Holding on to Hope: The Friendship Project Book Club Chapter 2

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Welcome to The Friendship Project Book Club! We’re reading The Friendship Project by CatholicMom.com contributors Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet!

"The Friendship Project" book club chapter 2 (CatholicMom.com)

 

Hope is such an important and powerful virtue to cultivate, yet it’s one that I don’t think about very often. That changed after I read Chapter 2 of this book. What an amazing reflection this chapter holds! There was drama, intensity, heroism and detailed descriptions of suffering. I was blown away both by the personal story that Emily shared about her friend’s brain cancer and the story of the martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity.

In the recounting of Emily and Michele’s mutual friend, Stacy, Emily revealed how Stacy was diagnosed with Stage III brain cancer as a young mother of two small children. Her courage during her diagnosis and treatment was astounding to read about. She was full of joyful hope even in the midst of the life-threatening disease. She was bringing hope to her friends and inspiring others to grow in their faith through her suffering.

It made me think about what I would do if I was in that same situation and I am not sure I would be able to be so positive and hopeful, especially as a mother with young children. I tend to be an anxious person and have to continually remind myself not to mother in fear in the small ordinary situations of life. I can only imagine that if I was presented with a terminal illness I would be on the verge of panic. It was amazing to me to read about this woman who endured so much with so much grace and trust.

It was powerful to hear Stacy share her experience of praying to Christ to send her a friend that was going through a similar situation as she was. He revealed to her that He would be that friend since He knew just what it was like to suffer so much and that she should hope in Him.

Hearing about these types of stories always breaks my heart so I was very relieved to read that Stacy miraculously survived and is now encouraging others with her story. My heart always goes out to the children in these terminally ill situations and I think about how painful it would be to be the dying parent leaving young children behind.  I can only imagine how unbearably awful that would be to go through for the whole family. The story of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, which followed Stacy’s story in this chapter, really struck a chord within me because they both died leaving their infants behind.

I am due with my third little girl this December, so reflecting on how St. Felicity delivered her baby girl in prison and was martyred a few days later was awe-inspiring and incredibly heart-wrenching. I knew that these two saints were friends and were martyred but I had never really thought about the fact that they were leaving children behind. They sacrificed their motherhood and the earthly love for their children to die for Christ.  That takes heroic hope and way more courage than I can imagine.

The most amazing aspect about these heroic women is how deeply they trusted in God and had the profound hope in His promise that nothing is impossible. At the end of the chapter, Emily reminds us that we are called to hope in what seems impossible, like believing that “every tongue [will]confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (page 28), even in the midst of our secular society. We are called to encourage others who are discouraged or suffering by sharing the message of hope. Whether that be praying for them, listening to them, comforting them, or befriending them, we have the power through God’s grace to be beacons of hope in a dark world. What an amazing privilege!

To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:

  1. How can you bring hope to those in your life who are discouraged or suffering?
  2. What doubt or skepticism is holding you back from cultivating grace-filled hope?

"The Friendship Project" book club chapter 1 (CatholicMom.com)

See the video for this week’s chapter, plus download a printable journal and more at The Friendship Project Group Study page.

Next week, we’re reading Chapter 3: Cultivating Charity and Chapter 4: Practicing Prudence. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit The Friendship Project Book Club page.


Copyright 2017 Hannah Christensen

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About Author

Hannah Christensen and her husband David have been married for five years and have two lively little girls. They reside in Nebraska where they are proud to be members of the vibrant Diocese of Lincoln. A stay at home mom and medical biller, Hannah loves morning coffee, scrap-booking, themed parties, date nights, play groups, mom friends, creative writing, Husker sports, and all things organized. She has been featured on http://catholicmommyblogs.com and manages a blog where she explores the lovely little moments of everyday family life: lovelylittlelives.com.

12 Comments

  1. Hannah,
    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I was also struck by their friend’s story and I appreciated the reminder that the answer to her prayer was that Jesus was the friend she was seeking. I think this is good to keep in mind anytime we are approaching or in a scenario with suffering that is challenging to bear.

    The how to bring hope question can be challenging since there is no one-size-fits-all answer as it depends so much on the person. I think perhaps, it is helpful to be gentle with attempts to see what the person is receptive to and what seems to be helping. Prayer can be huge in asking for guidance to know what to do and how to do it.

    • Hey Amanda. Thank you 🙂 It is so comforting to know that we always have Christ to lean on in our crosses if we can only remember it :). I agree that bringing hope to others is definitely a widespread challenge and will depend on the person and situation. I like your comment about “being gentle” with others and trying different approaches to see what they respond to. This was such a great chapter to reflect on!

  2. I loved this chapter. My favorite part is to be deliberate about being hopeful. I have been in a weird place lately after my middle schooler had a bomb threat at her school from a 7th grader and the Vegas shootings the following week. As a mom it it easy to live in fear and worry about the future for our children. I really needed to read chapter 2 because it hit home with me.

    • Wow, that is scary, it’s a scary world we live in and it’s so easy to live in fear. I agree that as a mom, holding onto hope and being intentional about it can really help us ease our anxiety about all the unpredictability of life. I actually wrote a post about mothering in fear while sending my oldest off to preschool this year and how God showed me that is was needless to worry. https://lovelylittlelives.com/anxious-preschool-mom/

  3. Wow! In light of the personal testimonies and Saints Perpetua and Felicity, hope is a tall order. At the same time, could we till a mustard sized seed of hope within our own lives? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.
    In answer to your questions, Hannah, it helps to ponder these examples to encourage hope in my own heart, and therefore encourage others. Thank you for your writing.
    Recently, I’ve had to cheer up my husband as he is dealing with issues at work. The financial outlook at first looks dim, but I think the Holy Spirit helped me to deliver this to my husband, “Do you think St. Joseph was letting down Mary when he placed her on a donkey to travel to Bethlehem with no place to stay and labor? Do you think he was letting her down when warned in a dream he had to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt to keep them safe?” I said further, “These circumstances are just a change in direction.” My husband told me I offered him hope in a vague and scary situation. That in itself, gave me hope as well.

    • I love that about using the example of St. Joseph to comfort your husband. I need to remember to use his example when my husband needs hope too 🙂

  4. Thanks for the lovely reflection Hannah. I too was struck/challenged by the need to deliberately hopeful. It can be so easy to see the negative, to try to shield ourselves from disappointment by setting the bar low. No! To be hopeful is to be vulnerable, and isn’t that usually where we discover God’s plan?

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