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.