Gritty Hope

Hope, to me, has always been elusive, an enigma, so difficult to comprehend and nearly impossible to put into practice. Other concepts such as joy, peace, faith, or love feel within my grasp, but hope has always seemed to be just beyond my reach.

For many years my attitude towards hope (especially in situations where I have previously experienced disappointment or rejection) has been “What’s the point?” In my mind I justified this attitude with the beginning of Proverbs 13:12 which reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” No matter how many other verses I read about the beauty and significance of hope, this verse became my default, a protective armor of sorts against the risks involved in choosing to hope.

In the past few months, however God has been using a combination of blog posts and life circumstances to help me see hope in a different light. He’s pushed past my tough exterior of faked indifference to get to the root of my aversion to hope.

Here’s the uncomfortable truth He’s uncovered – I am afraid to hope.

In many ways this fear feels justifiable. Hope is risky. It demands that I trust that God is good, all the time, and that He loves me. It calls me to put stock in things I cannot yet see or know. And it forces me to surrender my lust for control and certainty.

Even writing about hope makes me want to crawl under a safe, stable rock, only venturing out when I feel some measure of security in how the journey will end. But deep down I know that security is an illusion, and certainty isn’t promised.

In all the times I’ve used Proverbs 13:12 as an excuse to avoid hope, I have completely missed the second part of the verse which reads, “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” How did I miss that? Yes, hope is risky, but the risk increases the value of the reward, as well as adding to the richness and joy of the journey.

In the words of my wise friend Chloe, “Hope is the anchor for our souls, holding us perfectly in the balance of a Kingdom daily recognized and not yet eternally realized.” (Practicing the Presence of Hope)

So today I’m going to choose hope – risky, gritty hope that doesn’t yet make sense to me, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that God is faithful to keep His promises. With my hope rooted in Christ, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

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Picture credit goes to my wonderful and talented mom! 

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River of Desire Part Two

Last night our rivers met

And the emotions flowing through me

Are as varied and as beautiful as the current of our river

All summer we’ve been heading to this point

And last night, on the dance floor

We finally came together

But here’s the funny thing

When our rivers joined, our problems didn’t float away

We’re still both broken human beings

And if anything

Our coming together created bigger rapids

It makes sense, you know

More water, more rapids

Two lives, more complications

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world

Because some struggles are worth the fight

And this is a risk I’m willing to take

So as I float down this river of desire

I’m excited, and I’m ready

Because no matter what’s around the bend

God knows what comes next

And I have someone who wants to float by my side

Hey Brother, We’re All Learning to Love Again

Today marks the one year anniversary of this blog, and I feel overwhelmingly grateful for the joy this blog has brought me. Thank you for reading, commenting, and supporting me both in my writing and in my life. The past year has been chock full of growth and change, but I can honestly say it’s been the best year of my life.

Telling you why I named my blog what I did has been one of the many things that just never quite happened this year, so in honor of my blog anniversary, I’m going to write about my name choice.

My blog name, Learning To Love Again, is inspired by a Mat Kearney song with the same title.

Ever since I saw Mat Kearney in concert two summers ago I’ve been a big fan of his music. I especially appreciate how his lyrics get under my skin. They make me think about God, and love, and life. When I first heard this song, it didn’t strike me as anything special, but as I listened to it again, I was hit with the realization that humans, in our fallen state, are learning to love again.

I don’t know about you, but for me, loving is hard.

First, it is hard to love God. I can’t physically see Him, hear Him, or touch Him, which can make Him feel so abstract. I know He is very much a part of my life, but some days I forget He’s even there. While I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that He loves me, sometimes (oftentimes) it is hard to love Him in return.

It is also hard to love others. They make decisions that hurt me, and do things that are not in my best interest. I know I am called to love them, but that can be so hard to do.

Finally, it is hard to love myself. Although being selfish comes naturally enough, I really struggle to value myself just the way I am. Instead of being confident and selfless, I am selfish and insecure.

And yet, even though love is difficult, we are learning to love again. When humans sinned, they broke their ability to love, but when Jesus died, He set in motion the restoration of all things, including our ability to love. While this restoration is by no means complete, we’re making progress everyday, and someday, all things will be made right.

So I named this blog Learning To Love Again to help me remember where I’m going, and how far I’ve already come. “Hey brother, we’re all learning to love again.”

River of Desire

A raging current flows through me

It’s a river of desire

Desire to see him

Desire to be with him

Desire to really, fully, truly know him

Yes, the desire is driven by attraction

But the attraction isn’t purely physical

I love his smile

That plays a role

But it’s his personality that draws me in

Here’s the thing

I’ve felt this before

This current isn’t new

It’s been flowing for quite some time

First with one boy

Then with another

But never quite meeting his river of desire

It feels like I’m floating down this river

Never sure what’s around the bend

I know someday my river will meet his

But I am questioning

When?

If our rivers join soon

Fantastic!

But if our meeting place is still miles away

Fantastic?

How do I come to grips with the uncertainty?

The waiting?

The unknown?

First, I need to take a deep breath

Then, I need to look around

The scenery is beautiful

Here and now

It’s lush and green

Full of life

If I always look ahead

I will never see the beauty that surrounds me

So until my someday

I’m going to enjoy the ride

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