One of my favorite Bible verses is 1st Corinthians 13:13 (chapter and verse): “Faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” Back when my religious beliefs were far more rigid, I mostly applied these concepts in a religious sense. As I’ve been graced to live, I have realized that those words required action, as praxis. These words have been embodied through the actions of sister-friends, aunties, sister-girls from around the way, and those in our closest circles. These three- faith, hope, and love- move me to action, cause me to reflect on how I operate in the world, and help me to align my desires with my actions.
Faith is believing and having confidence in an idea, person, or thing. My faith tells me that faith, having belief without works (read: praxis) is dead, null, and void. Faith that lacks action are words spoken in vain. As the country reels from another mass murder, many across social media platforms have offered “thoughts and prayers” to victims’ families. Others have been quick to respond that thoughts and prayers without action (read: policy) is futile. Faith requires us to act. A prayer that I pray often is that I would be faithful to my prayers. In other words, my God talk is often about me putting action to the prayers I’ve prayed. I moved across the country for a job, and this move has challenged me in every sense of the word “challenge”. My prayer prior to leaving Atlanta was that in spite of my nervousness (and fears: plural) about starting anew in an unfamiliar place, I would act in ways that aligned with my faith, believing that God would/could create a new things in this new place. Although the transition has been horrendous (totaled my car, mild depression, low resources, etc.), I’ve been open (fears and all) to new opportunities and relationships. If we believe and have confidence in something, regardless of how great or finite that faith is, we pair it and supplement it with action. Having faith can be challenging; AND having faith, in theory, should move us to action.
Hope is an expectation of what might be. What could be, in theory, opens our minds to the possibilities of the future. Hope lets us expect positive outcomes in poorly conditioned situations or gives us the courage to see possibilities where there might otherwise not be foreseeable possibilities; hope allows us to create new things.
Another part of my prayer for my move to where I am now is that I would be open to the things that could be here. I expected challenges to be a part of the experience, AND I hoped for/was in expectation of nourshing relationships, professional opportunities, and reclaiming greater health post PhD. Hopes is a balm for the rough times, the times when nothing seems to be working in my favor. Hope, coupled with and independent of my faith, helps me to align my desires with my actions.
Love, let earlier passages of 1st Corinthians tell it, is “patient, kind… and never fails.” Love surpasses all talents, skills, and ambitions. To move about the world with boundless gifts while lacking love makes a person loud and off-key as my friend TJ would say. Love is a balm that soothes a piercing and convicting truth shared with us by a loved one. Love is the patience we take with ourselves as we transition through life. Love is the careful precision of our words instead of a statement made sloppily and recklessly in haste. Love is working to rid ourselves of hoarded wrongs that cause us (more) harm while failing to inform our path to liberation. Love can look like many things, but/and in my life, it has looked/currently looks like the place where faith, hope, and intentionality meet.
As I close, I am reminded of the ways faith, hope, and love have shown up, been enacted, and been embodied throughout my life. My grandma Johnnie Mae’s faith was both religious and practical. In whatever she believed, her actions followed. My mother’s hopes brought to fruition her wealth: educated, independent thinking, loving, righteously indignant adult children (thanks Debra girl!). Mama had an expectation that we could manifest the desires of our hearts (even if they looked different than we thought they might look). Her hope(s) continue to inspire my sibling and I. Love was my line sister/bestie sending a “summer in Atlanta” candle after hearing the homesickness in my voice after my move to Texas, my sister-friend Twin telling me that she was glad that I called for help when needed instead of letting my pride get in the way, and sending “did you eat today?!” texts to friends who get busy with work and forget/don’t make time to nourish their bodies. I’m thankful for all the iterations of faith, hope, and love in my life. May these ideas and actions affirm, empower, and encourage you in the days to come. #AudreLorde knows we need it.