Stories of Advent: Hope

By Lindsay Shimon

For this year’s Advent by Candlelight, I was asked if I might share my thoughts on the topic of “hope.”  And as I sat down to write, I kept thinking how? I am in the worst place mentally and physically that I have ever been in my entire life. How and why am I supposed to write a speech on hope when I’m feeling so hopeless! 

I don’t go to the gym as much as I used to, I’m eating more than I ever have, I can’t find a boyfriend. I mean, the list goes on! 

Needless to say, I was not feeling very hopeful. And I do recognize that I am not a naturally hopeful person. My mind constantly goes straight to the negative, to the “worst situations” and “what ifs” but it just felt worse than usual this time. 

So after getting nowhere and feeling stuck, I decided I was done writing this speech for the night and turned on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3,” and the first few sentences just clicked in the way I truly needed them to. This is what they were: “All moms pretend they are okay so they don’t have to worry their kids.” and “It’s what immigrant parents do, work hard and give it all to their kids.”

My parents are immigrants who worked so hard to give me the life I have and that I get to enjoy. Their hard work is what paid for my first car, it’s the reason I get to go to college with little to no worries about bills. In the movie she goes on to say it doesn’t feel right, how hard they work for us and she has a point, knowing how hard they worked and getting to reap all the benefits of it gives me a sick to my stomach feeling. This feeling is there every time I experience a cool new thing or visit new places knowing this was only possible because of the sacrifices my parents made in their life.

I mean when I think about the type of life my mom was leading at my age I just break down. And that’s just from thinking about it, I can’t even imagine living it! 

My mom immigrated here after marrying my father at the age of 23, that’s only a year older than I currently am to put it in perspective. She was 8 months pregnant when she made it to this beautiful country, which would be the third place she had immigrated to after fleeing her home country of Iraq. She had absolutely no one, she didn’t speak the language, and now she would be a mother. I mean, I thought getting ready for a finals week was intense, but I guess she had me beat. 

My father was working as a truck driver which had him away for days at a time, leaving my mother literally alone. As I have gotten older, I get bits and pieces of my parents’ stories, where they came from, what they saw and endured but I have never gotten the full picture. Most of these memories are simply too difficult for my parents to relive, and so neither my sister nor I push for details, but we do cherish every one we get. One thing that my mom would always tell my sister and I is that no matter what she endured it led her to have us, and that was all she needed to know to make the decision to do it all over again. Everything she has ever done has been in the hope of giving her daughters a life she could only dream of. So she would take the humiliation of not knowing the language of the country she lives in, she would take the scary nights alone with an infant, and all 15 years of being apart from any family she had just to give me my lavishly comfortable life? 

So, I took a step back after giving myself this humbling reminder. And I thought, let’s look at this the way my mother would. 

I’m not going to the gym as much because I’m spending more time with my friends. We have our game nights that get so loud we’re told to quiet down, our nights of making friendship bracelets that break after a day, and birthday parties that turn into worship services! These nights are the memories that I’ll look back on one day and the fact that I missed the gym for them won’t even cross my mind. I’m eating more than I ever have because I’m eating! I was anorexic for so long that I forgot what it was like to eat. Does portion control go over my head sometimes? Yes, sometimes but I’m working on it and that’s okay. The boyfriend thing is still beyond me but it’ll be fine because I’m sure there’s someone out there for me and God has a plan for that. 

So now I know why I was supposed to write a speech on hope. 

It was meant to serve as a reminder to me that there is so much to look forward to and that when I take longer than ten seconds to analyze a situation I find all the good that there is. 

Thank you God for my mom and dad and for reminding me to hope!

Do you have a story of God’s amazing grace?  Advent is a beautiful season to share your stories of hope and how God has come into your life.  Send yours to Fr. Chris at charris@christchurchcranbrook.org and let’s share the good news of the coming of Christ into our world!

Join the Conversation


  1. Dear Lindsay,
    What a wonderful story of hope, love, and faith and so much more! Your love and appreciation of your family is heartwarming and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your beautiful reflection with us! Sending love and best wishes always! Christa

  2. Lindsay,
    Your amazing openness and your compassion for your parents, and in the end, for yourself, are moving testimonies to the power of the One who is Love in your life. I am only one of your many, many fans who see in you a willingness to break your own mold and reach out to others. You are a gift to CCC and to me as well.
    The one you Insist on calling Mr. Linder, whom I hope you will one day call Eric

  3. Dear Lindsay; We are all fortunate to live in a country that provides such opportunity as you and your parents duly inherit. But the hope you speak of is central to living a life with God in it as a candle of that hope. Though I don’t know you, I hope to meet you someday soon. People you don’t even know love you for just being you. It is a privilege to have read your story. God Bless you and we wish you all good fortune.

  4. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story and such a moving testimonial to the strength of family and faith! Best wishes for continued hope.

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