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Where is hope found?

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 11:14 a.m. CDT

The last thing on my mind come Sunday morning is my column, because I have found — it works like clockwork — if I do, something else will come up I will wind up writing about instead.

The sermon on Sunday asked the simple question, “Where do you find hope in life?”

After an intriguing congregation-wide conversation that followed, I decided to ask my friends on Facebook. The idea of finding hope in words was my journey through Monday, but it took reliving a story to find the true answer to the question.

In 2006, many were introduced to an experience called “The Ultimate Gift.” Yes, it was a movie, but if you search deeper, you’ll find it was truly an experience above all else. 

The sequel, “The Ultimate Life” — which came out last year — finds the main character, Jason Stevens, having forgotten about the gifts that brought him to where he is in his life. I found myself always crossing by the DVD just to pick it up and look at it, but putting it back on the shelf because to be honest I wasn’t sure if I was ready to see the rest of the story.

The two stories told of how Jason Stevens found hope with the help of his grandfather, Red. Jason found hope in the death of Red in the story of “The Ultimate Gift,” and in “The Ultimate Life,” Jason finds hope in the way Red found the 12 gifts he made Jason find in previous film.

The link between the two films got me to think deeply about the events of the past year, and how I neglected many of the gifts in my life that are very important to me. And, how that neglect has caused me to lose hope.

This month has been filled with blasts from the past, but sometimes it’s someone coming to you and saying that you’re not the person others see, because they don’t know the story. The idea of writing about a story that not many people know about — ultimate gifts, faith or hope — made me want to give up on the subject.

It was a friend’s recent help, finding a gift to create laughter, that reminded me to finish this column. Even though he and I have seen some pretty rough spots, our friendship has developed.

Some have suggested I want to be like him, but that just wouldn’t work. It’s because of who each of us is that we became friends in the first place.

I find hope in two ways.

The first way is being fearless, facing the everyday challenges with only a pen and a notebook. It now has become my career to put to pen and paper to tell the stories that bring out the hope, faith, fear and dreams of not only those who live in Newton and Jasper County, as well as to tell what has become of their community.

The second way is through my personal gifts, because regardless of whether it’s having the chance to begin a journey with a new friend, or knowing that soon I will be celebrating the biggest sports entertainment event with the best crew of friends a guy can ask for, I can remember where I came from. Twenty-two years ago, this all started with a simple notebook and pen at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.

In the end, I have fought battles with my writing, but simply going into a battle with just words isn’t who I am, or how I was brought up. It’s being willing to take part in the battle, even if the opponent is bigger, stronger and faster.

Today’s battles aren’t about brute strength, but rather endurance. Sometimes, our greatest challenges in life call us to endure to see victory. It’s not about waiting to see what’s going on, but being able to say I have stood barefoot in the rain in the midst of the lighting.

I guess the only question now is, “Where do you find hope?”  

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