Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
But as I aged, my relationship with hope grew rather uneasy. Despite my youthful abandon with hope, the adult me has frequently been afraid to hope.
I’m not afraid to share my opinion, even if it’s controversial. I’m not afraid to ask difficult questions, even if it means that I may not find a satisfactory answer. I’m not even afraid of spiders, and those things have eight legs and like a million eyes!
But hope? That one throws me.
For much of my adult life, I have tried to learn contentment. To see what I have as enough. To accept that I am sufficient. To avoid striving. To avoid beating myself up. To avoid looking down on my circumstances.
But in the process of working toward contentment, I lost much of my ability to hope.
I want to believe that hope is good, but it often feels negative. What if I hope for something and it doesn’t happen? Isn’t disappointment a regular companion to hope? Isn’t the point of hope that the thing hoped for is somewhat unattainable? How do I live with hope that is unfulfilled?
Disappointment is one thing if we’re talking about a soft serve ice cream cone, but quite another when we’re talking about a difficult relationship that needs to be restored. A birthday where I didn’t get exactly the gift that I wanted might be bad for a day or two, but a rejection of my creative offerings can feel much more devastating. When the stakes get higher, hope seems like a danger that might not be worth it.
But I have seen glimpses of hopes fulfilled. When I was content to believe that music was something that had been excised from my life completely, hope allowed me to ask for just one more chance to participate in something that opened up so many other musical opportunities. When I was content to think that my writing was just for me and that it wasn’t really for public consumption, hope nudged me to share something that touched people in a way that was more far-reaching than I could have seen.
Yes, hope can be a precursor to disappointment, but it can also be a gateway to joy and excitement.
I want to live in a world where hope is the norm, where we are free to dream for things that seem impossible. I want to be able to stretch my mind open and see things that are beyond what my practical or logical self is able to envision. I want my kids to hope for ice cream and toys and beauty and justice and amazement.
I want all of us – me, my family, my friends, you – to be content to hope.