart language. I have felt the same joy and relief when someone was able to listen to me in my own heart language.

I have shared meals because of language. I have shared laughs because of language. I have made friendships because of language.

Language is…

Listening. Connection. Friendship. Love beyond borders.

And I sit here today and I think, how would the world be different if we could just latch on to this true purpose for language? What if we embraced differences and tried to connect? What if we replaced fear with wonder? What if we loved, regardless of skin or culture or stereotypes? What if we listened first?

Be in the mess.

When I started out to be a teacher I had a very pretty picture in my head–my classroom was going to be organized and beautiful, my students would be smiling and deeply interested in what I had to say, and we would all be learning things about Spanish and life too. I would be changing lives on the daily and my students would love me always…or at least most of the time. Yes. I can hear the veteran teachers laughing as they read this, but I’m an idealist and this is what I planned to do.

I’ve been in a high school for about two and a half months now–teaching full time for about a month–and I can truthfully say that my class looks like my pretty picture maybe 5% of the time. The reality looks more like a cluttered desk, a bulletin board that was made in 15 minutes the day before it was due, a pack of sleepy and grumpy teenagers, and lessons that go as planned about half the time. It’s hard and I’m tired.

The reality of teaching is that it’s messy, but now I see why that’s expected. When it comes down to it I’m a messy person trying to do good in the lives of messy people. It’s going to be a messy process. For your reading pleasure, I’ve compiled a list of some of the better messy moments that help to illustrate the point:

  1. A five minute discussion on why I asked a student to take out his notebook. Complete with explanations of purpose and respect.
  2. Conversation with 15 year olds about things that 15 year olds should never have to experience. And then figuring out a way to motivate them to do their classwork afterwards.
  3. Lessons gone wrong. A lot.
  4. Class discussions about classroom community, group participation, and the importance of respecting each individual. Then having the same conversation three days later.
  5. Getting focused on the details of the job only to realize that I missed an important moment to help a student through a life struggle. Not good.
  6. Getting so focused on relationships and student lives that I lose some important papers with student grades. Big oops.
  7. Learning to the importance of thick skin in the face of high school pettiness.
  8. Realizing that the mistakes don’t go away after the first few weeks of practice.

My students are messy. They come from rough backgrounds and families that do more harm than good. They come from homes that lack food. They are teenagers trying to figure out who they are in the world. They are people desperately seeking a community, doing anything to stay apart of it, and not always making the best choices as a result. They are young adults with complex feelings and fears. And every day they come into my class and they bring the mess with them.

I am messy. I am a young student teacher who is still learning the ropes. I come with a great desire to do good in the lives of my students and not a lot of practical ideas of how to make that good happen. I am still learning the balance between Spanish lessons and life lessons. I deal with students that do not like me, and I am hurt when they show that dislike. I make mistakes every day. And every day I come into class and I bring the mess with me.

This week I have been tired…really, really tired. I feel the weight of the mistakes and struggling relationships. I feel the pressure to continue to love my students well in spite of that. I’ve dealt with the very real insecurities that come from such a conflict. I am worn, and I am a little sad when I think of how far my classes are from that pretty picture I once created.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure where this post was going to go once I started typing, but as I sit here and reflect on my classroom mess, I am starting to see how it might actually be a good thing. What I mean is this: if all my students were perfect and I was perfect, what would be the point of teaching at all? Would there really be a need for intentional development if they just took every life lesson, accepted it, and applied it? Why would I be going through the whole student teacher process if I wasn’t going to use it as a time to make mistakes and learn from them?

Are we even recognizing our own true humanity if we don’t also recognize the mess that comes with being human? Rather than dwelling on an idealistic picture, why not dive into the mess of working with other humans? It’s hard and tiring, but it’s also real. I guess it’s also why I signed up for this in the first place. I signed up to be in the mess.

The curve in the road.

I’ve been journeying down this road for a while now. For the longest time, I thought I knew exactly where it was taking me, but now I’m not so sure. There is a curve ahead, and I can’t see beyond it just yet. It gets closer every day I go forward, but I still don’t know what’s on the other side. I feel that it is good, but I do not know. Still, I keep going. 


I write this as I sit on my couch thinking about a big curve that’s coming up in my life–a curve called graduation. I don’t know what’s behind it, but I do feel that it is good. Most of the time…if I’m being honest, sometimes I’m just plain scared. The unknown curves can do that to you. Still, I can sit here most days and say that I believe there is good coming, and I say that because, even though the curve is unknown, I know the road and I know that the road is good.

Last semester I took a senior course for my major called Capstone, and in this class we talked a lot about calling. And even as I participated in many enjoyable and thought-provoking discussions about the topic, I struggled to identify God’s specific calling in my life. I was stuck waiting for some AHA! moment, an arrow in the sky, or some wise words that said “Yes. This is what you need to do. This is your calling.” And even though I knew my passions, any attempts at labeling a specific career path as “my calling” seemed more like my own created label rather than God’s hand in my life. It seemed limiting…probably because it was.

I’m walking on a road that has twists and turns and, more often than not, I don’t know exactly where I am going. Still I keep walking the road, because that is my calling. I know my calling is to love people. It’s simple, it’s broad, and I believe without a shadow of a doubt that it is a calling from God. I do not know what this calling will look like (even though I definitely have desires); I cannot see beyond the curves. Still I keep walking–in the face of scary interviews, possible rejection, and changes galore–because I know the road of loving people is good, and for this I feel that there is good ahead.

 

That thing called HOPE.

“True hope is always hard. Is it not passive wishing. It is an active exercise, a choice, an intention. Hope means giving up apathy and despair and embracing the uncertainty that terrifies you. It is the sacrifice of keeping your heart soft.” {Jena Lee Nardella, One Thousand Wells}

How can we find beauty in a world that is so broken? How can we see the image of God in a person that is so mean? How can we seek love when relationships are so temporary? Oh, that thing called hope.

The truth is we live in a world that can  be downright brutal and scary. It’s unfair and cruel. And as we stair in the face of such unfairness,  how often do we toss around the word “hope” like a positive, spiritual bandaid that will hold our crumbling lives together. Or even more, we use it as a half-heated wish that things will get better soon. For some reason it doesn’t quite do the trick…

But what if we are viewing hope all wrong? A few days ago, I was reading One Thousand Wells by Jena Lee Nardella and I was captivated by the way she explained hope. (See quote above) Jena writes this as she reflects on her often unrewarded and unsuccessful attempts at bringing clean drinking water to suffering communities in Africa. She talks about how selfishness, corruption, disease, and natural disasters would get in the way of her efforts to do good. She talks about loosing hope, wanting to give up, and then finding hope again in a whole new form. Hope that is hard. Hope that acts. Hope that is scary. Hope that hurts.

As I reflect on this kind of hope and how it applies to my own life, I think of what a wonderully difficuly change in mindset this could be. What if I chose hope as an action, and tried to explain verb conjugations one more time to that struggling student? What if I chose a hope that scared me, and went for a job that challenges me in every way? What if I choose to let hope hurt, and I love the other even when it’s messy, painful and hard?

That is true hope. That is powerful hope. That is a hope that’s worth having, because that is a hope that makes a broken world with struggling people a place of beauty.