Two weeks after I graduated from college, I moved to Orlando, Florida. I knew three people who lived there and I set off on the adventure with only the items I could stuff into two suitcases (in 1996, airlines still allowed passengers to check up to two pieces of luggage for free). I didn’t have a job, a place to live or enough money to pay my first month’s rent.
It was an honest-to-goodness leap of faith and I knew with all the matter making up my flesh, bones, and soul that everything about the journey fit perfectly into my life.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t harbor any reservations. I worried some about the big unknowns, such as where I would live after I wore out my welcome at my friends’ home, or if I’d really land a job as easily as people predicted.
I also had a few concerns that some might find superficial: namely, alligators and super-sized bugs.
Yep. That’s the kind of gal I am. Give me a one-way airline ticket and some hopeful words of encouragement, and I’ll make a new home more than a thousand miles from the one I’ve known since girlhood. But toss a spider in my direction and I’ll scream loud and high enough to shake glass. And I’m not even going to write anything about what I’d do if faced with a real, live, toothy gator, because friend, I’ve got some issues with reptiles. Especially the ones that want to eat me.
My time in Florida spanned five years and the good far outweighed the bad. I found a job and lost a job and found another that boosted my career in the right direction. I made life-long friends, fell in and out of love a time or two, and married a Florida Gator (that variety of gator, I can handle).
Tears and tough times specked seasons of those five years, yet hope thrived even when I doubted its existence. I’ll never forget the time where I was between jobs; the only items in my pantry were a box of muffin mix and a container of instant hot cereal. I baked those muffins and rationed them with the cereal for one week.
I was just about ready to call my family and ask to move back home when I received both a job offer and my income tax return on the same day.
I also killed the biggest, hairiest spider I’d ever seen that day. I’m certain my shrill squawk shocked it long enough for me to strike it with a shoe. For good measure, I let out a scream with each swat.
Bugs came at me in other ways in Florida (and the other places I lived throughout the South). If we ever sit down for a cup of coffee, I’ll tell you all about the time I stepped on a fire-ant hill … and about the time I learned that palmetto bugs (aka, giant, flying roaches) have a scandalous love for wood glue (shudder).
Contrary to my unpleasant history with creepy crawlies, my feelings toward insects have softened. One reason for this is my tender-hearted 7-year-old son who reminds me that every living creature was made by God for a purpose. There’s truth there. While I don’t believe mosquitoes have souls, I know there is a reason they exist.
I’ve also gained an appreciation for bugs with tenacity and I think that God has been using arthropods, arachnids, and the like to remind me that there are times in life when we need to hang on tight to hope. It started a few years ago when I was driving to the grocery store and noticed a spider clinging to my car window. I drove faster in hopes that the pest would blow away, but as it hung on, I started rooting for its survival because I saw a little bit of myself in that spider. I even wrote this (in)courage post about it.
When I wrote that post, hope was easy for me to grasp. I had left a season of doubt and rejection, and my family and I were given a fresh start. The years since that post? They’ve been bumpy. And hope? My grip on it loosens here and there. More than one time when I’ve felt at an impasse with hope, a grasshopper, spider, or moth will show up on my car window as I’m driving and I smirk … but I remember.
I remember every moment I almost gave up and didn’t.
I remember those days of eating just a muffin a day until that check surprised me.
I remember the searing pain that came when another person looked me in the eyes and said, “You’re not enough” and the joy that soothed me when I later read Psalm 139.
I remember that hope isn’t a feeling. It’s a promise from the giver of life. And the promise of hope was sealed and delivered with the blood of Jesus. That kind of promise is unbreakable.
If a bug that has nothing but instinct, grit, and physical strength can hang onto a vehicle moving 65 miles per hour, then I can withstand the hurricane-sized winds of life when I have the God who commands armies of angels telling me that He’s got me. I can rest assured that hope belongs to me in all things and at all times.
Some Verses of Hope:
“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The ‘worst’ is never the worst.” Lamentations 3:28 (MSG)
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5 (NIV)
“So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:18-20 (NASB)
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I love how, through everything, that you’ve found hope through the very things that once frightened you. I can see you holding onto hope with the tenacity of that bug hanging onto your windshield. Thanks so much for the reminder that God can use my fears and turn them into harbingers of hope. What an amazing God we have…thanks for the reminder this morning!
Angela Nazworth says
Thank you Bev! I love how you beautifully worded that fear can be used for hope. Much love to you!
Harveen Kaur says
Thank you!really needed to read this.brought tears to my eyes:)many blessings!
Thank you, Harveen
Jamie Rohrbaugh says
Wow, Angela, that’s incredibly brave. I can’t imagine walking away from one life into the great unknown of a totally different life. I admire your tenacity and am thrilled to hear how you hung in there. Your story is really encouraging! Thank you for sharing it.
Thank you, Jamie!
PJ Balint says
About a year ago I went back to work after being a stay-at-hom-mom & home-education mom for 18 years. I’ve recently started a *new* position at work (“yay!” for little promotions!) and FEAR seems to be tagging along everyday these days…your post brings the much needed reminder of HOPE and as always, in our amazing Father’s perfect timing. Thank you! …AND a thank-you to Bev (comment above), too
Oh PJ — I know that fear of which you speak! My hiatus from the workforce was not as long as yours … but the doubts I had when I reentered were massive. Praying for you during this life change.
Rachel Q @ TrippingOverTypeset says
This spoke to me just what I needed to hear this morning.
Putting this on a sticky note right by my computer! —– “If a bug that has nothing but instinct, grit, and physical strength can hang onto a vehicle moving 65 miles per hour, then I can withstand the hurricane-sized winds of life when I have the God who commands armies of angels telling me that He’s got me. I can rest assured that hope belongs to me in all things and at all times.”
Thank you! 🙂
Rachel, I am so glad that this message touched your heart. Blessings to you!
Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life says
This blessed me so much, Angela. It was right on time. Thank you
Thank you so much, Lyli.
Thank you Angela. You have a gift with words; part of that gift is to share so that others can know they are not alone…on this earthly world or above. You are a beautiful work in progress!
Thank you, Tammy!
I have been a Christian just about my whole life. I have poured over God’s word many, many times. My problem is not belief in God’s promises. My problem is disbelief in myself. I have failed and gone the wrong direction so many times. I cannot handle my failure and inability to cope with the circumstances I’ve brought myself to. I have lost hope in myself.
Oh Wanda, I understand your hurt and disappointment. I do. But please know that if you are in Christ, you are enough. There is nothing you can do that will make you hopeless in the sight of the Lord. We all sin. We all are far from God’s glory on our own … but even situations of our own making can be redeemed. Praying for you, friend.
Holley Gerth says
I love how you feel the fear and move forward anyway. Sending a big hug your way today, sweet friend. XO
Angela Nazworth says
Hugging you back sweet friend!
Kristy Byes says
I spent two years in Florida after graduation. Life changing and mine were, to date, the two worse years of my life. And yet they were the best. They shaped me and formed me and God used them to sustain the ministry I have been in for 20 years. Thanks for you words and for reminding me of my time in Florida, about the 2 checked pieces of luggage (and a carry-on) and for Palmetto Bugs. ( I live in SC…they are secretly our state mascot. ) 🙂
Angela Nazworth says
I love the similarities between our stories. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for the encouraging words. It is just what I needed to hear with situations I am dealing with.
Angela Nazworth says
Thank you. Blessings to you!
Nancy Ruegg says
Love this statement: “Hope isn’t a feeling. It’s a promise from the giver of life.” ‘Can’t trust feelings, but we can certainly trust the one who promises hope. Thank you, Angela!
P.S. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the lizards that flourish in FL!
Angela Nazworth says
Love that Nancy! And yes, there were lots of lizards, but they didn’t bother me for some reason. 🙂
Beth Willis miller says
Angela, you definitely had me with this wonderful quote: “I remember that hope isn’t a feeling. It’s a promise from the giver of life. And the promise of hope was sealed and delivered with the blood of Jesus. That kind of promise is unbreakable.” I want this on a poster where I can see it everyday 🙂
Angela Nazworth says
So glad that blessed your heart, Beth. Thank you for your continued encouragement.
Angela P says
My name is Angela too! And this post was published on my birthday, July 31! What a coincidence.. 😉
I totally needed to hear this. And even reading the comments, “Angela.. You are brave”, I read it as if it were towards me as well.
My fiancé, the only man I could see myself marrying, broke up with me. It felt like a divorce. Our community of friends and our church split up and I felt so abandoned by people I thought were my friends. He said it got too hard and he thought it would be easier to start fresh with someone new. We were working through things in pre marital counselling and he felt like it was too much for him. And he left. We go to the same church, are involved in the same ministries, and share(d) the same friends. And then it was all gone.
My hope and dreams for a future married to my best friend. I sometimes wake up and stare at the ceiling and wonder if it was just a bad dream for a split second, and then I realize it’s not. It actually happened.
We lost thousands of dollars from the wedding we planned, I don’t know what to do with the dress I bought that carried so much excitement and anticipation with it. I had to email back 225 guests and explain to them the wedding was off. The party favors are sitting in my basement with a date that has now passed.
It was THE most difficult time of my life. To wake up, get dressed, go to work, face everyone who would ask about my relationship status since photos had been taken off Facebook, go to church- a place where I would see him talking to other girls. It was painful.
And through it all, keeping my eyes on Jesus was the only thing that got me through – and is still getting me through – each day.
Thank you for sharing this. I desperately needed to hear these words to remind me to hold on to Hope. Hope is a person, and His name is Jesus. And He is faithful to His promises.
Angela Nazworth says
Oh Angela! Your story … heart-wrenching in deed, yet I see so much hope too and it is beautiful to read how Jesus is walking with you in such a trying time. Please know that I will keep you in prayer tonight and I also just want to whisper that you are loved, you are worthy, you are precious,you are beautiful, and you are enough! Hugs to you!
Beth Williams says
Prayers for you as you go through this trial. May God give you the peace and contentment that you need to get through this and move forward. It is times likes these that I use Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” “To give you a hope and a future”. Remember that God has some wonderful uplifting plans for your future!
Blessings and Prayers 🙂
Bear in mind: Things happen for a reason. That guy will most likely not the best for you. Trust God!
Pretty soon you will realize why it happened and you will be very grateful to HIM. Jesus works in mysterious ways.
Beth Williams says
You certainly have tenacity and grit. It takes a lot to move into the unknown with little to go on but Hope!!
Thank you for a thought provoking post! I needed to hear this today and always!! It is so easy to get down and out in the rush of work a day living.
I just loved this: “I can withstand the hurricane-sized winds of life when I have the God who commands armies of angels telling me that He’s got me. I can rest assured that hope belongs to me in all things and at all times.” So true! Without God I couldn’t handle the many problems that have cropped up in my life over the years.
Leslie McLea says
Thank you for your encouraging word. You caught my eye when reading your post when you spoke of the box of muffin mix and eating a muffin a day. With us, it is eggs. We are on rations, eating 2 eggs for break, lunch and dinner, untill the eggs run out. Pay day is not untill Friday, AUgust 15th. $1.04 in checkbook. MY HOPE is in HIM. Claming Philippinas 4:19, But my GOD shall supply. This is a very rough patch in my life, and I just have no energy left. Hoping and Praying continually for the much needed Miricle we need so despertaly in our lives. I have signed up for your emails, hoping to be continually encouraged. Thank you For sharing your experience.Leslie
God works in mysterious ways. Pretty soon you will realize why it happened and it is for your own good. Trust HIM!
Wow, Angela……. It’s amazing how the most high talks to us… Hearing this message just touched me in a very big way this morning.
When your going thru things he’s always on time with his messages. You just have to open your mind and spirit to connect…
Lorraine Ortego says
This is not about my story,but one of my sons,Kent.Kent was 29 yrs.,28 years ago, traveling all over the US with acid rock band,as a sound man.Totally into us drugs.on night stands,lost into the world.Came home for few days,tried to talk to Kent about giving his life to our Lord.He was sick of the life he was living,a unhappy,lost,desperate lifeDidn’t want to hear about “God”but prayed with him and never stopped for him to give his live to Jesus.He moved to Jacksonville, Fl.Someone talked to Kent,God opened his ears and heart”.BORN AGAIN”Kent instantly changed into a new man of God Stranger invited Kent to church.Now,Kent is a pastor,in the prison ministry,also street rescue missions.Married with two sons.Kent loves The Lord ,serves The Lord by preaching and going into jails with a Christan Band and on the street where men have lost hope,tells them there is hope.Kent is a witness to Gods goodness.
Where there is Life there is hope. Very encouraging article indeed. This just shows how you can find the positive in all things.