Why are you downcast oh my soul, why so disturbed within me?
In January of 2018, as we counted down the new year, my husband and I kissed and began dreaming. We both expressed how we believed that God was going to do great things in our lives in 2018. We reveled in a shared sense of expectation. We were launching a new business, we found out we were pregnant, our hearts were full of joyful hope. When we lost our second child, then proceeded to lose our third, and our business fell to the wayside, defeat sank in. What I had expected to be a year of new birth, became a year defined by death.
I am finding myself in the midst of discouragement. I am discouraged because my hopes didn't turn into reality, my expectations left me with disappointment, and my plans filled me with despair. I find I am at odds with my own heart. I never thought my life would be like this. I never dreamed I would lose my children. And it’s not because I thought myself above such things or that I was untouchable to grief, it just honestly never crossed my mind. I mean, what mom thinks they will be the one who has a stillborn baby? None of us. Maybe it’s naive, maybe it’s hopeful.
So I find myself discouraged. With 2019 rapidly approaching, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of dread. The ball will drop, the kiss will turn the chapter, and I will find myself hoping. And I am terrified to do so. Last year, my hopes crashed upon the rocks and were obliterated. I dare not hope again.
And yet… I am human. Despite my efforts against such hoping and my fears towards the, what feels like, inevitable let down, I have begun to hope. Against my lessons from terrible experiences and better judgement the hopes begin to creep in. Could I allow myself to hope?
You see hope is a dangerous thing. It is the rare combination of outlandish and magical dreams paired with the belief they might come true. I am reminded of what hope can do when I look at the stockings hung in anticipation of Christmas and see three instead of four. Hope can devastate. I feel the pain of hope as I shop for presents for only one living child. Hope can disappoint. During a season defined by hope, I realize this is the first holiday I find myself sad. As we hung the Christmas lights and purchased the tag to go tree hunting, I began to wonder; How do I learn to hope again?
This last year I felt as if my hopes didn’t come true because they were not in line with God’s plan for me. I now know that hoping is chancy business. When you hope, you will get one of two outcomes. Either you will be excited because your hope came to fruition, or you will be disappointed because it didn’t. But for some crazy reason, despite the fact that hoping has hurt me, I can’t help but want to do it again. Call me crazy, because I think I am! Where to begin?
Maybe I just start little, because big hopes seem too scary. Or maybe I swing for the fence, go for broke, because no let down could top the loss of my son. I am just as uncertain as you are. But what I do believe, is I need to give myself space to dream again. And I think God wants that for me too. Maybe that’s why I can’t help but want to hope.
The bible says this in 1 John 3:19-20: “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”
My own heart condemns me. It tells me hoping is futile. It reminds me how much my disappointment hurts. But Jesus is greater than my heart. And he knows all my dreams.
Maybe I need to be less concerned by the size of my hope and more concerned with what my heart really wants. Any time we hope, we have a chance of getting let down. But when I look at my life, the things I have hoped for in the past that have come true far outweigh the hopes that fell flat. I guess I could say Jesus turned some of my hopes into my blessings.
When I put the disappointments and the blessings on opposite sides of the scale, there is a clear winner. This shows me that hoping isn’t for naught. It isn’t meant to push me into despair. Scales are meant to show worth and weight. Maybe I need to be shown the weight of my blessings to help me hope again. And maybe, I also need to see the weight of my disappointments because it validates my hurt. When we are in pain, that’s really all we want right? To know our pain is real, respected, and recognized. But we also must be reminded of what we truly have to live for simultaneously.
Hoping isn’t bad. I have to remember that it’s not the cause of my pain; it’s actually the birth of my blessings. Although I may be discouraged in the outcome of my 2018 hopes, God's not disappointed in my circumstance. Quite the opposite, He is on the move.
I recently listened to a song called “Seasons” by Hillsong. One of the lines of the bridge says, “If you’re not done working, then, God, I’m not done waiting.” God wants me to dream because He isn’t done working on my behalf. There is so much more coming down the pipeline, both good and bad. If I want to see my dreams come true, I have to hope again. Choosing not to hope thinking it will keep me from disappointment is a fallacy. We all know that sorrow will find us sooner or later, and when it does, we need hope to make it through.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and hope.”
My hopes, my dreams, and my beliefs come from the Lord. And I have to say, it takes a little bit of the pressure off! God wants me to hope because he has wonderful plans for me. Maybe if I spend more time asking Him what he hopes for me and adopting those hopes, I will find myself disappointed less and blessed even more.
I have some hopes for the new year. Some are small and some are big. And I promise you, part of me is excited to see what happens, and the other is terrified of what might. But that’s just the nature of hope. But my greatest hope, for 2019, is that God would tip the scale of disappointment and hope so steeply to the side of blessings that my family would be completely and utterly overwhelmed by God’s grace and love, so that our pain would ease and our excitement would lead us forward. Maybe it’s a lot to ask, maybe it’s hopeful.