Friday, April 1, 2011

Annoying Hope

I have a good friend named Hope, but I haven't seen her in a while. I probably should go visit her since she lives really close to me. Like...within walking distance. She's not an annoying person at all.
This post is not about her.
I'm not a big science person. I like it well enough. I mean, I like it a LOT better than math. But when you really get down to it, science and I aren't good happy friends. I don't really understand a lot of it. I adore Science Fiction, but it's not like I really get what Geordi LaForge is talking about when he wants to eject the warp core. All I know is that if he doesn't, the Enterprise is going to go boom. And going boom is apparently very bad. Because everybody dies.
In school, when teachers started talking about the Periodic Table, I started thinking about other kinds of tables. So I either got really hungry, or I started thinking about King Arthur and the Round Table. And when my brain finally drifted back to what the teacher was talking about, I noticed that Kryptonite was on the periodic table, and that distracted me all over again. Superman and the Knights of the Round Table? That. Would. Be. Epic.
I did minor in Psychology back in undergrad (I was just a minor psycho), which brought the areas I studied to THREE different concentrations, since I had one of those weird Interdisciplinary degrees (in English and Christian Studies). Basically, a person with a Christian Studies/English/Psychology education is well-suited for...childcare.
Most likely, I will be living in a cardboard box someday.
Although Psychology is a Science-y sort of field, I do understand it a little better than some other branches of Science. I really like the idea of behavioral conditioning, which actually HAS helped me a lot in childcare. Negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement. It amazes me that kids actually do respond to both of these things, and in time, I see results. I see behaviors change and improve. I see kids go from being toy hoarders to toy sharers, and that just warms my heart.
But I'm not talking about childcare, either.
What I'm talking about is how we learn to respond to life because of past experiences. Grown ups respond to positive and negative reinforcement, too. If I've been hurt in the past, I'm going to be reluctant to try again. Once bitten, twice shy.
If you know me well, you'll know that I'm one of those obnoxious realists. I'm not an optimist, but I'm also not a pessimist (feel free to disagree with me on the latter, but you're I deal with life and situations as I see them, not how I'd like them to be. This is difficult for a lot of Christians to wrap their brains around, because they think it rules out hope.
The thing is, I'm still a fairly hopeful person. It's not because I'm an optimist. It's because I know the end of the story, and we win. It's because I know the reality that whatever I'm going through, God's walking through it with me, and that He's already overcome.
But translating that into a walk of daily trust and obedience is a VERY HARD THING.
I've had hurt in my life. It's not NEARLY as much as some other people have had. It's more than some others have had. I'm not going to play the "my pain is worse than yours" game, though. It's ridiculous, because almost everyone knows what it feels like to have their heart broken, one way or another. The thing is, since my heart HAS been broken, it's really hard for me to trust again.
I've been given reason to believe that certain things in my life are going to get better. I've been given reason to believe that God is about to do something major in my life. I've been given reason to hope. And hope can be a very annoying thing sometimes.
Hope isn't safe. What's much safer is staying at home. In bed. Under the covers. It's safer believing that nothing good is going to happen. It's safer not trying.
Hope doesn't allow that. It makes you get out from under the covers and go outside and lift up your head. It makes you believe that there's something worth working towards. It makes you expectant, it makes you look forward to something. That sounds all well and good, but the negatively conditioned side of me is fearful. It doesn't trust. It would rather go hide under the covers because it is afraid of being disappointed again. It's afraid of being hurt.
But I am a realist. And this realist realistically believes that God is good, able, and loving. This realist believes that HE is in control. I believe it because He has proven Himself to be all the things He claims to be; He will do all that He has promised to do. Though part of me wants to run and hide, I won't. I won't because I believe in something greater than myself and my worldly fears.
Hope is annoying because it is risky. It is risky and relentless. It won't let me run and hide.
Because even if I do end up living in that cardboard box, even if my dreams are shattered again, even if I do get hurt once more, I can be confident in One Thing. That One Thing is a hope greater than anything in this world.
I can hope that one day I'll get married. I can hope that one day I'll be able to adopt a kid or two. I can hope that one day I'll get a book contract and become a wildly famous author. These are all good hopes, but, realistically, there's no guarantee that any of them will come true.
True hope is the hope that believes that no matter what else happens, everything is going to be all right. And everything is going to be all right because I have a God who loves me, who is able to do anything. Because I trust Him, I'm able to hope. And hope does not disappoint, even though it's really annoying.
So lift up my head, my God and King, and let me hope in You.

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