Even as we have concluded the Holiday Season and entered a new year, many families ponder the memories of little ones whose eyes danced as they anticipated the arrival of Santa Claus. To these children, believing in this Jolly Old Elf led them also to believe their stockings would be full of toys on Christmas morning. Yes, as children, we were taught to believe.
Believe. This word can be powerful in the new year as we strive to cast away doubts and replace our fears with the promise that seemingly impossible aspirations can indeed become possible.
The willingness to believe can provide each of us with inspiration when things are going well.
As a child, I was encouraged to believe I could achieve anything. The confidence instilled within me by my parents and other adult mentors led me to dream big and to reach farther and wider than realistically seemed possible.
My high school basketball coach taught our team we could win if we would commit to hard work and if we believed we could win. That belief coupled with passion and perseverance led us as seniors to a 24-game winning streak.
In 2006 I found myself at the helm of a hospital with tall mountains to climb. With a host of daunting challenges, our leadership team decided to dream big. We embraced the word “believe” and started a journey to make our dreams come true. In fact, the word “believe” became our mantra. My office overflowed with memorabilia touting this wonderful word which we talked about with great zeal during our team meetings. Through the staff’s willingness to believe again, that struggling community hospital was transformed into a regional medical center with outstanding clinical care, compassionate caring, happy employees and collaborative physicians.
The act of believing can also carry us through challenging times in our lives.
The week before I left for college in 1973, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I longed to be with her every day during her fifteen-month battle with this horrific disease. Yet, my precious mother taught me to carry on her convictions and to believe she had prepared me well for the inevitable days ahead without her.
In 1982 my first baby died of a fatal birth defect. To say the least, I was devastated and was petrified that this same problem might happen again. This obsession could easily have taken over my heart and my mind. But then my faith led me to believe that good things can come from bad situations, and they did! I am so thankful for the opportunity to believe again as I was subsequently blessed to welcome to this world my two precious daughters.
I have learned over the course of my life that believing is not necessarily easy. Yet, I am convinced my willingness to believe in a loving and mighty God who welcomes all people in spite of our flaws has carried me through the valleys of my life while also blessing me with the peaks of my most treasured mountaintops.
I am reminded of the late 1960s when racial unrest was prevalent in the midst of public-school desegregation. Some adults in my southern hometown (including my father) believed that black and white families could co-exist amicably while showing mutual respect. While those times were certainly tumultuous, the conviction of parents to role model their belief that all people were created equally set the stage for the pursuit of harmony that ultimately would be achieved by those who were willing to believe.
Here we are 60 years later, and we are entering the year 2020 with a state of angst, unrest and incivility across our country. Bitterness, hatred and disrespect have once again become much too common and sadly have been accepted by some as a new normal.
What if we could find within our hearts, minds and souls the willingness to believe again with childlike faith? What if we could strive to see the good in others as opposed to assuming the worst about them? What if we all would believe again that we are one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?
My prayer for the new year is that we might pledge to believe again. May we the people be individually and collectively convicted to live with uncompromising integrity while offering goodness, grace and respect to all. In so doing, may we all believe and receive a brighter tomorrow!