Here's the thing about this new adventure I'm on -the one with no corporate ladder to climb and no accolades, the one with me doing my best to weave words that are true and lovely and to finally finish my book- ...it requires deep reserves of hope and courage and all of the qualities a younger version of me had in spades. Deep, deep wells.
And sometimes the adult version of me runs low and dusty on those qualities. Sometimes I let the fear get the best of me and I forget I'm Beloved and none of my pep talks stick and I find myself listening to my own mouth form the words,
"What is the appropriate amount of hope?"
What a sad little question.
How calculating! How mature-in-the-worst-way!
Somehow, I grew up and learned to cower in obedience to the great and terrible Disappointment. As if feeling disappointed were the worst thing that could happen to me. Am I the only one who operates this way? Preparing for the worst in every situation, just in case.
Because what if I set myself up for failure?
What if I regret it?
What if I'm kidding myself?
What if I get my hopes too high?
And the response was so simple:
So you lived in hope - isn't that better than living practically out of fear? In any situation at all...isn't it better to have hoped?
If there was an appropriate amount of hope to quantify, it wouldn't be hope, it would be expectation. It would be reliable and gritty and tangible. It would require no faith or trust.
There is no appropriate amount of hope, because hope is inappropriate.
When you consider everything, hope is not suitable or proper. It makes no sense, in this world. Therein lies its difficulty and its power: that it is so much less convenient than despair.
The author of Lamentations - who literally wrote the book on LAMENTING- complains for 3 chapters about his disappointments, failures and regrets, but then comes to this conclusion:
...Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
I worry that I'm coming across like a Christian blanket statement. ("The appropriate amount of hope is...JESUSGODHEAVEN.") What I really want you to know, what I'm really hoping will sink into my heart if I type it with my hands is this:
Hope, as with all good things, is something I need to choose over Fear.
It is a choice that springs forth from a heart that growls fiercely that it will not bow to fear or disappointment or despair. A heart that, scarred and pressed from every side, clings to the belief that after all, in spite of it all, despite it all...God is always good and I am always loved. And if those things are indeed true, then the appropriate amount of hope is infinite.
The image at the top is from our friend Danny at Ebersole Photography