As a wife and mother I am constantly trying to balance my priorities. Determining who and what needs my attention most urgently is one of the greatest life skills I have acquired in this vocation. It would be absolutely impossible to do this prioritizing without fear.
I have come to the conclusion that I should not desire a life without fear – at least not good fear. I want a fear that brings me hope. This hope is developed with habits of mind and soul that lead me to choose God in all things. Aquinas writes in the Summa Theologiae (II-II Q. 19, art. 3) that “…Fear is born of love, since man fears the loss of what he loves…” We develop true hope by fearing the loss of God.
If this hope is to order my priorities, my life, than my fears should be ordered toward God. I do not yet have a perfect practice of this hope. There are many things I fear that draw me away from God, but those are what Aquinas calls “human fear” or “worldly fear”. It is scary to embrace the sacrifice and hardship that may very well be asked of us.
Hope is inherently honest, as God is honest. Hope does not require that we presume God to always be on our side nor are we to assume we are beyond God’s help or care. Hope is a call to radical honesty.
I will never be an eternal optimist, and neither should you.
Having the kind of hope that spurs us along this lifelong path toward God means that I must learn to see things in reality. I need to see the good as good, and the bad as bad, with all of the nuance and discomfort that will entail.
It will mean admitting when a project is just not meant to be (no matter how much I wish it could be fabulous!)
It will mean not putting on a happy face for the world when I should really admit I need help.
It will mean seeing the good in people that I would rather write off as a lost cause.
Heaven – the reason for our hope.
Heaven is supposed to be what this is all about! We are all supposed to be working towards becoming honest-to-goodness saints so we can enjoy that eternal union with God. But what is heaven really like?
In his encyclical Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that heaven will be “like plunging into an ocean of infinite love, a moment which time – the before and after – no longer exists.” While that is such a beautiful picture of heaven, I feel my imagination falling short in understanding what it would be like to truly exist outside of time. In essence, we are all having to work towards a reward that we cannot fully comprehend or understand.
Isn’t that awesome?!
I want heaven, and God, to be bigger than I can comprehend. I want to stretch my intellect as far as it can go and still not be able to understand all of God. I want to have this opportunity to be a disciple who “….did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29).
How are you walking towards having this radical hope?
What do you imagine heaven to be like?