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Dare We To Hope?

I am just your average common gal, living in Southern California.

I used to teach Sunday school at the Crystal Cathedral in the 90s. It was a magical time in a magical place. The magnificent Cathedral felt warm and inviting, especially as the sun seared through the reverent pieces of enormous glass panes that made up the church’s backdrop for the pulpit. It was my safe place. It was also a safe place for my students.

During my training, I was told by my supervisor that “The children who are hardest to love, need my love the most.” I dutifully took that comment to heart and proceeded to plan my weekly curriculums as any good volunteer would. However, that one line would soon be ruminating in my mind and swirling about my thoughts even as I tried to sleep at night. What exactly did that mean? It soon became clear.

As a newbie, I was charged with taking on the challenge of children with difficulties. In actuality, I got the gift of teaching those kids that didn’t quite fit in with the other clusters of laughing, skipping confident kids. ADD, mental disabilities, and even physical disabilities inundated my classroom. These kids were pure joy and love. Soon I realized that there was a special gift that embodied those Sunday gatherings. A rawness, pureness, and a plethora of compassion for one another, including myself. Ricky, a sweet little boy with messy blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, was brought in each week by his grandmother. He was homeless and lived in an alley with his mother. Even when offered a safe, warm bed, he wouldn’t leave her side except to ask his grandmother to take him to my class. Ricky’s ADD kept him hopping around the room like a rubber ball; it was actually invigorating and entertaining. Grandma told me that Ricky said our weekly class was the best part of his week. And then there was Sarah. Sarah struggled to walk straight as a result of her brain tumor. Multiple surgeries left her with the top left portion of her brain missing. She was beautiful, and I swear I could see into her soul as our eyes met. The remainder of my classroom soon began to fill with all the other kindergarteners labeled as non-conformists. Yet, as I saw it, they were all special. The term special needs evaporated from my mind like water on hot pavement.

girls on desk looking at notebook
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Instead, I saw hope. I saw life. Real life. Real emotions. Those pictures are forever branded into my mind and in my heart. Not fake moments of happiness that society sees today from a well-prepared photo-shopped selfie or a Facebook post that captures a seemingly perfect scenario, only for the subject matter to return to vulnerability once the camera is turned off. Today, happiness seems to be measured by a fictitious standard, measured by a ruler of “likes.” I feel for all the youth of today that tries to capture perfection in a non-perfect world. It’s unattainable and daunting.

Hope bridges the gap between our vulnerability and our greater power. I thank those kids from years ago for showing me their vulnerability, as it provided me greater power. The power of strength, authenticity and compassion, and the realization that true happiness is far from “perfect.” I am far from perfect. Having that awareness makes life more real and certainly more hopeful. When I felt hopeless as a child, my stepfather would say, “Tomorrow is a new day and it will be better.” And it was.

I call upon those memories during times like now when a world full of fear from pandemic illness consumes our thoughts, peppered with a climate of political uncertainty. What we all need is hope and prayer. As human beings, we are powerful beyond our own understanding, yet we are also very vulnerable. Having hope and exercising prayer (whatever that means to you) bridges the gap between our vulnerability and greater power. You can name that “greater power” as you wish: core strength, subconscious mind, spirit, God, a Higher Being, or anything else that feels right. It need not involve religion, but it is deeply rooted in Spirituality. Hope and prayer belong to everyone. It is our birthright to be able to call upon these emotions from our own card-catalogs in our hearts and minds when we need to reread and reference. It is our capacity to reach beyond our limited sense of self and touch those endless possibilities that provide us comfort.

When my students felt vulnerable in any way, I offered hope through prayer to connect them to that almighty power that had eluded them in whatever situation, circumstance, or relationship they were associating with their suffering. I knew Ricky often went without eating 3 square meals a day. I recall when I taught my class that God said, “Have hope, even the birds do not know each morning where their food will come from – yet God provides enough worms every day for them to feed themselves and their young.”

As I type, I hear the words:

“Hold On for one more day” by Wilson Phillips.

I know there’s pain,

Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?

Just open your heart and your mind

Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

Don’t you know things can change

If you hold on for one more day

‘cause It’s gonna go your way

Yes, things are gonna change. And the change starts within us. Sometimes we find that we are the hardest to love. Turn to hope, it’s awaiting you just around the corner in the most unexpected places. Hope will get you through these uncertain times. Thanks, Ricky and Sarah for showing me where to find it.

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Charlie Sheridan
Writer at The Commoner | + posts

Charlie Sheridan began writing poems and short stories when she was in high school, attending Notre Dame Academy. She enjoyed a successful and lengthy career in medical practice management, marketing, journalism, and business development. Charlie has volunteered throughout her lifetime and feels it is essential to help others and participate in community. Her inspirations come from her beloved family members, the individuals from her weekly women’s group, and her treasured experiences while living on a farm. She is inspired by real life circumstances and feels the written word is powerful and an opportunity to be of service to others. Charlie is the proud mother of two amazing adult sons, and she resides in Southern California with her husband and their Bengal cat, Tinker.

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Janet Brockman

What a moving story on hope for all of us especially now in the face of Covid

Deborah

I am so struck by the sentiment that, “The children who are hardest to love, need my love the most.” I have found that to be true of all people. Love is my answer. When I am operating at my highest self this is easy. When I am less than my highest self hope is the bridge that brings me back to love again & again.
Thank you Charlie for sharing & inspiring!

Joshua Aguirre

Hey Charlie,
I didn’t know you taught Sunday school. What an amazing story and left me with the understanding that hope leads us to our greater power not with our own strength but with Gods strength that he gives us through his Word and prayer. Hope can push us farther than we think we can go as well as lift burdens off our shoulder.

Laurence Richard

Inspirational article! Thank you for sending it my way!

Marilyn Mitchell

Such a beautiful and empowering piece. Reading her statement “The children who are hardest to love, need my love the most.” deeply touched me. In today’s world I believe this applies to people of all ages and walks of life. Very inspiring.

Kelly Soto

Profound and thought provoking article full of heartwarming compassion, understanding, and vision for a greater purpose. This article touches my soul and gives me hope for humanity.

DJ

Beautifully stated. Hope and prayers are a wonderful way to get through these unprecedented times.

Paulette McNeely-Halthon

Perfect timing Sweetie … I needed to read your words today. Keep writing and touching so many Hearts. God Bless you!

Chad S

Great timing
Much appreciated
We all need hope right about now

Scott

What a nice “feel good” article
Thanks for that!

[…] I stood in the long driveway waving goodbye as she zoomed away. I held back tears as I watched Kelly enthusiastically wave back through her sunroof.  Her sporty white car mimicked a puff of smoke that was evaporating into thin air. That officially ended the five-day visit we had just shared. Kelly was my friend from elementary school. Typically our lives were too busy to connect, but we finally carved out a few days just for us and stuck to the plan. We were inseparable then and still are. It was finally our time, when the only thing holding us back was nothing at all. […]

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