Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hope Is a B!@#*

I watched The Shawshank Redemption for the first time a couple months ago. No…I wasn't born under a rock. I’d tried to watch it a couple of times over the years, but never got very far. I couldn't handle how unfair it was. No matter that Morgan Freeman is a cinematic god or where IMDB ranked it on its Best Movies of All Time list, I couldn’t get through it. This time, my boyfriend (who loves it) razzed me enough that I submitted to sit through the whole movie with him. I cried the whole time. It was all still there—the blunt portrayal of prison brutality, the misuses of power, the miscarriages of justice, the sadness—and I’ve finally figured out what bothered me most. It was the unrelenting thread of Hope, against all reason.

I hate to be a downer, but I’ve been angry at Hope for a long time. She makes it worse and sometimes, I wish she’d go away.

I've seen loved ones disappointed to be living lives off course of where they hoped they'd be. I've seen a friend start a new career with ideals, talent and work ethic enough to change the world, bogged down by office politics, adult mean girls, overwork and the tension of work/life balance. I’ve watched a dear friend watch as those she loved married and started families of their own, while this secret wish of hers hasn’t been granted. I've watched a sister wait months for a call about adopting a newborn. I saw her joy in finally being chosen by a birth mom. I participated as she loved her sweet baby as if she came from her own body and I watched her struggle to survive the pain and disillusion of each day after the child was returned to her birth family, while everybody else in the world went on with their lives. I've listened to a friend try to make sense of the roller coaster that is her new marriage. I’ve listened as a beautiful friend described her hopes for a child that she hasn’t been able to conceive, apologizing for the tears and the naked longing in her voice. To them all, there is nothing to be said, except, “I wish you had what you long for. You deserve it more than anyone I’ve ever known.” I understand longing; I’ve lived most of my life aching with it. Often, I don't sleep for it. I blame Hope for the sleepless nights. Maybe if we didn’t want IT, whatever IT is, so damned badly, we could get some sleep. We could be happy and content where we are, instead of grieving what’s lost, what’s revealed as impossible/impractical/insurmountable or what’s simply out of reach.

As a Christian, I know there are answers to comfort me. I can recite them if prompted and mostly believe what I say, but I'm being as honest as I know how to be when I say this stuff is way harder in practice than in theory. In the real world, marriages end in divorce. Children die before their parents. Mean people win. People cheat, lie and steal from others. People I love let me down and hurt me in ways that leave slow-healing wounds. My mistakes get bigger, and the consequences cast a broader wake. The pain of disappointed hopes sends us to therapy, to the bottom of pill bottles, to affairs, or to religion. But against all odds, Hope hangs on.

When the world says, “Give up;” Hope whispers, “try it one more time.”

Hope had been playing the same broken record in my heart for years and now I have to hear it from Hollywood, too? That’s why I couldn’t stand the movie! But this time, it got through. The message didn’t change; I did. In watching others struggle and looking inward at my own journey of Hope, I am finally developing the depth to see that the redemption part of the story is only possible if you don’t give up Hope that it’s possible. Even since I started writing this post, I’ve grown. Choosing not to give up hope on your heart’s deepest desire might be the bravest thing any of us can do in this life. While theirs are not my stories to tell, I can attest to the beauty that can come from continuing to reach for what Hope tells you is possible. Andy Dufresne’s words are certainly true, when he writes:

Remember…hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Hang in there, friends.


  1. Nodding head, mmhhmm-ing, looking into your eyes with compassion for your dashed hopes and with encouragement to keep clinging to the promises in Christ and asking you to do the same for me - that's what I wish I was doing right now. The world is heart-wrenchingly broken, and that reality seems to hit some of us square in the face or deep in the gut more often than it does others. I couldn't make it if I didn't have the Hope of Redemption - the Promise that this isn't the end. As for my blog post, if I were plagiarizing your awesome synopsis but wanted to tweak it to reflect how I feel about at this moment in my journey, I would say something like "the redemption part of the story is being done and is done, regardless of my failed attempts to redeem myself and the world. Choosing to REST in the promise of hope, even regarding our hearts' deepest desires, might be the bravest thing any of us can do in this life." --Said from the person who's always afraid that the terrible will happen because I didn't do enough to prevent it, or the good won't happen because I didn't do enough to obtain it. Resting in hope is scary for me! But the beauty in resting "for what Hope tells you is possible" is that, instead of reaching for something beyond my reach, I'm resting in the Promise that it has been freely given. Just some thoughts from a tired momma who's staying up too late to "converse" with a friend about hope! Thanks for sharing Leida - Love you friend!

  2. Oh, Miss Stacy, I love you, too! Do you remember that song, Jesus, I Am Resting Resting? If you can, get hold of those lyrics. I love to put that on repeat, sipping lavender tea, sitting in my corner chair, wrapped in my most comfy blanket, because that's what I imagine Jesus and I will do in Heaven someday. And each time I bring up how hard it was to get there (which we both know I will do), he'll just nod, sip, look me in the eye and say, "I know, sweetie. I'm so glad you made it."

    Verses 3 & 4 are my favorite and they speak so clearly of what you wrote.