We were sitting there talking and she excitedly shared “I think I met somebody.” It was great news and we all gave the “Do tell,” nod. She shared how they met, their first date, and then concluded by sharing “But if I don’t see or hear from him again that’s fine.” Jaws dropped, heads tilted. eyebrows went up, noses wrinkled, and lips parted to share a variety of “What?”, “Why?”, “But he seems sweet” ,”You said it was fun,” . She looked at me and shrugged.
I already knew why she felt that way. Sometimes, it hurts to hope. “I’ve just been through a lot in my relationships. Ahyana knows.” I did know. “And I just don’t want to get too excited and he ends up being a liar or just not trustworthy.”
The ladies at the table got it. They all had those experiences, and I’d talked with them about them. For some of them it was the romantic relationship that went awry (very recently and a few years ago). Yet for others it was unhealthy family dynamics including an absent father or bearing witness to an abusive unhealthy marriage. For some it was a tragedy and what felt like failed faith. For all of us we had very cautious hearts, hearts that warned us of the hurt that can come with hoping.
I’m actually pretty familiar with the hurt of hoping. In fact for years I put a good amount of effort into not wanting. If I didn’t want anything, didn’t hope for anything, I couldn’t be disappointed when it didn’t happen the way I desired. It seemed like a good plan for me. In fact, it worked for a while. I didn’t ask for specific birthday or Christmas gifts. If I wanted something I’d get it myself. When I applied for new job opportunities I didn’t tell people that way they wouldn’t feel bad for me or force me to deal with the disappointment of not getting a position, or worse, know that I failed. That’s what not getting a job I applied for felt like, rejection. Granted I know there are many factors that going into the hiring process, but if it didn’t include me being hired it didn’t matter and I felt rejected. I also got really good at not hoping too much when it came to dating. In fact if I mentioned the same guy to a friend about three times, their eyebrows raised and they wanted to talk. They usually wanted total because it seemed to them I was pretty interested in this guy and they wanted to know more. When I would verbalize genuinely liking a guy, friends wanted to come over and talk face to face. It just wasn’t like me to really like guys. It was rare. It was rare because it hurt to hope things would work out with them, so I took my time to see if they were worth hoping to have a relationship.
However as I soon learned, not wanting, not hoping, trying to avoid disappointment DOESN’T WORK!
It creates a mediocre and complacent life. It creates a risk free, dare free, dream free, just getting by life. It creates a life that gets cozy with the past, very comfortable with the present, and allergically reacts to the future. It robs us of a simply LIVEd life.
Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be cautious, especially with our hearts. We should. Furthermore we should be cautious with whom we share our dreams with, but not cautious to dream. However, caution is not the same as refusing and denying ourselves the joy that comes from hope, the opportunities that are birthed from our willingness to take a chance, the results- relationships, marriages, children, new jobs, another degree, our first home, a new business, etc.
After dinner and we all went our separate ways I checked in with my hesitantly hopeful friend. “Ahyana I do like him. I really like him. He’s from my culture and he loves the Lord.” I could hear her smile. “But after all that mess before, I just don’t know,” “Girl you like him. you already know you want to get to know him more. Take it slow. Go at a pace that works for you as you get to know him. And, he’s not the other guy honey bunny. Give him a chance to be himself and then see if you like him, not him compared to you know who.”
When it’s hard to hope, decide, take it slow, and share with other hopefuls. Decide you are worth the possibility of what you hope for becoming a reality. Decide that you deserve the peace, the joy, the adventure, or what it is you hope for. Furthermore decided, unless it really is your fault (i.e., you applied for the job you really wanted past the last day they were accepting applications, etc.), that if it doesn’t work out as hoped you won’t berate and blame yourself.
Then, slowly start hoping. Say your hope in a prayer, write it in a journal, write it on a post it and stick it on the side of your computer screen, etc. Slowly allow yourself to believe what you hope for is possible because you already decided you deserve it.
Then take it a step further. Share your hopes with other hopefuls. I am hoping you have at least one other person in your life that is an optimist, daring dreamer, usually happy and definitely hopeful. Let them know what you’re hoping for, what you’re doing to make that hope happen, and if there is a way for them to help, ask the for the help.
This week I want to ask you to take a minute and think of the thing or things you’ve stopped hoping for and dare yourself to hope again. Now, my one caveat, if your hope is for a person to change, stop hoping that. You can’t change people, they have to change. You can have healthy boundaries,encourage, and influence them, but you can’t change them. Hoping they will change and you can make that happen is what we call false hope. We’ll talk about false hope in another post so keep reading.