Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Musings ~ When Hope is Misplaced

Sometimes, the best way to move forward is to give up hope.

My sister and I were talking about this not long ago. Hope can be a hindrance to progress, an endless waiting room, a waste of emotional energy. In order to move forward, or just come fully back to the present, you must sometimes let go of hope. You may not agree, but this has been my experience.

Hope is often held up as something we must always cling to. Always, always. Never let go of hope, people tell us. 

A part of me agrees with that. But there comes a time, for me, when I’m better off letting go of hope, because the thing for which I hope is, in all probability, never going to happen. It might be a phone call that never comes. An apology that is never offered. A lack of forgiveness from someone you wounded. A thank-you never uttered. A change of behavior from someone. A boss who doesn’t acknowledge your efforts. An unreturned affection. You wake up every morning and think maybe today it will happen. Today, it will be different. And you wait. But nothing changes.

How long should you go on like this? Is it healthier to keep hoping, or to give up hope? The Bible says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12), and in my experience, I’m better off to let go of hope. Does that mean it’s easy to do? Absolutely not. There is even what I call a “grieving” period that follows, but, in time, your emotions settle down. Your expectations cease. You find yourself living in the present moment once again. You don’t have this sense of underlying anxiety that hope often produces.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not saying that we should ever stop hoping in the Lord. GOD is always able to perform above and beyond our biggest dreams and hopes. I’ve seen that happen more than once in my own life. We should always hope in the Lord. But He doesn't always give us everything we hope for. And did you know that God won’t make anyone do anything against his or her will? He can change hearts, but our will must be surrendered to God, freely. So, if your hopes depend on another person's will, that can pose a problem.

Personal story, and one I blogged about more extensively in previous years, but here’s the short version.

When I was dealing with infertility in my early married life, my hope was largely in what the medical experts could do to help me realize my dream of conceiving and giving birth to a child. That was my will. It was what I wanted. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but the problem came when I refused to consider any other possibility.

Into my fourth year of this struggle, after two surgeries and doing everything imaginable to have a child, there came a day when my body gave up. The pain was constant. A hysterectomy was inevitable. 

On a rainy September morning, I drove to the church, walked into the quiet prayer room there, and knelt down to pray. Draped over a cold altar bench, after questioning God and all of His motives, I simply opened my hands and said, “OK, Lord. I surrender. Here are all of my hopes and dreams. I give them all to you.” 

I said a lot more, but that was the bottom line. And it was then and there that I wept for my loss—the children I didn't have and would never give birth to. I cried until there was nothing left in me. A death occurred on that altar. It was the dying of my hope in what medical technology and all the doctors in the world could do for me. It was the dying of my will.


On that day, I knew the only way to move forward was to give up hope in what people could do for me. On that day, I fully transferred my hopes to the God of all creation. He, alone, held the answers. He, alone, knew what was best for me. Not the medical community, but God. And when I opened my hands and released my hopes and dreams into His hands, there was a peace that came rushing in like warm oil from my head to my toes. I remember wondering why it took me so long to say, and mean it, “Not my will, but thine.” Whenever I surrendered my will, the way became clearer. The heaviness lifted. I was in God’s faithful hands and I knew He loved me more than anyone ever could. I knew, no matter what happened, I would be OK.

So what does this all mean, this idea of giving up hope?

For me, it means that we should never place our hope in a person, because everyone you know in this life is capable of disappointing you—even those you thought never would, will. We’re all humans and we’ll never be perfect. The only safe place for our hopes is in the One who never fails. He may not give us all that we hoped for, but He will always walk with us and His way is always best.

I can certainly attest to that in my own life. To think that I might have missed my beautiful daughter, had I not surrendered my will to God’s will, is simply unimaginable. I call her my gift from the Lord, because that is exactly what she is. Without question, God’s plan was best for me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, even if I could.


Underlined in my old green Bible is this verse from Psalm 31: “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” 

It’s not wrong to hope. Just make sure your hope is in the right place.


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20 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Dayle. I was just thinking about this topic yesterday...coming to the conclusion that the "letting go" of hope is in tandem with ceasing to have expectations. If I have no expectations--no personal agenda--then I free up God and others.

    I appreciate your baby story and how God met you in it. My own (similar) story is one of them in the "New Moms" book you just had a story in, "Unfinished Business." How good of God to lead us to His peace and ultimate blessing!

    I've enjoyed your blog since I discovered it a few weeks ago. Thanks for the good inspiration! :-)

    Blessings,
    Wendy

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  2. I loved this post, Dayle. It brought tears right to my eyes. I can just picture you on that bench, weeping your heart out. You are so right, though. When we surrender to the Lord, the outcome is always good because He knows what's best for us. Great job. Susan

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  3. Beautiful post, Dayle. I agree with your words so much.

    Like you, I've known the pain of fertility issues. I clung to "hope" (even going to name my baby "Hope") for 17 years. Finally, this past October, the Lord enabled me to let go...and peace has come to my heart and life since then. I've been able to move into a new season of life and return to college.

    Letting go of my hope was difficult, but it is the only way I have experienced peace.

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  4. I just couldn't agree with you more...the Lord is ALL we ever dare to really hope in. As I was reading your post, before I got to the part about your infertility, I was thinking about this young woman whose blog I have been reading for a few weeks now. She is in the midst of this very trial. She is a Christian (appears to be a very strong one) and says she is trusting the Lord, but I have felt she has all her hope in the Lord DOING this for her. She has miscarried 5 times so far and doesn't seem to even consider that "maybe" (who is to say for sure of course) just "maybe" it just isn't the Lord's will for her. I have watched soo many women over the years go to such extreme measures to try to have a child and my heart just aches for them. This girl is willing it seems to do most anything. I am not judging her. I have no idea what I might have done had I found myself in her place. But I have felt an urging to tell her NOT to hope that the Lord might do this for her. She is just immearsed so in it all that I am afraid it just dominates everything else in her life. I have been praying about what to maybe say to her and then came across your blog post today. I do think it is best she figures this all out on her own time table though I guess. I do thank you for sharing this....HUGS, Debbie

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  5. I feel this, Dayle. Sometimes we put out hope in the wrong things. God will reveal that to us in His time. Misplaced hope will only cause us to miss the blessing God has for us right now. You were lead to lay it down, whereas I felt the Lord urging me on to dig deeper, come closer, hope harder maybe? In the end His will was done when I had surrendered to be at peace with whatever decision He made. And that's the point you make here. Of course, you always say it so much better than I. Love.

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  6. This post really moved me. We are to put our hope in Christ and in Him alone. It's yard sometimes to let go of those desires and dreams that we have. But when we relinquish them into the safe, loving care of the Father, it all works out.

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  7. Beautiful post Dayle and you write it so well.




    ~Jean

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  8. This is my favorite post of yours ever. Not to be dramatic, but my heart responded while reading this with a thumpity thumping beat. I relate to it. I have experienced it.

    I realized in the middle of teaching a retreat last year (LITERALLY in the middle... as in, as I was teaching) that it was time to let something go about which I had hoped and prayed and dreamed and cried and, well you know.

    Sometimes, it's just time to accept the NO of God and trust him.

    Wonderful post. God uses you regularly to speak to my heart. I don't tell you that enough.

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  9. This is a powerful post.
    I am going to refer back to it many times, I'm sure.

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  10. Dayle, For years I have called this realization,
    "expect nothing". When you begin to
    "expect nothing", you start noticing everything that is given to you by the Lord in a different way, nothing is a given. Tiny things become miracles that you might not have noticed if you were expecting anything. Giving up hope, expecting nothing and knowing that our Lord provides exactly what we need in his time. Life is good when we know him.

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  11. Dayle,
    What a great piece, an encouraging and different way of thinking. You are right on with your words.

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  12. This essay was beautiful, and so well done!

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  13. There is so much wisdom here! Yes our hope is in the Lord and yet too easily we make idols of the many, many other things we "hope" for.

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  14. I too have had to give up hope in a few things that were very important to me. I don't understand why they are not God's will but have to trust that His ways are higher than mine and I just have to TRUST that.
    Thank you for this post.

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  15. How often I have gone back the "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" passage of Scripture. A heartfelt post and an encouragement too.

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  16. Thank you for this wonderful reminder. I've typed and erased so much and that's all that's remained...thank you. I've traveled the same valley and emerged stronger in the Lord and ready for whatever He has in store. My hope is truly in Him. Thank you.

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  17. Not to give up hope...but to surrender our hopes to the God of all creation. That's something I need to etch in my heart. Thanks for your inspiration!

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  18. As Christians we're taught to never give up hope but you are so right...the hope we are not to give up is our hope in the Lord, not in our desires but in His divine will for our lives. I,too struggled with infertility the first seven years of my marriage and like you I did not come to peace until I gave up on my dream and surrendered to His. Soon after we were blessed with the adoption of our two beautiful daughters and I wouldn't have missed the ride for anything. Beautiful post from a beautiful lady.

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  19. A powerful, thought provoking post and so full of wisdom.

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  20. Yes, our hope is never misplaced, when we hope in the Lord. can't imagine what life would be without God to cling to! Patsy from
    HeARTworks

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Dear Readers, I adore your company and your comments. If you ask questions here, I respond to them here, so please check back when you have a chance. Kind regards, Dayle