By Audrey Denison, Contributor

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Abraham Lincoln once said, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Like Abraham Lincoln, I know that I too will be forever indebted to the beautiful woman I call mom.

When I think of why I choose to have hope in times of darkness, my mind undoubtedly always takes me back to my childhood. Before she even reached the age of 30, my mother found herself—despite her most valiant efforts—a single mother of two little boys and her infant daughter. My father chose to stray from his family and pursue a care-free lifestyle, leaving my young mother with no money, no car, and a pile of ever-growing payments and unanswered questions to tackle completely alone. She thought that surely God knew how much she loved her husband, even if he no longer seemed to value her, her children, or her marriage. She read her Bible and prayed faithfully, and at times found herself asking God why he was punishing her when she tried so hard to be good.

I recently asked my mom how she did it, and most of all, why she chose to have hope when she felt completely and entirely abandoned. My mom recalled one particularly trying day where she was in agonizing pain from having had her appendix burst, no money to buy groceries to feed her three small children, and found herself in so much despair that her small frame was wasting away from the darkness she thought may consume her.

While driving down the hot Las Vegas freeway one day in a vehicle a beautiful friend had loaned our family, she heard an audible voice tell her, “It will all be okay.” My mother knew at this time that God hadn’t turned his back on her or her three little children, but rather he removed her from what would have been a lifetime of darkness. She knew that having faith in the future wasn’t going to be easy, but that it was her only lifeline—and oh, how she needed a lifeline. From that day forward she vowed to give her cares to God because if she didn’t the internal despair would destroy her and she had to be strong, not only for herself, but for her children.

I remember at a very young age being keenly aware that my mother was someone special. I saw her day in and day out give the best of herself in order to provide my brothers and me the brightest future she could. I know that I will never understand the depth of her pain. But just like Job in the Bible, God trusted her to endure. He knew she would not only endure the trials, but that she would emerge even stronger than she was before because she had hope and believed in good things to come.

I am so grateful my mother taught me at such a young age that your only choice is to have hope. When it feels like we are walking entirely alone, when we want nothing more than to crawl into a ball and not face the weight of the world, or when those who are supposed to love us the most betray us, there is always someone much greater than us who knows our hearts and loves us deeply. He knows our pains. He loves us perfectly and as hard as it may feel sometimes, He asks us to trust Him. I choose to have hope no matter what life throws at me, not because it is a good option, but because it is my only option.

Audrey Denison is a young professional working and living in Washington, D.C. Contact her at