The Space Between Us and Hope

January 18, 2022

On Saturday I said to the board, “I’ve realized it’s not my job to give people hope. It’s my job to advocate for the work of Bridge of Hope.”
This has been a really important shift for me in the past two years as a director and fundraiser. Privileged to sit in a position of being up close to all of the joys and struggles our families and our organization experience, I found it wasn’t difficult to always have a story of hope on hand, because honestly our families inspire us every day of the year. There truly is always something to celebrate. Stories of hope are easy to leverage to get people excited about the work we do and inspire them to join us. The problem with only talking hope, however, is that we aren’t sitting with the full picture.
When the pandemic started, things began to shift. Case management went virtual, some families got sick, some were furloughed, and we were always scrambling to stay one step ahead, anticipating needs, being prepared to pivot. Our waiting list grew. We tried to hire additional part-time case management without success – an experience not unique to our organization. In some cases it was difficult to keep staff and volunteers and even myself motivated. There was a part of me that felt I HAD to offer hope, because that’s *obviously*what people needed. But something about the focus solely on hope felt dishonest as many of us were experiencing so much grief. I finally wrote about this last fall in the reflection The Losing Too.
Struggle is nothing new to the work of Bridge of Hope, and in the ebbs and flows of this particular season one thing remains consistent: engaging in this work means opening ourselves to transformation. I recently read a reflection by a friend who said she was “breaking up with hope.” She writes, “Sitting with (instead of ‘fixing’) what’s unclear and uncomfortable? Presence.”
And really, that’s our invitation – to be fully present to what is and respond from our open hearts, trusting that we will know what is ours to do and ours to leave undone. The art of neighboring is presence. 
What has blessed me deeply is that as I have shared the fuller picture, including the struggles, I’ve watched God’s Spirit stir the hearts of others to respond in ways they are being called – ways I never anticipated. When we stop trying to hold it all together, stop trying to even anticipate what people need from us, we allow more room for God’s Spirit to do the work. And therein lies the hope.

The Space Between Us and Hope