just like poop.
Sometimes hope is the worst thing you can possibly have. Sometimes seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is devastating and much more damaging to your soul than not seeing it at all. And if you think that makes no sense, then you have not been all that despairing yet. I pray you never are.
There have been a few times in my life when I’ve been given hope and I know it’s supposed to make you turn a corner and run toward the light. The soundtrack is supposed to switch from something pensive and grim to something bombastic and epic usually with trumpets and timpanis. But none of that happened and I found my heart on a rollercoaster – the kind that keeps breaking down.
“Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” – Red, from Shawshank Redemption.
I’m not in prison, but we all have had times in our lives when it certainly feels that way. Maybe guilt, shame, fear, regret, physical suffering, anguish, grief. They all act as judge, jury, prison guard, warden and probation officer. It gets weighty and we lash out or crumble into pieces.
For a long time, I ran from one “big event” to another, looking forward to the next thing that will grant some kind of relief, temporary as it may have been. Among drinking, sex, drugs, and music, I thought that all these things would get me through the day and look what fun I’m always having. But the times do change. Some would say we just mature and grow out of the party phase and it’s normal and natural and everyone needs to settle down eventually. But for me, it was something more than that.
“All my fountains are in You.”
Knowing what we are made for makes all the difference. Where does hope come from? We look for it in so many things, in so many ways. We long for it, cry out for it, desperately run after it. And when we get a faint glimmer of hope, sometimes it does nothing but plunge us deeper into our misery, because what we want isn’t really hope. We want fulfillment. And what is hope but a promise of fulfillment. And if we’re promised something long enough, without getting it, eventually our reserves will run dry. And we can let that turn into further misery and bitterness. And we can let it drive a wedge between us and those we love and those who love us. We can let dreams deferred become thorns, in our side, and pointing out toward others, creating a wall so others keep their distance or get stuck and bleed. Bitterness, anger, jealousy, envy, malicious behaviors, plots and schemes – if I can’t have my way, at least you won’t get yours either.
But what we often fail to understand is we all get there together or no one gets there at all. To me, hope is about my life going well to show others it can go well – but! – it’s a matter of time before my success clouds over and it’s time to help someone else along.
There’s this great group exercise called The Wall, Pink Floyd notwithstanding. The object is to get your entire team over an 8 foot wall without a ladder. the wall has a ledge on one side – the side you are not on – and you have to figure out a way to get everyone over one at a time. You start to strategize with the person who can jump up high enough and pull him/herself up. Then you figure out 2 strongish people to stand at the top – they get lifted up first and pull everyone else over. And somewhere in there you get the short useless Korean girl over so she isn’t in the way. And then the last person needs to be able to jump up and grab their arms and climb up. And it’s a team effort and you realize through it that everyone gets over or no one really accomplishes anything. That’s the whole point. Together or not at all.
And that is the function of hope. Our hope is in the Lord – of course – He will always provide. But so often, he provides through another human being. He sets our paths on a collision course – the good kind, the kind that makes you stop in your tracks and take notice of what’s happening, the kind that makes everything seem like it’s in slow motion. And He says here is my child, my child. You two should get together and go bowling. So we should.
Eureka! Bowling! I haven’t been bowling in like 2 years.